Monday, January 17, 2011

10 comments Gregg Easterbrook Wants to Reform the BCS...In Regard To Academics

Gregg Easterbrook talked last week about the need to playoff re-seed so that teams like the Seahawks don't make the playoffs. The Seahawks then proceeded to go out and beat the Saints, proving they did belong in the playoffs. If you think we are getting an excuse for why Gregg still believes he is right or even a mention about this in this week's TMQ then you are wrong. When Gregg is wrong, he chooses to ignore his wrongness. I think they teach ESPN columnists how to do this in Page 2 orientation. This week, Gregg changes the subject to talk about college football graduation rates, which is about as much of interesting subject as it is relevant to anything going on in the NFL playoffs in mid-January.

It wasn't hard for TMQ to choose which big bowl game to jump on a plane to. I attended the Discover Orange Bowl, in Miami, and had a great time. How did I choose that contest? It matched Stanford, with a football graduation rate of 86 percent, against Virginia Tech, with a football graduation rate of 79 percent. That is, a monster bowl between two programs in which most players go to class and walk in silly robes to "Pomp and Circumstance." Stanford-Virginia Tech had the highest combined football graduation rate ever for a BCS bowl. That's my kind of football.

That's Gregg's kind of football game. A football game that is not chosen on the basis of how well the two teams match up against each other, but what the graduation rate is for each team. Everyone loves a high graduation rate, but I think Gregg is the last person on Earth under the impression college football games should be decided based on academics. This is what happens when you let an academic person write a weekly football column.

Another little factoid I like about Gregg choosing this matchup between Stanford and Virginia Tech is you know those "football factory" schools Gregg is always criticizing? Well, Virginia Tech and Stanford are both "football factory" schools. Granted, he seems to indicate they have good graduation rates, but they are also both football factory schools that Gregg will rail against periodically.

For years we've been hearing that academics and big-time college football cannot coexist; this bowl season proved that wrong emphatically.

There are a couple things wrong with this statement. First off, Gregg is the person who has been saying big-time football and academics can not coexist, so he is the one who is proving his own thesis incorrect. Second, if there was a thesis that big-time college football and academics can't coexist then one bowl game where both teams are strong academically doesn't necessarily prove this incorrect. This bowl game could be the outlier.

If every Division I football game paired schools with football graduation rates like those of Stanford and TCU, then the phrase "student-athlete" would be real, and the NCAA would be considered a sincere organization.

Also, no one would watch the bowl games and the NCAA would be forced to move to a playoff in order to ramp up interest in the games...wait, maybe this wouldn't be such a bad thing then.

The BCS takes into account sports statistical rankings as pseudo-scientific as this. The BCS should also take into account objective numbers about graduation rates and GPA.

The nonpartisan New America Foundation publishes an annual Academic BCS, assessing what the bowl lineup would be if on-field results were blended with classroom performance.

Gregg Easterbrook has a history not reading the links that he provides to his readers. I am not sure he read this link either. The New America Foundation ranked only the Top 25 teams according to graduation rate, they did not rank all Division-I football teams in order of sports ranking and classroom performance. The "National Championship" that is suggested here is based purely on a sample size of the 25 teams that comprise the Top 25 teams in the BCS standings. So the bowl lineup may be totally different if the Academic BCS was opened up to every Division-I school.

If the NCAA also forced there to be an academic portion to the BCS rankings then the schools would find a way to make classroom performance even more of a sham than it currently is. Schools would find a way to have their players pass all of their classes so they could shoot up the BCS standings and then Gregg would complain about how schools are passing and graduating players to have a better football ranking.

One reason this awful situation continues is that the Bowl Champion Series organization doesn't give one hoot about academics. Credits completed, disparity between white and African-American graduation rates: These subjects never even come up in BCS calculations.

Because the BCS calculations are calculations of how good the school's football team is. The BCS calculations aren't supposed to have anything to do with academics, they have to do with college football rankings. If Gregg can't understand this, then he shouldn't be writing about college football. Academics aren't supposed to be a part of the BCS calculations. An athlete's GPA isn't partly calculated by his team's BCS ranking or record, so the same thing goes for a school's BCS ranking.

Reform is possible, and practical. The BCS is all about rankings, so add an academic-performance ranking. Namely, add the New America Foundation football-and-academics ranking to the BCS. Make the BCS stand for something other than the almighty dollar.

It does stand for something than the almighty dollar. The BCS also stands for bowl games. That's the entire intent of the BCS, to set up a college bowl system for games to be played to determine a national champion. As much as I would love to see all players graduate, it really isn't the intent of the BCS to factor this into the rankings, and nor should it be. I love academics and I think athletes should have to go to class, but I don't think the BCS standings should factor this in.

Today big-deal college football is borderline corrupt because the incentives are all wrong. Coaches are rewarded with money for wins, but never penalized if players fail academically. Colleges are rewarded with money for wins, but never held to account if their athletic programs don't produce graduates. The BCS, NCAA, ESPN and other networks are rewarded with money for ratings, but never penalized if sports interfere with education

This is terrible and I am not sure anyone will argue with you on this. Maybe sports should be more intertwined with academics, but I don't know how to do this fairly. It will create another sham system. Schools will just pass athletes to increase their rankings. Is ESPN supposed to lose money or pay a price because a college doesn't have its players graduate? Who is supposed to fine ESPN $1 million dollars for broadcasting a game where the players had the game interfere with their education? Gregg is getting his spheres of influence mixed up. As much as I criticize ESPN, they have proven time and time again they are an entertainment network. They televise sports entertainment and are not responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the sports they televise. If a school doesn't graduate its players, that's their problem, not ESPN's.

Factor academics into football rankings and immediately academic results will improve, because coaches will emphasize players being in class. Immediately, big-deal college football coaches might tell players their that grades and credits matter. The incentive structure of Division I college football would be revolutionized immediately.

Immediately well-paid tutors will be doing the homework for the football players. Immediately college football coaches will intimidate and force well-meaning professors into passing their players. Immediately somehow academics on campus for athletes will be a bigger sham because it will tie into how the football team does.

So change the incentives. Add an academic ranking to the BCS formula. Immediately, the use-them-up-and-throw-them-away exploitation of Division I college football players will decline.

If Gregg really believes players will start going to class and graduating more often with a better education because GPA is factored into the BCS formula. then I have an island I'd like to sell him. Tying academics to sports could very well cause the opposite effect. Coaches know players won't graduate or go to class, so they will "receive" their education, but never really learn anything. Teams will have players with extraordinarily high GPA's in order to increase their football ranking.

Equally important, in the divisional round the home teams have spent a bye week relaxing in hot tubs while their opponents were out being pounded. Home teams dominate the NFL divisional round -- check-mark them in your office pool. You don't even need to know who's playing!

Are there really companies that do an office pool for the NFL divisional round? I don't know of any.

Cheerleader of the Week Meagan Pravden of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who according to her team bio studied dance at Pittsburgh's Point Park University and now is a broadcast journalism major at the University of Central Florida.

Here's what the caption under her picture in TMQ said:

Meagan Pravden of the Bucs -- you could bounce quarters off her stomach muscles.

So I made some really quick rules in the comments of MMQB last week to show how creepy I think Gregg's infatuation with young cheerleaders is. He doesn't understand the breakdown creepiness levels when it comes to men constantly commenting on cheerleaders being attractive. Here are my opinion on how it is for others to hear a person of a certain age comment on attractive cheerleaders constantly:

Ages 4-10: It's cute. He notices girls.

Ages 10-14: Let's keep this check and monitor how long he's in the bathroom. Also, be sure to check the computer's history. Nothing to worry about really.

Ages 15-30: Completely typical. The cheerleaders are the man's age or go to his school. It falls in his age sub-set, plus the cheerleader may be attractive and men fawn over attractive women, so it make sense.

Ages 30-40: It's fun to comment on a cheerleader's attractiveness. If a person hasn't gotten married, he is settled down enough to where the idea of ogling younger girls is pretty harmless. It is more about being reminded you aren't 25 years old anymore. If a person is married, he may just be tweaking his wife to make her roll her eyes.

Ages 41-50: There's really no need to comment constantly on cheerleaders. Why does he keep doing it? Is he still trying to be funny? He does know these cheerleaders could be his daughter's age right? Does he ogle his daughter's friends? Did he enjoy "American Beauty?"

Ages 50-78: Constantly ogling cheerleaders has reached maximum creepiness level. These cheerleaders could be his granddaughter. Is this interest in cheerleaders a sign he has an excessive interest in younger women. Yes, they are attractive but why must he talk about them and their bodies? Is it safe to leave teenage girls with him?

Ages 79-death: It's cute again.

The BCS championship tied with two minutes remaining, Auburn's Michael Dyer made a short gain and seemed to be down, then stood up and looked around. But was he down or had he rolled atop an Oregon player? Because Dyer had rushed toward his sideline, he heard Auburn coaches and players along the sideline calling to him to resume running.

He hadn't really rushed toward his sideline. He was more in the middle of the field than he was close to the Auburn sideline. I need to nitpick this.

On most of the four-man backfield rushes, two Ducks were executing fakes, meaning nine Oregon players opposed 11 Auburn defenders. On the game's key snap for Oregon, when the Ducks were stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the third quarter, the Four Horsemen backfield was used. Darron Thomas and LaMichael James ran left, faking an option action, while Kenjon Barner and blockers ran right. No one went with Thomas and James, who obviously didn't have the ball. That left eight Oregon players to block for the runner, against 11 defenders. Small wonder the down failed. Why get cute when you need 1 yard?

Seriously?????? This is an Easterbrookian contradiction.

Week after week after week after week after week, Gregg Easterbrook talks about how on a fourth-and-one a team needs to use misdirection and not dive straight ahead. The Oregon Ducks used misdirection, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT GREGG SAYS TO DO, and he accused them of being "cute" when they need one yard. Easterbrook is a hack. He can't even obey his own stupid fucking rules. I can't count how many times he has said a team needs to use misdirection on a fourth-and-one this year. He has complimented the Saints innumerable times for doing this...but when it fails all of a sudden a team is getting too "cute." He has criticized teams that run straight ahead with no misdirection for not using misdirection. I hate, hate, hate how he judges a play based solely on its outcome, even the play is run exactly how he suggests it be run. Gregg would have criticized the Ducks for doing something other than using misdirection and failing, yet they do exactly what Gregg advocates and he says they got cute.

Chiefs guard Ryan Lilja, previously waived by the Colts -- who could have used him Saturday -- made a legal block in the back in the "free blocking zone," knocking one defensive lineman into another, and both fell. Tackle Branden Albert threw Ray Lewis to the ground, which you don't see often.

Lilja was waived by the Colts, but where is Branden Albert from, Gregg? Oh yes, he is a highly drafted, highly overpaid, lazy first round draft pick who believes the world has been handed to him because he is a "megabucks" player...that isn't lazy nor overpaid. Not shockingly, Gregg forgets to mention Albert's draft position.

Inside linebacker A.J. Hawk came straight through the A-gap unblocked -- no one even tried to block him -- and nearly beat the snap to Vick's hands, forcing him to launch a wild incompletion. The failure of the try meant Philadelphia needed a touchdown in the closing seconds, and Vick forced the ball to a well-covered receiver, resulting in an interception.

It was a well-covered receiver, but the receiver (Riley Cooper) had single coverage on him and a better throw could have resulted in a touchdown. So Cooper was well-covered, but a good throw leading Cooper a little bit more may have prevented the interception.

It made my day that Andrew Luck decided to return to Stanford for his junior year, rather than become the presumptive first choice in the NFL draft. Barring injury, there are many millions of dollars in Luck's future no matter when he turns pro -- but he will never again have the chance to enjoy the idyllic college life at one of the world's leading universities.

There are millions of dollars in Luck's future, but possibly not as many millions of dollars had he come out in the draft his year. I guess we'll see. I won't begrudge him staying in school. Part of me also wonders if he is planning on being an architect after he graduates from Stanford or if he plans on going to the NFL? Theoretically, he could have gotten his degree and declared for the NFL, but he can't stay in college and get his degree and declare for the NFL. His stock is the highest it possibly ever will be. Again, I can't say it was a wrong decision since it was the responsible one, and I understand wanting to get his degree, but my understanding is over the next 15 years he wants to play football, not be an architect. Yet again, he was responsible and that is refreshing. At least he didn't stay in school to bang more sorority girls like Matt Leinart seemed to do...even though this is probably part of it.

Peyton Manning likely would have been the first choice in the 1997 draft; he returned to Tennessee for his senior year, graduated, and was the first choice in the 1998 draft. The counterexample is Brian Brohm. Likely a high choice in the 2007 draft, he returned to Louisville for his senior year. Louisville had a poor season and Brohm's stock fell: He was drafted late in the second round in 2008 by Green Bay, and has ridden various NFL pines since. For some players, there is an argument for turning pro when your stock is high. But if you must err, err on the side of graduating.

Well, sort of. Brian Brohm possibly would not have had to work and made a lot more money if he had declared after his junior year at Louisville. So academically, it is a smart move, but financially Brohm took a large pay cut by staying his senior year at Louisville. He was projected to be a first round pick by many of those people who get paid to make these predictions. So Brohm is wealthy and plays in the NFL, but he isn't as wealthy as he could have been and he got drafted and stuck behind a talented and young quarterback, which probably wouldn't have happened if he left after his junior year.

But that's the least of the problems with lotteries, whose financial structure -- spectacularly low chances of winning for players, combined with riches for those administering the lottos -- make them, as a wag once said, "a tax on the stupid." As TMQ wrote two years ago of state-sponsored lotteries, "There is almost no chance you will win, while total assurance you will lose the average of $190 annually that Americans throw away on government-run roulette.

Yes, how dare these people get to choose how they spend their own money! This money could be much better spent throwing money away on all the other useless crap that people tend to purchase. I know there are studies that say the poor are the ones that tend to buy lottery tickets, but people make choices and if people want to be idiots with their money it doesn't bother me as long as it doesn't bother me.

For the Jets' part, they played the funky 1-5-5 they've been showing this season. Since Bill Belichick likes strange defensive fronts too, the upcoming Jets-at-Patriots game may be funky.

This analysis makes my analysis of the Jets-Patriots game look brilliant.

Keith Pearlman of Leesburg, Fla., writes, "EA Sports announced the Tiger Woods PGA Tour '12 video game will be available on March 29, 2011. The 2011 Masters Tournament begins on April 7, 2011. So the video game version of Tiger can win the 2012 Masters before the real Tiger tees it up for the 2011 Masters."

Guess what else? A person can buy this video game and then wait 10 years and play the 2012 Masters in the year 2021! What kind of reverse-creep is this?

Why do Gregg's readers spend their time attempting to identify "creep" like this? It's annoying and pointless.

Susan Hunter of Charlottesville, Va., reports, "Two days before Christmas I was doing some last-minute shopping for Christmas dinner at my local Kroger grocery store, and found the checkout line featuring Cadbury Eggs. Thus the store had Easter items out (celebrating Jesus' death and resurrection) before Christmas had occurred (celebrating Jesus' birth)."

Or did this grocery store have the Easter items out really LATE after Jesus' death? It is possible the Easter items were out really late AFTER Easter, at which point there is no point in mentioning this.

Arguments that players such as Cam Newton are being exploited because they're not earning the several million dollars per year they would be worth as professionals -- the Wall Street Journal featured this argument -- take into account only star players. What about everyone else? Newton's play helps create the economic value that allows 84 teammates to be on full NCAA scholarships.

Ninety-nine percent of Division I football and men's basketball players are beneficiaries of a system that generates about 20,000 no-cost college educations per year.

One of my problems with paying college athletes is it wouldn't be fair to just pay the athletes in sports bring in a ton of revenue to the school. Shouldn't the lesser-known sports' athletes also get paid? Paying athletes in college athletics doesn't seem like a terrible idea, but the inequities of what different athletes would get paid doesn't make it that attractive. Would a football star really receive as much payment as a lacrosse star? That's just one of my problems with paying college athletes.

Annually TMQ notes it is a fallacy that colleges must have low standards to do well in the "revenue sports," football and basketball. Quite the contrary, colleges with high standards for academics and personal character also enjoy strong athletic results. In 2010, the football teams of Air Force, Army, Boise State, Boston College, BYU, Georgia Tech, Navy, North Carolina, Northwestern, Stanford, TCU and Wisconsin -- all schools with selective admission and high academic standards -- made bowl games.

So what was the point of that whole discussion in the beginning of TMQ about having the BCS rankings be determined partly by how well each team does in the classroom? If there are colleges succeeding at educating their players and performing well on the field, then I wouldn't say it isn't as big of a problem as Gregg seems to believe, but it is instead a sign that football players are receiving an education. How many of these athletes would even attend college or try to get an education if it weren't for sports? What is the percentage of "regular" students who enter school and graduate at some of these "football factories?" Graduation rates can be bad at some schools, but I would be interested to see the football graduation rate compared to the student-body graduation rate of incoming freshmen. So while Gregg hits the panic button in the beginning of the column, how many of these non-graduating football players would even have attended college (even for a brief period of time) if it weren't for football? How many graduating football players wouldn't have attended college if it weren't for football?

It is simply not true that colleges and universities with demanding academic programs and high standards for personal behavior don't succeed in sports. But this is surely what a lot of big-money schools with low standards for academics and integrity want you to believe.

I don't know if anyone said this wasn't true.

Seattle got fine performances from many players other teams didn't want -- Lynch (a recent first-round choice traded by the Bills for a fourth-round pick), Mike Williams (waived by three teams), Chris Clemons (undrafted, waived by the Redskins, Browns and Raiders), Brandon Stokley (waived by Denver), David Hawthorne (undrafted), Lawyer Milloy (waived three times, including by the Falcons, as "washed up" two years ago) and Kentwan Balmer (a recent first-round choice traded by the 49ers for a sixth round pick).

It is amazing how Gregg's highly-paid "mega-bucks" first round picks go from "mega-bucks" to unwanted once they have a good year. Gregg is so fickle. Mike Williams was the epitome of a highly paid and entitled first round pick just a year ago, but now Gregg puts him in the "unwanted" category. There's a reason he wasn't wanted and somehow Gregg seems to skip over his own "mega-bucks" first round player bust argument and sees the player as incorrectly unwanted by his original team(s).

Two months ago, TMQ broached the notion that working with undrafted or waived players actually is an advantage, compared to working with high-drafted megabucks glory boys -- such as the Cowboys' roster, for instance. First-round picks with huge bonuses devote a lot of time and energy to the airing of their grievances. Unwanted players listen to the coach. And that's the kind of players Carroll has been collecting in Seattle.

High-drafted glory boys like Tony Romo and Miles Austin?

So my question becomes when does a high-drafted megabucks glory boy all of a sudden become an unwanted player? Oh yeah, when he has success in the NFL. That's all well and good, but Gregg writes a column calling these players "unwanted" when there is a very good damn reason they were unwanted...because they were bad on the field. So is Gregg furthering some retarded-ass theory that cutting some highly-drafted player will cause him to work harder when he is unwanted? Talk to Charles Rogers, Ryan Leaf, Akili Smith, Ted Ginn, and all the other first round busts about that and you will find it isn't true.

And where was the guard help on those three-men Seattle rushes? Often New Orleans guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks were blocking no one as the tackles on their shoulders were being beaten. Just one of many breakdowns by the defending champions.

I prefer to refer to these Saints offensive guards separately as the following:

Jahri Evans is a 2010 TMQ Non-Quarterback Non-Running Back MVP finalist and the 2009 Non-Quarterback Non-Running Back MVP runner-up.

Carl Nicks is a lowly drafted 5th rounder.

Of course Gregg conveniently forgets to mention how highly he thinks of Evans and probably thinks of Nicks because then people may realize he is full of shit. So he sees fit to criticize Jahri Evans and if Evans was highly-drafted then Gregg would point that out, but he won't point out Evans is also been in the running for the Non-QB Non-RB MVP of TMQ in 2009 and 2010 when he is criticizing him. Gregg doesn't want us to believe his Non-QB Non-RB picks aren't perfect football players.

Seattle got a wonderful performance from Matt Hasselbeck, who's been viewed by football touts as "washed up" for some time, and from its offensive line

Hasselbeck has been seen as being injured, probably more so than washed up.

Seattle play-calling, by Carroll pal Jeremy Bates, was imaginative. Bates had Morrah split wide -- blocking tight ends never split wide --

Tight ends are not often seen as only "blocking" tight ends as if they are incapable of catching the football, yet Gregg keeps referring to certain tight ends like this.

Baltimore surprised Kansas City with a hurry-up style. In a hurry-up, the player most likely to get lost is the tight end. And so it was, Todd Heap making 13 receptions, often uncovered or chased by an inside linebacker.

Right. I know the common idea that the person most likely to get lost in a hurry-up style is the tight end. This isn't made up at all by Gregg to fit this particular situation. Gregg would never claim a fictional statement is presented by actual evidence, since he tends to do this a minimum of once a week.

Next Week: Accounting scandals strike cupcake bakeries.

Earlier in this column Gregg explained the cupcake bubble was about to burst. That's TMQ. Enjoy it at your own risk.


HH said...

It matched Stanford, with a football graduation rate of 86 percent, against Virginia Tech, with a football graduation rate of 79 percent.

I assume Gregg uses the standard 6 year graduation rate: Stanford overall graduation rates in 4, 5, 6 years: 80%, 92%, 94%. Small but notable difference between

The New America Foundation ranking is a sophisticated metric, based mainly on graduation rates, which are a stronger measure than the "academic success rate" the NCAA likes to talk about.

Also easiest to game. Just graduate the student. You're not going to have any academic measures that actually keep track of whether student-athletes are learning. Colleges don't do a good job of providing them opportunity (football has a particular way of dominating your life to make studying difficult), but that could be fixed by mandating something like five-year scholarships so that players have a year after exhausting eligibility to finish up.

The New America Foundation ranking also takes into account disparity in graduation rates between white and African-American football players, which is a subject nobody at the top of sports wants to talk about -- but everybody should.

Or, maybe, there's nothing colleges can do even if they're extremely fair. Blacks in America still suffer from disadvantages from early childhood on - a college that is 100% colorblind will still end up with a disparity, since they're not going to fix a lifetime of difference in 8 semesters.

The wild-card round didn't go according to plan from the standpoint of hype. But the best teams play on.

Actually, the teams that won that weekend play on.

College graduates are better at practically everything.

CAUSATION, you piece of shit. College graduates are not more successful (by the metric of your choice) BECAUSE they are college graduates. They are more successful because people who are innately talented tend to graduate from college. All evidence shows that people's talent matters; the degree is just a reflection of already existing talent. I bet that Andrew Luck's life outcomes will in no way be improved by the extra year in college (except an extra year in college, which is nice). He's the kind of person who would do well regardless of degree.

HH said...

Also, regarding the cupcake bubble, check out this article from September 3, 2009:

"The Cupcake Bubble

Better enjoy that vanilla cupcake with espresso-ganache icing today, because the cupcake crash is coming!"

rich said...

As a graduate student who teaches at the university level, this really speaks to me.

If every Division I football game paired schools with football graduation rates like those of Stanford and TCU, then the phrase "student-athlete" would be real

You know why TCU and Stanford have such high graduation rates? 1. Their players typically aren't highly touted NFL prospects, so they can stay all for years and 2. TCU and Stanford are both expensive private universities and so I'd bet that more kids on the Stanford and TCU teams come from more well off families than those that go to say Miami or Ohio State. So there's no family pressure to leave school early and the family can provide money to help out while they stick around college.

Schools would find a way to have their players pass all of their classes

This. One hundred percent this. Every NCAA football player would become a basket weaving major. It also poses problems for harder schools. How can you compare the GPA of a team from a Stanford or a Rice to the GPA of a team like Texas Tech? Again, you'd have to weight the "difficulty" of each school and major into the GPA ratings.

This also creates a secondary problem. What happens if you're at Stanford and you've got a 2.9 GPA as a fourth string TE with a Plasma Physics major. The coaching staff might kick you off the team, take away your scholarship and/or force you to change your major. How does that solve the current problem?

Gregg talks about how corrupt the system is and doesn't consider that the system is corrupt because the people working in it are corrupt. I'm sorry, but thinking that adding an academic weighting to the BCS and thinking it will work is not only naive, but incredibly dangerous to actual student-athletes. The first thing coaches are going to do is try to get their players to take easier majors, which will help the GPA and graduation rates, but what happens when schools are pumping out 100,000 gender studies majors?

Coaches are rewarded with money for wins, but never penalized if players fail academically.

As an academic, I hate the sports system, but it's not the job of coaches to ensure their players do well academically. The coaches that do are wonderful and I'd want my kids to pay for them, but sometimes kids just don't pan out academically.

Immediately somehow academics on campus for athletes will be a bigger sham because it will tie into how the football team does.

This is absolutely correct. At any given point we've all met someone who graduated from the same school as us and gone "holy shit that moron has the same degree I do?" Guess what? Now football players (who likely still won't have actually learned jack shit) will now have the same degree and an inflated GPA, meaning actual students are at a disadvantage because they didn't have a high ranking school official demanding they get at least a B.

Gregg also is a dumbfuck for thinking grades and graduation rates are the end all statistic for how well students are doing academically. GPA means nothing. I've met people who barely made it through college who are incredibly successful. I've met people with high GPAs who I wouldn't trust to mow my lawn.

rich said...

Immediately, the use-them-up-and-throw-them-away exploitation of Division I college football players will decline.

But the academic ranking will just exploit the students in other ways and exploit the academic world for what it is: a business. That's what I think Gregg is too naive to see. Colleges and Universities are businesses, nothing more, nothing less. If they have to sacrifice some of their morals (inflating GPAs, graduating players who shouldn't be graduating), they will. Some won't. Some will actually live by the spirit and intention of the "academic BCS," but most won't. You think OSU or UM give two shits about graduating players? You think Terrell Pryor gives a shit about his GPA or his graduation status? How does this change any of it other than hand waving and manipulating the system?

Colleges already manipulate grades to preserve graduation ratings for the rankings. I've seen students fail a course and be allowed to take the course that it's a pre-req for. I've seen kids fail entire semesters and not had anyone say anything about it.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, it is pretty unfair to blame colleges for not graduating athletes that don't have the advantages some other people may have. Also, you are correct that a college graduate is more successful generally due to being a college graduate.

I didn't even know there was a cupcake bubble.

Rich, you are correct in that Gregg blindly lumps in all colleges together in regard to academics. Some schools are more expensive and tend to take students with a different background from students at a different school. I work somewhat in academics as well and coaches will show an "interest" in a student's academics as it relates to his classes, so I can only imagine if the football team's ranking had ANYTHING to do with the team's BCS standings.

Gregg's idea basically would turn academics into a sham because teams would have more incentive for the student's to get high grades, while student's will to learn won't increase. Many players won't want to learn more, they will want more help or find a way to get a better grade in a class. It sounds terrible, but I just don't see a way where his idea is good. If anything, like you said, players will come out of school LESS prepared because they will be encouraged to take easier classes that don't translate to success in the real world.

Of course this is assuming GPA and grades are the end-all for how smart a person is or how much he/she learns. There is a difference in difficulty based on a student's major as well.

I think if you want to guarantee that colleges exploit players, then make the BCS standings tie in any way to grades. Then students will definitely not get prepared for the real world because they will be taking useless classes that help the football team out. Basically at that point, a player's education is subsidizing the BCS ranking of a team. It's a terrible, terrible idea.

Dylan said...

In all honesty, I think if a player goes to college, he should be forced to graduate with all the necessary credits, regardless of the sport. I undertsand that different sports make some players better prepared for the next level then others, but at least their getting some semblance of an education. Granted, it's not an outright solution to the problem, but players actually serious about getting an education can do so without having to deal with the guys who just want to leave after a year or two. If a guy goes to college simply because he's not ready for the pros yet, he'll get ready (if he's good enough) in college and get a degree, even if he's not working that hard. At least he's around other guys who might be.

This is no solution, but I think it's a start.

Martin F. said...

Also, almost all those rates count kids who leave early as the school failing to graduate them. i remember a few years ago the University of Arizona being in trouble because it's mens basketball teams graduation rate wasn't high enough. Lute Olsen basicly said "WTF do you want me to do, I had 4 kids leave early this year, 2 last year, 2 the year before that." it also effected their ability to giove scholarships because the NCAA didn't make a difference between kids leaving early and replacing them and kids being forced out with their scholarships revoked. The Wildcats had a team of 12 players and I think 4 were walk-ons, and that was with the 1 extra scholarship exemption they were given. The statistics might not be false, but they don't ring true, and don't reflect the reality of the situation.

Bengoodfella said...

Dylan, it would be a nice solution but it is not practical. This would cause more of these players to skip college all together, which isn't a good idea. I do agree with what you say in principle, but I think the rule would only work in college basketball.

Martin F, you are right about that. I know Coach K stopped recruiting one-and-done players really hard for a while because he felt it wasn't worth it in the classroom and on the court to have a guy there for only one year. Gregg is not the type of guy to worry about the details like that. He's just fine with throwing the numbers out there, thinking of a half-ass solution and then calling himself a genius while also calling it a day.

rich said...

As horrible as this may be, I think the NCAA needs to embrace its "new" role which is to say it's basically a feeder system.

I'm sorry, football recruits aren't going to places like Alabama, LSU or Auburn for the education, so why even bother with the charade?

The point Martin raises is crucial in the sense that if a player leaves early it means they're (probably) good enough to get a well paying job. If someone offered me a six or seven figures after my sophomore or junior year, I wouldn't have stayed. Why stay to get a well paying job when someone is already offering you it?

I think if I were a highly touted recruit, I'd go somewhere I could get a good education (Standford, TCU, Northwestern, etc.), because you never know what might happen, but that's a risk that some kids are willing to take.

Some kids are also too stupid to be in college, but are only there because they can't go pro and don't want to leave the country. What does anyone gain by forcing these kids to graduate?

On the flip side, at least in college basketball, it's pretty obvious who the one and done players are. If coaches want to take risks with all those players knowing how it might impact future scholarship numbers, then that's a risk that they took. However, if a kid stays for three years and leaves early, then it's stupid to penalize the team. You can always go back and finish your degree (ala Vince Carter), but you can't last in the pros forever.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, that's part of my point too, in that if a person leaves early for the NFL then that is a smart decision. That gets counted against schools though when it comes to scholarships.

I think the NCAA has had to embrace the idea they are somewhat of a feeder system. It's just a necessity for them at this point. Schools will never drop the charade many of the football students are there to learn. I just don't believe this will happen.

I agree schools should know who will be a one-and-done and that's the risk they take. It doesn't hurt the program long term really, just sometimes in the short term.

Students go to college and don't have high GPAs. If they are trying hard, I don't see the problem. So I wouldn't say GPAs are the end-all for how smart a person is. At least some of these athletes get a chance to go to college.