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Cheat now, win now. Pay later.

Since when does the NCAA take Visa, MasterCard, and American Express?

[Full Disclosure: Paulie Personal Investing once bought stock in Webvan, which was recently named the “largest dot-com flop in history.” Uh, note to self: next time, invest in Wikipedia, where that extensive research was just conducted.]

Hey, who needs financial acumen? Paulie Plastic still feels pretty dang safe in concluding that the college sports scene has become the next great credit card society.

Win now, pay later.

Look at USC. Win a National Championship in 2004. Add a Heisman Trophy in 2005. Then, circa 2011, open up the trophy case and return the statue and gleaming glass ball via UPS Ground.

All the while, the crime itself makes momentary headlines. Guilty schools might give back the hardware, but fans don’t delete the wins from their memory banks. Same with star quarterbacks, who aren’t into revisionist history.

“In reality, I don’t think anyone can take the championship away from us,” said Matt Leinart on ESPN.

Cheat now, pay later.

Crime does pay in college sports. It pays off now, which is perfect in our culture of instant gratification. Compared to school loans that students float to fund their education – what’s the difference? Both come with an invoice years later.

Needless to say, it’s a price many are willing to pay. Why not? You don’t think Paulie Pasadena is well aware that the ole alma mater hasn’t been to a Rose Bowl since 1959. You don’t think that Cal alums wouldn’t be willing to swipe their card? Credit or debit?

Cheat now, win now. Pay later. Gladly.

Actually, the Cal basketball program has already been there, cheated that. Sure, Head Coach Todd Bozeman was busted for paying off the parents of a recruit. But who remembers that? Instead, it’s more like: “how ‘bout that honkin’ huge win over Duke to make the Sweet Sixteen with Jason Kidd?!!” (Note: Cal Hoops was 4-26 the year before Bozeman arrived in Berkeley.)

Cheat now, win now. Pay later. Where do I sign?

And if anyone asks, just make like Leinart and say: “Scoreboard, dude.”

Cuz, guess what? Until further notice, scoreboards tabulate points, not violations.

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