My and Mark’s employer has a new football coach–Rick Neuheisel, a former Bruin quarterback who also coached Colorado and Washington. And thereby hangs a tale that makes no one look good.
Neuheisel was fired from his last two jobs in circumstances that did not speak well of him. At Colorado, he committed a series of recruiting violations, mostly in terms of contacting high schoolers when he shouldn’t have. At Washington, he was axed after participating in what appears to have been a March Madness gambling pool.
The press reports are full of grave statements both from Neuheisel and UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero about how Neuheisel has learned so much from these incidents, and he will never do them again. And then everything moves on as to how good a coach he is, etc. etc.
All of which shows how perverted college athletics has become. The NCAA can get itself into a tizzy about contacting high schoolers, and Washington can make a big deal about gambling, but no one seems to be asking the key question:
What percentage of scholarship football players graduated when Neuheisel coached them?
The vast majority of college football players won’t see a dime from the NFL: a football scholarship may be their only chance for a college degree. Otherwise, they are just used up and spit out.
When my wife was a grad student at a certain prestigious California state school, which I shall not name except to say that it is in the Bay Area and Mike O’Hare teaches there, she had the starting quarterback in her section. He never came to class and never did the work. She was told that if she was going to fail him, it had to be approved by the central administration. “I met him, and he was a pretty bright kid and not a jerk,” she told me. “But no one had ever told him that he had to go to class and do his work.” So he didn’t. He didn’t make the pros, and he’s probably pumping gasoline somewhere.
But no one cares about that. It’s bad enough that people aren’t concerned about what happens to players that are essentially fodder for major college athletic departments, but it’s even worse when they don’t care and pretend that they do. This should be a standard statistic for any coach: graduation rates. Maybe the boosters don’t care, but the press should. I’m not holding my breath.