A review of the EDSBS Policy Manual--what the hell, who got mustard and blood on this thing--shows that we have a jejune attitude towards admissions policies re: athletes. For the most part, someone will put a kid through enough classes and select a trough so well-lubricated and assisted that even the slowest, fattest academic pig can slide through into the barnyard of college football glory.
Mike Oher, for all his inspirational content and marketability, is the case study for this. Raised in conditions close to being considered "feral," Oher somehow cobbled together enough literacy and coursework to enter Ole Miss. Among those? The online courses offered via BYU, now shut down by name as a source of legitimate athletic credit in the NCAA's latest revision of academic accreditation rules. The NCAA hates your 20 questions multiple choice finals and Sandra Bullock's busted-ass dye job in that movie, which while not forbidden by NCAA bylines is against proper hairdressing mores worldwide.
Singling out Oher is unfair, however. The twin funnels of dodgy credit in the BYU and American School were used by many, many schools in fluffing up the weak academic resumes of football players. John Brown, onetime VHT defensive lineman for Florida, used the courses to become eligible, and had plenty of company in the conference in doing so. Brown still failed out due to a sprained cerebrum, but still, we'd bet current rosters of SEC schools and beyond were littered with these courses.
Now we've hit the point where you open the nasty box full of arguments about football and academics and how the twain never shall meet. Feel free to throw in regional ugliness, too, since we know you will, Big Ten fans with an astonishingly precious clutch on that diploma. And he heard you went to Iowa and he just gave you the job! Take that, Harvard!
We won't go down that hole in the span of a breezy blog post, but will say this: that football players have to major in anything but football is absurd and anachronistic, and forgets the most legitimate critique of the entire system made by Michael Lewis in his book about Oher: that college provides contact with the networks sustaining you professionally for the rest of your life, and young athletes who could compete collegiately are cut off from that contact by institutions that, on the whole, willingly treat them differently in every other sense.
Schools will find another way for young athletes to cheat a system that still claims they are like every other student, and that is what rankles most. If given a choice, we'll pull for schools to find ever more clever ways to get students the academic credit they need to qualify. We like our dishonesty on the front end and on a case-by-case basis, and not backloaded and legitimized across the board by large institutions.