The Z Section: The Theater Of The Absurd In College Sports

So, USC athletic director Pat Haden apologized for conduct that was called “inappropriate” by Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott over the weekend. This might have happened as well.

My associate editor Bart Doan will have something to say about Pat Haden in his column, Muffed Punts, tomorrow. I’m not going to delve into what Pat Haden did for that reason.

Just stop, though, before you read any longer. A lot of people are making a fuss about what Pat Haden did. It was “inappropriate” and has caused a great big stir in this realm we refer to as college sports.

Boy, Haden must have REEEEEEEEEALLLLLLLLLY screwed up here. He must have done something profoundly embarrassing. It must be a huge scandal, right?


Here’s what Haden did: He argued with an official about calls.

Just stop yourself.

Take a step back.


Read those seven words again:

He argued. With an official. About calls.



Allen Iverson has something to say about this situation, the latest absurd sideshow of a nothingball in college sports:

We should all embarrass ourselves the way Pat Haden did. If that’s the biggest scandal an athletic director is guilty of, he’s probably doing all right in terms of ethics. While Saturday’s events in Palo Alto, Calif., did not reflect well on Haden, the reaction to this story has been over the top. 

This is where discussion of Haden ends (check Bart’s Muffed Punts column on Tuesday for more on the story… and more humorous tales about driving properly).

The focus of this week’s Z Section is the larger question of integrity on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.


Let’s see if you’ve been paying attention, especially during the summer.

Do you recall the name Mike Gould?


What about Lieutenant General Mike Gould?


You mean Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, Superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy from June of 2009 through July of 2013, when this far-flung scandal — reported on Aug. 4 by Tom Roeder of the Colorado Springs Gazette — began and then spiraled way out of control?

Yeah, THAT Mike Gould… the same Mike Gould who — guess what? — sits on the College Football Playoff Selection Committee and has not resigned or been asked to resign.

Let’s not even talk about Condoleezza Rice. She can stay out of this particular conversation after the furor that greeted her presence on the committee.

Let’s focus on how a superintendent who did not “superintend” very well gets one of those choice 13 seats on a prestigious committee. Let’s focus on how a true scandal, one with genuine consequences in terms of lives traumatized; academic standards ignored; character in recruiting pushed to the side; and grown-ups chasing on-field football success, hasn’t led to Mike Gould’s departure from this committee.

It’s not as though Gould held a leadership position at a power-conference school, one where the events that swallowed up Air Force would not shock as many college sports fans. This happened at one of the three FBS service academies, at one of the few athletic programs in this country that are expected to hold themselves to a higher level of conduct.

It’s more than a little ironic that on this very day, the NFL — which had reportedly not seen the Ray Rice video once upon a time, a claim which flies in the face of plausibility unless the league and Roger Goodell chose to not see said video — finally levied the punishment that should have belonged to Rice all along. The NFL humiliated itself in its handling of the Rice case, but at least (and I know this is a bread crumb of credit, not anything more) the league owned up to its mistake and finally got around to doing the right thing.

What will the College Football Playoff Selection Committee — so consumed with the need to be an integrity-rich body — do with Mike Gould?

CALLS? We talkin’ bout CALLS?

If Pat Haden is asked to resign and Mike Gould isn’t, what does that say about the state of the country — and the times — in which we live?



Every week at The Student Section, the editors on staff discuss the major topics flowing from the weekend, such as conference strength. You can see, in the piece just linked to, comments about the Big Ten’s lost weekend, Pac-12 divisional strength, the Big 12, and the ACC.

What about the conferences outside the power five?

One thing appears quite clear: The Mountain West is in for a rough time.

Boise State didn’t play that poorly on Aug. 28 against Ole Miss. With better red-zone play and better quarterbacking decisions from Grant Hedrick, the Broncos could have beaten the Rebels. However, they unraveled in the final quarter and a half, losing by 22. While it certainly seems to be the case that Ole Miss has a defense it can trust (the performance against Boise State being a much better indicator of its quality than this past Saturday’s glorified scrimmage against a hollowed-out Vanderbilt team), Boise State still fell short in that game, which was eminently winnable well into the third quarter.

Boise State’s chops were made evident this past Saturday. Toughened and sharpened by their experience on a generally unfriendly neutral field nine days earlier, Boise State made full use of home-field advantage by clocking Colorado State. When one then considers how feeble Utah State was against Tennessee and how thoroughly Fresno State was eviscerated by Utah in week two, the Mountain West has very little to be happy about. Oh, and San Diego State had first and goal on the North Carolina 3 in the final 90 seconds of regulation, trailing by four, only to throw an interception. What an absolutely brutal season it has been for the Mountain West so far. The American and the Marshall Thundering Herd both have to like how the 2014 season has begun.


It’s amazing, isn’t it: Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska did to McNeese State what Tommie Frazier of Nebraska did to Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl. McNeese State, Nebraska, Florida, and Fiesta Bowl in the same sentence — miracles live among us, even now.


Quiet scores that should be disquieting for at least one team: Mississippi State 47, UAB 34. Colorado 41, Massachusetts 38. Yes, Mississippi State gave up 34 to UAB, and Colorado nearly allowed 40 to UMass.


Notice the attrition being faced at Florida State after Saturday’s game against an FCS team. 

The moral of the story, in one tweet:


Another scheduling tip to schools: Don’t play UTEP at 9:05 p.m. local time… right, Texas Tech?


Finally, here’s the amount of attention and mental energy BYU players, coaches and fans should be devoting to the possibility that the team will go 12-0:




About Matt Zemek

Editor, @TrojansWire | CFB writer since 2001 |