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Dan Rooney urges college football players to stay in school


A record number of underclassmen are declaring early for the NFL Draft this year, and a good number of those players will not be drafted by an NFL team. Some may not even receive a contract offer after the draft wraps up. Dan Rooney, chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, penned a column suggesting college football’s star players resist the urge to enter the NFL Draft before completing their college eligibility. Some of Rooney’s comments are debatable, but considering Rooney’s respect level in the NFL, it is an interesting point of view expressed.

Rooney suggests that players are receiving four-year scholarships that pay for their entire college experience, which of course has been argued to be a blatant lie on a number of levels. Rooney also suggests that many NFL teams do not want players leaving early, although if that were truly the case would they not tend to stray away from the underclassmen? NFL teams will pluck the top juniors if they will help their team win, but Rooney is likely directing his comments to those underclassmen that hope to be drafted in the late rounds.

According to Rooney, the NFL Player’s Association has conducted a study that suggests players who play their full four years in college go on to have longer careers in the NFL. That is actually a pretty interesting point. Why is that? Rooney explains.

“Because those men are more prepared to be professional players, both on and off the field,” Rooney says.  “This is why the players union has always supported college players staying in school.”

Rooney may have his own league to blame in part for enticing more and more underclassmen to get in to the NFL. Or perhaps the agents are to blame. The way contracts escalate in the NFL, it is a financial incentive to get in to the league earlier and start making more money at an earlier age, as opposed to sticking around another year (or two) in the college game and fall behind in the payment structure of the league. Rooney challenges that idea as well and suggests the NFL has the best interests of the younger players in mind.

“College players should not be encouraged to make decisions contrary to their long-term interests by people who are motivated by a desire for short-term, and often illusory, gains,” Rooney says. “We will continue to work with colleges, the Players Association and others to encourage young men to stay in school. If they make it into the NFL, they have a better opportunity to enjoy long and productive careers and continue to live well for many years after their playing days turn into memories.”

You can read the full column from Rooney via Journal Sentinel.

Vols ‘very confident there was no inappropriate conduct’ between Butch Jones, player

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers watches the action during a game against the Chattanooga Mocs at Neyland Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”

Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.

At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August.  The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.

“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”

Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.

Michigan’s keeping ‘fingers crossed’ for leading rusher’s availability

De'Veon Smith
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Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5.  The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.

De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland.  Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.

“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”

Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.

Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).

In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well.  The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury