Everybody knows it’s true: Sign up to play college football at Alabama or Auburn or any big-time school and you better be prepared to treat the sport as a full-time job.
Sure, you’ll go to class. You’ll chase a degree. The NCAA and school officials will crow about APR scores and graduation rates, but what really matters is winning championships.
It’s the worst-kept secret in sports.
Alabama’s Tyrone Prothro (4) pulls in a pass behind the head of USM’s Jasper Faulk (21) at the end of the second quarter during their game Saturday Sept. 10, 2005 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa. (Bill Starling/AL.com file)
Athletes testifying in the in the Ed O’Bannon vs. NCAA case – from former Alabama star Tyrone Prothro to former Fairhope star Chase Garnham — keep saying they considered themselves an athlete first and a student second. Some people are surprised? Don’t be.
RELATED: Tyrone Prothro testifies in O’Bannon trial
When schools shoe-horn 100,000 screaming, drunken fans into the stadium on Saturday and TV networks pay millions for the broadcast rights to the games and coaches earned massive salaries, of course the players see the games as their priority. The dream has become getting to the NFL instead of earning a college degree.
RELATED: Kevin Scarbinsky writes about how the NCAA is watching Twitter accounts
Sure, plenty of players earn a college degree, but all-too-often in a course of study that’s conducive to playing football. It’s about playing football, not going to school.
You don’t think Greg McElroy or Barrett Jones could have become a doctor? Or an electrical engineer? Of course.
RELATED: Fairhope product Chase Garnham testifies in O’Bannon trial
But pursuing those degrees requires plenty of laboratory time – usually scheduled in the afternoons – and those pesky classes can’t interfere with football practice.
Who do you blame? The coaches? The administrators? The NCAA?
Or do we, the fans, simply expect too much of these young players? Tell me what you think.
Go ahead and ask a question or make a comment, and I’ll be here at 9 to begin the discussion. I can’t wait.