Morals vs. Wins

With all the trouble and issues surrounding our beloved the Ohio State University lately, I have been thinking a lot about which is better. I must add this caveat: I firmly believe from the bottom of my broken sports heart that bending the rules or breaking the rules happens at every institution where sports is played from pee wee football to the NFL. In college sports only two schools have never had a major violation against their athletic program. Penn State is one and (I think) Standford is the other. Let’s be honest though: over the last 10 years no school has had more player arrests then PSU in the Big Ten. And if you have ever been to State College, PA you know there is little for those players to do to get caught in and if they are getting cars or cash there is no real media out there to dig deep to find it for the NCAA to investigate. This is neither here nor there really. I am not here to accuse other teams of anything. I am not even here to defend OSU for what they are accused of.

I am curious as to what you, the reader, believes. Would you rather win games no matter what the cost? Would you rather be a mediocre team that plays by the rules as often as possible aka BYU?

The one thing in common for all the winning programs in college football from the beginning of time is the constant of being accused of or proven to be cheaters. You don’t need to look much farther back then the last 5 years to see this to be true. Oregon is under investigation. LSU is under investigation. Auburn is under investigation. Alabama has been under investigation. Florida is lucky the NCAA doesn’t care about players being arrested. Add to that the Miami’s and UNC’s and USC’s and every other winning program and it is clear all of these schools could care less about morals and only care about wins. It is safe to assume the fans of these schools feel the same way or they wouldn’t feed the schools billions of dollars in revenue each year. No matter how much media outlets scream about how they hate the way schools are behaving they still pay them a premium to be able to show their games and criticize them.

So to sum it up I would like to hear from you the fans. Do morals in sports matter to you? Are you less of a fan now knowing what you know about all that is going on at OSU? Would you be willing to give up being a top 10 school annually to a team with a good year every now and then but mostly you are a middle of the pack school with great morals and plays by the rules?

I have said before, I don’t care about morals on my teams and I expect them to bend and break every rule they can to get more wins. I want them to cheat just a little more then the others so they have a better shot at winning NCs. I know this is not something many of you will agree with publicly but in private it is a different story as evidenced by supporting teams that are known to break rules. I will give you all a chance to respond now.


  1. So you’re suggesting that since PSU players get in fights and arrested for underage drinking they must also be accepting illegal benefits? Is that your position? I think there’s a pretty big difference there. If you’re going to claim PSU is just as dirty as OSU in accepting illegal benefits I’d like to see that proof. I follow the PSU players on twitter and they’re always complaining how broke they are, so I think you’re off base if you think they’re on the take.

  2. LOL thanks Mike for proving a point I was making to El Kaiser 🙂

    This article wasnt to point out which kind of morals are worse.

    I was simply implying that every school is void of having good morals. If PSU had morals they wouldnt allow people who walk around in groups beating up unsuspecting people for no reason. My point was PSU is no different then any other school they have their fair share of thugs they recruit because they know they will help them get more wins. You wont see those players attending church with JoePa and then heading to his house for Sunday dinner afterwards. So yes PSU has sold out their morals to get the “kind of players” that will help them get wins. Furthemore I would never expect a person to say thank you for the 1000 dollar handshake on Twitter. But keep on believing your team and players are not taking illegal benefits if you want.

    To add proof to my beliefs Franco Harris just said last year that he and his teammates sold all their game tickets for money when he went to PSU. Of coarse that was the 70s and now players have more morals……. whoops

  3. @Mike – I think the claim that PSU is dirty in its own way. Different shades of gray. I might even say PSU has even less “moral ground” to stand on. On one hand, you’ve got guys getting sweet heart deals on cars and selling THEIR OWN PROPERTY. On the other hand, you’ve got people getting ASSAULTED. One is an NCAA infraction. The other can be a felony.

    I’ll leave the conclusion as an exercise for the reader.

  4. karen sargent says

    No denial going on here, folks.

    This is about institutional control, not individual players stepping out of line.

    With this kind of logic,why blame Bin Laden for terrorism? There are lots of people committed to murder. Why blame him? Don’t be a hater. You don’t even know the man. Ha!Ha!

    What you are experiencing is true fanaticism. Just relax and let this play out. Stop pointing fingers and take ownership for this.

  5. If you support cheating to win, why not just hire thugs to break the knees of every opposing quarterback? How about murder?

    Games exist as a set of rules. If we are playing tic-tac-toe and you get me to look away and draw a bunch of Xs on the page, you “won”, I suppose, but you didn’t win tic-tac-toe. What does winning mean? You certainly aren’t the best tic-tac-toe player.

    I’ve heard the argument before that cheating is part of the rules of the game. That argument is so illogical it makes my head spin. If that is the case, then what are the rules of the game? That there are no rules? Then it isn’t a coherent game: it is Calvinball.

    So celebrate ill-gotten national championships if you will. It wouldn’t mean your team is the best at football.

  6. @Karen- Not sure I follow your response.

    @Zach- You didnt answer my question. What do you want from your team Wins or Morals? If you can give me one example where a team had both I am open to hearing about it.

  7. It’s a false dichotomy. It’s like embracing theft because you can only be rich or moral.

    And I can’t give you an example because I’d have to know the moral character of every player on every championship team.

  8. @Jeremiah – it seems like your position is that it’s impossible to “win” (let’s just define that as 10-win seasons, BCS bowls, in the NC mix) by playing by the rules. Whether or not that’s true, we’ll never know since no one is playing by the rules. Still, that would obviously be everyone’s ideal situation.

    As long as the rules that are broken are not those that directly impact how competitive the team is (e.g. selling tickets, getting a free meal), I don’t really have a problem with it. A lot of the NCAA rules are absurd, but usually exist to prevent things like a booster buying Terrelle Pryor’s gold pants for $100,000. As long as the specific case doesn’t seem shady to anyone with some common sense, I can overlook it.

    As for coaches, they should be making a real effort to make sure all rules are followed. I continue to hold out hope that this Tressel mess was truly a lapse in judgment, because it’s hard for me to fathom that his entire public (and private, as related through anecdotes) persona was a sham. I just don’t buy that. That said, whatever price the school/NCAA decide he must pay for it is fine with me.

    Sorry for the grey area, but I don’t think this is really a black/white question.

  9. @Zach the only false dichotomy is trying to compare sports with real life.

    Just look at who are the BCS NC winners since it was created.

    Tennesee, Florida St, Oklahoma, Miami Fl, Ohio St, LSU, USC, Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Auburn.

    Thats a who’s who of NCAA infraction violators and thug producing group of schools.

  10. @Jason- I dont mind your Gray Area per se. I will gladly jump on the bandwagon that it can be done with both as soon as I am given a even half way decent example.

  11. Also, is there a bin Laden corollary to Godwin’s Law?

  12. @Jeremiah – I wish I had an example, but I agree with you that there isn’t one and probably never will be. Rules are generally responses to cleverness (like Pop Warner’s old tuck the ball up the jersey play) and generally inspire new cleverness. Oversigning is clever way to get around the scholarship limits while still following the rules, even though it is clearly against the intent of 85/25. But is it cheating?

    I don’t expect the players to be saints or the coaches to be mistake-free. All I would ask is that there is no active pursuit of egregious rule-breaking and that all own up to their misdeeds. To help with this, it would be nice if the NCAA could maybe once hand down a reasonable decision or punishment.

  13. @Jason you just said it better then I could. That was my point all along. Very nice response.

    Let me add this as BYU is my second favorite team I sure hope they never give up their morals to join the ranks of the top schools.

    Schools like Oregon and Boise St that have come out of no where to become consistantly top tier teams have done so at the cost of what ever morals they had before hand as evidenced by both schools being under investigation lately.

    I seriously doubt any Buckeye fan can say they would trade the last 10 years of wins and titles with Indiana fans and their bottom dwelling status but good morals.

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