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An interesting find

This blog entry celebrates CJ Spiller's decision to stay at Clemson.

For the most part, I totally agree with the author, students who decide to stay and get a degree should be heralded. There's more you can do with a college degree than an NFL career that may only last through one training camp, and one bad knee injury could do anyone in on day one of it. And lets face it, realistic Clemson fans do not believe we're going to win the national title with him back next year.

My different opinion is in the whole Top 20 pursuit, and how it pertains to the major sports.
(1) Articulated and exercised higher academic standards across the school and the President's drive for Clemson to be recognized among the top 25 public institutions in the country. Unfortunately it’s hard to be serious about both and win. Florida is not serious about stretching academic integrity across the University and into athletics (Nor is UNC Football/Basketball within the context of the more stringent academic requirements of the ACC vs. SEC, for that matter). President Barker is! Clemson fans should be proud of that distinction and work within those lines in pursuit of football greatness. Schools like Michigan, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Duke have long had sterling academic reps and are, therefore, afforded leeway by the general public to "dip" and take some kids that Clemson might not.

This is nonsense. Barker and the AARC have hindered the ability of the major sports to attract better talent with their higher academic standards applied to those sports. I don't believe Barker is a bad President; he's made promises and has worked his best to keep them, but the goal of "Top 20" and "National Championships" are separate things that must be worked toward in their own way.

The ACC has been hindered in its football stature over the decades by rules it put in place 50 years ago that forced it to not take partial qualifiers or those that it felt wouldn't graduate. This is the main reason why Coach Howard's non-conference record during the latter years of his career basically sucked (though it was eventually repealed, the damage was irrevocable). The SEC had no such rules, and still admits partial qualifiers, whereas the ACC does not. Howard was quoted at the time as saying, "I propose we add two more teams (to the ACC)," so all games would be conference games, and when asked why he said, "so everyone in the country wouldn't know how sorry we all are."

How many kids do we not get each year because of these standards? We'll never really know, because by the time recruiting season comes around, we've backed off the ones Becky Bowman and the rest don't believe will get in.

For all of the complaining about Florida or UCLA, or Texas or Georgia, or Michigan, they're all above or equal in terms of academic reputation to Clemson. Any sacrifice due to athletics has not hampered them at all. Its only 85 scholarship players here, as anywhere else. Only 35 man rosters for the baseball team too. All this out of a total enrollment just over 17,000 now.

Athletics are a tool to bring exposure to the school and raise money. If you live outside of S.C., as I do now, do you know of many people who know where Clemson is? Do you think that was the case in the '80s?

Do you think that, if Clemson had been good at football during the '90s, that we'd be getting the WEZ just now or 5-10 years ago? (Arguments about the ineptitude of Bobby Robinson aside)

If Barker had made the pledge to be Top 20 at a school with that amount of national exposure, do you not think we'd be closer to it? Recall that academic fundraising is a major component that influences those Top 20 rankings along with the number of research grants given to professors at the school and the millions they bring in as well. This necessitates also bringing in the top scientists from other places. Do you think that many professors at many other schools would know where Clemson is? I'll give you the short answer, particularly for my field, its a big NO. While Clemson has done well in some areas (Automotive research, history, engineering), its still well behind in stature in most other fields.

If you dont want the stigma of a "football school" then thats perfectly fine, but taking from one hand and feeding the other is not the way to improve both.