Slimy tactics all over college football

PITTSBURGH — There are probably more corrupt businesses in America than college sports. Human trafficking comes to mind.

But most of the other slimy pursuits aren’t wrapped up in bouncy school spirit, a marching band and officially licensed team apparel.

It’s that time of year when coaches who already have lucrative contracts are lusting for jobs they don’t have, aided and abetted by university administrators who are looking at the viability of meeting the price of the buyout clause.

Head coaches have long been the highest-paid employees on most campuses. Now the assistant coaches are moving up on that list, too.

Those professors doing scientific research? Yeah, they do good work, but they don’t get paid like an offensive coordinator with a good highlight reel.

It’s a highly competitive business, and you’re not going to last long if you don’t compete successfully. And if that means plying recruits with paid escorts or making sure academic standards are fudged? Well, you do what you have to do.

Look up your favorite university and you’ll find the won-lost record for the football team a lot faster than you’ll uncover the graduation rate. If they do graduate, what does it mean if they accumulated credits on those phantom courses that were part of the curriculum at North Carolina? (By the way, Tar Heels basketball coach Roy Williams didn’t know a thing about those courses that didn’t exist).

The whole concept of graduation is probably quaint. That doesn’t matter when athletes enroll in a school just long enough to catch the attention of pro scouts. The University of Kentucky runs a de facto developmental program for the NBA. Coach John Calipari readily admits his players are temps.

Chip Kelly recently signed on to coach UCLA’s football team. ESPN said Kelly had his pick of jobs. Kelly won at the University of Oregon, but left behind a mess that led to NCAA sanctions. One of those penalties prevented Kelly from signing on with another member school for 18 months. It didn’t matter because he fled to the NFL.

Soon Kelly will be meeting with UCLA boosters who have check books in their pockets. They won’t ask what happened in Oregon. They won’t wonder why things went so wrong that Kelly was fired from NFL jobs in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

They’ll ask the same question that keeps the system going down the same path: “Are we going to win next year, coach?”

Closed door

Former Steelers Alan Faneca and Hines Ward are among the finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s unlikely either will make it this year.

Faneca could be caught in a glut of offensive linemen. He should eventually get in, but it could take a while.

Ward was a solid all-around receiver, but he doesn’t have the glitzy numbers that others piled up playing in different systems.

Ward’s blocking — once criticized as too vicious by the Baltimore Ravens — was an integral part of the Steelers’ running game. But some voters don’t care. Pete Prisco of cbs.com is on record saying he won’t be swayed by any arguments for Ward’s blocking prowess.

Faneca’s election seems to be inevitable. There is no such feeling in Ward’s case.

Overkill coming

Any story worth covering is worth over-covering to TV.

When the New York Giants play in Oakland today, Eli Manning will be standing on the sideline as his streak of starting games is expected to end at 210.

How many camera shots will there be on Manning looking forlorn on the sideline?

Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com

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