Lincicome: Northwestern hazing scandal still the talk of college football

In other college football news, Alabama is looking for a quarterback, Tennessee was docked $8 million for paying its players, Jim Harbaugh may miss four games for lying, Deion Sanders had two toes amputated and the Ohio State coach suggested that the Michigan game does not have to be the last game on the schedule.

Oh, and Colorado is going back to the Big 12, USC and UCLA are still coming to the Big 10, while something called the "transfer portal" is allowing unhappy players to dash around like ambulance chasers.

And speaking of lawyers, there is still the story - now officially a "scandal" in all the various media apertures - of lowly Northwestern, doggedly hogging the front page of college sports, a remarkable achievement since front pages have, like Monty Python's parrot, joined the choir invisible.

Lawsuits have been filed, coaches have been fired, reassurances have been made and college football itself gives the whole thing the stink eye, wondering who is next.

It is unlikely that hazing and bullying and racism and abuse, those things that have boosted the Northwestern story to national attention, is contained solely within the usual ruins of the school's sports teams.

While details remain vague if absorbing, it is widely agreed, from The New York Times to NPR, that something unseemly happened in Evanston, or maybe Kenosha - dipping a naked teammate into a vat of ice does seem the opposite of team bonding - so that "experts on hazing prevention" have been canvassed for opinions, all of them agreeing that such things should not happen.

This is news today, the "paneling" of news, where a story must have three or four panelists - like old quiz shows - to give opinions on insufficiently research topics. And who knew there were "experts on hazing prevention?" And if there are I have to believe this problem goes beyond sports and beyond Northwestern.

ESPN, the flagship of all things sweaty, got the Northwestern director of - ahem - athletics to talk about things, and while I did not see or hear what was said, I take the ESPN transcript at face value, where Derrick Gragg promised mandatory, in-person, anti-hazing seminars would be established, making sure that every player knows that naked dry humping is bad.

"My heart goes out to everyone who is involved," Gragg told ESPN, "victims, of course."

Of course, the victims, of course.

"Many do the right thing," Gragg said, "coaches and staff as well."

There is a little Trumpian echo there, very Charlottesvillian, and no doubt true, if decidedly off topic.

The thing here is that neither Gragg nor president Michael Schill - both of who have admittedly stepped into a pile already steaming before they got to Northwestern - appeared at what is called "media day," for Big 10 teams, a press gathering in Indianapolis where questions are asked and answered about, oh, why is Rutgers in the Big 10 anyhow or does Iowa have a tight end issue, hard hitting questions like that.

I have been to these things and they are handy and mostly painless, though I do remember mixing up the Colorado State coach with the Air Force coach and finding that for the column I wrote it really did not matter.

An early SEC Skywriters Tour had us ink-stained wretches retching as an old DC-3 bumped its way into Oxford, Mississippi, hurrying to make a press lunch with Bruiser and Billy Kinard, AD and coach, both loyal sons of the south who faced questions of integration without hiding.

Not so Gragg and Schill, who left David Braun to take Northwestern's turn in the barrel. Braun is Northwestern's interim football coach, or the emergency football coach or the stopgap football coach or something along those lines, unlikely to ever be the actual football coach once Northwestern can find someone else. Good luck with that.

Braun did his best, it has been widely agreed, having been around Northwestern hardly long enough to unpack. No players joined him, declining participation because they did not want the conversation to be "dominated by the hazing issue."

That's the Northwestern lesson here. Life is hard and when you can, hide from it.

But back to the big story. Ohio State and Michigan in October? Outrageous. Unthinkable. Ridiculous. Someone should be fired.

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