02/26/24 That’s not a “portal.” It’s the Twilight Zone. Chances for improvement? Almost “NIL.”

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College football’s rosy cheeks are flush with money. The game’s family looks healthy. But the appearance hides a systemic—and life-threatening—illness.

The sport has never been more popular or more lucrative. Media contracts continue to inflate and expand, with no signs of bursting. Coaches have become corporations, complete with CEO-size compensation packages. Players enjoy freedom from forced poverty and freedom of movement.

Changes have been made and wrongs have been righted. But in the process, college football is now living in a vacuum of chaos, angst and even lawlessness. The ultimate team sport is now played by transactional, lone-wolf free-agents.  That goes for conferences, schools, coaches and players.

Rah-rah is now ruh-roh.

And not even Scooby Doo has a clue as to how to fix this.

Nobody can be convicted of cheating, because there are no rules. No rules mean no order. No order means no future.

There are only two loose tenets that are supposed to guide NIL and transfer portal  procedures.

  1. NIL money and opportunities are not supposed to be used as recruiting incentives. Think about that for just a moment and then start shaking your head.  Now could NIL opportunities NOT be used to attract top recruits? How do you take that out of the equation? 
  • Schools are not supposed to target and raid the rosters of other programs. Except that it happens hundreds of times every single day.

Despite its violence, college football is a very romantic sport that drives some of our sweeter and better angels. Teammates. Brothers. All for one. One for all. Never quit.

Unless you get a better offer. Unless a coach yells at you during Tuesday’s practice. Unless you drop a notch on the depth chart. Unless your backup is making more NIL scratch than you are.

We’ve never really wanted to look behind the curtain of college football. We’ve never really wanted to know, for fear of what we would see.

But now even the most naïve fan is taking a blow to the spirit and a forearm shiver to the chin. Our fantasies are no longer sustainable. And that will inevitably damage the sport, perhaps beyond repair.

NFL teams hire “capologists” to manage the salary cap. College football teams are already adding “portalogists” to their staffs to keep track of who’s coming and who’s going.

Head coaches hardly have time to coach. They spend most of their time re-recruiting their own players every day. They have no idea what their rosters will look like a month from now, let alone a year.

Player camaraderie? Hell, that guy wasn’t here long enough for me to learn his name.

Nobody wants to return to the days when players were taken advantage of and even abused. Nobody. But this is insanity that will serve nobody except two dozen or so “elite” (see filthy-rich) programs.

The biggest flaw in the college football model has always been the huge gap between the haves and the have-nots.

That gap is now a gulf, and it will widen even further. Conferences and individual programs will become completely non-competitive and will collapse like dwarf stars.

College head coaches at traditionally good programs are now resigning to become assistant coaches in the NFL. It’s safer there. There’s more time to coach there.

I used to roll my eyes when somebody would ask me whether I preferred college football or the NFL. That was like asking which of my grandchildren I love the most.

Now?  I don’t hesitate.  The NFL. It’s much purer.

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Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.