Commentary

NCAA can't allow elite to stand apart

Originally Published: August 13, 2013
By Gregg Easterbrook | ESPN.com

TMQ illo Todd Detwiler

Who looks worse right now, Johnny Football or the NCAA?

Johnny Manziel stands accused of breaking NCAA rules by selling his autograph; the accusation follows a series of temper tantrums by the Heisman winner, who is barely even pretending to be a college student. The NCAA once again seems the pinnacle of hypocrisy, its rules threatening him, though the Indianapolis organization profits in every possible way from the sweat of unpaid athletes. How can NCAA president Mark Emmert live with himself? Easy -- Steve Berkowitz reports Emmert is paid $1.7 million a year to fast-talk his way through NCAA hypocrisy.

Texas A&M doesn't look so hot, either. The school has not exactly offered to give back the $37 million that, by its own estimate, Johnny Football pulled in for the Aggies last season. The big conferences and powerhouse programs look bad, drowning in cash generated by unpaid players -- $81 million in football revenue and $44 million in football profit last season at BCS champion Alabama, according to Department of Education figures.

Three cheers for Jay Bilas, who shamed the NCAA into dropped its direct sales of jerseys and other player "merch," happening even though the NCAA suspended A.J. Green, when he was at Georgia, for selling a jersey that was his own property. But only NCAA sales have been sidelined; college sales continue. Want a Johnny Football replica jersey? Texas A&M will sell it to you for $65. The school will sell you an authentic team helmet for $300. You could wear it to the office.

Wouldn't all this nonsense end if the players were paid? Or perhaps allowed to charge fees for autographs and public appearances, and to do so openly. Millions of people must be thinking that right now.

Here's the problem. In a free-market situation, Manziel would be raking in fees, as would Jadeveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater and a few others. The current rules clearly penalize them. But they are stars -- the ones likely to become wealthy from sports in any case. If NCAA strictures on player income were dropped, the winner-take-all aspect of athletic economics, already a problem, would become extreme. A small number of collegiate stars would roll in money from age 19 on, while the overwhelming majority of collegiate players would receive pocket change or nothing at all.

Germain Ifedi, Nehemiah Hicks, De'Vante Harris -- how much would they be paid if NCAA amateurism rules ended? All might start for Texas A&M this fall; only stars such as Manziel would be pulling down appearance fees.

Most players at football factories have no economic value. And most football programs are not high-profile like Texas A&M. Players at places like Akron, Louisiana Monroe, San Jose State -- what would they be worth? Everyone knows Manziel; far more typical is (chosen at random) Mitch Frentescu. Under a deregulated free-market system, perhaps 95 percent of college football players would not attract any payments, nor have any bargaining power, since they are so easily replaced.

Making the stars of college football wealthy could backfire by causing the sport to become less popular, with the revenue used for scholarships going into decline. Right now, college football revenue is used inequitably. Coaches and athletic department officials get too much -- the always-enterprising Allie Grasgreen reports that SEC football coaches earn eight times what SEC classroom instructors earn -- while subsidies flow from tuition to sports, harming typical students. The way college sports revenue is spent needs substantial reform, an issue this column will explore throughout the year.

But if college athletes could sell themselves while in school and live like kings, a small number of stars would benefit tremendously while declining public interest in college sports might harm all other NCAA athletes. Basketball star Chris Webber's 10-year excommunication by the NCAA recently ended; Rachel Bachman of the Wall Street Journal (which is becoming surprisingly good at sports reporting and commentary) wrote, "One of Webber's main beefs with college sports was that he made millions for Michigan but wasn't paid." That's true -- but most Michigan athletes generate little, if any, income for the university. Should Webber have been paid a lot while other Michigan athletes lost their scholarships?

Perhaps the public would not care if college athletes were paid; maybe Division I is just another pro football league that leases college logos. But if paid football players ended the charm of collegiate sports, the scholarship system might falter.

Each year, football scholarships put about 25,000 young men through college essentially free, and all but a handful have no hope of a pro sports paycheck. A diploma is their reward. Nowhere near enough football players graduate, but that is a separate issue. Too much attention is bestowed on stars like Manziel, for whom wealth awaits; average players should be the focus of concern.

It is ridiculous that the NCAA shafts athletes even after they leave college -- let's hope lead plaintiff Ed O'Bannon wins the lawsuit on that point. But it is fair for the NCAA to say to Manziel and others like him, "If you want to use our system to become famous, you must follow our rules." Screwed up as the system is, it does confer most of its benefits on average athletes.

As for Tuesday Morning Quarterback -- I'm back and I'm bad! Well, I'm back. Here is TMQ's annual August review of offseason events and lowlights.

Stats of the Offseason No. 1: The Patriots and Bengals are a combined 27-3 when BenJarvus Green-Ellis scores a touchdown.

Stats of the Offseason No. 2: The Packers opened and closed last season by losing to San Francisco; they open this season versus San Francisco.

Stats of the Offseason No. 3: Tom Brady is 9-4 versus Peyton Manning. On Nov. 24, the Patriots host the Broncos.

Stats of the Offseason No. 4: Peyton Manning is 3-5 versus San Diego; the Broncos and Chargers meet on Nov. 10 and Dec. 12.

Stats of the Offseason No. 5: In the past three seasons, the Jets were 5-1 versus the Bills and 22-23 versus all other teams.

Stats of the Offseason No. 6: Cleveland is on a 3-23 streak versus Pittsburgh.

Stats of the Offseason No. 7: Buffalo, City of Tampa, Detroit, Kansas City and Philadelphia are on a combined 0-23 postseason streak, while Cincinnati has not won a postseason game in 23 years.

Stats of the Offseason No. 8: Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens are 35-7 in Baltimore and 26-23 on the road.

Stats of the Offseason No. 9: Quarterback Matt Ryan and head coach Mike Smith of Atlanta are 56-24 in the regular season, 1-4 in the postseason.

Stats of the Offseason No. 10: The Lions are on a combined 0-43 streak in road games versus the Packers and Redskins. Detroit plays at Washington on Sept. 22 and at Green Bay on Oct. 6.

More Proof of the Decline of Civilization: South Dakota asked lawyers to move there.

At Least Putin Didn't Sell the Ring on eBay: The president of Russia denied stealing a Super Bowl ring.

[+] EnlargeGreat Gatsby
Warner Bros. Pictures A typical Saturday night in West Egg.

Borne Back Ceaselessly Into Remakes: The offseason saw the fifth Hollywood treatment of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby." Each one-ups the previous by portraying Gatsby as even richer than before. In the novel, Gatsby lives in an ostentatious home with a circular drive and a pool, but not in a palace. In the new Leonardo DiCaprio iteration, Gatsby seems to own the entire extent of Long Island, occupying a mansion the size of a city block.

When the film opened, the most expensive mansion for sale on Long Island was 32 Middle Lane in East Hampton, showing at $38.5 million. That deflates to $3.5 million in 1925, the year the novel is set. So Gatsby would have needed around $5 million in the money of the time to buy a stunning home plus afford servants and the very best in clothes, cars and parties. At the time, bootleg spirits were $2 or so a bottle. If Gatsby received 10 percent of the take -- a lot for a front man -- gangster Meyer Wolfsheim, his boss, would have needed to sell 25 million bottles of moonshine in a short period. Did bootleggers really move this kind of weight during Prohibition?

"Congratulations on Your Prestigious Award, You're Fired!" Nuggets coach George Karl won NBA Coach of the Year, then was let go. Denver management was mad because the team performed well during the regular season but exited the playoffs in the first round. This problem will be corrected next season if the Nuggets don't make the playoffs.

[+] EnlargeHancock
Getty ImagesTreasury Secretary Jacob Lew unveils his new signature to senior staff.

Good Thing John Hancock's Signature Was Not a Squiggle: New Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew changed his doodlebug signature, depriving the nation of $100 bills bearing an autograph that looks like a Slinky.

When Will the Penn State Situation Stop Getting Worse?: In January, as Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett filed a lawsuit against the NCAA over its Penn State fine, your columnist called the action "a transparent publicity stunt." During the offseason, a judge tossed the case out of court, finding cursory reading showed Corbett's claims "not plausible." A One L student would have known the lawsuit had no chance, owing to Corbett's lack of standing. TMQ notes again what he noted in January: If Gov. Corbett thinks the courts should be used for taxpayer-subsidized self-promotion stunts, this calls into question whether he was competent when he was Pennsylvania attorney general.

Now there's another publicity-stunt lawsuit against the NCAA, filed in the offseason by the Paterno family and a few others. The suit claims a tort based on the NCAA's enforcement of its own rules and also claims the NCAA defamed Joe Paterno. This seems another One L mistake -- generally, the dead cannot be defamed. A few states allow slander litigation regarding the deceased; Pennsylvania is not one.

At any rate Paterno was an "all-purpose public figure" under state law and thus nearly impossible to defame. The references to Paterno in the NCAA sanctions decision appear factual. Even if they can be proved false, NCAA claims are backed by a report supervised by a former federal judge, rendering it close to inconceivable Paterno's estate could prove the claims were calculated malice or knowing falsehood.

This same logic would seem to suggest former Penn State president Graham Spanier won't prevail in his defamation suit against the judge, Louis Freeh. As president of Pennsylvania's largest public university, Spanier was a public figure under state law. Even if accusations in the Freeh report could be proved factually wrong, it is difficult to believe Freeh was acting out of malicious desire to harm Spanier personally, which is the sort of bar that public figures must clear to recover in libel suits regarding their official duties.

Like the Gov. Corbett lawsuit, the Paterno family lawsuit should get the ejection-seat treatment from the legal system. It is hard to see how the estate of a deceased person has standing to sue a private organization over administrative rules agreed to by a third party. Penn State voluntarily joined the NCAA and voluntarily signed contracts saying the college would abide by NCAA sanctions if issued. Paterno voluntarily went to work for an institution that he knew full well was bound by these strictures. As for the members of the Penn State board of trustees who joined the suit, they should sit in on a One L class. Law is clear that boards of organizations must act collectively in court, members may not act individually. The real issue here seems to be that NCAA action ruins the marketing value of Paterno iconography, which his estate inherited. Today no advertiser wants to pay the family a fee for a JoePa image, and the family is hopping mad about that. Time and again since the scandal began, Paterno's heirs have presented themselves as high and mighty. The more the public learns about Paterno's family, the worse Joe Paterno looks in retrospect.

Smokey Bear Admits Starting Fires: The U.S. Marshals Service admitted losing thousands of high-tech encrypted radios. What do U.S. Marshals do all day long? One of their duties is to safeguard property.

[+] EnlargeFirewood
Jose CABEZAS/AFP/Getty ImagesBy Norwegian standards, this is fascinating.

It's Always a Party in the Land of the Vikings: Norway experienced a garbage shortage. Hit television shows included a 134-hour continuous broadcast of a ferry voyage, and a channel that aired salmon swimming.

The country's No. 1 TV show, source of what must have been, by Norwegian standards, lively watercooler conversation, discussed different ways to chop firewood. The Norwegian national anthem begins, "Yes, we love our country," as if this were a disputed matter.

Concussion Watch: Reader Harrison Krat of Burlingame, Calif., notes a new Vermont law requires concussion awareness training both for high school football coaches and high school football officials, plus that a certified trainer be present at games. Unknown a decade ago, state laws mandating concussion-awareness training for high school coaches are well on their way to being universal.

During the offseason, the American Academy of Neurology eliminated the old system of grading concussions: This has the effect of treating all concussions as serious. The AAN issued free smartphone apps for initial concussion evaluation -- iPhone and Android. Every youth and high school coach with a smartphone should have one of these apps.

More concussions occur in practice than during games: There are more contact hours, and more straight-line collisions. That makes it encouraging that in the offseason, the Pac-12 joined Pop Warner, the Ivy League, the NFL and some of the nation's state high-school athletics regulatory bodies in reducing maximum allowed contact time.

Last month researchers led by Stefan Duma of Virginia Tech, whom TMQ has been praising for years, published a study showing that reducing practice contact does not cause young players to suffer more head injuries during games. Some coaches have argued that without acclimation to regular hard contact at practice, young players would be more likely to sustain concussions during games. The study shows this is not so, providing an important factual underpinning for reduced contact in practice, at least as regards youth leagues. Whether reducing contact in practice does not backfire on older players isn't yet known.

Major League Baseball has taken the lead on baseball helmet safety, mandating the new Rawlings S100 helmet, which is believed to provide better protection than older models. Yet the NFL continues to sit on its hands about helmets, more concerned with avoiding liability than protecting NFLPA members or setting a positive example for young and high school players.

A popular football highlight is the Jadeveon Clowney hit in the 2013 Outback Bowl. The hit is dramatic because Michigan running back Vincent Smith's helmet flies off. Whenever a helmet flies off during action, that means either the helmet was improperly fitted or the chin straps weren't fastened -- both are concussion risk factors. TMQ has seen this hit replayed on numerous sports shows and never heard a sportscaster note that what's depicted is lack of helmet safety. A hit in which a helmet flies into the air is presented to young football players as exciting and cool -- rather than as an example of poor safety habits and poor coaching by Michigan.

Only Bad News Makes the Front Page: During the offseason the federal deficit began to decline, the state deficit in California began to decline and growth in health care costs continued to level off. This may seem like good news -- how naïve of you! The Washington Post declared on Page One, "Analysts worried that the sunnier projections, together with an improving economy … could serve to dampen enthusiasm in Washington for tackling the nation's toughest fiscal problems." Sunny projections, improving economy -- what terrible news!

Over the winter, for the first time during the Obama presidency the Senate Budget Committee actually did its job and passed a budget resolution. Any Congressional committee actually doing its job is a step forward, though the main "savings" in the Senate Budget Committee resolution were a projected long-term cut in Medicare payments to physicians. Bear in mind that every year since 2000, Congress has projected dramatic future savings in Medicare payments to physicians -- then canceled the "savings" until next year. When Nancy Pelosi said in January, "We Democrats have already cut $3 trillion from federal spending," what she meant was budget documents contain assumptions of unspecified future cuts in health care costs -- when current cuts are being canceled.

Now will Congress actually do its job and enact a federal budget? For four consecutive years, the United States has had no budget -- the country has run on "continuing resolution," a legislative gimmick that locks in sweetheart deals while preventing reform. So far both parties on the Hill are devoting themselves single-mindedly to preventing the enactment of a federal budget, since this is impossible without reasoned compromise.

[+] EnlargeThe Hong Kong
AP Photo"All hands abandon duck!"

Can't Make This Up: A giant rubber ducky sank in Hong Kong harbor.

I Am Positive This Item Is Right! A study showed that pundits who act confident and speak loudly are more likely to be believed than pundits who admit they don't know everything.

Revenge of the Smokestacks: In May, the General Motors share price was above its recent IPO level, while the Facebook share price was a third below its IPO. Public investors who bought into the new GM have done well. Public investors who bought Facebook are barely above water, while insiders did quite nicely, thank you.

Character Education Not on the Tennessee Curriculum: A "teachers' cheating ring" was exposed in Tennessee.

Can't Make This Up Either: A GPS device not only told a driver to go through a park and down a flight of stairs, the driver complied.

Alternative Reality Movie: TMQ liked the low-budget summer flick "The Way, Way Back." But what year was being depicted? In a movie set at a beach town, male characters wore knee-length shorts and girls wore triangle tops, contemporary fashion cues; the 1970 Buick woodie station wagon driven by Steve Carell is referred to as a valuable classic. But cell phones, laptops and tablets seemed absent, despite numerous teen and tween characters, and everyone wanted to play the Pac-Man machine at the tavern. What year was being depicted?

Those Downriver Were Miraculously Cured: The Lourdes shrine in France was closed by a flood that washed away the healing waters.

[+] EnlargeAccenture Match Play
Stuart Franklin/Getty ImagesWood, iron or shovel?

Golf Becomes Sign of the Apocalypse: A snowstorm caused an Arizona golf tournament to be suspended, while golf faced a doping scandal.

I Now Pronounce You Legal, by a 5-4 Vote: Offseason Supreme Court decisions made it likely gay marriage will be recognized by most if not all states -- though legislatures, not courts, should decide. Once interracial marriage was taboo, and now is widely accepted. Gay marriage is making the same transition.

As a churchgoer, I think eventually most denominations will embrace gay marriage too. The night before he died, the rabbi Jesus told his disciples: "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. You must love one another as I have loved you." Christian theology understands Jesus as speaking the thoughts of God; Jesus showed love, then commanded that others do likewise. When people of different races wed, they become a walking advertisement for the teaching that love hopes all things and endures all things. It's the same when people of like genders wed. Marriage anchored in love alone is good for individuals, good for society and not in conflict with faith.

Not religious? Re-read "Nineteen Eighty-Four." More than suppressing information or freedom, Big Brother was concerned with suppressing human love. Winston and Julia are tortured not so much because they know the war claims are fake but because they consider their love for each other something higher than obedience to Big Brother. The oppressive society of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" puts barriers before heterosexual marriage because love is involved; marriage should be solely for reproduction. Big Brother never would have allowed gay marriage.

Much will go wrong with gay marriages, just as much goes wrong with conventional marriages. But over the course of time, same-sex unions will strengthen marriage as an institution. Either same-sex attraction is God-given or is one of the many natural aspects of human sexuality -- a topic nobody really understands and which, in the long run, maybe we are better off not understanding. Polls show a majority of Americans already accept same-sex unions. Generations to come will wonder what the fuss was about.

This said, your columnist has a little issue and a big issue to address.

My little issue is, will Edith Windsor pay her back taxes? The cause that brought the plaintiff before the bar in the main Supreme Court case was that if her marriage to the late Thea Spyer had been legally recognized, she wouldn't have been hit with $363,000 in estate taxes on property Spyer left her. Now Windsor will receive an estate tax refund. But had the Spyer-Windsor union been legally recognized all along, the couple would have paid the marriage penalty on their income. If her estate tax is retroactively forgiven, doesn't that mean her marriage penalty is retroactively owed?

Confusingly altered by Congress many times, the marriage penalty mainly impacts high-earner couples. Spyer passed away in 2009, when the first $3.5 million of an estate was tax-exempt. So if Windsor received an estate tax bill of $363,000, that means Spyer left her at least $4.5 million, and must have been a high earner. Will Windsor estimate the amount of marriage penalty she and Spyer would have owed, and write a check to the Treasury? That would be the honorable thing to do. If one demands the financial benefits of legally recognized union, one should accept the financial downside.

The larger issue is that same-gender unions always will be rare. There is a far more significant group society should be concerned with -- the not-wed.

Recent data suggest that no more than 4 percent of the population identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. If this group has roughly the same luck in romance as heterosexuals, the gay-married population will peak at a maximum of 2 percent of adults. Compare to the 48 percent of American adults whose marriages failed, or who had bad luck in romance (luck is a HUGE factor), or whose spouses died, or who formed lasting commitments to another person but chose not to seek society's sanction -- which seems a fair choice to make.

The number of American adults who are not married always will be much larger than the best-case outcome for gay marriage. How do the not-wed feel as the married of any sexual orientation congratulate themselves on the front page? There's an aspect of self-flattery to the wedded boasting of their status.

Marriage is an important institution, especially for the raising of children. But postwar Western Europe has shown that marriage is hardly the only way to order a responsible, successful life. The financial, emotional and social concerns of those who either couldn't or didn't wish to join the ranks of the wedded should matter.

[+] EnlargeAlien
John Kobal Foundation/Getty ImagesIf he walked down Venice Beach, no one would look twice.

They Are Sure to Lose Interest: Mike Gravel, a former senator from Alaska, declared that space aliens are monitoring the Earth.

Argle-Bargle Goes to Outer Space: Offseason focus on gay equality brought to mind a 1992 "Star Trek" episode, "Outcast," written by Jeri Taylor. The Enterprise stops at a world of advanced androgynous beings where gender is banned -- anyone who considers himself male or herself female is shunned, while heterosexual romance leads to arrest and a horrific "cure." One of the aliens tells Commander Riker that she has known since she was very young that she was a woman, and lived a life of secretive shame. At a trial scene held before a scowling judge who looks disturbingly like an androgynous alien Antonin Scalia, the woman whose crime is attraction to men demands to know why she cannot decide for herself whom to love. The language of the episode is amazingly current.

Life Imitates Urban Legend: A British supermarket chain recalled bags of shelled peanuts because the bags did not warn that peanuts contain nuts.

Goofy NBA Trades of the Offseason: Not only did the Nets trade their 2018 first-round draft choice to the Celtics as part of the Kevin Garnett deal -- no one in Nets top management will be around when that debt comes due -- Boston assented only when Brooklyn agreed that the Celtics could add Jason Terry to the trade package they were sending. That is, Boston wanted to give more than Brooklyn wanted to receive. The Celtics' goal was to get rid of Terry's contract.

In a series of draft-day deals, Dallas exchanged the 13th selection and Jared Cunningham for the 18th selection. Usually teams surrender a player to move up; the Mavs surrendered a player to move down, in order to get rid of Cunningham's contract. The Minnesota Timberwolves sent Golden State a first-round draft choice and Malcolm Lee, receiving in return a second-round draft choice. The goal was to get rid of Lee's contract.

Nate Wolters was chosen by the Wizards, then traded to the Hawks, who traded him to the Bucks -- three employers in less than six hours. When Wolters, chosen with the 38th selection, went to the Bucks, the Hawks received in return Ricky Ledo, the 43rd selection -- whom the Hawks could have chosen at 38. Atlanta immediately traded Ledo to Dallas, giving him, too, three employers in less than six hours.

The NBA draft's frequent flier pick was No. 39, recorded as Portland from Minnesota via Cleveland, Boston and Portland.

Queen Victoria Named New York Times Lifestyle Editor: TMQ noted around this time last year that the mainstream media keep asserting "hooking up" is a shocking trend among the college-aged -- though can't seem to explain how it differs from "meeting someone at a party." Your columnist pointed out statistics showing young women and teen girls have become somewhat less sexually active during the very period the MSM says orgiastic "hooking up" is turning college females into sex maniacs. But runaway carnality makes for better headlines than a mild decline in bedroom activity.

Here was this offseason's leading contribution to hook-up hysteria, The New York Times expressing shock that college women are seducing college men not to lure them into marriage but just to have fun!

Manhattan and Brooklyn, where Times writers and editors lurk, are so gender-confused that perhaps through the New York City lens, the notion of women wanting sex with men seems totally outrageous. But new? Pulitzer-winning historian Robert Massie has written that Jennie Churchill, mother of Winston, took at least 200 lovers. She wasn't searching for her soulmate, she was looking for a good time; and this happened in the 19th century. TMQ repeats his claim from last year: Mainstream media types are wringing their hands over contemporary collegiate sexuality because "they feel mad that they missed the party," having already had their campus years.

Best line from the Times piece: "It is by now pretty well understood that traditional dating in college has mostly gone the way of the landline." Any college kids reading this, don't get caught out on dates, nobody does that anymore!

[+] EnlargeFat Lady Singing
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR"Gotterdammerung! We must play the Steelers again!"

The Opera Isn't Over 'Til the Fat Lady Kicks Down the Door: Stephanie Stradley reports that an opera about Bum Phillips is on track for a New York City premiere in 2014.

True or False: the NCAA Cares About Academics: The NCAA backed off a plan to require higher SAT or ACT scores for high school seniors with weak GPAs. The NCAA had been boasting about the plan, announced in 2011, as a major move toward higher academic standards in college sports. During the 2013 March Madness tournament, in television advertising the NCAA patted itself on the back for getting tough. As soon as March Madness concluded, the plan was canceled.

Check It Out While Bylines Still Exist: The website Byliner is rising in prominence as a destination both for original writing and for writers' archives. Here's a new Byliner trove of sportswriting. Considering Internet data storage has no meaningful limit, sites like Byliner soon may offer to smartphones more art, knowledge and scholarship than was found in the Great Library of Alexandria.

"It Was That or Use the Photo Weiner Texted," the Web Designer Explained: When former member of Congress Anthony Weiner threw his hat in the ring for New York City mayor, his campaign website used a skyline photo of Pittsburgh for New York.

Clang! Clang! Clang!: Brooklyn missed 52 shots -- more than one miss a minute -- in a playoff loss to Chicago. Showing solidarity, the Knicks missed 49 shots, also a miss a minute, in a playoff loss to the Celtics. Then the Pacers missed 14 consecutive shots while being outscored 36-4 by the Knicks in a playoff loss. After leading the league in scoring during the regular season, Carmelo Anthony shot .403 during the playoffs, with an average of 15 missed shots per game. Anthony had more missed shots per game during the Knicks' postseason wheeze-out than any other New York player had shots attempted.

[+] EnlargeKate Upton
Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagicKate Upton, posing overdressed for Antarctica.

Annual Swimsuit Issue Count: This year's Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue offered (counting editorial content only) 136 pictures of gorgeous women in bikinis, 35 photographs of topless models with hands or other items strategically placed (the best was a see-through inner tube), 16 pictures of women in only body paint and nine photographs of naked women, including cover model Kate Upton naked outdoors in Antarctica. There were also eight pictures of women in traditional one-piece suits. How did that get past the photo editor?

Advertising was highlighted by a Las Vegas tourism foldout offering 34 women in bikinis, and a seven-page advertisement of a tiny Dodge Ram driving across the body of a gorgeous woman in a string bikini. Issue grand total: 245 cheesecake pictures.

The wildest pics, of Upton naked outdoors in Antarctica, weren't fake. The pictures were taken in December -- austral summer -- but still, the breeze must have been bracing. In 1978, Ford Motors hired Muhammad Ali to stand outside in Alaska and deliver an endorsement. Ali wore a heavy parka with fur collar; in the same circumstances, Upton wore nothing. Who says girls are sissies!

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Ford Motocraft Bundled up in Alaska: too bad Ford didn't pay him to take it off.

Over at ESPN The Magazine (Published on Earth The Planet), the annual Body Issue went for quality rather than quantity, but didn't mince around -- all subjects were naked. Make that nude, which sounds more artistic. Colin Kaepernick graced one of the covers nude, one leg strategically placed, in a pose that must have required hidden guy-wires. (Guy-wires, get it?) Motocross racer Tarah Geiger doing a bike stunt while wearing nothing but boots was the issue's goofy shot.

Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit number, the world's highest-selling magazine issue, takes the traditionalist approach of pure cheesecake, and perhaps it is some reassurance that men still want to gawk at attractive women in undress. The Mag's Body Issue looks like what's next -- beefcake to appeal to the female audience, which increasingly commands economic power.

Harmonic Convergence of the Letter J: Reader Matt Metaglona of Baltimore points out that 2013 NFL draft choices included: D.J. Fluker (No. 11); D.J. Hayden, (No. 12); E.J. Manuel (No. 16); D.J. Swearinger (No. 57); T.J. McDonald (No. 71); J.J. Wilcox (No. 80); A.J. Klein (No. 148); B.J. Daniels (No. 237); T.J. Johnson (No. 251). Metaglona notes, "Nine players who go by a _.J. name broke the record of seven in the 2006 draft." The NBA draft added C.J. McCollum.

[+] EnlargeKapernick
ESPNHe's nude yet modest thanks to guy wires. Guy wires, get it?

Unified Field Theory of Creep: Reader Steve Sayre of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, reports, "GMC began advertising a 'summer closeout' sale on June 19th, one day before the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Though living in Hawaii, it's hard to tell the seasons apart." Five Star, which makes classroom supplies such as binders, began advertising "back-to-school savings" on July 6.

Don't Know Much About Geography: Nike marketed a Panthers shirt with an outline of South Carolina labeled as North Carolina.

Football Factory Schools Continue to Gimmick Their Skeds: "Big Ten athletic directors discussed moving to a 10-game conference schedule, but it ultimately proved too difficult because many league teams need to play at least seven home games a year to meet their budgets."

Illinois, for example, enters the season with an all-time gimmicked cupcake sked. Eight home dates, four away; four consecutive home games to start the season; opener at home against lower-division Southern Illinois, which last season lost by 21 points to lower-division Eastern Illinois, which lost to Central Arkansas and Tennessee-Martin.

Big Ten and other football-factory colleges that want gimmick schedules to ensure revenue don't need the money for players: the money goes to high living by coaches and administrators. In 2012, Illinois spent more on coaches' salaries than on all scholarship aid for all athletes in all sports. Find most large-university sports spending numbers here. The site takes some getting used to, but is a gold mine of the kind of information athletic departments don't want the public to know.

Thanks for the Advice: "I don't understand why the Heat don't cover Danny Green" -- Tony Parker at the postgame news conference, after San Antonio took a 3-2 series lead over Miami. To that point, Green was an incredible 25-for-38 from the 3 arc. Heeding Parker, the Heat began to cover Green, who went 2-for-11 for the remainder of the series as San Antonio dropped both contests.

Wizards-Spurs comparo: San Antonio has not had a lottery pick since 1997, and came within a botched overtime no-call of winning its fifth championship. In the same period, the Washington Wizards have had eight lottery picks and have won -- we'll get back to you on that. In 2011, the Whizzes used a lottery pick on Jan Vesely, who on his career averages more fouls and turnovers than baskets.

But Whizzies games are fun! In February, the Wizards defeated the Detroit Pistons on a 3-pointer as time expired, and the home crowd went wild. Wait -- not only did the shot not go through the hoop, replay showed it had been an air ball. The points were removed from the scoreboard and Detroit won.

Newspapers Still Matter: For their offseason departures, Greg Jennings took out a full-page ad in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Ed Reed took out a full-page ad in the Baltimore Sun, to thank local fans for cheering for them. They join Drew Bledsoe (when leaving New England), Phil Hansen (when leaving Buffalo) and other NFL stars to make this classy gesture. Why is it we don't type the terms "classy" and "NFL" in the same sentence more often?

Arthur Andersen Must Have Been S&P's Auditor: Standard and Poor's earned the anger of the White House by lowering its United States credit rating -- "the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened" -- when Barack Obama was standing for re-election. The Justice Department retaliated by suing the firm.

Just as investment banking houses that gave rave reviews to the IPOs of bogus startups defended themselves by essentially saying "only fools would believe our reviews," just as Enron's Kenneth Lay defended himself by essentially saying "everyone knows that CEOs lie," Standard and Poor's has defended itself by essentially saying, "only fools would believe our credit ratings." Jeannette Neumann of The Wall Street Journal reported, "Lawyers defending the company against the Justice Department's civil lawsuit say that statements about independence and objectivity are 'puffery' and were never meant to be taken at face value."

Meanwhile an auditors organization failed to notice it is being embezzled from.

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Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsAmherst College men win the Division III title. Who says schools with high standards can't be good at sports?

Who Says Academics and Athletics Don't Mix?: Yale won the NCAA hockey title, while Amherst College won the Division III men's basketball crown.

"Extra! Extra! Tweet All About It!": One day in August, The New York Times sold its Boston Globe subsidiary for $70 million; the Times Company purchased the Globe and related media properties in 1993 for $1.4 billion. The Times Company didn't merely lose most of its $1.4 billion; opportunity cost must be considered. In 1993, had the Times simply called an 800 number and put $1.4 billion into an S&P index fund, today the company would be holding, after taxes, about $3.7 billion -- enough to endow decades of success in journalism.

Two days after the Globe sale, the Washington Post Company sold its newspaper operations to Jeff Bezos for $250 million. Far back in the mists of time -- 20 years ago, when the Times bought the Globe and also when Post daily circulation peaked -- newspaper companies were hot plays, because the communication industry was profitable and rising in market power. No one knew the action would jump to that Interweb thing. Had the Washington Post sold in 1993, the price might have been a dozen times the price of 2013, because newspaper properties were growing, and corporate-acquisition pricing is driven by assumptions about growth potential.

Today, all assumptions about newspaper potential are negative -- but that view may prove as wrong as the Times Company's view of the value of the Globe 20 years ago. Physical delivery of newspapers is declining, but exposure to newspapers is increasing. In 1993, the 830,000 customers who paid to make a Washington Post go thunk in their driveways were the entirety of the Post's audience. Today only 475,000 pay for the printed edition, but many more around the nation access Post content -- including from pocket devices that didn't exist 20 years ago, when a newspaper could be read only at home or at a desk.

Eventually a way will be found to render the new distribution model profitable. Bezos didn't buy the Washington Post out of nostalgia for the days of hawkers yelling "Extra, extra!" He bought the Post because he saw an asset with a lot of upside available for a distress price.

[+] EnlargeGerard Depardieu
Didier Baverel/WireImageIt's hard being a former international heartthrob.

"What About Us, We're Obscure Too!": LaSalle recorded its first men's March Madness win in 23 years, then reached the Sweet 16 as a 13-seed, one of the lowest seeds ever to make the Sweet 16. And was totally ignored, because even lower-seeded Florida Gulf Coast advanced.

Buenos Aires Finally Lives Up to Its Name: The Ralph Lauren firm admitted bribing Argentine government officials with high-end perfume.

No Wonder He Was Perfect for Cyrano de Bergerac: Movie star Gerard Depardieu left France to protest its confiscatory new tax rates, which apply only to income, not to the inherited property of the country's aristocracy. That is, individual effort in the present is punished while rentier inheritance is protected. Depardieu's being in the news meant his picture circulated. Once considered among the world's most handsome men, Depardieu now looks like, well, let's just say he has not aged gracefully.

Seven-Headed Dragons, Armored Locusts Flee Los Angeles: The Clippers not only won their division, they swept the Lakers.

Sudden Spike in Men Applying for NYPD Jobs: Donnie Wahlberg, who plays an NYPD detective on the CBS police show "Blue Bloods," acquired his fourth hot-babe partner in three seasons. Wahlberg's partners have been played by actresses Jennifer Esposito, Megan Ketch, Megan Boone and Marisa Ramirez, all unusually attractive. Is this in Wahlberg's contract?

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Jeff Kravitz/Getty ImagesMarisa Ramirez, who portrays a typical NYPD detective.

Procedurals dominate non-sports non-singing-contest prime-time television. "Blue Bloods" is the thoughtful member of the genre: Characters debate law-enforcement ethics. But as on all procedurals, incidence of gunplay is exaggerated: Wahlberg's character has shot and killed more bad guys than, most likely, all current actual NYPD detectives combined. TMQ has noted that TV crime shows overstate both the frequency of homicide and the effectiveness of police work. Despite the carnage depicted on TV, homicide continues to decline. But many crimes are never solved, let alone solved immediately with relentless efficiency, like on TV.

In the "Blue Bloods" season finale, the mayor of New York is gunned down while touring a housing project. The impression was given that shooting at public officials is a routine event in New York City -- though William Gaynor, 103 years ago, was the sole New York mayor ever shot at. After exaggerating violence, the episode shifted to exaggerating the efficiency of police work. Detectives rapidly gather evidence against the gang members responsible, and find witnesses who will identify them. In the concluding scene, an NYPD army invades the housing project, snags exactly the right suspects on the first try and drags the bad guys away as law-abiding residents clap. In other words, the season finale was science fiction. Even the best detectives would need weeks to build a case against an entire gang.

Playing under the finale's scene depicting the NYPD as perfect guardians of justice was the Rolling Stones song usually called "Heartbreaker," though the title is "Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo." The lyrics begin with the words "The po-lice in New York City," which seems why the music was used -- but the song goes on to describe incompetent cops killing the wrong person. Didn't any of the producers listen to the lyrics?

[+] EnlargeCaptain Renault in Casablanca
Warner Bros.Captain Renault was shocked, shocked to learn of beer drinking at college parties.

If Anyone Forces You to Ride a Mile in His Mercedes, Ask How He Afforded It: Johnny Football denounced Texas A&M because a parking ticket was placed on his Mercedes. Perhaps Manziel believes football stars ought to be exempt from the rules that apply to everyone else. That belief has brought many talented athletes low. Later he apologized then tweeted, "please walk a day in my shoes." The expression is "walk a mile," which is the sort of thing an actual college student should know.

Not many college students drive a late-model Mercedes. In this ESPN All Access interview, Manziel settles behind the wheel of what looks to yours truly like an E Class, a line that starts at $52,000. Manziel's parents said they bought him the car -- after all, they don't have to pay for college. But the sight of a "college student" driving a new Mercedes rang many alarm bells.

The notion of walking a mile in another person's shoes traces to Matthew 5:41, in which Jesus instructs, "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile." Roman law allowed soldiers to compel civilians to carry military supplies for one mile; carrying the packs further was a way of turning the other cheek. "Go also the second mile" is oft-quoted in churches. Rarely mentioned is what Jesus said next: "Give to everyone who begs from you." How many Bible-thumping televangelists follow their Redeemer's instruction to hand money to the poor on the street?

They Might Have Recused Themselves: Adam Schefter reported that at an owners meeting, the vote to toss out the tuck rule was 29-1-2, with the Redskins and Patriots abstaining. Abstaining?

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AP Photo/Kevin FrayerLike your camel grilled, baked or poached in sauterne?

Headline of the Offseason No. 1: MALI TO GIVE FRANCE NEW CAMEL AFTER FIRST ONE IS EATEN. Really.

Fake Is More Valuable Than Real -- Just Like in Romance!: Neiman Marcus admitted it had been selling real fur as fake fur.

Rutgers to Change Name to Keystone Kops Kollege: Just before the Julie Hermann hire caused yet another round of bad publicity for Rutgers athletics, Parker Executive Search, the headhunter firm that recommended her, issued a press release in order to take credit. The university committee that approved Hermann has 28 members, far too many to be effective. TMQ noted of a previous Rutgers athletic foul-up that the college's board of directors has 88 members, far too many to be effective. TMQ supposed of the Rutgers board that such a large number was named "for reasons of political cronyism." Looks like the Rutgers search committee operates on the same principle.

Just to prove it was no fluke, Rutgers bungled the hiring of new men's basketball coach Eddie Jordan, who is a member of the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni -- though he never graduated. The college tried to weasel its way out of this latest blunder by declaring it's fine that Jordan didn't graduate because his job does not require a college degree. So why should anyone pay $28,794 (in state) to $48,426 (out of state) annually to attend Rutgers if the university itself thinks college diplomas don't matter?

Meanwhile the sun has risen, so that must mean Rutgers has gone out of its way to make itself look bad again.

The Basketball Gods Chortled: Liberty University made the March Madness men's basketball tournament while defending champion University of Kentucky did not. Then Robert Morris defeated Kentucky in the NIT.

More Proof of the Decline of Civilization: On Easter Sunday, AMC's "The Walking Dead" had higher ratings than "The Bible" miniseries. Throughout the winter "The Talking Dead" -- a panel discussion about something that does not exist, zombies -- averaged 4 million viewers.

Civilization Rallies: NBC's "Do No Harm" was canceled after just two episodes, following "the lowest-rated in-season broadcast scripted series premiere in the history of the Big Four networks."

Spiders Fall in Charlotte's Web: Trailing 63-60 with 5 seconds to play in men's basketball, UNC Charlotte defeated the University of Richmond -- after Richmond was called for two regular fouls and three technical fouls, in five seconds. UNC Charlotte's Pierria Henry shot 11 free throws, missing three -- eight points in five seconds by the same guy.

Note No. 1: The contest paired the Spiders versus the Forty Niners. Richmond's Spiders nickname is among the goofiest in sports, though an East Coast college calling its teams the Forty Niners, a California phrase, is fairly goofy too.

Note No. 2: Beginning this fall, UNC Charlotte will field a football team in Division I-AA, planning to move up to Division I in 2015. If the past is any guide, adding football to its campus will bring UNC Charlotte lots of media attention, plus cause cutbacks in the school's academic budget. Of the roughly 250 colleges and universities playing top-division football, all but 23 lost money on athletics. Sis boom bah!

Note No. 3: If you want to attend home games of the Forty Niners' first football season, which includes dates against Chowan and Wesley of Delaware, you must purchase a personal seat license. A "gold tier" PSL for midfield seats is $2,500 up front, plus the cost of tickets -- NFL prices for a Division I-AA program!

Like many big-college sports programs, UNC Charlotte engages in a legal fiction of pretending sports admissions are donations to the college, and therefore tax deductible. That means average people who can't afford PSLs subsidize them. This hidden public subsidy to NCAA sports needs to end. Not only are average people subsidizing the special seats of the affluent, money that might have been become a donation to the academic mission of a college instead is diverted to athletics.

Have a Big Gulp on the Taxpayer: In March, at the same time First Lady Michelle Obama was urging Americans to improve their diets, the federal government gave a $862 million bailout to Big Sugar companies. The bailout was triggered by falling prices, which were a supply-and-demand response to declining consumption of processed sugar. So Americans who were cutting back on sugar were penalized for doing so by a federal subsidy that insulated sugar producers from free-market forces.

Mob Rumored Moving in on Opera, Modern Dance: New York City accused arts organizations of having ghost employees on city-subsidized pensions.

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Christopher Polk/Getty ImagesHair team? Check. Makeup team? Check. Nails team? Check. Phony smile team? Check.

Makeup Team?: At the red carpet at the Oscars, Charlize Theron thanked "my hair team and my makeup team." Hair team?

Headline of the Offseason No. 2: U.S. TO AIR DROP POISONED MICE ON GUAM.

At Least He Wasn't Promoted: After the media spotlight on the GSA scandal faded, the executive to blame, whom Barack Obama said was "fired," quietly got his job back.

Education Official Fakes Educational Credential: Last season, TMQ noted the fake Ph.D. scandals sweeping Europe. During the offseason, Annette Schavan resigned her position in the German government after the University of Dusseldorf revoked her doctorate, finding 60 pages were plagiarized. Who was Schavan? The education minister.

The Malaysia Chronicle reports that at least two high officials of that country's government claim doctorates that appear to be fakes.

Coaching Carousel Keeps Spinning: Tony Sparano (now at Oakland) and Steve Spagnuolo (now at Baltimore) each are with their third team in as many seasons. In just two seasons as the Panthers' head coach, Ron Rivera has fired seven assistant coaches. Rivera can't be to blame for anything! At the conclusion of the 2012 season, Rex Ryan fired both his highest-ranking assistants. Ryan can't be to blame for anything! Dennis Erickson is now the "co-offensive coordinator" -- that's sure to work out -- at the University of Utah. It is the second consecutive year the Utes have had two people, both new, both holding the title "offensive coordinator." For Erickson, it is his fifth team in 10 years. Which doesn't make him weird; in football coaching, that makes him normal.

Next Week: TMQ's AFC preview.

In addition to writing Tuesday Morning Quarterback for ESPN, Gregg Easterbrook is the author of "The King of Sports" and eight other books, and is a contributing editor of The Atlantic. His website is here and you can follow him on Twitter here. Every Tuesday during the football season, at 3 p.m. Eastern, he will answer questions on Twitter about that day's column.

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