Oh, it's college football time again. Let's put the little flags on our car and drive around town with our school colors on. If you're here in Arkansas, you can even put a plastic hog's head on as a hat, which tells everyone who sees you, "Hey, I'm a dork!"

I wrote about this in college sports, but this time I'd like to tell you a little story. (Sit down and cross your legs, like ideath and icicle always do. No hitting in the back, there boys. Sylvar, put your little Florida Gator banner up your as. . . I mean, down.)

I used to teach freshman English at a large SEC school. It had a very famous coach at the time, who had a nickname which was also the name of a big, furry mammal. There was a famous quarterback at the time who might or might not be wearing pantyhose. The mascot of this school had something in common with the GOP, but the team's name had nothing to do with that mascot. The team's name was mentioned in a famous Steely Dan song. But I don't want to actually tell you the name of the school, OK? I think you can understand my reluctance to do that.

I had been teaching freshman English for a couple of years. I was what you might call, a professional student at the time. One year, there were a couple of black fellows in my class. It became obvious that they were friends, and just as obvious that neither one of them could read or write at the college level.

I had already made a decision (justified, I believe) that if you got to college without knowing how to read and write the one language you've used since birth, it was the fault of your crappy public high school, and there was little I could do to help at this point. I mean, you need to know how to read and write English in order to pass any college course, hopefully. At least, you did back then.

I could give you examples of things these two would write, but that would be cruel. Just take my word for it. I would talk to them after class and tell them things like, "You know, maybe college just isn't for you. Have you considered a vocational school where you could learn a trade?" Things like that. I had given both of them about 3 F's apiece and had at least 3 sessions after class with them. They were nice about it.

But one day there came a knock at my office door. A young man came in, closed the door, and asked me if I was the teacher failing the two guys. I said, "Yeah, and I don't see it getting any better."

He leaned over my desk and said something like this: "I'm so-and-so from the Athletic Department. I'm not going to say that Coach (insert mammal nickname here) sent me here, but I'm not going to say he didn't, either. What I am going to say is this: Those two guys either make a C in your class or you don't teach here any longer. And I have already spoken with the Head of your Department, so there's no need to try and take this anywhere outside this room."

It was true. The Dept. Head wouldn't discuss it with me. I had to give these two a C in order to keep my job. Which I did. But it sure did change the whole way I look at college sports.

Sylvar, you think this doesn't go on at Florida? I find it hard to understand how well-educated people such as yourself can condone that. It's an epidemic, has been for way too many years, and something really needs to be done about it.