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I've changed; I love soccer

Join Senior Editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Bill from Jacksonville:
Based on NFL draft picks and national titles won the last five years, the SEC is definitely in control of college football.

Vic: From an on-the-field standpoint, the SEC is absolutely the dominant football conference in America and its fans should be intensely proud of the conference's achievements, but the kind of control that was at the root of what the Pac-10 tried to do and what the Big 12 seems to have avoided goes way beyond dominance on the field. Money is at the root of that kind of control and it's the Big 10 that dominates there; the Pac-10 was merely following the Big 10's lead. There's a belief that athletics should be allowed to do as it pleases because it's the economic engine that drives these schools' budgets, and that's pure folly. Research is what drives these schools. The big-hitters in federal research grants are pulling down $600 and $700 million a year in grants. That was one of the big reasons Texas was attracted to the Pac-10. Texas is a big player in the research game and it could've partnered with Cal-Berkley and Stanford, for example, on projects that would've delivered even more federal research money. The key to getting that money is membership in the prestigious AAU (Association of American Universities). There are only 63 AAU members and 12 of them are in the Big 10. The SEC has only two such members. Why do you think the presidents of these universities have become so much more prominent than their athletic directors in these matters of conference expansion? It's so they can make sure that decisions are made with academics in mind. They all want that research money because that's where the big money is. It's the research money that drives a school's general fund, its reputation and its growth.

Ronnie from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
On the subject of yesteryear's tackling, I just read Y.A. Tittle's autobiography and he spoke of a linebacker on the 49ers who actually knocked a guy's eye out of its socket so it just hung there. Now that's a lick.

Vic: Yeah, his coach told him to keep an eye out for that linebacker.

Bryan from Jacksonville:
Have you ever thought about using your fame to start a business or something? The coffee mug sales are probably okay, but have you thought about opening a Vic's pizza restaurant or something else? I could picture your face on the sign.

Vic: I can't eat real pizza any more, Bryan. I'm not allowed to eat white bread.

Jonathan from Jacksonville:
Didn't Yatil Green (Dolphins first-round pick awhile back) get hurt before signing a contract?

Vic: No, it was after he was under contract. Green blew out his ACL on the first day of training camp.

Geoff from Bernardsville, NJ:
In your opinion, who is the best quarterback to ever play the game?

Vic: Unitas.

Justin from Jacksonville Beach, FL:
This is why having an NFL team is so important to a city. See story below from Peter King's MMQB posted on Monday, June 14. "Random NFL Experience in South Africa: I'm here with my wife and the other day we were in a cab in Cape Town and the driver asked where we were from. 'I grew up in Pittsburgh,' my wife said. 'The Steelers!!!!' the fellow said. 'You know the Steelers?' she said. 'Everyone knows the Steelers!' he said.

Vic: There have been times I've sat in airports with a bag that had a "Jax" tag on it and someone has asked me, "How do the Jaguars look this year?" They see Jacksonville and they think Jaguars; they see Jaguars and they think Jacksonville. It's the connection people make because these teams are their towns' identities, and if you don't have one, you have an identity crisis. That's exactly what Jacksonville had for all the years prior to the Jaguars' arrival. I have never had someone see the "Jax" tag on one of my suitcases and say, "Go Gators." Jacksonville is the Jaguars.

Jeremy from Navarre, FL:
I understand and respect that you don't like soccer, however, I would propose that you respect the skill and athleticism required to play the game. Soccer takes an endless motor, a strategic mind and born athletic skill to play. The stage of the World Cup is amazing and I'm proud to cheer for the U.S., even if I was disappointed in our play. I just ask that you respect the game; no one said you had to like it.

Vic: That's it. You've done it. You've pushed me over the edge and now I surrender. Yes, soccer is the greatest game in the world and I will now walk around with my lower lip stuck out looking for people who won't give my new-found passion the respect it deserves. Never mind the horribly annoying sound of those stupid horns. Never mind the mind-numbing repetition of meaningless kicks back and forth across the middle of the field. Never mind that hitting a ball with your head looks stupid. My only regret in life is that I spent my childhood riding around with a baseball glove on my bicycle handle bars instead of shin guards. What was I thinking? I should've been kicking a soccer ball around the streets of Natrona, Pa., even though not one person in the town ever owned or cared to own a soccer ball. Yes, soccer is the greatest sport in the world and on my way home today I'm going to buy one of those soccer ball stickers and stick it on my car's gas-cap lid. In celebration of my love for the game, I will now delete all e-mails in which the word soccer appears. Feel better?

Stephen from Port Richey, FL:
What is your take on lacrosse?

Vic: Give it back to Jim Brown.

Chris from St. Augustine, FL:
Facts are stubborn things, Vic. In many media outlets today some contributors choose to use anonymous quotes to support a narrative they wish to convey. When a media outlet decides to disregard facts, or chooses not to wait for the facts to become self-evident, they distance themselves from journalism and thus become tabloid. I believe that distinction between journalism and tabloid has become far too blurry for many people.

Vic: If you need an example, just go to ESPN's reporting of the Big 12's on-again, off-again love affair with the Pac-10 on Monday. I have never seen a media outlet contradict itself as many times as ESPN did on Monday. They wrote that it was "imminent" that Texas was leaving for the Pac-10, and then they changed that story an hour later and waffled back and forth the rest of the afternoon. It was embarrassing; it wasn't even good tabloid journalism. It was message-board reporting. Hey, if you can't stand by a story, then don't write one. After what happened on Monday, I don't know that I can ever believe what I read about college football on ESPN.

Brian from Tampa, FL:
Based on his history, what kind of punishment do you foresee Goodell handing out to Vince Young?

Vic: I really don't know but I think it's becoming obvious that this tough stance against off-the-field misconduct is not a deterrent. If you don't want your players doing bad things, then I think it's become obvious that you have to make sure you don't draft players who do bad things. Once you got 'em, they got you.

Tudor from St. Augustine, FL:
Why have they been setting up the Cowboys and the Eagles for the past four years or so to play each other every year in the last game of the season? There's no way it's coincidence.

Vic: Of course it's not a coincidence. There's nothing about the NFL's schedule-making that's coincidental. It's all done with the intent to promote ticket sales and viewership. Why would you think otherwise? Creating tradition is one of the NFL's major goals. Creating great theater is another one. The combination of the two is unbeatable. Why do Florida and Georgia play against each other on the same Saturday in October every year? Is that just a coincidence?

Ken from Jacksonville:
With the success of the vuvuzela at the World Cup, I am thinking the Jags should include one with each ticket purchase. It would bring a World Cup atmosphere to the city of Jacksonville.

Vic: Yes, by all means. We could all take out our vuvuzelas at the opener.

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