NCAA’s Academic Policy for Recruits

The following piece is by Ben Malbasa, a head high school football coach in Cleveland, Ohio.

We have all seen the ads.  NCAA athletes compete in their sports as they transform into accountants, teachers, doctors, and other professionals while a voice reminds the viewer: “There are more than 380,000 student-athletes and most of them go pro in something other than sports.”  While certainly true, the airing of such ads during championship football and basketball contests featuring young men who often turn pro and do not remain in college calls to mind the Wizard of Oz telling Dorothy and her friends to “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”  The fact that the NCAA chooses to run the commercials, despite such an obvious disconnect between the mission of the NCAA and the reality of the young men competing in its revenue-generating sports, shows just how important it is to the organization to continue to market the noble ideal of the amateur scholar-athlete.

Think of the hat as a tie-breaker

While the NCAA does not sponsor a football championship, the marketability of the scholar-athlete has been on constant display as the powers that control college football have worked to implement a play-off system.  During the past several weeks, college football fans have followed the meetings with great interest, and if future national championship games are as fiercely competitive as the negotiations that produced them, then football fans will be in for a great treat.  Unfortunately, sports administrators engaged in far less negotiation, and college football fans gave far less attention to the process resulting in the NCAA decision to raise the minimum standards for incoming freshmen beginning in August of 2016 (students beginning as high school freshmen this Fall will be the first group evaluated under the revised system).  As a teacher and head football coach at a college preparatory school, I find these changes to be frightening; indeed, it appears that the NCAA has chosen to sacrifice academic rigor on the alter it has built to the highly marketable image of the NCAA scholar-athlete.

For the sake of clarity, it is important to understand the current and proposed systems. Today, a student must earn at least a 2.0 GPA in NCAA approved classes and earn at least an average of 21.5 on the four sections of the ACT.  In other words, a student earning a 2.0 GPA must score in roughly the 55th to 60th percentile in order to be eligible to compete at the highest level of college sports.  Under the regimen that will begin in 2016, a student earning the minimum 2.3 GPA must attain an average ACT score of 23.25 in order to obtain full eligibility.  Such an ACT score would place the student in roughly the 70th percentile. 

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Smart Links – Trick plays, TESF, Gruden’s Game Plan, Play-calling Jargon, All-22 – 6/25/2012

Let’s bring this one back — the old “Starburst” play, run by, of course, Spurrier’s old Florida Gators:

- That said, not all trick plays are worth repeating. This one worked but, well, I think we can keep it on the shelf. The over-the-shoulder:

- The Crystal Ball Run reviews The Essential Smart Football. Also, Amazon dropped the price on the paperback version, and you can also find it on Barnes & Noble’s website.

- My small role in inspiring noted author and gamesman Spencer Hall to write this must rank among my greatest accomplishments.

- A scouting-report style look at Jon Gruden’s offensive gameplan.

- Kirk Ferentz now owns the “Stanzi.”

- Will NFL play-calling evolve into something simpler? I’m curious what role helmet-radios play in all of this. Also, there needs to be some argument for why they will not become simpler other than path dependence.

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Smart Links – Approval Matrix, Phil Steele, Illiteracy, Food Trucks – 6/4/2012

My radio hit with Doug Farrar and Rob Rang.

- Iceberg lettuce remains in its rightful place while something else is surely mislabeled.

- The greatest 7-on-7 team ever.

- A great — and depressing — article.

- Phil Steele ranks the SEC’s coaches.

- What an article on bankruptcy looks like when the author has clearly never read through an actual bankruptcy docket.

- The globalization of food trucks. A good thing, in my view.

- George Soros’s buzzworthy speech on the euro and the Cliff’s Notes version.

- MLB and boy shorts.

Part II of Q&A with Eleven Warriors on the Spread and Urban Meyer

You can find it here:

RRF:  In your study of Meyer’s time at Florida, what were the issues when Meyer’s offense failed?  In other words, what are the necessary predicate conditions for his approach to succeed?

CB: … The other issues they had on offense at Florida — and look, he won two National titles there, which isn’t too shabby — largely were focused on a couple of areas. One was, somewhat inexplicably, Florida’s red zone touchdown percentage cratered after Dan Mullen left. In 2008, when Tim Tebow was a junior and Meyer won the BCS championship game, against conference-only opponents Florida scored touchdowns over 70% of the 43 times they were in the red zone. The next year, in 2009, again only against conference opponents, they scored a touchdown only 29% of the 41 times they went into the red zone — and this was still with Tebow as their quarterback! That drop in touchdown percentage explains almost all of Florida’s drop from 43 points per game to 26 points against conference opponents from Tim Tebow’s junior to senior seasons. (I’m excluding non-conference opponents since we all know that a few games versus directional U can really skew the stats. And all stats are via the invaluable cfbstats.com.)

Read the whole thing.

Smart Links – Holgorsen’s Dual-Threat QB, William Gholston, P.G. Wodehouse, Incompetents – 5/29/2012

My Q&A with Bruce Feldman on The Essential Smart Football, trends in college football, and what coaches I (and you, the reader) would most like to get drinks with.

- Spencer Hall reviews TESF (in his own inimicable way).

- Blutarsky reviews TESF.

- So does Gregg Rosenthal at NFL.com.

- Dana Holgorsen recruits a dual-threat quarterback.

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Q&A with Ross Fulton of Eleven Warriors about The Essential Smart Football

Talking about the book:

The further benefit to these is when they are used in the no-huddle: The offense can run to the line, line up, call a single, simple concept, and the quarterback chooses where to go with the ball, making the defense wrong, every time. This is in contrast to requiring the quarterback to make lots of complicated checks or audibles at the line of scrimmage or to do that whole everybody-line-up-no-wait-look-to-the-sideline-for-the-new-signal thing. It’s run it and go, and the quarterback is the field general.

On defense the big trend is to take existing defenses, like the 3-4 or 4-3, but to begin using more “hybrid” defenders in the base defense, guys who were maybe considered “tweeners” a few years ago without a true position. These are the linebacker/safety hybrids and the defensive end/linebacker hybrids, who, when facing all these no-huddle or multiple-formation attacks, must be able to both take on a fullback or tight-end at the line, rush the passer, or drop into pass coverage. If you’re going to have any hope of defending a dynamic offense like the one Urban Meyer runs — which is spread but can use power, and can use power but still throw the ball around — then you need to meet that dynamism with more dynamism.

Read the whole thing.

Smart Links – Mandel Initiative, Obama’s Football Throwing Motion, Drag Concept, Bear Bryant, Hemingway – 5/24/2012

I did a podcast with Stewart Mandel of SI.com, which you can listen to here.

- Wherein I critique the President’s form for throwing a football for New York Magazine.

- My podcast with CheeseheadTV’s Brian Carriveau.

- Friend of the site Dan Gonzalez now has his own website, and has a great three-part series on his “Drag” passing concept, which you can check out here.

- Do yourself a favor and read this.

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Smart Links – Solid Verbal, Roll Bama Roll, Algorithms, Kiffin – 5/22/2012

Me on the fantastic Solid Verbal Podcast, discussing Saban, Malzahn, Leach, Quarters coverage, my book, my preferred approach, and plenty more. Always a fun podcast to do.

- Roll Bama Roll reviews The Essential Smart Football:

Obviously, The Essential Smart Football is about a lot more than just Alabama football and there is a ton to learn from this book once you get through the Saban-specific pieces. Brown’s articles look at a lot of trends and themes that affect the game as a whole examining how they came about and where they are likely to lead. The only thing more thought-provoking than the subjects he chooses are his insights on them (the pieces on the decision-making process of players and the “constraint theory” of offense being particularly interesting).

- This is amazing.

- This, on the other hand, is not very helpful.

- Bribes and corruption in the other football.

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Smart Links – A Beautiful Preakness, ESPN Radio, Dogs, Bo Jackson – 5/21/2012

What a beautiful race in the Preakness. I actually had I’ll Have Another in the Derby (it was luck) but did not attend the Preakness so did not make any bets. But I would’ve bet on Bodemeister, which all but had the Derby locked up until he just couldn’t close. Surely, in the shorter Preakness, Bodemeister’s late race struggle would not be repeated? I’ll Have Another had other ideas.

- Q&A with Allen Kenney of Crystal Ball Run about The Essential Smart Football. I discuss difficult questions like, “Who is the Christopher Hitchens of football?” (A tough question.) A more serious excerpt, regarding how one determines what are football’s most important strategies and ideas:

Brown: To some extent it’s going to be in the eye of the beholder. But the nice part about football is, at the end of the day, it’s about two things: winning games and developing men. . . . The hard part in judging importance is that importance is not always so obvious. While there are few geniuses in football, there are “ingenious” ideas, and those ingenious ideas tend to multiply and reproduce throughout football very rapidly. And, yet, those who came up with the ideas may not have the talent or the circumstance or even the fan support to see the benefit. In football, innovators are not always rewarded.

In a lead in to a chapter I quote Goethe: “Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”

- Me on ESPN Radio, 1080TheFan.

- Burnt Orange Nation on TESF.

- Barack/Nixon.

- Bo Jackson’s Greatness.

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Smart Links – Big East Coast Bias, FIVE (yes FIVE!) Verticals, Relegation, Facebook – 5/18/2012

My Q&A with Mark Ennis of Big East Coast Bias about The Essential Smart Football and more. Me:

The basic arithmetic of the game at every level of football right now is this: Almost every good team is one-back based [(even true option teams)], which means they can throw the four verticals and other passing routes, against which defenses would like to play two-deep safeties. But increasingly the quarterback is a running threat of some kind, so defenses would really prefer to play with one deep safety or else they are outnumbered in the running game. Eventually — just like the reactions to the original T-formation, the wishbone, the pro-set, the power-I, and so on — defenses will figure out how to get numbers where they need to go while defending the passing game against teams (like those Airraid guys) that will find the open grass anywhere and make you pay. And when they do, they will hit offenses like a ton of bricks. But we’re not there right now. And after that, something else will come along. Then it will be time to write another book.

- Runningback blaster and sideline drill.

- Bill Connelly on college football relegation.

- Dana Holgorsen versus Nick Saban, tale of the tape. Quote: “MENTOR: Saban: Bill Belichick, who once sent Saban to Haiti for a shipment of bat fetuses for reasons known only to him. (/bat fetus goes to three pro bowls, signs 6 year deal with raiders).”

- Facebook’s IPO as savior of California’s budget.

- Two-Gap/One-Gap vs One-Back Zone Option.

- The ultimate dot com.

- Article about the internet reposted on the internet.

- After the jump, Missouri’s infamous five verticals pass play:

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