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Life Lessons

The Horror of Big-Time Football

What is going on in the state of Tennessee?

First, four basketball players are picked up because they are suspected of having drugs, alcohol and a gun in the car.

Now some students are rioting because a football coach, Lane Kiffin, left the school to take a job at the University of Southern California. Let’s repeat that: Students rioted because the football coach left town.

As Dorothy says in “The Wizard of Oz,” “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

Yes, the landscape seems to be changing. Granted, it’s not the first time that fans have rioted. A suspension to Canadiens star Maurice Richard brought Montreal fans into the streets in the 1950s. A World Series victory by the Tigers brought out the worst in the city of Detroit in 1984.

But at the University of Tennessee? It’s a school, right? You wonder what the professors must be thinking. Rocky Top has rocks in its head. Do the diplomas come wrapped in playbooks?

Meanwhile, the University of Southern California didn’t exactly come off as a dazzling role model when it introduced Kiffin at a news conference. Los Angeles-area sports columnists greeted him with the welcome they would extend to a swine flu bug.

Do you suppose the USC students will riot if and when Kiffin leaves? Or if he calls the wrong play?

Let’s hope that the Tennessee students have an excuse. Maybe they were blowing off some steam. Was it exam week? When I was in school, we did it, too. But our way was to go to the campus movie house and yell and hoot at “Night of the Living Dead.”

Somehow it fits, as college sports every day becomes more of a horror.


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