And now, blogAmerica's fourth favorite minigame within a larger game show...
Brian has part one up at MGoBlog, where we discovered that the 6995 listed in the logo equals the approximate number of signed letters of intent collected by Oregon State over the past five years. That's the entire point of the exercise, really: to find out which schools are tossing out the most promises they can't keep, or via a less cynical line of thinking, taking the most chances on recruits with a high probability of spraining their cerebrums and not qualifying for their scholarship.
All numbers come from Rivals.com. Scout's numbers differ by degrees and are a bit lower, so in an effort to be comprehensive, we went with Rivals' numbers.
Transfers and JUCOs are not included. Doesn't show up in Rivals, but the omission has a minimizing effect on total skeeziness/risk-friendliness perception of school, anyway.
The Indonesian Ferryman Award is given to the school that, like a speed-addled Indonesian ferry captain who hasn't slept for three weeks and is on deadline, will take on too many passengers and then begin pushing the extras overboard when others clamor for seats.
The Mr. Chips Award for Academic Integrity is given to the goody-goody schools offering no more than their allotment adding up to 85, or even more prissily offering fewer than their allotment just to earn extra brownie points with Dean Wormer.
We've got the ACC, Big East, and lastly the SEC, ridin' dirty and doing so shamelessly. (We think there's reasons for this not including the facile "So Everyone Cheats" argument, but will hold 'till later. Though there's certainly a bit of that going on, though not where you would suspect. (Cough cough Tennessee cough.)
First, the ACC:
To our surprise, the ACC boasted the lowest number of scholarships offered of any of the major conferences, thus earning the All-Conference Mr. Chips Award for Academic Integrity by holding at a six-year average of twenty-two scholarships offered a year.
The Indonesian Ferryman Award for the ACC goes to North Carolina,
who offered 25 schollies a year, proving that John Bunting was inequivocal in his demand to have players who were slow on the field and off of it.
The Mr Chips Award for the ACC goes in a three-way-tie to Georgia Tech, Boston College, and Wake Forest. A round of scientific graphing calculators for everyone, it seems.
The Big East
Our Indonesian Ferryman/Big East goes to...
...who should just go ahead and assume there's a standing invite to the SEC if and when Vanderbilt decides to give up football and focus on the real sport at Vandy: professional slumming. (Hey! I'm a truck guy despite the trust fund! I'm Ford Tough, with an Ethan Allen edge!)
The Mr. Chips Award/Big East goes to Cincinnati, who rations out scholarships presumably because there are only so many former female soccer players to go around for new recruits.
And finally, the SEC.
Cue soundtrack before reading:
The SEC first wins The Indonesian Ferryman All-Conference Award, since an average of 25 scholarships offered a year makes Bob Barker say:
That's too much!
The in-conference Indonesian Ferryman Award goes to Mississippi State, who despite sanctions from the Jackie Sherrill era manages to hand out 28 Letters of Intent a year. They would also like to promise you a brand new pony. South Carolina's right on their heels, mind you, which you would expect from a team under supervision by Lou Holtz.
The Mr. Chips Award goes predictably to Vanderbilt. Even with an average of 21, however, you'll find that they're well above the ACC average in their offers.
We'll tip our hand and suggest that a lot of this discrepancy has to do with academic non-qualifiers and the pisspoor, god-awful public schools of the South. Combine that with some arch program design by some SEC coaches, and you've got the divergent strategies between conferences. In short: the worse the pool of academic recruits you're dealing with, the more chances you must take by necessity.
Blue-chippers escape this, since nearly everyone's willing to take a chance on them. (Thus the same schools competing for the same recruits every year, who inevitably list USC, Michigan, Florida, Miami, and Ohio State in their top five, or some permutation of the top ten.) But recruiting remains a largely local game, and for the four and three star recruits making up rosters who decide locally between schools close to home in the South, the academics are always going to be a challenge given where they're coming from: namely, the worst, most underfunded shithole public schools on the face of the planet.
Randy Newman had it right all along, we suspect:
We got no-necked oilmen from Texas
And good ol' boys from Tennessee
And college men from LSU
Went in dumb. Come out dumb too
Betting on failure in the SEC academically may not just make sense for football players--it may apply to National Merit Scholars and the student body as a whole, too. More on this on Monday, but a warning: it'll get policy wonky fast in here, like Savage Inequalities meets The Blind Side.
We're rednecks. We don't know our ass from a hole in the ground.