Daily Buzz: Oregon's (student) athletes

BY Sam Gardner • August 1, 2013

College football has always tried to operate under the guise that it is an amateur endeavor, but when you look at the photos of Oregon’s new football facility that have started circulating this week, you’re reminded, once again, that the Ducks players -- and players at other top-tier programs across the country -- are athlete-students, not student-athletes.

I mean, look at the place. The facility is palatial, and is certainly as decked-out as any in the country — and that includes the NFL. It’s a complex fit for a king, or 100 kings, and it is largely inhabited by privileged, but unpaid players, who make the sport the profitable undertaking that it is. (Though, in this case, Phil Knight’s deep pockets also played a role.)

The only way these athletes are students are in that they’re not being compensated, and that’s the bottom line. That point is highlighted, especially at a school like Oregon, by these opulent quarters they keep and the excessive and flamboyant helmets they wear.

Will they do anything more to help prevent concussions? No, but they’ll look great when players get their brains scrambled, and that’s the mindset at every program that prioritizes grandiosity and prestige over practicality and the perception that athletes are students first.

Just this week, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted that EA Sports' use of athlete likenesses in video games was not protected as free expression under the First Amendment, a decision that could pave the way to a hefty settlement in the Ed O’Bannon case against the videogame maker.

If O’Bannon’s case turns out to be successful, and EA Sports wants to continue making games with current players, the NCAA is going to have to change its amateurism rules to accommodate. But given the way “student”-athletes are already treated like royalty — save for paychecks — that shouldn’t be a difficult bridge to cross.

Now, for some links:

• Witness: Ken Jeong reading the Dodgers starting lineup:

• The restaurant where Drew Brees caught flak for (not really) stiffing a waitress has donated $888.88 to Brees' foundation.

• This guy says he has the Palace Malice chalice.

• Rory McIlroy played dumb when asked about Gary Player’s comments about McIlroy’s love life:

• At least the fan who hit WWE star Randy Orton in his unmentionables didn't escape the confrontation unscathed.

• A-Rod went on a trip to Hooters to take his mind off of the Biogenesis scandal.

• Michigan has provided bulletin board fodder for Michigan State.

• Enjoy this terrible Super Bowl Shuffle-style rap video from the MLS All-Stars:

• Ronda Rousey tells Miesha Tate that she's No. 1.

• Redskins players dished on what their signature dishes would be -- Rex Grossman's, of course, was beer.

• Also, Redskins players are not familiar with Bryce Harper.

• In other rap music news, Spice Adams made a rap video about ribs:

• Jockey gets 60-day suspension for trying to let 70-year-old win.

• An FSU cornerback helped take down a pair of thieves.

• Check out Joe Posnanski's tribute to Drungo LaRue Hazewood.

• Earlier this week, Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe threw out the first pitch at the A’s game:

• Houston Rockets froward Terrence Jones was arrested after reportedly stomping on a homeless man's legs.

• Tennessee's Butch Jones has reportedly angered a South Carolina high school football coach with his handling of an incoming recruit.

Some people had jokes about the Bud Norris trade.

• Riley Cooper’s Wikipedia page, got a few updates yesterday:

• The Fresno Grizzlies are hosting a taco truck competition on Thursday.

• The Kansas City Chiefs' offensive coordinator called Alex Smith the best quarterback in the league.

• Joey Porter is returning to Colorado State, where he will assist the football coaching staff while working on finishing his undergraduate degree.