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Anchor Drop, July 23, 2019: 39 Days to Kickoff

Hey, the Anchor Drop is back! Mostly because it’s time to rant, but whatever.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Vanderbilt Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning.

We skipped a bunch of days in our countdown because (a) I was out of town and (b) I didn’t have a ton to write about and (c) I’m lazy, but we pick our countdown back up at 39 days. 39 is the number of Vanderbilt redshirt freshman kicker Javan Rice. Rice was expected to take over for Tommy Openshaw entering last season, and then Ryley Guay was named the starting kicker out of camp and never relinquished the job. I will just leave it at that, no need to expound on any of this. Anyway, Rice will, we assume, be in competition to be the starting kicker in 2019.

Soccer announced the addition of Providence transfer Hannah Morgan.

Sophomore bowler Angelique Dalesandro made the Junior Team USA.

And, the baseball team gets a new 2022 commit. You might know his father...

And, JJ Bleday hit his first home run as a professional:

Off the West End

So, we might finally be getting some real pushback against the college football facilities arms race...

One of the more... problematic parts of having major college athletics (and specifically football and men’s basketball) being something of a self-sustaining program is that those programs are becoming more and more disconnected from the universities at-large. That can be a good thing in some ways — because, after all, that certainly beats the hell out of the university operating athletics at a loss — but there are some bad parts to this. In its most benign form, it’s the SEC pushing Vanderbilt to invest its revenue distribution check back into athletics (and, specifically, athletic facilities) instead of, like, using it to fund a new library. But in its more malignant form, it’s this:

Now, let’s preface this with the reality that LSU is probably an extreme example. While the academic side of the university is suffering under massive state budget cuts, the football team just got a brand new locker room that was mostly built to continue a giant dick-swinging contest between the various athletic departments of the Southeastern Conference. What’s more, part of the reason that the locker room was built with sleeping pods was so that the football team could spend even more time than they already do in the football facility. Because, God forbid they go to their dorm room where they might run into other students who aren’t on the football team.

And this attitude certainly isn’t limited to LSU, either. If you’ve seen Jordan Rodgers spouting off on Twitter (and blocking the Anchor of Gold Twitter account for daring to tell him he’s being a jerk about it), you’ve seen this already.

Now, Vanderbilt is of course an extreme example in the opposite direction. But one thing that’s instructive is to imagine what you, dear reader, would do if you had $200 million. You find out pretty quickly that there’s only so much you can spend before you start spending it on things like yachts (apologies to Christian D’Andrea) because otherwise you just have $180 million sitting around that you literally don’t have anything else to do with. And this is the point we have reached in the facilities arms race: where college programs are building themselves the equivalent of yachts, because what else were we gonna do... hire a custodial staff to clean a professor’s office? Repair the library?

But then we get into the new feature: the pushback. LSU is, again, an extreme example (with state-of-the-art athletic facilities and a library that is in awful shape), but I suspect that you’re going to start seeing more of this for a couple of reasons. One, a more-educated populace means a larger portion of the populace having interactions with their state’s universities that don’t involve the sports teams. Two, again, reaching the yacht-buying stage of the arms race.

And three, the growing disconnect between athletic departments and the universities they reportedly represent. I’ve discussed this before, but many college athletic programs are designed such that the athletes have as little interaction with the rest of the student body as possible: they eat in their own dining hall, they have facilities devoted entirely to their sport that regular students aren’t allowed in, they essentially have their own majors. And now, they apparently are gonna sleep in the football facility, too. One thing that immediately became apparent from the responses to the pushback from current and former players is that many of them evidently don’t view the school as anything more than its football program, and don’t seem to feel any obligation to give back to the university... just, you know, the football program.

I mean, when PodKATT is pushing back, you might have an issue.

So, there’s the rant. Now, you may respond in the comments.


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