"You make it sound bleak."
"It doesn't have to be. This is a phenomenon, but not a momentary one. Now is the time to recognize the flaws in the blueprint. Rip out some wires. Change the plumbing. Set standards and get with 'em. Make it hell for the cheaters, and intimidate the tempted."
He was up, with the putter slung over one shoulder.
"A kid gets caught with an altered transcript, ban him for life. He sure as heck knows his own grades. If he doesn't, he's really illiterate and should be banned anyway. If the coach had a hand in it, ban him, too. If the high school was guilty, put the school on probation. Spend some of those TV millions Walter Byers is hoarding at NCAA headquarters in Kansas City and make a study of junior-college requirements, and their curricula. Eliminate from qualification the ones that don't measure up. I don't mind the idea of farming out talent to let it mature, but to farm it out to circumvent grade requirements is a sin.
"And if you're going to admit a few exceptional cases, make the percentage who are athletes exactly the same as the school's allowable percentage—in other words, if you have a 2% rule, only 2% of the 2% should be athletes."
"You're right—and that's why nobody will do it. We don't stand for anything anymore, so we fall for everything. One of my coaching friends tried to feed me some of that new wave thinking the other day. I bring it up only to point out how pervasive mistaken advocacy can be. He is a man I respect, with a great football mind. He said, 'So what if some of our guys couldn't read at a fifth-grade level? We gave 'em a chance and they turned out to be pretty good citizens. Isn't that better than being on welfare? That's what college football is all about.'
"Like heck it is. No matter how convenient it is to forget, when the stadium is packed and the drums are pounding, we're not here to provide a haven from the cruelties of the world. We're still supposed to be universities, not the USO. The question for the year is this: On the verge of a millennium in college football, how willing are we to set it in line with the academic purpose? Rhetoric is one thing, arrogance is another."
The Coach got up, and making a circular motion with the putter as if to punctuate the conversation, turned away.
"Now, come on, Scribe. I've got clubs and shoes for you and arranged to have you in the foursome."