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Banning academically ineligible players from combine solves nothing

nfl combine Getty Images

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.

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24 Responses to “Banning academically ineligible players from combine solves nothing”
  1. dryzzt23 says: Jul 7, 2013 1:27 PM

    Ben. Stop blaming the NFL. The NFL is merely setting a minimum standard for its future employees as well as getting college players to strive for higher academic achievement, which in turn, could get high school players to focus more on academics as well.
    Clearly the colleges don’t care about these young adults, neither does the media or the media would be writing stories about this every year.

  2. dryzzt23 says: Jul 7, 2013 1:29 PM

    If the player commits academic fraud, then they are banned from the NFL until they reach the minimum threshold in a legitimate fashion.
    So you propose to not teach these “kids” ethics, morals, honesty, and integrity?

  3. stairwayto7 says: Jul 7, 2013 1:58 PM

    So no SEC or Big 12 players will be there?

  4. roundup5 says: Jul 7, 2013 2:13 PM

    Ben: You are wrong! Have you become an agent for ineligible prospects?

  5. thegamecocker says: Jul 7, 2013 2:22 PM

    I think this a great idea and if a potential player doesn’t meet the criteria, he would need to wait until his original incoming class graduates. I’m sick of colleges offering scholarships to kids who have no business being on a college campus. They have no idea how to act and no idea of the academic requirements. Sorry but I’m not a proponent for giving away a free education because someone excels at sports only. It’s not good for society because these kids do nothing to improve quality of life.

  6. Ben Kercheval says: Jul 7, 2013 2:25 PM

    Ben: You are wrong!

    ————-

    Glad we got that cleared up :)

  7. louhudson23 says: Jul 7, 2013 2:29 PM

    Generally,when someone assumes the role of Devils Advocate,they state that is the case. If that was indeed your intention,then you have failed to make even a mild point against the institution of this requirement……

  8. BigBeachBall says: Jul 7, 2013 2:50 PM

    The NFL machine is laughing at this topic and all its contributors….

  9. roundup5 says: Jul 7, 2013 3:43 PM

    Louhudson23: Generally, I don’t have to make a “mild point…..”,
    I made my point when I stated Ben was wrong. Some folks don’t
    care that these ineligibles are lumped in with eligible’s in any walk
    of life, and that is one of the problems we have in this society of ours.
    Why strive to succeed, when it will be handed to you anyway?

  10. youcantmakemepickausername says: Jul 7, 2013 3:46 PM

    Ok, I clicked on the link and it doesn’t really explain. I know “academically ineligible” sounds pretty straightforward, but academically ineligible WHEN?? The entire previous season? For the bowl game? For spring football? I’m just not totally following what the critieria are.

  11. mtheparrothead says: Jul 7, 2013 5:55 PM

    It just furthers the notion that florio is an idiot

  12. therolandobottom says: Jul 7, 2013 10:57 PM

    So, the combine participants will now resemble a hockey team?

  13. therolandobottom says: Jul 7, 2013 11:06 PM

    Can’t say I am a fan of non-academic scholarships anymore. I listen to half these neanderthals attempt at speaking English in interviews it’s quite disturbing.

  14. louhudson23 says: Jul 8, 2013 3:47 PM

    Roundup…My apoligies for not being clear….I was referring to the author of the article…not your response….I believe we are essentially in complete agreement on this issue….

  15. louhudson23 says: Jul 8, 2013 3:48 PM

    I also apologize for my incorrect spelling of apology.Sorry….

  16. thegamecocker says: Jul 8, 2013 4:35 PM

    I sense a “BROMANCE” between louhudson23 and roundup…..If I’m incorrect, my apology…..I hope I spelled it correctly. If not, my apologies to all.

  17. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 9, 2013 12:05 PM

    This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of…

    What does it accomplish other than possibly depriving the NFL and its fans of future stars, as well as depriving talented young men a chance to showcase their talent in front of NFL scouts.

    As soon as the bowl game is over, 90% of CFB players that have aspirations of the NFL completely abandon school to prep for the combine. At this point, your 40 time is FAR MORE important than your GPA.

    College is a place we go to prepare for our careers. Getting the piece of paper at the end doesn’t guarantee you a career.

    Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Steve Jobs, just to name a few…..

    People who dropped out of college to pursue their careers.

  18. thegamecocker says: Jul 9, 2013 2:48 PM

    @8to80texansblog

    And for every one of those guys, I can name a thousand who dropped out and never made it.

  19. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 10, 2013 2:38 PM

    @thegamecocker

    The point I’m trying to make is, while it is an institution of higher learning, the end game is always to prepare you for a productive career.

    I honestly believe that colleges should allow a major in “Being a professional athlete”, electives would include classes in investments, contracts, negotiation, personal financial management, public speaking, and even family law. Yes I understand that the VAST majority of college athletes don’t go pro, but how many people get degrees in art history to become baristas at starbucks. There are plenty of people that have degrees that work in fields other than their major.

    I just don’t see how requiring players to be academically eligible to participate in the combine helps the NFL, helps incoming players, or the schools in which they come from.

  20. thegamecocker says: Jul 10, 2013 6:07 PM

    @8to80texansblog

    Now you’re saying something very different but incredibly interesting. A major only for those who aspire to become a professional athlete. Now that is a very good thought and perhaps may stimulate someone who truly is not there for a traditional education and who lacks the desire or mental ability to study difficult subjects. Now if the athlete feels that actually going to class to LEARN how to handle money; how to articulate his thoughts; family law, etc. could be a viable track. In addition, those who are GENUINE STUDENT-ATHLETES and want to study traditional courses can have that option. My mantra was weeding those kids out who don’t or can’t follow a traditional curriculum. But I would consider instituting a kind of program where this student can actually learn something practical for his life. I think maybe I went in a different direction than you but I honestly like the approach.

  21. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 11, 2013 4:34 PM

    What if after December they just drop out? Now they are no longer students and academic eligibility doesn’t apply to them. Are you going to limit the NFL Combine to current students and graduates only?

    I just don’t see who is served by limiting participation in the NFL Combine to academically eligible players. This is a rule with no clear benefit or protection.

  22. thegamecocker says: Jul 11, 2013 4:44 PM

    @8to80texansblog

    I know what you’re saying and went off on a tangent somewhat. The Combine not withstanding, I’m merely trying to get to those athletes who don’t care about the study of Western Civilization, art history, engineering, biology, chemistry, etc. but could still benefit from the subjects you mentioned in your post:
    personal financial management, public speaking, basic English, Family Law, real estate, etc.

  23. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 11, 2013 5:12 PM

    While I think it would be massively beneficial it’s a longshot that it would ever happen. What I think maybe a good alternate solution would be to have schools with major athletic programs, ie Texas, UF, Bama, Ohio St. hire advisors/counselors for the athletes that have a desire to go pro. These advisors/counselors would be ex-pro athletes or ex-agents. These people could help the athletes put together a package of electives that would count towards a general studies degree.

    They still have to complete the core though… that’s generally state law and there is really no way around it. But having a guy who played in the league a few years and didn’t make it, as a counselor I think could really help steer some of these kids in the right direction and warn them about the pitfalls ie… family members coming out of the woodwork, baby mama drama, don’t buy that Ferrari until you get the second contract, don’t hire your family or friends to manage your affairs, etc… I know they talk about that stuff at the rookie symposium, but hearing it once, and having it drilled into you for 3+ years are two different things.

  24. thegamecocker says: Jul 11, 2013 9:04 PM

    8t080texansblog

    Great thoughts and ideas. The problem with people like you and I are we think to logically and the ACLU types would say we are segregating students from one another. Meanwhile some of your ideas if implemented would benefit these young people more than the current system. It is definitely doable and would be incredibly beneficial. Thanks.
    The Gamecocker

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