Vital Signs

Collegiate Bread and Circuses

Ah, the good ol’ days! If only they were as frolicsome and fulfilling as they commonly seem in the rearview mirror!  All that notwithstanding, the shaky balance that, in university settings, once seemed to prevail between academics and athletics gives the past a certain golden glow.

You know what I’m talking about if you recall the college scene of 40, even 30, years ago.  Certainly, dumb athletes roamed about, majoring in P.E. and dating the campus cuties.  Certainly, coaches made too much money, causing faculty senates to lament the gaps between authentic achievement—their kind—and the sham varieties on display in local stadiums.  The proper order of things might be out of whack at institutions dedicated supposedly to the training of young intellects and the preservation of eternal truths.  Yet at institutions of this sort, things are generally out of whack one way or another.  At least the head football coach didn’t make $5.1 million a year, as does the head coach at the University of Texas, Mack Brown; his wages and assured community standing come to mind in the aftermath of the Almost-Debacle this summer involving the Big 12 Conference.

The Big 12 was national news for a few days in June.  Key members, led by Almighty Texas (one of my two alma maters, I am bound to note), seemed intent on bailing out for some place where they could get more money.  Goodness,...

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