Oct 242010

Colorado State football is better than the University of Utah’s. How’s that? Well, despite what happened in Salt Lake City this weekend, CSU football is beating the U in one very important category you won’t hear anything about on ESPN.

I’ll give you a hint: Air Force is almost 20 percent better than the school in second place, CSU. Give up? I’m talking about graduation rates. Check out these numbers: Air Force comes in with 87 percent of its football team graduating and CSU graduates 68 percent.

This is no surprise; National Football League teams don’t scout cadets heavily so they obviously concentrate more on their studies right?

Wrong. The military academies emphasize student first, athlete second. The goal of college is to graduate, regardless of what other options arise. The average career of a running back in the NFL is two years, think about how much better prepared those men would be for life without football if they graduated first.

Fewer than three percent of college football players will ever play a down in the NFL. Think about that.

Here are some more graduation numbers for you: BYU, 61 percent; New Mexico, 53 percent –– this is particularly inexcusable considering how awful they have been; San Diego St., 48 percent; TCU, 65 percent; UNLV, 60 percent, Utah, 57 percent; Wyoming, 54 percent.

What about the three Western Athletic Conference teams coming to the Mountain West in the upcoming years? Boise St., 58 percent; Fresno St., 46 percent and Nevada, 57 percent.

There are multiple factors to consider when looking at these numbers. A small number of players will transfer to other schools, injuries contribute and of course, sometimes a player has other life issues take them away from school and football. I understand and accept a small percentage of every school’s team won’t graduate, but I’d like to see some changes in this process.

Ideally, I’d like to see all four of the major professional sport leagues adopt a degree requirement. This is never going to happen, I’ll admit. The leagues care about one thing: money. The NFL in particular has demonstrated a strong disregard for the welfare of players.

Think for a moment how the culture of college sports would change if every player were required to have a four-year degree in order to be eligible for the NFL. Many players, particularly low-income, dream of the day they’ll get a big payday to play in the pros. So powerful is this motivation they will kill themselves to perform on the field in college in order to get that payday.

Why wouldn’t it be better for the leagues to adopt this as a policy? They’ll likely weed out most troublemakers, give them a few more years to mature and improve their work ethic. Ultimately, I sincerely believe the NFL would improve their overall product by taking such a step.

They won’t. If Maurice Clarett had panned out, he’d be making millions with only one year of college. Seems like a good idea.

I would like to see CSU football take steps to ensure our team has the highest graduation rate in the MWC. I think that goal is far more reflective of a quality football program than what we have seen in the news out of Florida, Alabama and Miami.

Odds are we’ll never surpass Air Force, but even if we can only graduate 6-10 more players every year, they will have a better chance at life if the NFL doesn’t pan out.

Personally I would rather graduate from a school whose football team has a high graduation rate and mediocre on-field performance than a school whose team dominates but graduates only punters and kickers.

Second in the MWC but trailing by 20 percent, yes, we can improve.

Seth Stern is a senior journalism major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 2:38 pm

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