Where can you go with an opinion piece that opens thusly?
Has Nick Saban become bigger than Bear Bryant?
(h/t The Wizard of Odds)
USA Today has some good stuff up about early entries.
The number keeps growing. What was once a trickle of football players graduating from high school a semester early and enrolling in college in time to participate in spring practice has turned into a steady stream that shows no signs of abating.
USA TODAY’s annual survey of the 66 Bowl Championship Series-affiliated schools found 105 early entrants this year, easily the highest total since the issue began being tracked in 2002.
The schools reported 69 early entrants last year and as recently as 2005 there were 34. USA TODAY found just 15 in 2002.
The article also raises an issue as to whether the new academic rules will impact the trend.
… It remains to be seen if the number will continue to grow, because the NCAA is about to change its freshman-eligibility standards in Division I. Starting Aug. 1, a student must pass 16 academic core courses in high school to meet the standards, up from 14.
“So now you’re talking about having to take 16 core courses in seven semesters, so if you’re considering (leaving early), it’s clear you have to start (the process) when you’re a freshman,” said Kevin Lennon, NCAA vice president for membership services. “I don’t have a sense if fewer students will do it with the change to 16, but you’ve got to start early.”
As a bonus, here’s the complete list of early enrollees.
Random bits of less serious college football stuff for your reading pleasure this morning:
SI.com’s Andy Staples has a great piece up on college football recruiting letters. It seems a California high school quarterback named Tate Forcier has posted copies of all of the offer letters he’s received from D-1 schools – and it’s an impressive group – on his web site. They make for some interesting reading.
[One amusing note: you'd think LSU could spring for updated stationary. The sidebar on Miles' letter doesn't reference LSU's recent SEC or national championships.]
The most intriguing part of Staples’ article concerns the disclaimers contained in the letters regarding the offer. Most coaches want to hedge their bets in case the class fills out, or a better prospect turns up, for example. (Staples points out that Forcier has only received one letter without a disclaimer.) So they put in back doors that let them out of the offer. But it’s a tricky business; as Staples notes, schools have been sued for failing to honor written offers. Here’s a taste of how one coach addresses the issue:
… Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, who has had some recent experience with attorneys, must have had a real legal eagle help him with his letter, which contains the slickest — and one of the most accurate — disclaimers of the 21. “This letter remains viable until such time as NCAA Rule 15.5.5 regarding squad limits (85 total) would appear to be compromised,” Rodriguez wrote. “Therefore, as a necessary consequence, grants may only be awarded on availability.”
I notice Forcier is waiting on an offer from Tennessee. I’ll have to check back on that one when he posts it to see if there are any Krispy Kreme references.