Banning academically ineligible players from combine solves nothing

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Stats don’t always tell the whole story in a football game. Likewise, a football player’s GPA doesn’t always measure how much he learned in college, or whether he’ll become a liability to a pro organization.

But it could determine if a player can participate in the NFL Combine. Bruce Feldman of CBSSports reports, citing a league source, reports that NFL is considering not inviting players who are academically ineligible in college to the Combine. The idea is being discussed in response to “increased scrutiny on the maturity and commitment of the prospects entering the NFL.”

Next, prospects will be required to wear 37 pieces of flair instead of 13.

Piggybacking on what PFT wrote, while the idea seems noble on the surface, there’s not much substance to it underneath. College football isn’t as much a “farm system” for the pros as it is a weeding out process, but the NFL nevertheless benefits from outsourcing its minor league system.

To suddenly put an extra emphasis on academics in college when football performance matters most to NFL clubs is only going to make things harder. The scouting combine is a money saver for pro organizations and academically ineligible players will be drafted anyways. On top of that, to correlate grades with the maturity needed to be a valuable member of an organization has a Band Aid-head wound type feel to it.

And just imagine the increase in academic fraud to make sure an athlete is eligible for the biggest event that determines his future career. Let’s say a prospect makes the grade to be eligible for the combine, but is later found to have committed academic fraud, along with his school, in the process. Does Roger Goodell do anything? Is it even punishable? If so, how? It’s certainly not a lesson to be learned by that point in the player’s career, or the team for which he plays.

The sweet irony of the idea is that it’s supposed to help NFL teams, when in fact it would do nothing of the sort; rather, it would only serve as another PR campaign for college programs so they could point to the number of football players “successful” on and off the field. It would be like the APR except even more meaningless and with the added bonus of being easily falsified.

But, most importantly, requiring players to be academically eligible for the combine won’t do what it’s supposedly intended to do: reduce bad apples. Players won’t strive for greatness in their lives because a minimum academic bar has been set. If anything, they’ll strive for that bar and that bar only, and use whatever means necessary, good or bad, to get past the detraction.

NFL clubs do plenty of scouting and due diligence as it is. There’s no need to add in a requirement that doesn’t matter to teams anyway.

Penn State trustee says he’s ‘running out of patience’ with ‘so-called victims’ of Jerry Sandusky

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With Baylor seemingly running away with the title of most embarrassing university in collegiate athletics, a Penn State trustee has said “hold my beer.”

Friday, former Penn State president Graham Spanier was found guilty on one count of endangering the welfare of children in a trial related to his role in the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal.  In an email to the Chronicle of Higher Education this week, PSU trustee Albert Lord had sharp words for the victims of Sandusky, who was found guilty on 45 of 48 child-sex abuse charges in June of 2012 and is currently serving a sentence of at least 30 years.

“Running out of sympathy for 35 yr old, so-called victims with 7 digit net worth,” the trustee wrote in a portion of the email. “Do not understand why they were so prominent in trial. As you learned, Graham Spanier never knew Sandusky abused anyone.”

Spanier was found not guilty on two other charges, a second count of child endangerment and one count of criminal conspiracy.

In a statement, the chairman of the school’s board of trustees, Ira Lubert, attempted to distance the body from Lord’s comments.

“Al Lord’s comments are personal and do not represent the opinions of the board or the university.”

Sun Belt commish issues statement on Arkansas gun law

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A highly-charged state law continues to garner the attention of the college football world.

Last week, the state of Arkansas legislature passed a law (House Bill 1249) that would allow concealed-carry handguns on publicly-owned property, which would include college sporting events.  A day later, and after realizing, amidst considerable controversy, the potential for alcohol-fueled fans to attend an SEC football game armed, the state’s senate voted to amend the law to exclude college sporting events.

The amendment still must pass through the House of Representatives, leading SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, with the University of Arkansas as a member of his conference, to release a statement Tuesday that was no doubt meant to apply pressure ahead of the vote.  Thursday, the Sun Belt’s commissioner, Karl Benson, followed suit out of concern for his membership, including Arkansas State in football.

During the last week I have followed closely the news articles regarding Arkansas House Bill 1249, and now also a potential amendment to what is now Act 562. Given that both the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Arkansas State University are members of the Sun Belt Conference — and as my colleague Greg Sankey of the Southeastern Conference has stated — I too support the Arkansas State Senate’s exemption in Senate Bill 724 that would prevent firearms from being allowed inside publicly funded stadiums and arenas in the State of Arkansas.

It’s unclear when the House will vote on the amendment.  Regardless of which version of thew law is finally agreed upon, it will go into effect Sept. 1.

Arkansas opens its 2017 season Sept. 2 against Florida A&M in Fayetteville.  Arkansas State’s home opener is a week later against the Miami (Fla.).

Foot injury could sideline Auburn’s Tashawn Manning for rest of spring

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After kicking cancer’s ass, this latest health issue hardly qualifies as a big deal.  Still, it’s a thing.

Tashawn Manning has been battling an unspecified foot injury of late, which has limited the defensive tackle’s availability for most of the first two-thirds of Auburn’s spring practice sessions.  With just five practices remaining, Manning could very well be sidelined for al of them.

“The problem is this is Day 9 and Saturday will be Day 11, so there’s a probability” that the player will not see the field for what remains of spring practice, Manning’s position coach, Rodney Garner, said according to al.com.

Around Thanksgiving of 2015, Manning, then an Auburn verbal commit, was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia.  In July of last year, he was finished with chemotherapy and declared cancer-free.

The defensive lineman didn’t play at all last season, instead taking online classes as he built up his strength as well as his weight after losing more than 60 pounds because of the chemo.  In January, he enrolled at AU and, two months later, was cleared to participate in the spring.

Suspended Mich. St. staffer receives one-MONTH contract extension

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A disturbing situation in East Lansing has added a head-scratching twist.

According to ESPN.com, and by way of a Freedom of Information request, Michigan State football staffer Curtis Blackwell was on the receiving end of a one-month contract extension earlier this month.  Blackwell, whose title with the football program is director of college advancement and performance, was set to see his contract expire at the end of this week.

What makes this development noteworthy is that Blackwell has been indefinitely suspended by the Spartans since early February.

Around that time, it was confirmed by the university that three still-unnamed MSU football players had been suspended after allegations of sexual assault were made against them last month.  An unnamed football staffer was suspended at the time as well; that staffer was subsequently identified as Blackwell.

A police investigation, as well as a Title IX probe, into the allegations continue.  Blackwell is not accused of participating in the alleged sexual assault, but rather a non-sexual crime that’s connected to the investigation.

Mark Dantonio hadn’t spoken publicly about the allegations until earlier this week, and the head coach probably would’ve been better served to have kept it that way.