The NCAA has a problem on its hands with college football. The inmates are running the asylum. Or in this case, the Tigers and Longhorns. I give you as examples the following events that occurred before, during and after LSU’s 45-38 win over Texas in Austin Sept. 7.
When the teams were stretching on the field at least an hour before the start of the game, players from both sides began jawing back and forth at each other. A couple met at the 50-yard line and looked like they wanted to fight.
The players were separated, but it didn’t end there. Shortly after that incident, Texas players were confronted by an LSU assistant coach. Later, a few LSU players went over to the Texas sideline and drank from the Texas water bottles. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see any coaches around to keep LSU players from pulling that stunt.
During the game, the LSU band members took their seats for the game. Their seats were in the nosebleed section of the stadium, far away from the field. Most games I watch have the band close to the field, but hey, I’m not from Texas.
Days following the game, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron accused Longhorn officials of intentionally turning off the air conditioning in the visitor’s locker room before the Tigers’ arrival.
Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte responded to the accusation, saying he hadn’t heard anything about it until Orgeron’s complaint. Del Conte added, “We provide one of the best visitor setups available and are proud of the efforts we put forth in hosting our guests.”
If Del Conte and his staff cared about how they treated visiting teams and their entourage, the LSU’s band seats might have been closer to the 50-yard line than to the Big Dipper.
Please don’t mistake me for someone who likes either Texas or LSU. What bothers me is that outside of Del Conte’s response about the locker room air conditioner, I haven’t seen a statement from a coach, an athletic director or a school president that addressed any of the issues between the teams.
And a statement from the NCAA on the incidents?
That silence is deafening.
Unfortunately, while such incidents like those in the Texas-LSU game are rare, they aren’t new to college football. My guess is that they won’t be the last ones we see between teams this season.
It just seems to me there is no accountability for such behavior. Not from the schools and certainly not from the NCAA.
Compare that with what I experienced as a high school football official the first two weeks of the season. During the first week, players for both teams, along with students from both schools, brought a sportsmanship banner to the center of the field to celebrate the relationship between the two schools. Before that, the home team band played the fight song of the visiting school.
During the game, there was no trash talking and no cheap shots. It was just good, clean football.
My experience during the second week of the year found me at a school whose announcer is a proud graduate of the school. He sings the school fight song before the game.
I don’t mention the schools by name, because frankly, similar situations play out every week at high school sporting events.
That’s why I prefer high school athletics over big TV matchups like Texas and LSU.
For those of you watching your local high school athletic teams play this year, pay attention to how your school’s coaches, activity directors and administrators work with your student-athletes. It takes a lot of people moving in the right direction to provide the right opportunities for young people.
I can tell you that the coaches in our coverage areas hold their athletes to high expectations. Our athletes are coached by people of integrity. And athletes respond with their best efforts.