Heisman Academics

As a comment down below noted, I was remiss in forgetting to mention that FSU’s Christian Ponder has a 3.7 GPA, got his bachelor’s degree in two-and-a-half years, received an MBA this past spring and is now working on his second Master’s Degree.

Last year, one of the more alluring elements of the Toby Gerhart candidacy was his very strong academic standing.  If I recall correctly, he took something like 18 credit hours (maybe more) during the very same fall that he was pummeling defenses to the tune of 1,871 yards and 28 touchdowns.  It’s not easy taking that many units when you are a regular Joe Blow student pounding beer bongs in your spare time, much less hapless defenders.

It’s refreshing to see collegians excel on the field and in the classroom.  We are to the point now where even the pretense of being a student-athlete is roundly ignored.  Look at the Seantrel Henderson saga.  Here it is, mid-July, and he still doesn’t know where he’s going to school.

Putting aside for a moment the obvious and legitimate issues surrounding his previous signing, it’s clear that college life and academics have zero bearing on his decision making.  By mid-July, most college students have not only picked a school (many did so a year ahead of time), but have been to orientation, have their dorm assignments and their roommates, have met with counselors about their majors and reserved their class schedule.  Wherever Henderson goes, he will not only be behind the curve when it comes to football (as he will have missed the opportunity to attend summer workouts), but also in regards to getting ready to be a student.  But I guess all that is unimportant when the only clear goal is to stay nominally eligible for three years in preparation for the NFL.

I won’t pretend that every athlete is cut out to be a scholar.  Many of these guys would never get into the colleges for which they play and, truth be told, would probably end up delivering pizzas–or worse–if not for their physical gifts.  I’m certainly a realist on the issue and have long called for athletes to be able to major in their sport–if a musician can major in cello, why shouldn’t an athlete major in a subject related to his future profession?  Why are we pretending that 220-pound running backs with 4.3 speed should be sociology majors?

But whatever the case, as long as you are going to college, you might as well at least try to be a real student and actually take part in college life and not act like a mercenary biding his time until the NFL–and adulthood–beckons.

About Heismanpundit

Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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One Response to Heisman Academics

  1. DannyAdelante July 8, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    There are both good and bad points to the system.
    If the “student athlete” approach was used in other sports, we would never see some of the great athletes that have emerged. Most soccer superstars leave school at around 16, and many would not have made it had they been held to academic standards.

    One of my friends played high school football in Louisiana. He said that the best player he ever played against was LaRon Landry, but he said that there were about 6 or 7 other players that were “just as good” as Landry, but they just weren’t smart enough to make it to college.

    Then there’s the other side. Pete Carroll urged Mark Sanchez to stay in school an extra year instead of opting for the draft. This was despite the fact that Sanchez, a redshirt Junior, had already graduated. He’d spent four years at school, earned his degree, but Pete Carroll wanted him to stay and enroll in something like Ballroom Dancing (ala Matt Leinart 2005) to stay eligible.

    It is a bit of a charade. I mean, Marshawn Lynch got into Cal-Berkeley! I don’t know what can be done to change it, but players like Bryce Brown and Seantrel Henderson are not there to hit the books, that’s for sure.