The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, January 12, 1999, Page 5, Image 5

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    Husker revision
Rutgers professor defends attack on NU athletics
Editor’s note: Each Tuesday this semester,
the Daily Nebraskan will print an opinion col
umn from a university faculty or staff member.
Each works at the University of Nebraska or is
involved with an issue that affects our campus or
our students.
fessor of English at Rutgers
University in Princeton, N.J.
When a story about the Rutgers 1000 cam
paign against “professionalized” college athlet
ics appeared in the Daily Nebraskan last semes
ter, we got a blizzard of e-mail messages from
outraged Huskers.
Most began with a question: How dare we
use Nebraska as an example of a university
where football overshadowed academic and
intellectual values?
Then came the eerie part. Message after
^message went on to say exactly the same thing:
Nebraska had to be a “leading” or an “excel
lent” institution of higher learning because it
had more “Academic All-Americans” than any
other university in the world - Notre Dame, or
Stanford, or Harvard, or, presumably, Oxford or
the Sorbonne.
Each sender clearly thought he or she was
making a tremendously original point. At our
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a huge number of clocks had been wound up to
strike together, or a million robots programmed
to start chanting “Academic All-Americans,
Academic All-Americans” when anyone hinted
that Comhusker football might be just a wee bit
i more important than, say, Wittgenstein’s
Philosophical Investigations or Russell’s
Principia Mathematica in the life of the average
UNL undergraduate.
I want to return to this “Academic All
American” issue, but first let me try to clear up
a misunderstanding about our engagement with
Nebraska football. It all began when the stu
dents in Rutgers 1000 put up on their Web page
somethingjfthey called the Herbie Husker
Award. An important fact is that this original
use of Herbie made no negative or derogatory
mention of UNL. It simply announced that the
Herbie Husker Award would be given monthly
to that person or group who “had done most to
help Rutgers resemble the University of
Notice that there’s no insult here. It’s true
that alert readers might sense a soupcon of
irony, but it’s also true that the mention of UNL
was purely neutral. If you thought that having a
huge and prominent football operation was a
good thing for a university, as do Comhusker
fans and some Rutgers alumni “boosters,” you
were bound by your own assumptions to take
the Herbie Award as a genuine compliment.
That was part of the (admittedly ironic) point.
Things didn’t start to get contentious until
Rutgers 1000 got attacked by an outfit called
the Collegiate Licensing Company, which kept
sending registered letters saying that our use of
Herbie constituted “trademark infringement
and unfair competition” because Herbie was
used by the University of Nebraska “in connec
tion with products, promotions and advertis
At first, we thought this was a joke. UNL
was, after all, an institution of higher learning,
not a Jiffy Lube franchise. Then, as we
researched the Collegiate Licensing Company,
we began to suspect that these people took
themselves seriously. One story that turned up,
for instance, indicated how proud CLC had
been to be associated with the University of
Tennessee in marketing 40,000 “Lady Vols”
mascot dolls through Wendy’s hamburger out
lets. (“Imagine,” said one of our student mem
bers, “if Harvard started merchandising Veritas
snack trays through Burger King.”) Then some
one located, on the Web, the “Husker Mall,” an
official University of Nebraska site featuring
such items as the Husker Video 5-Pack and the
Tom Osborne Apparel and Collectibles line.
“Uh-oh,” we said.
Still, our impulse was to guess that UNL
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being represented in this way. I called Mr. Chris
Bahl, UNL’s director of marketing and promo
tions, suggesting that UNL would look a lot
more impressive by taking the high road on this
one. Send us a letter, I urged, saying that UNL
understands that the Herbie award is a bit of
tongue-in-cheek irony in the context of a First
Amendment-protected public debate.
Take the spotlight off the sordid, commer
cialized, “Husker Mall,” aspect of UNL’s athlet
ics operation. He said he’d see what he could
We didn’t hear from Mr. Bahl. We heard
again from our old friends at Collegiate
Licensing - another dreary registered letter
going on about “trademark infringement,”
“commercial interests,” and “promotions and"
advertising,” So we said: what the hell, we’ve
got better things to do. We’ll change the award
to Hubie Compone, send CLC a letter making
it clear why we think any institution of higher
learning is sadly diminished by association
with them, and forget the whole thing. Then the
Daily Nebraskan got onto the story, did an
interview with me in which I uttered some
home truths about how the “football factory”
image wasn’t helping the University of
Nebraska any, and the e-mail started pouring
into the Rutgers 1000 campaign.
Which brings us back to “Academic All
il Americans.” There are a lot of reasons, I’ve
come to think, why Nebraskans shouldn’t keep
parroting this nonsense. The first is that, as a
little research brought to light, the Academic
All-American designation is itself a commer
cial promotion. What our outraged Husker cor
respondents call academic All-Americans are
properly known as “GTE Academic All
Americans.” GTE is the newest corporate
moniker for what used to be General Telephone
and Electric.
This explains a trivia question that became
popular around Rutgers 1000
headquarters: “When
Nebraska played in
the Tostitos Com
Chips Fiesta Bowl, /
how many
Telephone and
Academic All
Americans too’L
the field?”
The second
reason is more
serious. The
“Academic All
American” ploy
10 r
part of the machinery
of virtue the NCAA
uses to try to
pretend that
Division IA
football and bas
ketball recruits
aren’t semi-pro
fessional players
being passed off
as college stu
dents. The prob
lem is that such
empty PR back
fires. If the
athletes real
ly were col- V
lege stu
dents, no one
would need ^
all this
rate and costly machinery - tutorial programs,
study halls, solemn nonsense about “graduation
rates” and “Academic All-Americans” - to get
them to do, or celebrate them for doing, what
real students at real colleges and universities do
purely as a matter of course.
Besides, the rest of country isn’t buying it. I
remember a joke that went around when UNL
was having one of its intermittent bouts of
criminality on the football squad.
Q: “What is an Academic All-American at
the University of Nebraska?”
A: “A player who doesn’t physically attack
the tutor who’s writing his paper for him.”
This “machinery of virtue” is the hypocrisy
we see ourselves fighting against at Rutgers.
For instance, the Daily Nebraskan story quoted,
as one of its main sources at Rutgers, one
Michael Mahan, identified as “Assistant
Athletic Director for Student Affairs.” That
may be his title, but what Mr. Mahan actually
does is run one of the largest athlete tutoring
'Operations in the United States. Our struggle
^k with him, and with the whole concept of
vv piuviuing paiu Luiuii> foi iiiied athletes,
\ has been going on for several years.
, \\ In fact, I can think of no better
Y .
that the Rutgers 1000 students put up about Mr.
Mahan and his operation. It’s entitled “Tutor a
Tiger: the RU Athlete Tutoring Outreach
Proposal.” You can get to it by going to Rutgers
1000 on Yahoo, or by going directly to
http://members. aol. com/rutgl000/mahan. htm.
As you’ll see, it makes its point through a bit of
mild satire, just like the campaign’s original use
of Herbie Husker. And as I hope you’ll also see,
there lies behind it a serious moral vision about
what Rutgers - and, who knows, maybe UNL -
might someday be as an institution of higher
Some guys have all the luck
Women choose to date competitive, aggressive jerks for genetic reasons
JAY GISH is a senior broadcasting
major and a Daily Nebraskan
Nice guys are suckers.
I was reminded of this fact while visiting with
an old friend over semester break - because both
my friend and I happen to be nice guys. Being
kind and considerate may get you some things in
life - like a good reference from your church pas
tor-but not dates.
And don’t tell me nice guys finishing last is
just a cliche. Sure, there are your oddball girls
who really do look for a responsible, parent
approved guy early on. But come on - the large
majority of women reading this have dated at
least one realjerk, and probably several. At the
same time, there are really good guys around
them whom they’ve snubbed and/or ignored.
This “nice guys” cliche is not a fallacy, it’s the
norm. *
One second -1 know what you’re thinking.
For God’s sake, don’t chalk this column up as
sniveling for sympathy. I realize that, of our 3 bil
lion women on the planet, any guy who totally
concentrated his efforts could get one (particular
ly with today’s media pushing promiscuity like
it’s a panacea). I just think it’s time that we really
recognized how the deck is stacked against cour
teous, dependable guys - “nice guys.”
There’s a theory to support that old nice guys
cliche, and it makes sense - at least to guys like
me who know nothing about sociology or biolo
gy. I’m sure it will enrage a whole bunch of peo
ple, so let’s go over it.
(Let me just say I’m not insane, and I realize
no theory can describe every woman. So, for
those gals who can honestly handle a nice guy,
call me. And for those girls who can’t, and get
really enraged by this ... call me. I bet you sound
sexy when you’re angry.)
There’s that big stage of women’s lives in
which they’re fertile - between puberty and
menopause (surprise, surprise!). Within that
stage, a lot of women have two sub-stages - so
goes the theory.
The first stage is what frustrates we nice
guys, because it’s the time in which many women
go after jerks. (Yeah, I know, ladies... we’re all
jerks. Pipe down.) You know who I mean - guys
that do everything from forcing their girlfriends
to pay for everything, all the way up to abusing
There are a bundle of guys out there who
probably don’t deserve to even look at a woman -
but they nevertheless find lovers. Women love
these jerks, defend them, sometimes have their
It’s amazing how often nice guys get to hear
about their female friends’ bad relationships, or
lack of dates altogether. You know who most
often gets to hear the phrase, “Why can’t I get a
good man?” Good men who, for some reason,
don’t get much consideration.
I can hear you saying, “B.S.! Is your dad a
jerk, then? He got a woman.” (And it couldn’t be
put more eloquently, could it?) Well, the good
news for nice guys - while small consolation for
years of loneliness in school - is that second sub
stage favors them.
After a woman has had two kids with her bas
tardized boyfriend, she begins to want a different
type of man to fill different needs. The kids are
into their troubling adolescent years, and she
needs more adult parenting help than her Kurt
Cobain wannabe can provide. He’s given her
excitement and youthful desire. Now she wants
to relax and be provided for. In steps the nice,
comfortable guy for the long haul.
This all doesn’t sound so ridiculous when
you’re given the anthropological reasoning that
my friends and I have uncovered. These jerks (not
my friends, the guys I’ve been talking about) are
what they are because they’re very competitive.
They’re selfish, and they’re always ticking
people off, becausg if it weren’t for society, they’d
kill anyone who got in die way of what they
wanted That would be the Neanderthal’s method
of dealing with things. They simply settle for
yelling, fighting, racing cars - the usual insensi
tive guy activities.
So it’s really no wonder so many young
women stick up for their embarrassingly crude
and dangerous boyfriends, is it? They can’t help
it. They want them for their genes.
So what’s left for really nice guys who are
sick of being ignored by women? Should you just
start acting like jerks? Don’t bother. I doubt many
of you could pull it off. (Although I’ve had peo
ple who should’ve known better slap some really
nasty adjectives on me, so you never know.)
Those girls dating jailbirds aren’t doing it
because they have no ability to judge character
(no matter what their fathers may believe). They
judge people quite instinctively, and they pick
men how they inherently want them.
No, fellas, better get yourselves some really
interesting hobbies. Try weightlifting, so you can
eventually beat up the young punks looking side
ways at your future wives. Go ahead and follow
Ann Landers’ advice, and join some clubs or
something, too. It can’t kill you (except for the
medieval combat club; those nuts are out for ,
blood), And there’s die chance you’ll either find
someone, or become preoccupied with those
group activities.
Oh yeah, get really comfortable with your
self, too. A lot of time, the only one who’s going
to be around to help you deal with the loneliness
is you.
Take that however you want. \.