THE COUCH SLOUCH

Fair pay to play act for college athletes might be the right thing, but at what cost?

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In the rush to celebrate California Gov. Gavin Newsom signing the Fair Pay to Play Act into law – allowing college athletes in the state to finally get compensated for endorsements and the like, starting in 2023 – most pundits are failing to realize this is not as wonderful as it seems.

Everybody is treating this broadside against the hypocritical, dictatorial NCAA as the greatest thing since sliced bread.

(To be honest, I never understood why sliced bread was considered that big of a breakthrough. What's so hard about buying a loaf of bread and then slicing it at home? Heck, the knife was a big deal, and, frankly, the spork – half spoon, half fork – was ingenius.)*

(* It's amazing how often I get off track, among the many reasons I am not ever taken seriously for Pulitzer, Peabody or Nobel award consideration.)

Sure, it's always a good day when the big, bad NCAA is leveled. What do we know about the NCAA? It acts as if it's the fourth branch of government, accountable to no one except its accountants, and it has really, really nice offices in Indianapolis near Interstate 70.

The NCAA, naturally, strongly opposed this new law; it was also opposed to indoor plumbing and freeway exits.

The NCAA position on this California development – college athletes will be able to endorse products, host sports camps, sign memorabilia or autographs for money, attach their names to video games, et al – is best reflected by the response of the Pac-12 conference: "This legislation will lead to the professionalization of college sports."

Oh, please. Everything about Division 1 football and men's basketball is professional, with the sole exception that its labor force is unpaid and Dick Vitale never stops shouting.

Indeed, I would sum up the NCAA's modus operandi as the following:

The rich get richer and everyone else eats ramen.

Technically, the Fair Pay to Play Act is progress. In the old days, a school might sell a prospect on the quality of its football program, the quality of its education, the quality of the region, etc. Now, a school might woo a prospect with all of that plus the possibility of, say, a local Chevy dealer who is willing to pay a lot for a business relationship with the starting quarterback.

Yes, this is the free market at work. But it's not as free-and-simple as that.

California often is a punch line and often is a pacesetter. In this case, it's both.

Is it possible to take a step in the right direction and the wrong direction at the same time?

(Note: I ask myself that every time I walk down the matrimonial aisle.)

We are casting an erroneous wide net in seeking to solve our college athletics problem.

By the way – and I promise this is the last tangential interruption – why are Newsom and the California state legislature even treading in these waters? I can think of 400, maybe 405 more pressing issues at the moment in the sometimes not-so-Golden State in which I live.

So, why wouldn't colleges align themselves with companies and local retailers who can assure large payments for the best athletes? Why wouldn't third parties – boosters – engage in licit and illicit behavior to pave the yellow brick road for the home team? Wouldn't some high schools start down this path to bring in better athletic talent?

A student-athlete certainly should have the right to assess his or her best deal financially, but I again return to a basic premise:

Why are institutions of higher education trafficking in these areas?

As always, I lean on former University of Chicago president Robert Maynard Hutchins for wisdom: "A student can win twelve letters at a university without learning to write one."

Besides the fact that we are creating another level of potential impropriety and corruption, where exactly in the mission statement for most universities is the part about running sporting events for profit?

This entire unholy business stands as a complete incongruity to a university's raison d'être. What, you don't comprehend raison d'être? That's because you went to a school that prioritized basketball over books and you've spent every autumn Saturday since 1993 watching "College GameDay."

Let me wrap it up this week with my favorite antiquated, oldie-but-goodie sentiment:

Build more libraries, not stadiums.

Ask The Slouch

Q. When somebody tells somebody else "you can't hold my jockstrap," what does that mean? (Nathan Margolis; Albany, N.Y.)

A. I guess you've never tried to hold somebody else's jockstrap.

Q. New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis wears a "Man of God" headband. What would your headband read? (Brian Coffman; Gaithersburg, Md.)

A. "Best by 12-17-96."

Q. I do not understand the crux of this NBA-China dustup. Do you? (Scott Ayres; Houston)

A. I don't either, but I love the word "crux."

Q. Is Dan Snyder the Peter Angelos of the NFL or is Peter Angelos the Dan Snyder of MLB? (Mary Lafsky; Great Falls, Va.)

A. Pay the lady, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!



Ask The Slouch

Q. When somebody tells somebody else "you can't hold my jockstrap," what does that mean? (Nathan Margolis; Albany, N.Y.)

A. I guess you've never tried to hold somebody else's jockstrap.

Q. New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis wears a "Man of God" headband. What would your headband read? (Brian Coffman; Gaithersburg, Md.)

A. "Best by 12-17-96."

Q. I do not understand the crux of this NBA-China dustup. Do you? (Scott Ayres; Houston)

A. I don't either, but I love the word "crux."

Q. Is Dan Snyder the Peter Angelos of the NFL or is Peter Angelos the Dan Snyder of MLB? (Mary Lafsky; Great Falls, Va.)

A. Pay the lady, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

TCU/Facebook

TEXAS LONGHORNS (14-11), (4-8)

Last week: (0-1): L - Iowa State 81-52

This week: Wednesday vs. TCU, Saturday vs. Kansas State, Monday vs. West Virginia

In one of their worst performances of the season, the Texas Longhorns dropped their fourth consecutive game in an 81-52 loss to the Iowa State Cyclones, despite a 21 point outing by Courtney Ramey. Texas defense was a no-show in the loss, as the Longhorns allowed the Cyclones to shoot 57.7% from the floor, to go along with 40.0% from behind the arc.

Texas will look to end their losing skid in a home match against the TCU Horned Frogs on Wednesday, before taking on Kansas State on Saturday.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (12-12), (6-6)

Last week: (1-1): L - Florida 78-61, W - Georgia 74-69

This week: Wednesday vs. Alabama, Saturday vs. Mississippi State

After dropping a close game against the Florida Gators on Wednesday, the Texas A&M Aggies pulled off a much-needed victory against the Georgia Bull Dogs, Saturday afternoon, inside the Reed Arena in College Station.

Against one of the nation's top freshmen in Georgia's Anthony Edwards (6 points), Emanuel Miller shined in the Aggies' win with a career-best 21 points and 10 rebounds on the night. Texas A&M erased a 12-point halftime deficit, as the Aggies outscored the Bulldogs 45-31 in the second period.

Following the win, Texas A&M will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide on Wednesday, prior to their home match against Mississippi State on Saturday.

Houston Cougars (20-6), (10-3)

Last week: (1-1): W- USF 62-58, L - SMU 73-72

This week: Wednesday vs. Tulsa, Saturday vs. Memphis

After recording their third victory in a win over the USF Bulls, the Houston Cougars dropped a heartbreaking loss to the SMU Mustangs in a 73-72 overtime loss Saturday evening.

In the best performance of his collegiate career, Houston's freshman guard Marcus Sasser scored a career-high 26 points (8-15 FG, 5-10 3PT) in the loss. With the game on the line late in the second half, Sasser stepped to the charity stripe to hit three free throws to send the game into overtime.

Unfortunately, Sasser fell short of becoming the Cougars' unsung hero, as SMU's Emmanuel Bandoumel connected on an off-balance 3-point field goal to give the Mustangs the win. Up next, the Cougars will look to return to their winning ways on Wednesday, in a home match against the Tulsa Hurricanes.

RICE OWLS (13-14), (5-9)

Last week: (1-1): L- Old Dominion 73-70, W - Charlotte 70-54

This week: Saturday vs. UTEP

The Rice Owls longest winning streak of conference play came to an end in a 73-70 loss to the Old Dominion Monarchs.

In a loss, Ako Adams registered 22 points while shooting 46.6% from the field, as the rest of his team shot 32% as a whole. Adams would also be outshined by the Monarchs' Malik Curry, as the junior guard scored 25 points (8-19 FG, 8-11 FT), nine rebounds, five assists and three steals in the win.

The Owls would go on to bounce back in a blowout victory over the Charlotte 49ers. Rice will hit the road on Saturday to take on the UTEP Miners.

BAYLOR BEAR (23-1), (12-0)

Last week: (1-0): W - West Virginia 70-59

This week: Tuesday vs. Oklahoma, Saturday vs. Kansas

After a series of single-digit wins over the past two weeks, the Baylor Bears picked up an 11-point victory over West Virginia on Saturday. As always, sophomore guard Jared Butler led the Bears in the win with 21 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.

As the nation's top-ranked school, Baylor will put their 22-game winning streak on the line Tuesday, in a showdown against the Oklahoma Sooners inside the Lloyd Nobles Center in Norman, OKLA.

TCU Horned Frogs (14-11), (5-7)

Last week: (1-0): W - Kansas State 68-57

This week: Wednesday vs. Texas, Saturday vs. West Virginia

After dropping six games in a row, the TCU Horn Frogs ended their losing streak in a 68-57 victory over the Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday. TCU connected on 15 3-point field goals while shooting 45.5% from behind the arc.

Three players scored in double-figures with Desmond Bane leading the way with 17 points (6-14 FG, 5-10 3pt), eight rebounds and eight assists. Both RJ Nembhard and Jaire Grayer scored 15 points apiece shooting a combined 50% from behind the arc. TCU will return to action on Wednesday in a match against the Texas Longhorns.

Texas Tech Red Raiders (16-9), (7-5)

Last week: (0-1): L- Oklahoma State 73-70

This week: Wednesday vs. Kansas State, Saturday vs. Iowa State

Winners of four of their last five games, the Texas Tech Red Raiders suffered a three-point defeat in a road match against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

In a surprising turn of events, Oklahoma State missed its final eight shots from the field, but made its free throws in the closing seconds to secure a 73-70 win over Texas Tech on Saturday. The Red Raiders' loss was a result of their rebounding issues, as the Cowboys outrebounded Texas Tech 37-22, as well as giving up 15 offensive rebounds which converted into 12 second-chance points.

Texas Tech will return to the court on Wednesday for a BIG 12 showdown against the Kansas State Wildcats, before taking on the Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday.

SMU Mustangs (18-6), (8-4)

Last week: (2-0): W - Connecticut 79-75, W - Houston 73-72 OT

This week: Wednesday vs. Tulane, Saturday vs. Tulsa

After recording a four-point win over the Connecticut Huskies, the SMU Mustangs survived a 73-72 overtime victory over the Houston Cougars, Saturday night, inside the Moody Coliseum in Dallas.

Despite a career-best performance by Houston's guard Marcus Sasser (26 pts), Tyson Jolly scored 20 points (5-7 FG. 10-10 FT) to lead the way for SMU. Emmanuel Bandoumel became the unsung hero for the Mustangs, as the sophomore guard connected on an off-balance 3-point field goal to give SMU the win.

Up next, the Mustangs will look to make it three straight wins on Wednesday, in a road match against the Tulane Green Waves.

LSU Tigers (18-7), (9-3)

Last week: (1-1): W - Missouri 82-78, L - Alabama 88-82

This week: Tuesday vs. Kentucky, Saturday vs. South Carolina

Following a 10 game winning streak, the LSU Tigers are in their worst slump of the season. After coming away victorious in an 82-78 win over the Missouri Tigers, LSU dropped their third loss in four outings in an 88-82 defeat against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Down 40-29 at the half, the Tigers scored 53 second-half points and shot 56% as LSU tried to rally from an 18-points deficit. With 1:35 left in the game, LSU came within a point but was unsuccessful to slow down the Crimson Tide on the defensive end.

Up next, LSU will return to the court on Tuesday to face off against the Kentucky Wildcats.

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