i'm not entirely sure what to think of all this. i really appreciate brian's in-depth analysis of all the allegations. while i think the actual content of the violations will be found to be minimal, the fact remains that these "student-athletes" are spending inordinate amounts of time on football, while still trying to carry on the facade (for many) of getting an education.
i've liked the RR hire since i heard of it. i just missed the bo era, but the predictable and underachieving teams since the early 90s were just maddening. sure, we won big ten titles. and once in a while we knocked off an sec team in a bowl game. but for the most part, we lost big (or worse, little) games it seemed like we should have won. there are a couple of anomalies - i don't know where we pulled that nc from in 97, nor the defeat of florida in 2007.
don't get me wrong - i have a lot of respect for lloyd carr, and i'm proud to have had him as coach at michigan for so long. he brought an air of responsibility and respectability to a fan base that really believes we do things the right way.
which brings me to my point. there's no denying these players spend upwards of 40 hours a week on football. how many of those are "voluntary" or mandated, honestly, i don't think there's a distinction. a virtual distinction, sure, but in reality, they're all mandated. i'm ok with that. to win, you have to be willing to make the sacrifices and put in the time.
if we're guilty, i'll take my lumps. ok, we broke the rules. give us our punishment...
but then go out and punish the other 100+ programs who do exactly the same thing. i doubt that michigan is unique in their interpretation and application of the "rules" regarding practice time. to keep up with the joneses, you have to work as hard as the joneses. so i do believe that everybody is doing it.
but what about the student side to these student athletes? is everybody going to stop doing "it"? or are the rules archaic enough to be changed? and if the rules are changed, what should they be changed to?
this is not really a new suggestion. maybe it's not particularly original. but i haven't seen it anywhere since this thing exploded. give these students a "professional sports" major. throw in some football (or hockey, baseball, basketball, rowing, golf, etc.) as part of their class load, and give them credit for it. that's quality learning that could (should?) lead to the attainment of a degree and definitely leads to the development of important life skills. throw in some finance and money management courses. maybe something on how the professional sports operate as businesses; what it means to have and/or be an agent; and, if you want, throw in the rest of the general ed requirements that all the rest of us have to take. during the season, let the sport be 8/12 units they're enrolled in. if you don't want to take up the whole year eg hockey, go to a quarter system that may more directly line up with the seasons.
not all these students will go pro. their degree will still serve them well. brian has raised many examples of athletes who used their "general studies" degrees to great advantage. and this is no different than art students, or architecture, music, english, history, and even some engineering students (not saying there's anything wrong with any of those majors - my sister is an art major and very happy; i have degrees in engineering and biology, and am working on a degree in education).
i don't like the idea of paying student athletes - let them go pro if they want to get paid. to me, college athletics is great because of the players and their allegiance to their schools (most of them, at least). but in this day and age of the huge cash grab at the expense of these students, give them a break.
i, for one, appreciate the culture change that's come with coaches rodriguez and barwis. i don't understand how suddenly coach lost his integrity when he left wvu, but wasn't a bum at wvu, clemson, tulane or glenville state. i don't see it. from the outside, and where i'm sitting, all the negative press has been largely vindictive, with little substance. and i think he's doing an outstanding job with our student athletes.
in summary, i think some ncaa policies are a bit outdated and could use some refreshing. while the ideas presented here may seem ridiculous to some, i would argue that some creative thinking would go a long way to reconciling big-time college athletics with the concept of student athlete that so many people (including me) cling to.
scott quakkelaar '93