Fake punt

The big-time college athletics complex has no shame. It's all about money.

When it was revealed that the University of Washington football program has too many Covid victims to field a legitimate team for the championship game, the Pac-12 Conference simply anointed the University of Oregon to play in Washington's place.

This season already has a huge asterisk on everything that happens, but that really takes the cake. The Ducks are not the second-best team in the league; that's Colorado. And so no matter who wins the "championship" contest, Oregon or USC, it will forever be a highly footnoted victory.

Now, I understand that Colorado is in the same division of the conference as USC, and the game is supposed to be the north versus the south. But if you're going to bend the rules to let the second-place team in the division play, why not bend them to let the second-place team in the conference play?

There's a more fundamental question: Why play the game at all? As I recall, the league didn't even have a championship game until about a decade ago. In the old days, the team with the best record over the course of the season was the champ. Period.

But hey, that left money on the table, didn't it? College athletics can't have that, even with a deadly pandemic raging. So bash each other's brains out for another weekend, they will.

On a related note, the Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether colleges can compensate players for playing, at least in limited ways, over the objection of the national conference. Given the makeup of the current Court, I would bet the answer will be no. And so the exploitation and hypocrisy will be perpetuated.

Granted, it's fun to watch. But is it ever a guilty pleasure.