Thursday, November 3, 2011
Student Athletes are different from College Athletes
College athletes are often referred to as Student Athletes, but let's get real. Most of them get paid to play and they get a free education, if they actually care to show up and use those brand new books they were given. For example, USC hosted the Stanford Cardinals in a thrilling game last weekend. This is an extreme example of course, but an example nonetheless. USC has the highest paid players in college football and that isn't my opinion, that's a fact. Just ask the current players why they are not allowed to play in a bowl game this year. If they won't budge, allow me to expand on that. They are serving a one year probation for numerous players taking money from boosters. Now, let's talk about Stanford for a moment. Stanford has the highest academic standards of any FBS school in the entire country. Simply put, if you don't have what it takes to meet the academic criteria, it doesn't matter if you have Lebron James' jump shot, you can't get in. If you are accepted to the school and play sports, but don't meet the criteria, you don't play and likely won't last long because they will rip your scholarship and give it to a kid who meets the requirements. Oh, you also won't be handed envelopes of cash by boosters, you won't be given cars, homes, jewelry, tattoos etc. They likely handle this in a different way. I would presume that if you get in good with boosters, you are good at your chosen sport and you graduate on time, you might get an interview for a job and it's likely you will get that job because of the people you have met while playing sports at Stanford. That's a far cry from what's happening at USC, LSU and hundreds of other schools across the country.
Stanford football has climbed the ladder faster than anyone could have imagined. When Jim Harbaugh took over this program, they couldn't win games, they didn't play hard and they were over their heads in every possible category. Just five years later, they sit 4th in the BCS standings and have the longest winning streak in the nation at 16 games. The program is flying higher than ever before and for the most part, they are beating college athletes with student athletes and have raised the bar in their conference. This team and it's student athletes are kicking the crap out of bigger, faster, stronger athletes and to make things even more embarrassing, they are beating the other team mentally. Before the game even starts, these players have worked harder in the classroom than their opponent, then they hit the football field, bus their humps out there and after all of that, they hit the film room and figure out how to outsmart the other team. I'm sure it doesn't hurt that Stanford has the #1 NFL prospect in 20 years taking snaps from center. A kid who has an NFL pedigree and came back to school for this season because he wanted two things, in this order. He wanted to graduate from college (he's an architectural design major) and he wanted to win a national championship with his teammates. I don't know if he is going to win a Heisman or a national title, but I know he will graduate and that's what student athletes really care about when they leave college.