Rosen’s point not a diss to Alabama

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - DERON SNY­DER

In ma­jor col­lege sports, the par­tic­i­pants range from ath­letes who are stu­dents to stu­dents who are ath­letes. The ideal bal­ance is found smack-dab in the mid­dle, as rare and elu­sive as coaches who re­ject bet­ter jobs to keep their word to in­com­ing re­cruits.

Nev­er­mind that only a hand­ful of col­lege play­ers ad­vance to the pro ranks. NCAA Di­vi­sion I foot­ball is pro­fes­sional enough in its own right.

Ask UCLA quar­ter­back Josh Rosen if you’re in doubt. In an in­ter­view Tues­day with Bleacher Re­port, he equated be­ing a stu­dent and be­ing a player to “try­ing to do two full­time jobs.”

Rosen isn’t a stereo­typ­i­cal jock. He grew up rich with Ivy League par­ents, a renowned sur­geon and a jour­nal­ist, the lat­ter be­ing a great-great-grand­daugh­ter of the founder of the Whar­ton School at Penn. He has spo­ken pub­licly of the ad­van­tages he en­joys by com­ing from an af­flu­ent, ed­u­cated fam­ily.

So, Rosen’s take on the sub­ject of ma­jor col­lege foot­ball — “Human be­ings don’t be­long in school with our sched­ules. No one in their right mind should have a foot­ball player’s sched­ule and go to school” — de­serves our at­ten­tion.

Don’t con­fuse this with the in­fa­mous com­ment from for­mer Ohio State quar­ter­back Cardale Jones in 2012. “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOT­BALL,” Jones tweeted as a third-stringer be­fore later lead­ing the Buck­eyes to a na­tional ti­tle. “We ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINT­LESS.”

Traded last month from the Buf­falo Bills to the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers, Jones tweeted about Rosen’s in­ter­view Tues­day: “Chill bro, play school.”

It’s not a game to Rosen, who’s pro­jected to be a first-round draft pick next year. An eco­nom­ics ma­jor with sights set on an MBA, he takes aca­demics se­ri­ously. His com­plaint isn’t that classes are in­con­se­quen­tial but,

rather, ath­let­ics and aca­demics can be di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed.

“Foot­ball re­ally dents my abil­ity to take some classes that I need,” he told Bleacher Re­port. “There are a bunch of classes that are only of­fered one time. There was a class this spring I had to take, but there was a con­flict with spring foot­ball, so ... “

Guess what took prece­dence? Rosen was crit­i­cized Tues­day for what some deemed a cheap shot to­ward the Crim­son Tide: “Raise the SAT re­quire­ment at Alabama and see what kind of team they have. You lose ath­letes and then the prod­uct on the field suf­fers.” That’s no rea­son for Sa­ban­ites to get their feel­ings hurt.

Rosen could’ve sub­sti­tuted a num­ber of Power 5 schools. The fact is ad­mis­sion stan­dards for reg­u­lar stu­dents and ath­letes alike vary widely at in­sti­tu­tions of higher ed­u­ca­tion. Get­ting into schools like, say, Stan­ford is harder than most, whether you’re a book­worm or a book­end tackle.

But no mat­ter what it takes for ad­mis­sion at a par­tic­u­lar school, Rosen has a prob­lem with pri­or­i­ties af­ter­ward. He said the goal too of­ten is mak­ing sure play­ers re­main el­i­gi­ble to com­pete, not help­ing them ex­cel in the class­room.

Not sur­pris­ingly, of­fi­cials like Stan­ford coach David Shaw dis­agree. “I think you can get a re­ally good ed­u­ca­tion any­where,” Shaw told re­porters Tues­day. “And it’s up to each in­di­vid­ual stu­dent to play the best foot­ball they can, and to walk out of that col­lege with a de­gree.”

True. But that doesn’t mean foot­ball will­ingly con­cedes to aca­demic con­cerns. If the star line­backer has a C, the coach doesn’t ease de­mands so the player can chase an A. Class sched­ules and study needs must fit into the team’s best in­ter­est.

It might be a stretch to say foot­ball works against the stu­dent, but the game cer­tainly tugs in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

An­other part of Rosen’s as­sess­ment is spot-on, re­lated to Jones’ bru­tally hon­est point-of-view five years ago. Like it or not, some col­lege play­ers are there only for the sport. Grades and grad­u­a­tion are sec­ondary con­cerns.

“There are guys who have no busi­ness be­ing in school, but they’re here be­cause this is the path to the NFL,” Rosen said. “There’s no other way.”

Bryce Harper earned his GED af­ter his sopho­more year in high school, left for a year of ju­nior col­lege and be­came the No. 1 pick in the 2010 MLB draft. Where was the hue and cry? Why didn’t folks be­moan the valu­able ed­u­ca­tion and life ex­pe­ri­ences he for­went?

The an­swer is sim­ple: Col­lege base­ball isn’t a multi-bil­lion dol­lar in­dus­try.

When prep play­ers choose the mi­nors over cam­pus, they’re sim­ply among the 30 per­cent of U.S. teens who join the work­force fol­low­ing grad­u­a­tion. No shame. No stigma.

But if schools con­tinue to ad­mit ath­letes who are bor­der­line or don’t fully ap­pre­ci­ate ed­u­ca­tion — which I fully sup­port, be­cause they’re worth the ef­fort —at least pour more into the play­ers be­sides train­ing and nu­tri­tion.

“At some point, uni­ver­si­ties have to do more to pre­pare play­ers for univer­sity life and help them suc­ceed beyond foot­ball,” Rosen said. “There’s so much money be­ing made in this sport. It’s a crime to not do ev­ery­thing you can to help the peo­ple who are mak­ing it for those who are spend­ing it.”

On the spec­trum be­tween stu­dent and ath­lete, Rosen has both ends cov­ered.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

UCLA quar­ter­back Josh Rosen equated be­ing a stu­dent and be­ing a player to “try­ing to do two full­time jobs.” He is an eco­nom­ics ma­jor with his sights set on an MBA.

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