Mailbox: An appreciation for three-legged dogs; and are college football rosters too big?

Brian White
The Columbus Dispatch

Have more comments, questions? Reach out to me at bwhite1@dispatch.com.

Rutgers held practice this morning at their football practice facility in Piscataway, NJ on March 8, 2022.

On three-legged dogs

To the editor: Dispatch sports writer Rob Oller has described Rutgers as "the pathetic three-legged dog." Meet Gus the Goldendoodle, who has received a lot of media coverage in the Twin Cities. Gus lost a leg to cancer, but there's nothing pathetic about him. Gus became a hero when he swam out into the St. Croix River and rescued a baby otter. The otter wouldn't have survived on its own that far from shore and is currently in the care of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota. As for Gus, well, he has three more chemo sessions to go. Oller needs to do the right thing and write a column celebrating Gus' heroism.

Jay Hoster, Columbus

To Jay: Clearly, Gus is not pathetic. In fact, he's a very, very good boy. Rutgers? We're not so sure.

On college football

To the editor: Another day and we read of another college football player entering the transfer portal, wanting a better opportunity to actually play the game that they love and not just be canon fodder for the first-team players. Every year a new round of high school “wonder” athletes are told by coaches and recruiters that they are the next LeBron James or Tom Brady. They then come face-to-face with reality once they hit the college football meat grinder. I am certain there are many great athletes who never get a real opportunity to demonstrate their full talents on the field. Many examples exist, such as Russell Wilson and Joe Burrow, just to name two who quickly come to mind. How many other Wilsons and Burrows are out there?  A large number, I strongly suspect. 

Many people will remember when the number of Division I football  scholarships were gradually reduced from 105 to 95 then to the current 85. This scholarship reduction was supposed to address the ubiquitous problem of coaches offering large numbers of scholarships to high school athletes only to keep them from going to other schools and then “warehousing” players or all along knowing they would only be used as practice players. Many believe this philosophy still exists today, as is evident by the number of players entering the transfer portal who have success at another school or the large number of players along the sidelines.  Also, many will remember that there was great angst among coaches and school supporters that with each reduction in the number of scholarships that it would lead to the downfall of college football.

Nothing could be further from the truth. To address  the problem of players not getting a chance to play, the warehousing of players and the false promises of coaches and to help reduce the numbers of players wanting to transfer, why not reduce the number of scholarships by another 10-15 per year? A team with 70 -75 players could still have plenty of athletes to field a great team, and more athletes would actually get the opportunity they had been told they would get. The idea of reducing the number of scholarships would be met by great opposition from the college football establishment, but in the end it would improve the game and the lives of many. 

Chet Ridenour, Worthington

To Chet: The transfer portal is a good thing, to free kids who either overestimated their own abilities or were over-promised by coaches hungry to stockpile talent. A reduced roster would be hurt even more by the defections, especially at places that see the most players leave. If you're at 85 and 20 leave, that's trouble.  

To Brian: College football may need to make some changes to survive the future. Two issues have surfaced: College enrollment is declining and overall attendance is down — steadily since 2013. Big Ten attendance in 2021 was actually up slightly; Michigan being the nationwide leader. Some of the reasons for the drop in enrollments may be due to students deciding to work or get their education elsewhere. They want a better return on their investment. Also, a lower birth rate coupled with boomers dying, will affect our colleges.

Further, fans don't want the same teams each year in the CFP. Will parity help? Various ideas have been suggested on that: Limiting four- and five-star recruits per school. Limiting coaches' salaries. And revenue sharing — probably the least desired choice for reducing financial loss at some schools. How about reducing ticket prices on empty game-day seats? 

I still want OSU to be dominant in the Big Ten. The right ideas will improve and strengthen the conferences in revenue, recruiting and fans in the stands.

Larry Cheek, Dublin

To Larry: Lots of ideas there. The hope of many is that if attendance continues to drop, the market will correct naturally and ticket prices will stop skyrocketing. 

Reds fans wear paper bags on their heads, two of which read, "Sell the team, Bob," referencing a call for CEO Bob Castellini to sell the team.

On the Reds

To the editor: I have lived in Columbus over 20 years and been a Reds fan the last 19. Some good years but many not. I have supported the Reds through all the player changes — O'Neill, Phillips, Frazier, Bruce and now Winker and Suarez. There are still great players on the team but no bench and no backups who can deliver through injuries. Now Bally Sports Ohio has pre-empted the Reds games. What does everyone think about this?

D Fredrick

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