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November 25, 2007

Heisman Hopefuls

Tim Tebow- University of Florida, Quarterback

• Tebow became the front running in this years Heisman Trophy race after constantly dominating the nations’ best conference—the SEC. He has recorded a record number of touchdowns this year, 52, becoming the first player to score over 50 touchdowns. The quarterback and running back position consistently win the Heisman trophy, and Tebow is the leading rusher and passer on the defending national championship team.

Chase Daniel- University of Missouri, Quarterback

• The Heisman Trophy is given to the best player in the country. Fortunately for Chase Daniels, many people believe that the best player in the country usually plays on the best team in the country. Daniels has accumulated better numbers than the statistical giant, Colt Brennan; he has more touchdown passes, fewer interceptions and more passing yards. Daniels has one more game to prove that he most deserving for the Heisman and he couldn’t have more pressure during the game as the national and big 12 conference titles will be determined by how he plays.

Darren McFadden- University of Arkansas, Running Back

• McFadden is regarded as the most athletic and talented player in college football this year, but Heisman voters always take into account how good you team is also. Football Analysts say McFadden will be the number one pick next year in the NFL draft barring injuries. Darren McFadden ran all over, then number one, LSU. He ran for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns on what is said to be the best defense in college football.

Pat White- West Virginia University, Quarterback

• Similar to Chase Daniels, Pat White is the leader of one of the best teams in country. If White can win the next week in a dominating fashion to secure a spot in the national championship, he will be invited to New York City where he hopes to run away with the Heisman Trophy. However, White will probably fall a little to short since he is not regarded by many as a passing quarterback. His running, the most out of any quarterback by yards, and leadership is possibly the only reason he has an outside chance at being the next Heisman winner.

Dennis Dixon- University of Oregon, Quarterback

• Dixon’s role at Oregon was probably the most important role out of any player in all of college football. Two weeks ago Oregon was the top team in the country and Dixon was the front runner in the Heisman race. However, Dixon received a season ending injuring in the game against Arizona. In this game, Oregon’s national championship hopes where shattered and their best player and leader was gone for the season. The effect and talent drop of a missing Dixon was noticed the next week as they lost to another PAC-10 team, which they were favored to win. Dixon ran the spread offense probably better than any quarterback has done in recent years and for that he will receive many votes for the Heisman Trophy, but will not win.

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November 23, 2007

Michigan's Football Future

Who is the next Lloyd Carr?

Les Miles
Undoubtedly, the front-runner for the next head football coach is LSU’s Les Miles. Les Miles was a player and assistant coach under the legendary Michigan coach, Bo Schemblecher. Miles was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2002 after leading Oklahoma State to an 8-5 record and defeating #3 and rival Oklahoma. Miles was named the head coach of Louisiana State University in 2005 and posted a record of 22-4 in his first two seasons. Miles is probably one of the most qualified candidates for the Michigan head football job, but leaving a possible national championship bound team would be hard to fathom.

Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly is the head football coach at the University of Cincinnati. Kelly first head coaching job was at Grand Valley State University were he accumulated a recorded of 118-35-2 with two national championships. In his first season at Cincinnati, he brought the team into the national spotlight and a competitive position in the Big East. Kelly is very qualified for the coaching job at Michigan and is said by many to be the most experienced coach after 27 years of coaching.

Jon Gruden
Jon Gruden is the current head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and reformer head coach of the Oakland Raiders. He became the youngest head coach to win a super bowl in 2002. Gruden has spent 17 years coaching in the NFL and is considered by analyst as a likely candidate for the head-coaching job at Michigan. Gruden’s first job in the NFL was as a talent scout, so his eye for talent would translate him to be a great recruiter at the college level.

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November 06, 2007

Academic Integrity in Athletics

With media and financial incentives for athletic programs to schedule games during the middle of the week, student-athletes are becoming more and more like athlete-students. For some programs, the lack of commitment and ethics in the classroom has resulted in appalling scandals. Athletes and sports that seek national exposure have sidelined academic priorities and the college experience to reap benefits that universities were not initially established for.
Arguably the most extensive form of academic abuse occurred within the athletic department of the University of Tennessee. During the school year of 1995, there were several different incidents involving members of the football team. According to Memos Uncover Alleged UT Violations ( http://espn.go.com/ncf/news/1999/0926/80631.htm) by Tom Farrey, the first encounter involved offensive lineman Chad Clifton. Reports say that Clifton was receiving improper help on an English paper. Later, it became clear that a tutor, Dale Bailey, wrote a letter noting that players verbally and physically abused him. Bailey did not let the authority know about the abuse right away, which shows the power that athletes have in society and also the deranged values that they possess
The scandals at the University of Tennessee go beyond belief of what programs will do for their student-athletes. After a few years of noticed academic abuse, the University of Tennessee still did not learn their lesson; reports said that a tutor went to classes regularly and took notes for the player during the 1998 school year.
As if multiple accounts of plagiarisms and improper help from tutors weren’t enough for a scandal at Tennessee, faculty results found evidence that the athletic department was also giving significant amounts of incomplete credit hours to students who otherwise would have failed the class and then later changed grades of student-athletes. Incomplete credit hours were created to recognize the students that are too sick or otherwise cannot return to school and finish the course. Throughout the student body, athletes received four times the amount of incomplete credit hours and eight times the amount of grade changes as regular students. In further studies, the football starters had sixteen times the amount of incomplete credit hours than the average student. Tennessee marked many football players.
Another scandal was witnessed at the University of Minnesota, where student-athletes were earning credits in classes they didn’t even know they were in. Between 1993 and 1998, an investigation discovered that 34 incidents of academic abuse. In a thousand page report complied by the NCAA and the university faculty members, it was documented that 18 players cheated under the aid of former academic counselor, Jan Gangelhoff. When school officials confronted four members of Clem Haskins’ basketball team, Gangelhoff told his players to lie about the allegations.
The most recent academic scandal to reach the national media occurred at Georgia in 2003. The Georgia Bulldogs basketball team committed several violations in basketball strategy class. The assistant coach was teaching a basketball strategy to many of his basketball players, most of whom did not ever attend. During the final exam, the questions were at an elementary school level. For instance, on particular question was, “How many halves are in a game??
Even if there were no scandals in athletics, there would still be concerns with academics of student-athletes. The NCAA just reported the six-year academic progress reports, which measure graduation rates and other specific details regarding all of the schools and sport in Division I. The University of Maryland basketball team posted a zero percent graduation rate for players who entered from 1997 to 2000 (2007 NCAA Division I Graduation Success Rate (GSR) Data). The players that entered during this time helped hoist a National Championship and yet none of those players received a degree. In many programs, college athletics appear to be becoming more of a minor league for the professional leagues rather than place to get higher education.

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