Thursday, December 02, 2010


Political Mayhem Thursday: The BCS

As most (all?) of you know, the national championship in college football (at least at the highest levels) is decided in a different way than every other college sport. In all the others, there is a playoff to decide a national championship. In football, though, there is a complicated formula which leads to just two teams being picked to play in a game which may or may not decide the national champion, while several other teams get to make a lot of money by playing in major bowls. Most of the rest of the teams who have winning seasons play in lesser bowls, making far less money.

It's a bizarre system. It doesn't make sense. The primary defense of this method of choosing a champion has been that running a playoff would draw too many players away from their studies.

Hoo boy-- does anyone believe that?

What team is that in the photo? No purple team has ever won anything.
12:20 - What about Clemson in 1981?
I believe that is the Williams College Ephs featured in the photograph.
Its the Minnesota Vikings pushing Brett Favre, their sacred cow.
And all division 1 players are student/athletes, admissions are based on class rank and SAT's and not on athletic prowess, the tooth fairy flies down the chimney, and other myths.

College sports are pro farm teams, and the players at the top levels should be paid. All the programs that lose big bucks for their schools should be abolished or reduced to intramurals.

When whole departments on the academic side are being cut, the waste of money on athletic programs is obscene.

Oh, and I wasn't the nerd, entirely! I was invited to try out for the Olympics in one of my sports. So I am not just a no athletics person - just think that they should be relegated to a minor part of an education.

Lee is literally batting 1.000 in me disagreeing with basically everything he says.

"And all division 1 players are student/athletes"

Not "all", but far more of them are student/athletes than the number that are simply waiting to go pro. Do you understand how few players in Division I athletics go pro?

Robert Griffin is the best player Baylor has had in a very long time. He is exceptionally good at football. Did you know that by the time he leaves school he will have not only his bachelors but also his masters degree. Did you know that his current GPA is above a 3.8. He is the definition of the "student/athlete".

And there are lots of stories like that. Far more in fact than there are stories about kids like Cam Newton.

"admissions are based on class rank and SAT's and not on athletic prowess"

Not at all schools, but at some this is certainly true. Sure, there are schools that will take any athlete that comes along (I'm looking at you Nebraska and Kansas St.) but the reality is those huge state schools will probably take just about anybody anyways. In fact, this was one of the issues when the Big XII formed because UT, Baylor, OU, etc. were pushing for higher academic standards for the admission of athletes while Nebraska wanted to allow every farm boy that could get his pickup truck to campus to try out for football. There are schools (Notre Dame, Rice and Stanford are two notable examples) where academic standards are applied to athletes the same way, or close to it, they are to all applicants.

"the tooth fairy flies down the chimney"

I think you're confusing your childhood mythology. I always assumed the tooth fairy just picked the window locks.

"All the programs that lose big bucks for their schools should be abolished or reduced to intramurals."

Can we apply this to all college programs. "Math department, you cost us $100,000 this year, and we show you bringing in no revenue. So Math, you're cut! Hahahaha!" Why is it that people sometimes don't see the intrinsic value of athletics. Its good for the kids participating. It is good for the students watching, building a bond to each other and the school over a shared love of sports. It is good for the University in raising the profile of the school (ask Baylor how the Elite 8 trip last year effected applications). Its good for music programs, cheerleading, dance teams, athletic trainers, all of whom largely rely on athletics to justify their existence as part of the university structure. It is a good way to get alumni to keep coming back, keep pumping money into the school. Should everything be about money Lee? If you don't produce dollars then you're gone?

"When whole departments on the academic side are being cut, the waste of money on athletic programs is obscene."

First, name me one school that has had to cut a major academic department completely because of the size of their athletic budget. One.

Second, if "The History of Feminist Poetry in Poland" or "Introduction to Jazz" might not get taught this semester so the football team can continue, then I'm ok with that.
There are always exceptional player/students, but they are the exception. For every outstanding student, there are dozens who couldn't pass underwater basketweaving without a tutor.

I know of a Baylor Law graduate who tutored for the athletic department there for 6 years as an undergrad and law student - his/her comments on the average jocks intelligence, interest in academics, and application to his work are colorful, to say the least! Mostly, the job was to write papers, cajole, wheedle, threaten,etc. to get them to pretend to be students so they could stay eligible.

You are right about the percentage going pro - very low. However, the track record for graduation for most schools' athletes is just as low. Granted, there are many silly courses offered - they should be cut as well.

Cutting whole academic departments was a bit overstated - but look just at the cuts at the Texas state colleges - some are pretty draconian. Of course, our misguided aim of sending everyone to college is partly to blame. The amount of money awarded on need instead of ability is one factor, as well.

I am all for anyone who is qualified getting the financial aid they need - but not everyone is qualified, and we have lowered the standards way too far.

As for the loss of cheerleaders, dance teams, and other fluff - how sad. They can go to the intramural games and dance, cheer, etc. on their own dime. I think you cover that well " all of whom largely rely on athletics to justify their existence as part of the university structure."

Abolishing academic departments because they don't produce revenue is a bit farfetched. They should be the reason students attend - to learn.

Let me preface my statement by telling you that I have not watched a college or pro football game in many years. That being said, I still read the paper and get scores on TV and radio; I just don't spend my weekend with my eyes surgically attached to the TV.

If college football instituted a play off system they would start playing regular season games in July or would still be playing for the championship in May when classes got out.

Part of the problem in college football is the cost of transporting the team from point A to point B and back. A basketball team is small by comparison and they play multiple games in a week, but them recovery time is much less. They also play too many games.

I recently heard (NPR story - maybe local)that big college athletic programs do not put money back into the academic side; they make just enough to get by.
I say leave the academic situation as it is. If a player wants to focus on athletics and not learn something useful to fall back on, I say let them. When pro sports doesn't work out, or even when it does and eventually they retire, they'll reap the consequences of their choices and have no marketable skill to offer the non-athletic workforce. However, if you take someone like my colleague (name withheld) at Baylor Law, who in addition to being a Division I, national championship-winning athlete, is also sharp is a whip and has a chemistry degree, then someone like that has value that can be measured off the athletic field and their professional post-athletic success will reflect that talent. Either way, you get out of it what you put into it. Let the students decide.
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