Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says:

This is a very nicely written piece about university football, penned by a brave local English professor in Texas. It shows emotional restraint, and clever concision. John Crisp simply cites three adjacent articles in his local paper:

[O]n a single page in my local paper we find: A suicide by a young man who believed he was suffering from sports-related concussions. A quarterback so vital to the success of his team and its profit-making football program that he’s eager to risk his future mental health. And a university president excoriated for making a sound economic and ethical decision.

The first reference is to the concussion-wracked suicide, Kosta Karageorge, the second to the concussed but still playing Baylor quarterback, and the third to the University of Alabama Birmingham’s decision to shut down its unaffordable football program.

Only in his last line does Crisp come out with it:

One wonders if football has become important beyond all reason.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says: There’s a Kind of Bad Writing You Can Only Learn at College.

Here’s an example, from a Georgetown University senior who argues in the school paper (the piece has now been taken down) (the piece seems to have been put back up) that his recent mugging by gunpoint in Georgetown was a product of economic disparities.

Who am I to stand from my perch of privilege, surrounded by million-dollar homes and paying for a $60,000 education, to condemn these young men as ‘thugs?’ … It’s precisely this kind of ‘otherization’ that fuels the problem …

As young people, we need to devote real energy to solving what are collective challenges. Until we do so, we should get comfortable with sporadic muggings and break-ins. I can hardly blame [the muggers]. The cards are all in our hands, and we’re not playing them.

Amid this clutch of cliches, a single word really stands out – otherization.

The writer has enhanced this already lovely term by growing quotation marks for it.


The conservative press is having lots of fun with this student’s effort to understand his mugger. SOS, as always, is more concerned with the lamentable prose he has brought to his claims, the learned raid on the articulate (to mess with TS Eliot a bit) this writing represents.

Especially if you’re going to argue something unpopular (people in our cities who stick guns in our faces and force us to the ground at night in order to take all of our goods should be objects of sympathy), you need your writing to be really good. In this particular case, you somehow need your words to convey your grasp of the complexity of the problem of crime, and your understanding that most of your readers aren’t going to agree with your position on it, even as you defend your non-standard take. Instead, this writing seems to flaunt the superior morality of the writer, a person able to rise above the lowly rage and terror the rest of us are likely to have felt in his situation. SOS knows he didn’t mean to convey this, but precisely the use of super-abstract jargon like otherization suggests a weirdly disengaged, hyper-theoretical disposition …

There’s so much rape on college campuses, it can get very difficult to keep up with all of the stories.

In this article, Mother Jones just singles out the high-profile football-related rape stories over the last few decades. UD‘s favorites are

Louisiana State University, 1998: Star running back Cecil Collins was dismissed from the team after being accused of two sexual assaults in two weeks (the first was of a minor). He was sentenced to probation. That didn’t stop another football program, McNeese State, from offering him a full scholarship, or the Miami Dolphins from drafting him. “Charming and likable, he has, nonetheless, seen his collegiate football career derailed by sexual assault charges and failed drug tests,” the Sun-Sentinel reported in 1999. His career ended in 2001, when he was convicted of breaking into a woman’s home to watch her sleep.


Arizona State University, 2004: A female student working as a tutor for a summer program for football students sent an email to her supervisors about a freshman recruit: “I don’t want to get raped in college and that is what Darnel [Henderson] makes me feel like when he is around me.” By the end of the summer, ESPN reported, Henderson had been accused of sexually assaulting women in his dorm and exposing himself to female staffers. When confronted, his response was to tell a staff member that he felt he had to “show [women] their place.” The university’s response was to bow to head coach Dirk Koetter’s request that Henderson keep his scholarship. When Henderson was accused of rape by a different student a year later, ASU police mysteriously waited three weeks to interview him despite deciding internally that Henderson was probably guilty. A university administrator accompanied Henderson to his meeting with investigators, and when the case was submitted to Maricopa County, the district attorney declined to pursue the case. ASU administrators, meanwhile, tried to destroy incriminating evidence — like the fearful email. Koetter, who sought to get Henderson a scholarship to another top-tier college football program, was fired two years later because he couldn’t consistently beat top-25 opponents.

As the University of Virginia gang-rape story rages, UD will try to put it in context by doing this: Reminding you.


Of course the clever Rolling Stone writer chose UVa for her spell-binding story (she could have chosen almost any university) because of the irony. Schools like LSU (“Went in dumb/Come out dumb too.”) lack, er, valence when the lads go a-raping. You go after UVa because it’s convinced itself and everyone else it’s better than that.


By the way: Don’t tell me you can’t do anything with an English major.

As a University of Pennsylvania undergraduate, [Susan Rubin] Erdely discovered her passion for magazine writing while working at 34th Street, the magazine of the student-run Daily Pennsylvanian. She soon dropped her pre-med studies, graduated in 1994 with a degree in English…

You can change the world with an English major. You can use it to learn how to write like Sabrina Rubin Erdely. From her opening paragraphs:

She remembers the men’s heft and their sour reek of alcohol mixed with the pungency of marijuana. Most of all, Jackie remembers the pain and the pounding that went on and on.

As the last man sank onto her, Jackie was startled to recognize him: He attended her tiny anthropology discussion group. He looked like he was going to cry or puke as he told the crowd he couldn’t get it up. “Pussy!” the other men jeered. “What, she’s not hot enough for you?” Then they egged him on: “Don’t you want to be a brother?” “We all had to do it, so you do, too.” Someone handed her classmate a beer bottle. Jackie stared at the young man, silently begging him not to go through with it. And as he shoved the bottle into her, Jackie fell into a stupor, mentally untethering from the brutal tableau, her mind leaving behind the bleeding body under assault on the floor.

You think this article would have caught fire the way it has, would have left thousands of people – in the words of the UVa faculty – “heartbroken and enraged” if its author didn’t know not just which school to choose but how to write?

She knew to start not with statistics and histories, and not with outrage and disbelief, but right in the thick of the immediacy of the attack: Present tense for Jackie’s ongoing recall (“she remembers”), past for the sober precision of her narration, with the author adding nothing by way of emotion. With this sort of material, you park yourself in neutral and let the tale tell itself. This is what you learn if you study the greats – Orwell, Didion, Capote, Vidal.

You see how she’s opted against commas and semi-colons in the first sentence, in order to let the violent and confusing rush of the events re-present themselves? You see how she’s learned alliteration and assonance (last man sank) along the way, so that our inner ear enters into her poetic rhythm and keeps going?

She remembers the men’s heft and their sour reek of alcohol mixed with the pungency of marijuana. Most of all, Jackie remembers the pain and the pounding that went on and on.

Note also the repetition of remembers, which not only gives the recitation the feel of a mournful litany, but is psychologically true to the lifelong repetition-compulsion to which the rapists have sentenced their hazing object. She’ll circle around these moments forever. Note also that this sentence, with its close knowledge and recall of the rapists’ intimate and particular bodies, says more about the persuasiveness of her account than any lie detector could. It is viscerally compelling.

Erdely has also learned the importance of the powerfully telling detail: her tiny anthropology discussion group. Her tiny anthropology discussion group! Oh right, this is a university! Small serious select groups of young intellectuals gathering to talk about higher things – like about the way human beings act in groups! Well, she’s in a small group right now, and one of those human rituals is happening right in front of her. (“The men are on their own ‘turf,’ whether it be a part of a park, a shack, or a fraternity house. The identity of the woman is irrelevant. Anyone who happens to be at or near the premises will suffice. All the men drink a great deal of liquor. Then, in the presence of the entire group, each has sex in turn with the female. … While individually they probably would not engage in such brutal or degrading conduct, when reinforced by their companions they exhibit no sense of what most men and women consider decency or compassion.”) Come to UVa and don’t just book-learn about tribes! Our opportunities for experiential learning put you right in the middle of the lord of the flies.

And look at the subtleties you’re learning! You’re learning the masochistic anhedonia that underlies happyhappy male bonding, aren’t you? (“cry or puke”… “we all had to do it…”) You could read The Berlin Stories, say, if you wanted, at the tender age of eighteen, to understand this vicious mix… Or you could save time and visit one of our frats.

And the word tiny. The delicacy of that little word almost unbearably conveys the small hopefulness, the fresh modest eagerness, of this clueless, avid freshman from rural Virginia suddenly at the big fancy school full of handsome athletic older men in frats who wanted her! Wanted to go out with her!

Erdely ends the account, and this paragraph, with a riot of assonance/alliteration:

mentally untethering from the brutal tableau, her mind leaving behind the bleeding body under assault on the floor

A bit over the top stylistically? Maybe. If this had been Didion or Capote or Orwell they might have edited it, like this:

mentally untethering from the tableau, leaving behind the bleeding body on the floor

But when things are over-the-top lurid, your prose needs to rise to it, and Erdely has held her heavy verbal weaponry for the very last part of the account.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says: Oh, Goody. Finally an Honest Orwellian.

Finally a University of North Carolina insider willing to trot out the whole 2+2=5, War is Peace, routine! Anyone can condemn the football and basketball scandal at that school as America’s largest instance yet of the way big-time athletics destroys our universities, and indeed in the past couple of weeks everyone has – in a myriad of opinion pieces – done just that. Lawsuits are flying, alumni are pissed, heads are rolling, etc., etc. It’s Penn State all over again.

Only a few people, under these weighty circumstances, will have the guts to go against the grain.

SOS knew that such people would have to come out of UNC’s business school.

So say hello to Michael Jacobs. Mike, c’mon down! We’re gonna do a close scathe of your prose, because you’ve earned it.

Paragraph #1:

For years we have been hearing about the “athletic” or “academic-athletic” scandal at UNC. Maybe I am missing something, but where was the athletic scandal? Were teams shaving points? Were tennis players intentionally making bad line calls? Were soccer players taking performance-enhancing drugs? Were athletes competing on the field who were academically ineligible?

Establish a peeved, above-it-all, know-it-all tone from the outset and come out swinging. No apologies, no concessions. Your first paragraph should contain no use of the word football or basketball. You are going to concentrate instead on the sports that really matter at UNC, the high-profile revenue tennis and soccer teams.

Paragraph #2

No doubt, there has been a scandal at UNC. But what happened in Chapel Hill was an academic scandal. This is not just about semantics. How you characterize the problem dictates how you devise the solution.

Jacobs has copied the response to the scandal that the entire leadership of the school attempted before it couldn’t anymore: Nothing to see here sportswise! (Penn State tried exactly the same thing: It wasn’t an athletic or an academic scandal there: It was just this one creepy guy, Sandusky, who showed up on campus occasionally… ) The UNC scandal is simply about bad business practices, and I’m a biz school guy, so I should know. I’m all about getting it done, solving problems, and I’m going to let UNC in on how to get out of this mess because – I’m now going to share one of those impressive b-school insights – ‘How you characterize the problem dictates how you devise the solution.’

This crucial sentence should really be rendered as it appears in its natural PowerPoint presentation habitat:

How You Characterize The Problem DICTATES How You Devise The Solution.

Paragraph #3:

Athletes were not the only ones enrolled in bogus AFAM classes. They might have been the intended primary beneficiary, but the scandal appears to have been germinated and incubated by the academic side of the university. Paper classes were the brainchild of “academicians” in the college of arts and sciences.

The first sentence is correct, and it means not that the scandal therefore was only academic, but that the scandal was endemic to the university as such. That is, it operated throughout all aspects of the institution, including fraternities (frat boys were the other big beneficiaries of the hoax), athletics, administration, and faculty. The second two sentences are incorrect. The scandal was the brainchild of Deborah Crowder in association with coaches, the hilariously titled Academic Counselors, and Julius Nyang’oro. It seems to have enjoyed tacit acceptance everywhere, all the way up to the woman now chancellor at a sports-above-all sister school, University of Kansas.

Note also Jacobs’ penchant for quotation marks. They designate the can-do biz guy’s contempt for the enemy – intellectuality.

Paragraph #4:

The irony is that now a vocal group of UNC faculty members is questioning whether big-time athletics can co-exist with a prominent academic research institution. The corruption of athletics is tainting the pure quest for knowledge, they contend.

SOS says: This is fine. He’s extending his point about stoopid “academicians.” But she would urge Jacobs, on rewriting, to put the words tainting and pure in quotation marks as well. Like this:

The corruption of athletics is “tainting” the “pure” quest for knowledge, they contend.

SOS knows what you’re saying. Put corruption in quotation marks too! But three q.m.’s in one sentence is too many, she contends.

Paragraph #5

The simple answer is yes they can co-exist, as they do at reputable institutions all across the country, if the academicians will run the academic program with integrity.

Here we see the cut through all the bullshit approach of the b-school boys. Simple, pragmatic, nothing fancy, just square your shoulders and get the job done. All you need is the guts, and unfortunately academicians are gutless. Notice that we’re in the fifth paragraph and the words football and basketball have still not appeared. Certainly reputable institutions across the country have been able to run their tennis and soccer programs with integrity. UNC can too, and this is how:

Paragraph #6:

The breakdown at UNC was due to a lack of appropriate controls and accountability systems within the college of arts and sciences. The primary gestation period for this scandal occurred under the watch of a chancellor who was a musician. While universities need scholars in all areas, including music, music is probably not the optimal background to manage a complex $1.5 billion organization.

Cherchez le musicien! You can get some pansy who fiddles while Rome burns, or you can bring in me and the boys to clean up the mess. It’s your choice! It’s your funeral! It’s your Requiem! Your complex organization (suddenly all that stuff about simple has become complex) needs Men, not Mice.

Okay, we’ll skip a bit, as Brother Maynard says.

Here’s the heart of the thing:

Many in the college of arts and sciences squirmed because [the new post-scandal provost] did not come from among their ranks. The fact that he was an expert in organizational control systems and accountability rather than romance languages made some faculty members uneasy. But Chancellor Folt had defined the problem correctly.

It was all those violinists with French poems dancing in their heads who did this to us, who dragged our fine complex institution into the dust! If you want to clean things up, you obviously have to go to the money guys!

Perhaps the scholars in Chapel Hill who are screaming from the mountaintop that we need to purge our research universities of athletics should pause, take a deep breath and internalize an insight from that great scholar Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and they are us.” The best scholars don’t make the best administrators.

Bravo, says SOS. Jacobs has managed to write an entire opinion piece about football and basketball at UNC without ever mentioning either sport. He has also failed to mention the existence of athletic directors and coaches — the people who, as more and more players now attest, ran the scam from on high for twenty years.

I mean, it’s very odd, isn’t it? The fact is that UNC has been following Jacobs’ advice for ages, and that indeed the athletic program was run brilliantly, generating massive profits and wins. So what happened?

What happened is something that the Jacobs model, to its everlasting peril, overlooks. What happened is that one rogue academician squealed. Mary Willingham is what happened, and no university management system, however complexly and pragmatically run, can control for the rare, bizarre emergence of an honest, non-Orwellian person in its midst.

The only way to control for the enemy within is indeed, to use Jacobs’ appropriately Orwellian word, to purge her. So this is how SOS would suggest revising the piece. Add this.

The screaming scholars of Chapel Hill have it exactly backwards: We don’t need to purge our research universities of athletics. We need to purge our athletics of research universities.


To understand big-time university sports, you have to go beyond the headlines. UD spends a lot of time reading the local booster press at pitiably sports-obsessed places like Indiana University so that she can understand the deep structure of a significant part of this country’s grotesque (the recent failures of Penn State and the University of North Carolina to, uh, control their narratives has contributed immeasurably to our recognition of just how grotesque) university system. So take this latest piece out of Bloomington, which announces its grasp of reality in its headline. Let us see how that reality is evoked.

The background here is that everyone in Bloomington has decided to be upset because some mysterious critical mass of team criminality has flicked some switch in their collective mind. Should they fire the coach? Would that be with cause or without cause? What’s the deal with recruiting anyhow? Have we tarnished our grand reputation? Und so weiter.

Start with coacha inconsolata (background on that term here).

[The] mess in Bloomington [has occurred under Coach Tom Crean’s] watch … [He’s a] grown man unable to keep his teenage players from chasing the night — no matter how hard he tries.

This great and good man has tried and tried and tried. Let’s not talk about how the same man avidly recruited these players.

Next: Lugubrious nostalgia for The Earlier Better Coach, The True Great and Good Man. Unfortunately for this writer, that role at Indiana is played by notorious Bobby Knight, the most frighteningly demento university basketball coach ever. So let’s see how we handle that prose-wise, in our reality-based account of things.

Bob Knight may be long gone, and though he didn’t live a life of sainthood in Bloomington, he drafted … [the] “It’s Indiana” blueprint. It’s a privilege to wear the candy stripes. And with it comes responsibility, higher standards, round-the-clock commitments. It’s not easy. It’s not always fun. But it’s what’s expected.

I mean, which of us is a saint? Which of us hasn’t experienced a rage so intense we’ve thrown a chair at referees during a basketball game and then because of our general aspect of insane obscene violence been thrown out of the game? A game we’re coaching? And this is the man who drafted the blueprint that for some reason players aren’t following. What’s wrong with them? Can’t they follow an example?

Now to the defense of the players themselves.

Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson… when they weren’t failing drug tests, were putting in the work and getting better.

So it’s another mixed bag, like Bobby Knight: Putting in the work, chair-tossing, drugging… Throw it all in together and you get a storied team!

There are two final elements of all booster journalism:

1. Biblical quotations.

“He talked about how we are our brothers’ keeper.” The athletic director describes the coach’s recent pep talk.

2. Always calling the players “kids” and invoking an inspiring future with them.

The kids … will forge onward this season.


To review: These are the basic elements of university sports booster journalism:

* Coacha inconsolata

* Players are children; the coach is their hapless adorable bumbling dad

* Great times lie ahead

* Nostalgic reminder of our grand tradition

* Biblical quotation reminds us God is on our side

* Gotta take the good with the bad, balance the failed drug tests with the work ethic

The only thing missing here is the otherwise very popular Comparative Approach. We’re pretty scummy, but Florida State is so much scummier. Scathing Online Schoolmarm recommends the writer revise and extend his remarks to include the Comparative Approach. Then he will have written a comprehensive account of Reality in Bloomington.

“Since 1997 Mr. Rorke has been on the faculty of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. He received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.”

UD ain’t sayin’ they don’t look good. They look good!

This one graduated from a school on whose board of trustees sits no less a financial figure than Steven Cohen, and whose last president, in her role as Goldman Sachs trustee, approved a nine million dollar bonus one year for Lloyd Blankfein. And of course he’s been a professor since 1997 at Columbia University business school, whose dean is both a film star and a fan of Countrywide Financial Corp.

Gregory Rorke has definitely got the pedigree.

But what does UD always tell you? What does she tell you so often that it’s one of this blog’s most-used categories?

Sing it with me: BEWARE THE B-SCHOOL BOYS.

Scroll down here for Rorke’s long-form bio from his participation in a Columbia University conference titled Out of the Storm But Not Out of the Woods

Though given Rorke’s arrest for “bilking investors including a former student out of $3 million” (Including a former student! What good are students if they can’t be stooges? Talk about sitting ducks. They’re literally sitting there in your classroom being sitting ducks!) for him it currently looks more like Inside the Storm and Deep Into Preet’s Woods…

This would be Preet Bharara, scourge of Wall Street. “Columbia decline[d] to comment on Rorke’s arrest.” They’re taking the MIT route. Who? Bitr… How do you spell that? Thirty-five years on the faculty? Dean? What the hell are you talking about?


Did Rorke study creative writing at Brown?

[O]n November 28, 2012, after receiving multiple complaints from Navagate investors demanding repayment and/or threatening to sue RORKE, RORKE forwarded an email purporting to be from a representative of Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Corporation (“HSBC”), which falsely stated that HSBC had just signed a multimillion-dollar contract with Navagate when, in truth and in fact, the email appears to have been a complete fabrication.

November 2012… mere months after sharing his thoughts on “the emerging lucrative exit opportunities and the challenges that the private equity and venture capital industries are facing ahead” [Bit redundant there, says Scathing Online Schoolmarm. If they’re emerging, then they’re ahead…], Rorke was desperately penning good news from Shanghai…

Nice first sentence.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm approves.

In the wake of the Ray Rice horror show, and the Adrian Peterson horror show, and the Greg Hardy horror show, and the Ray McDonald horror show, and the Daryl Washington horror show, and the Jonathan Dwyer horror show, and the 725 other arrests among the players who make money for him, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Friday afternoon in a mea culpa press conference that all 32 teams and their employees must attend educational sessions on domestic violence and sexual assault.



The University of Nebraska treated one patient who recovered and is now caring for a freelance NBC cameraman.

Morbid Morrissey …

… a Philip Larkin for our time, is seriously ill. Scathing Online Schoolmarm admires this essay about him by Luke O’Neil, a fan. She thanks her sister for sending it to her.

Here’s an excerpt:

Of course I’ve always known he’ll die someday, as will we all, but the actual prospect of it here writ large has instead driven me into a sort of childish revelry about the romance of the greatest crime of them all. Maybe that’s not surprising, as the allure of the grave is a theme well-trod for we woebegone lot. And more to the point, Morrissey, perhaps more than any other artist of his stature, has been prepping us for his death since the day we first heard him. That dalliance on the border is in fact the very appeal. Morrissey without the circuitous dance with death is just a sad, unloveable loner. Where’s the drama in that?

“Cemetry Gates” is… indicative of the way we’re supposed to process Morrissey’s eventual death, even if this latest revelation doesn’t prove to be his final bow:

So we go inside and we gravely read the stones, all those people all those lives where are they now? With the loves and hates, and passions just like mine, they were born and then they lived and then they died.

It’s hard not to hear an echo of that line in the singer’s stiff upper-lipped announcement of his ill health. But one can’t help but wonder if death, the province of Keats, and Yeats, and weird lover Wilde, and the endless string of doomed, tragic film and literary stars he’s obsessed over in song, isn’t where Morrissey belongs. No, not Steven Patrick Morrissey the human man, of course, but Morrissey the idea, the one that we actually know, the one that’s important to us. He’s made his dissatisfaction with this mortal coil quite clearly known.

This here’s what you call a Kentucky Pothole.

UD has kind of run out of things to say about the University of Kentucky. Its academic ranking has tanked like crazy over the last few years; its run of drunk corrupt practically insane coaches is matched only by its run of criminally violent practically insane players… The school’s best friend is Big Coal; it hates the state’s greatest living writer but it sure do love its bourbon and Adzillatron

It’s always illuminating to read the local press there. Reporters reflect the local mood, the local ethos. Let’s SOS through a recent representative piece.

The writer headlines the article UK arrest should concern Stoops, and concern is the operative term… Nothing to get alarmed about! Just concerned.

We begin not with the arrest. For that, we’ll have to wait for the third paragraph.

The beginning of the article is about what matters – UK football’s “swift” and “stunning” current winning streak. Lots of excited language about that starts the piece.

Ahem. Now:

Off the field, however, there have been some potholes…

A few bumps in the road is all… Sure, a player was just arrested for rape, but our visibly shaken coacha inconsolata said all that needed to be said about that:

Later in the day, [Coach] Stoops, who was visibly shaken, twice said that he “feels for all parties.”

Then there was the case of the misunderstood players:

[L]ast week, Wildcats freshmen Stanley Williams, Drew Barker, Dorian Baker and Tymere Dubose were charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, after an on-campus incident involving air-soft pellet guns.

It sounds as if the players were just shooting at each other in a playful game, but there was nothing playful about the ensuing campus-wide lockdown.

Playful lads! Boys will be boys. And coach is such a good coach! Why,

Entering this season, he had dismissed five players for violations of team rules.

I mean – haha – you might ask who the fuck recruited this lot. But let’s not go there! Let’s instead be really impressed that our coach “has built up some equity as an enforcer.” Because if there’s one thing an amateur university athletics coach is, it’s an enforcer.

The writer goes on to list several more forms of criminal mischief among yet other players, and then cautions:

Taken as a whole, these incidents show that maybe the Wildcats need some more oversight.

But basically this is the situation:

[T]he Wildcats are finally winning, finally thriving, finally happy…

He might as well be talking about Happy Valley, Pennsylvania! Happy, happy, thriving, winning – this is the reality at UK. Potholes we may have to negotiate here and there, but when all is said and done, these are our best days.

And don’t talk to me about students not going to the games

“The N.C.A.A.’s house of cards is beginning to fall apart, and, it appears, the jig is just about up.”

Scathing Online Schoolmarm says: Now that the NCAA’s in deep shit, brace yourself for long strings of cliches. Even from the New York Times.

UD thanks Dirk.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says:

It pales next to their plagiarism case, but editors at the New York Times can also overlook mixed metaphors:

The drug-testing provision, its sponsors said, is an inducement that bubbled up in the course of a freewheeling focus group of voters testing arguments that could persuade people to support a higher damage ceiling in malpractice lawsuits.

SOS recognizes that “damage ceiling” is a technical term; but when you put that ceiling next to a free wheel that bubbles you get a mess of a sentence.

Nor does it help that a “focus group” (another technical term) is described as freewheeling. One gets what the writer means; yet how many even very competent readers of English would be able to make sense of a focused thing that is also freewheeling?

God and Man at CSU

The only real way to argue for an unnecessary, irrelevant, bankrupting, and bohemoth carbuncle right in the center of your campus is by way of recourse to the divine, and, in particular, to divine retribution. You need to scare people. If they don’t get going and get saved, there will be hell to pay. Without tithing hundreds of millions of dollars (many of them coming from students and taxpayers) toward a new football stadium, you will lose the battle with the devil (opposing teams).

There are of course many ways to argue against such a thing… And what Scathing Online Schoolmarm is going to do this morning is look at point/counterpoint, starting with the God Principle, and then moving on to a more secular stance.

Should Colorado State University build a new football stadium? (Note: There’s in fact no question about it. The stadium – at a school where vanishingly few students attend games despite a more than respectable winning average – will be built. So this post isn’t about urging people not to build the stadium. Although not officially announced, it’s a done deal. This is America.) SOS reviews the writing of Mark Knudson, an advocate, and Deborah Shulman, an opponent. Okay, first Knudson.

His title: PUT UP OR SHUT UP. [O come quickly, sweetest Lord, and take my soul to rest!]

CSU athletic director Jack Graham had a vision — a shocking and inspiring vision — when he first took the gig, and he has done a magnificent job of describing that vision. We can now close our eyes (or look on our computer screens) and see the glistening new stadium, blending in as a centerpiece and invigorating the entire campus.

Like Jesus, AD Graham is a radical visionary whose glistening stadium on a hill we too can glimpse when we close our eyes. Also like Jesus, Coach McElwain is beginning to run out of patience with his wayward flock:

How much patience will McElwain be asked to have while he waits for something to actually get done on the vision?

And now the more fleshed out theology:

The issue isn’t whether or not the new stadium is needed. If you know anything about college athletics, you know how badly it is. You know it’s time for the tiny but vocal minority of under-educated opponents to punt.

If CSU wants to remain at all relevant in college sports — remember, there is at least some chance that college football and basketball players might start getting paid in the next few years — then this kind of upgrade is not only needed, it’s critical to simple survival.

If the stadium project doesn’t happen, then it’s just as likely CSU will end up in the lower level Big Sky Conference as it is they will never play in another New Mexico Bowl.

The small-thinking opponents of the stadium can keep talking about dressing up Hughes Stadium and trying to make it look big time, but it never will be. Talking about upgrades to Hughes Stadium is simply another way of saying “putting lipstick on a pig.” Nothing screams “Smallville” like a dirt parking lot — out in the middle of nowhere.

It is so abundantly obvious to sect adherents that a university with a low-attendance football stadium should pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a new one that no argument is needed. Either you see the vision or you don’t. But let me put it this way: Without this stadium, you will die (“survival”). After you die, you will be buried (“a dirt parking lot”) and then go to hell (“the lower level”).

Okay, counterpoint.

Headline: CSU Can’t Afford a New Football Stadium. Not at all catchy or scary. Nothing Sinners in the Hands of an Impatient God about it. SOS fears we are in for a sober, fact-based analysis.

She mentions “millions [in] deficit spending for football.” She reminds us that “faculty had been on a pay freeze for four years” back in 2012 when the AD spent millions and millions on ten football coaches.

More than half the athletic department revenue comes from student fees and university subsidy. The students, faculty and taxpayers pay for football.

In a nationwide trend and at CSU, attendance at football games has been declining. At CSU, athletic ticket sales are less than 8 percent of revenue. Profit or breaking even is an unrealistic goal since most Division 1 schools operate football programs at a considerable deficit and require university subsidy.

The $125 million stadium guesstimate doubled, yet the Board of Governors determined these donors need to raise just half the money, not including costs imposed on CSU and the city. City Councilman Wade Troxell estimated the stadium would impose up to $50 million in city infrastructure adaptations. Taxpayers will cover this cost.

Blah blah. Facts. It’s about vision, baby! Get out of Smallville! Think big!

Why have athletic donors been granted such power and leverage to dictate development of CSU and Fort Collins?

Cuz they got the vision!

“Education Minister Nominee Grilled Over Alleged Plagiarism”

Scathing Online Schoolmarm agrees that plagiarism is a very bad thing, but grilling seems to her an overreaction.


OTOH, assuming the nominee survives, SOS has doubts about his capacity for logic (a capacity for logic, like a capacity for independent thought, being a good thing in an education minister). When confronted with his spectacularly large plagiarism portfolio, the nominee said:

“(The theses) contain information that is widely available,” he said. “I don’t think that can be called plagiarism.”

This comment put SOS in mind of the Doonesbury collection titled “But the Pension Fund was Just Sitting There”

“I regret being present for certain aspects of the previously referenced trip.”

Scathing Online Schoolmarm is a mad fan of super hyper dainty language brought to bear upon the raucously vulgar. It maketh her laugh.

Columbia [South Carolina’s] mayor has broken his silence about a business partner convicted this week on felony racketeering charges.

Mayor Steve Benjamin said he regrets going on a trip that included a visit to a Florida strip club with Jonathan Pinson, a former South Carolina State University trustee…

The mayor’s name came up frequently in Pinson’s trial, even though he was never charged. Some of the most salacious accusations came from a developer who testified that he took Benjamin and Pinson to Florida, where they visited a strip club.

“I regret being present for certain aspects of the previously referenced trip. I should have used better judgment,” Benjamin wrote.

Certain aspects of the previously referenced sojourn would have been better… But it’s still great.

“For leadership, it means that the leader who has his or her myopic head in the sand is whistling Dixie in the pine trees,” he said. “They will not survive, they absolutely will not survive.”

An observer struggles to formulate the urgency of the situation for America’s historically black colleges.

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