Reusse: All that separates Miami from Gophers is the sun, the beach and the ocean

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 19, 2011 - 2:41 AM

Wherever there is big-time college athletics, there will be the potential for scandals such as the one the Hurricanes are facing.

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Miami football coach Al Golden (center)

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Chris Rock once said, "Men are as faithful as their options." To expand on Mr. Rock's insight, we can add, "Young men are as reliable in following NCAA rules on extra benefits as their options."

The football Gophers might have won less often than preferred over the past decade, but Minnesotans can take heart in the fact our beloved rodents have never been implicated in making regular visits to yachts overrun with hookers.

Admittedly, our other prominent footballers, the Vikings, went on such a cruise a few years back, although it was a boat not a yacht, and as true professionals, the participants paid for their own working girls.

The problem that has surfaced with the Miami Hurricanes is the tab was picked up by a crazed booster and felon-to-be, Nevin Shapiro. The yacht rides and hookers are only a portion of what has now taken the lead as the most entertaining scandal in the history of college athletics.

In Minnesota, the maroon sweaters devoted to the Gophers can go "tsk, tsk" in Miami's direction, and tell themselves it wouldn't happen because we have young men of such character.

That could be correct, but I'm going with Chris Rock on this one:

It hasn't happened in Minnesota, because there's not an ocean nearby, and the yachts are few and far between, and our Ponzi schemers (such as Tom Petters) preferred to spend ill-gotten riches on items other than hookers and luxury items for college boys.

Of course, Charles Robinson's exhaustive report on Yahoo! Sports has led to the usual bonanza of commentary on the hypocrisy of big-time college athletics, the hypocrisy of the NCAA, and blah, blah, blah.

This isn't about hypocrisy. This is about reality.

And here's the truth: For all the effort coaches might put into trying to keep the whole truth away from their bosses and the NCAA, their players put more energy into trying to keep away even half the truth from coaches.

We've all been asked to celebrate the discipline the new coach, Jerry Kill, has brought to the Gophers.

We've heard about players who were made to stand on a sideline at practice wearing brown T-shirts with "LOPHERS" spelled in pink letters.

Yeah, that's going to do it, Jerry. There's no way one of your athletes would give into the temptation of women, jewelry or cash, knowing it could lead to a missed study hall and the need to wear a "LOPHERS" shirt.

I set up this scenario on Wednesday for a 26-year-old male who works in the Star Tribune sports department:

"Saturday's game is over, it's early in the evening and a several players receive an invitation to jump into a couple of SUVs and ride to the St. Croix, where waiting will be a large party boat that has attractive ladies paid to mingle and whatnot.

"The question is, how old do I have to be as a fan of that team to believe the players would turn down that invitation because it would be an extra benefit in violation of NCAA rules? Do I have to be 35?"

The 26-year-old thought and said: "You have to be older -- at least 45. If you're younger than 45, you dang well know they would get in those SUVs and go to the party."

I'm much older than 45, and I know better than to believe a player would pass on a rules-breaking party for fear of being given a lecture and an insulting T-shirt from Coach Kill.

The crime at Miami was that Shapiro was able to buy his way into favor with the administration and athletic program as well as the players.

You look at the photos that accompany the Yahoo! story, and the reaction is: "The U should have known this guy was a weasel just by looking at him."

The 'Canes should have run him off at first sight, rather than allow him to buy such favors as leading the team onto the field -- twice.

Was it hypocrisy to let him do that? No, it was stupidity.

The trouble is, if Miami had been smarter and chased away Shapiro, there would have been another pseudo-rich guy willing to spend in order to smile drunkenly in photos with football players.

Fortunately for Jerry Kill, the Nevin Shapiros of the world like it where it's warm all year and there's an ocean, making him fairly safe from a similar scandal in Minneapolis.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. • preusse@startribune.com

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