No, it’s not about football, but the New York Times ran a piece this weekend about Harvard, of all places, relaxing academic standards in order to attract a better recruiting class in basketball.
… Yet the group of six recruits expected to join the team next season is rated among the nation’s 25 best. This is partly because Harvard Coach Tommy Amaker, who starred at Duke and coached in the Big East and Big Ten conferences, has set his sights on top-flight recruits. It is also because Harvard is willing to consider players with a lower academic standing than previous staff members said they were allowed to.
Why basketball? Well, this may have something to do with it:
Harvard, he said, has chosen to remake its basketball program into a perennial contender for the Ivy title and the automatic berth in the N.C.A.A. tournament that goes with it. [Emphasis added.]
Harvard hasn’t been to the dance since 1946.
There are 341 schools eligible to play in the NCAA tourney. That’s what happens when you go to an extended play format. If D-1 football adapts something similar one day, expect similar results – and pressures – over time. It’s human nature.