Update: College Football Players to Wear Skirts

Today, a report surfaced that University of Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez may have violated NCAA rules regarding practice time. 


It seems the NCAA has some rather strict rules regarding how much time a college athlete can spend practicing or in meetings, and it appears that Michigan has violated those rules.  The source of the information to the NCAA has not been disclosed as yet.  My guess, and it is a guess, is that the information came from a player or a family member of a player.  It may have been an Ohio State player, but a player nonetheless.

Now, at first glance, you are probably thinking “So what?  If the coaches broke the rules, they should have to pay the piper.”  Maybe you would be right.  My opinion differs from yours.

Football is a tough sport.  It requires hours of conditioning and preparation before a player can take the PRACTICE field.  Given the extreme limits on their time, coaches can’t possibly have the time to teach players things like fundementals and techniques.  They need to teach the system.  They only have 20 hours a week to do so. 

It appears that gone are the days of Bear Bryant taking his Texas A&M team to a remote location and beating the crap out of them for three weeks.  I’m not sure Bear’s approach was right, and he even voiced doubt later in life, saying that the camp depleted his team, both in manpower and energy, and that the team’s poor performance that year was a direct reflection on the brutality of the camp. 

But what kind of players are we making now?  Kids who watch the clock and wait for the four hour practice to be up or they will rat the coach out?  Football is supposed to be a team sport where everyone pulls together.  Would the environment where a coach and university can be disciplined for practicing too long and a player snitched on them promote team spirit?  I think not. 

There are over one hundred division one college football teams.  There are a couple hundred more in divisions two and three.  How many of these teams stuck strictly to the twenty hour rule?  Do you think that Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina players, sweating the southern heat and humidity, did only twenty hours a week?   All teams have probably bent this rule at some point, all to try to gain an advantage on the competition. 

The point is that time is something the teams typically don’t have a ton of to spare.  Every minute must be used as efficiently as possible to field a competitive team.  Ask any eighteen year old boy who hasn’t had to deal with the kind of discipline required of them in summer camp if it is tough.  They will say yes.  Some will say it’s too tough, but they can’t quit.  Others will quit. 

Now, I’m not for a coach abusing his players beyond the point of breaking.  It’s the coach’s job to find that point and come right up to it.  I don’t want players dying of heat exhaustion.  But I also believe that football is the last bastion of truly tough guys.  And any team that stands a chance to win a national title earns that chance in summer workouts and camp. 

I understand that these rules exist for the safety of the players, and to emphasize that they are students first.  Funny then that many college athletes don’t graduate, even the ones who don’t go on to pro sports careers.   But that’s for another day.

I’m no Michigan fan.  And Rodriguez, after a 3-7 season, and Michigan’s first losing season since 1967, would be eager to prove that he’s better than that. 

If Rodriguez endangered the health of a player, off with his head.  If this is whining by some high school superstar who can’t cut it at the college level, then Michigan shouldn’t be punished.  Maybe the kid who thought he was being abused should think about joining the cheerleading squad.

But I’ll bet they practice more than twenty hours a week, too.



One Response to “Update: College Football Players to Wear Skirts”

  1. Steve Says:

    Heck, I haven’t been able to figure out why they don’t just stop pretending to be amateurs. Stop wasting the time of the future pros with classes. Colleges could save money by dropping non-academic academic programs and just pay the athletes directly. The athletes could just be signed to 5 year contracts with buy-out options to go to the NFL (NBA, MLB, etc.) early. The boosters would probably fund the programs just to have the knuckle draggers walking around in the school colors. If an athlete wanted to actually get an education, he could pay for that out of his own pocket.

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