T. Kyle King, resident mayor of the college football blogosphere, makes the persuasive case that Friday games in college football are anthrax for the sport, something we irrationally concur with because our wise, wise gut told us to. (Same part of the body that told us doubling down on an 11 was a sure bet versus our Dealertainer® at Imperial Palace Sunday afternoon. And was--BLACKJACK!--expensively wrong for us.)
We're unsure if Kyle's basic premise--that ending the exclusivity of the sport's scheduling would become a slippery slope to game-a-day mediocrity--is true. What we do know is his comparison of baseball to football brings up one important parallel hinted at elsewhere in the blogosphere today: steroids. Per Shanoff's Daily Quickie:
NCAA CFB: Was Oklahoma giving its players banned supplements? The story isn't that they were, it's that they got caught and exposed. PEDs in college football – hiding in plain sight – is, along with the NFL's version, one of the more accepted forms of willful blindness from sports media and fans. Tracking...
The story he's referring to is here, and concerns OU's self-reported use of "supplements" overlooked by the compliance department.
Steroids certainly had a part in both reviving baseball and in putting it in its current terminal state--a temporary, spectacular lift, much like anabolics. We've always wondered about steroid abuse in a self-policed environment like college football, where there is no effective central authority and very little accurate reporting of anything. (APR is a great example of the kind of "data" you get in CFB.)
In the past two years, both LSU and USC have had peripheral steroid issues: the Shawn Jordan "Mexican Vitamins" incident, and the Brandon Ting case at Southern Cal. The Ting case has the nastiest circumstantial evidence, since Ting's father was Barry Bonds' surgeon. (Father of the year nominee, step forward!) One thing protecting college football from an expose a la professional cycling's doping and supplement scandals is its vast size; unlike cycling, there's way too diffuse a pool of athletes to enforce, and no one's going to do a universal testing cycle.
We'd bet KiToy Johnson's ass cheeks that every major program in the top 25 has players currently using illegal supplements--easy money, and easy on KiToy since she wouldn't be giving them up. Those using are always steps ahead of the screens, and generally take their cues from someone more experienced who's also using. They're also making the team and keeping the NFL dream alive--so, in fact, what compelling reason do they have to stop? Health? You're playing football, where defensive linemen die decades before their non-playing peers. It's a very lucrative way to monetize the years you're already shaving off your life in their cases.
It is bad PR if you're clumsy enough to get caught. But does it outweigh the benefits? Cold-eyed and logically speaking, no. Nebraska's mid-90s teams were, according to common lore, needle-loving 'roid freaks. Three national championships later, there is no taint to their titles aside from a few groping blog-types.
Few people remember the rumor. Most people just remember this: