Florida International U

Michelle Kaufman: Mismatched college football games a rip-off for fans, players

Hate to break it to you, Hurricanes fans, but if you were at Sun Life Stadium last Saturday, you got ripped off.

Sure, it was fun to watch your beloved Canes score 11 touchdowns in a 77-7 rout of severely overmatched Savannah State, but you deserve a partial refund (or at least a free pizza) because that was advertised as a game, and it really wasn’t. It was a glorified scrimmage. Truth be told, a UM intrasquad scrimmage would have been more competitive.

Savannah State should not be allowed to step on the field with the likes of UM, which paid the Tigers $375,000 to rent out human tackling dummies. It was disgraceful, and put those smaller, weaker, less-experienced players in physical danger.

The Tigers played three Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the past two seasons, and lost 84-0 to Oklahoma State and 55-0 in a weather-shortened game to FSU before the UM debacle, which was so lopsided that the coaches agreed to a 12-minute fourth quarter to lessen the blow.

Consider that Savannah State opened this season with a 77-9 loss to Georgia Southern and also lost 66-3 to Troy. Do the math. They have been outscored 220-19 so far this season. Last year, they finished 1-10 and their only victory was over Division II Edward Waters College. They had no business facing the Hurricanes. If the NCAA wants to maintain some semblance of dignity, this type of game has to be stopped.

If accepting big payouts and being humiliated is the only way for a lowly football program to stay afloat, then that program should reduce its budget, drop to a lower division and play similar teams. Or, if need be, drop football altogether and concentrate on more affordable sports such as basketball, soccer, baseball, track and field, tennis, swimming and volleyball.

FIU and FAMU lost by a combined score of 148-0 to seventh-ranked Louisville and fourth-ranked Ohio State, respectively, last weekend. Is that worth watching? Is that why FIU students pay athletic fees each year and alumni make donations, so the Panthers can fly to Louisville and get humiliated?

What is the point? Who benefits?

The FIU administration seriously considered dropping men’s soccer a few years ago, a nationally respected program that won two Division II national titles, reached the Division I championship game, and produced several Major League Soccer players. That same administration is willing to pour millions into an academically troubled football team has been outscored 187-23 so far this season, including a 38-0 loss to Central Florida and 34-13 loss to Bethune-Cookman.

The scores of many of last weekend’s so-called major college football games were not just laughable, they were insulting to the paying audience and advertisers who invest big bucks for fall Saturday airtime.

Ohio State beat Florida A&M 76-0. Louisville pummeled FIU 72-0. Florida State rolled over Bethune-Cookman 54-6. Washington crushed Idaho State 56-0. And Baylor trounced Louisiana-Monroe 70-7.

Six top 20 teams won by a combined score of 405-20. Read that again. Slowly. Four-hundred-and-five to 20.

The lopsided statistics were downright staggering:

FIU and FAMU trailed by a combined 93-0 at halftime.

The Buckeyes had gone up 21-0 over the Rattlers in the first six minutes. FAMU was behind 48-0 before managing a single first down. It was Ohio State’s most lopsided win since 1935. Things were just as mismatched and ugly in the FIU-Louisville game, where the Panthers rolled up a whopping 30 yards of total offense. FIU rushed a total of 3yards — yes, 3 — on 34 carries. Quarterback E.J. Hilliard was 4 of 9 for 27 yards.

Is that worth watching? Who benefits?

Perhaps the most egregious offender is 20th-ranked Baylor. The Bears ought to be ashamed of themselves. They have won their first three games 69-3 over Wofford, 70-13 over Buffalo and 70-7 over Louisiana-Monroe. Add those up, and Baylor has destroyed its opponents 209-23. According to STATS, Baylor is the first Football Bowl Subdivision/Division 1-A team since LSU in 1930 to open a season with at least 60 points in three consecutive games.

The NCAA cannot allow these so-called games to continue.

One way to stop it would be to require lower-echelon teams to meet criteria before they can schedule games against big-time programs. North Dakota State, a Football Championship Subdivision team, deserved to play FBS team Kansas State because it has beaten FBS teams the past three seasons — 22-7 over Colorado State last year, 37-24 over Minnesota in 2011 and 6-3 over Kansas in 2010. So, it made perfect sense for them to play Kansas State this season, and was fun to watch them pull off the 24-21 upset.

Another idea could be to reduce the college football season by one game. If richer programs are going to use one weekend a season to pay off a weakling and pad their records, then why not just shorten the season? It would cut down on meaningless embarrassing games, and would give football players an extra week to focus on their studies. Lord knows, they could use it.

They are, after all, student-athletes, aren’t they? Or are they merely bodies for rent to the highest bidder? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell.

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