As the football season grinds on, there are two unrelated items (except for football) that we need to discuss. The first deals with sportsmanship, or the lack thereof. A Long Island football coach has been suspended because his team won big — too big. Robert Shaver, the head football coach at Plainedge High School, in North Massapequa, NY, received a one-game suspension after a Nassau County committee found he could have avoided an outsized 61-13 victory by his Red Devils against the Cyclones of South Side High School in Rockville Centre. A margin over 42 points triggers a review. The committee determined Shaver should have pulled his starting players as the 4th quarter began. Shaver told the committee both teams were unbeaten, and he feared a Cyclones come-back if he took out his starters.
An official with the National Federation of State High School Associations says in most places lopsided wins are typically handled by running out the clock or stopping play.
The committee called the final score “lopsided,” according to a rule instated three years ago. The policy mandates any coach winning a game by more than 42 points must explain in writing how play-calling or strategy was adjusted to help keep the scoring down for the rest of the game, such as taking out the starters. The governing body decided that Shaver took too long to take out his regular players, and suspended him for one game. It was the first time a coach had been suspended under the rule, and some in the town were not happy with the decision, saying it sends the wrong message to the students playing. Over the weekend, Plainedge played the game Shaver was suspended for and won by 35 points, even after punting on first down in some situations, to help keep their score down.
Could that happen here? CBS newsman and native Texan Bob Schieffer once observed, “In Texas, the week begins on Friday nights.” Houston sports writer Mickey Herskowitz wrote, “There must really be something to religion. People keep comparing it to Texas high school football.” So this “lopsided” rule might run into trouble here. In recent weeks, Duncanville beat Richardson 59 to 0. Richardson Lake Highlands trounced Dallas Molina 62-0. Robert Lee edged Paint Rock 108-74, which is only a 34-point margin of victory, so the Robert Lee coach would be safe from suspension. Incidentally, Paint Rock (population 273 at the 2010 census, down from 320 at the 2000 census) is where Rick Perry was raised, but he didn’t go back.
What about the winning coach, if he (is there a she among Texas high school head football coaches?), deliberately held down the score? That would be grounds for dismissal if not a good tar-and-feathering. (Katy beat Katy Taylor 57-0. It was North Shore 62, Channelview 0.)) There was once a coach in south Texas who kept running up the score, and some of his colleagues in the district objected. He explained, “When we get into the playoffs, I want my starters to be experienced, and that won’t happen if they sit out the last half.” He’s got a point.
Now we come to the second item: the even further commercialization of college athletics, mostly football. According to The New York Times, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, aka the Ragin’ Cajuns, has joined the crowd in putting their name on a beer — for a price. Ragin’ Cajuns Genuine Louisiana Ale and its younger sibling, Ragin’ Cajuns Genuine Louisiana Lager, are for sale from Beaumont to New Orleans. The beer is not sold on campus, and it is not advertised in student media. The distributor is also responsible for an alcohol awareness program for incoming freshmen. The name of the school is barely mentioned: It only appears on the bottom of a six-pack of bottles, where it is noted that some of the proceeds go to support academics, research and athletics. The money actually goes to the university’s general fund, some of which is allocated to athletics. The Ragin’ Cajuns beers have generated $1.2 million in sales since 2015, of which Louisiana-Lafayette has taken in $140,000 — its standard 12 percent royalty fee.
The school, like many others, is having problems raising money at a time when attendance at college football games nationwide is falling. More than 20 universities are marketing their own brand of beer such as Boiler Black (Purdue), Old Tuffy (North Carolina State), El Lobo Rojo (New Mexico) and Stampede (Colorado). For schools like Louisiana-Lafayette — whose $32 million in athletics revenue last year was about one-fifth the total of Louisiana State, the state’s flagship university — trying to keep up means having to drum up new income and ways of promoting itself. So the next time you see a college football game on ESPN at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, you’ll know money talks in academia, too. In comparison to the Cajuns’ $32 million, Texas A&M leads the nation in schools that make the most revenue off of college sports at $192.6 million. Second? The University of Texas at $183.3 million.
More schools should follow. That university on South Main is a natural: Rice Rice. Aggies can grow moss on a rolling stone, so how about Reveille Morning Coffee? UT’s mascot is Bevo, named for a popular non non-alcoholic malt beverage, or near beer, during Prohibition. Alas, the original Bevo was barbequed for an after-game party, but today Bevo Beer should sell well in Austin, or maybe Bevo Steaks. Another idea: Attention shoppers: On Aisle 5 you will find Those Good Old Baylor Limes. Sorry, TCU, but Horned Frog Legs didn’t pass the focus group. Arkansas’ yell, “Pig Sooey” does not sell a soup, Pig Gooey. As for UH, today Cougars has a different meaning in some quarters. Get Ford to start turning out SMU Mustangs.
This just in: Grapevine 77, Carrolton Turner 0. Bushland over Muleshoe. 76-0. Southland beat Wilson, 92-42. Coaches, don’t move to New York.
Ashby plays at email@example.com