A 6-6 Washington team beat Nebraska 19-7 in the Holiday Bowl. Stanford demolishes ACC Champion Virginia Tech 40-12 in the 2011 Orange Bowl and now we have Oregon playing Auburn in the BCS National Championship game. Clearly, the PAC 10 is the most dominant athletic/football conference in the country. In 2010, Stanford also pounded Notre Dame 37 to 14 and UCLA crushed Texas 34 to 12. Statistics don’t lie, no matter how biased you are living in middle America or on the East Coast.
If you compare academic match ups, the Pac 10 wins as well. Not only are Stanford, UCLA, Washington, and Oregon academically superior to Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Texas, and Auburn based on polls by every single college ranking system available, they also have superior athletic programs to boot. Furthermore, the campuses of Stanford, UCLA and Oregon are like country clubs, with phenomenal facilities and fantastic weather all year around.
Notre Dame, Texas, Auburn and Virginia Tech are fine schools in their own right. However, if you compare the four against their Pac 10 match ups, there simply is no comparison. Hence, why is it that athletic recruits would ever go to a school other than one in the PAC 10 if they had a choice? Let’s find out.
DISCOVERING WHY THEY DON’T GO TO THE BEST
* Good salesmanship. If anybody has ever seen The Blindside, people know that snagging an all-star recruit is a highly competitive process. The coaches and athletic directors who are the best salespeople generally land the best recruiting classes. They must not only sell the athlete, but the athlete’s friends and family. This is where shady things start happening. Auburn’s Cam Newton in 2010 is a prime example of what happens when you payoff a dad.
* Timezone Perception. For some reason, there is a perception that middle and east coast athletics are superior to west coast athletics. Timezone plays an important role in all of this because the majority of sports writers are east coast based, and the majority of games are televised for the east coast viewer. As a result, recruits believe they will have more air time attending an southern or east coast school. It becomes ingrained in their heads that southern and east coast schools are better because they seem them all the time.
* Manipulation. If you weren’t an athletic recruit, it’s obvious you would go to Stanford over Notre Dame, and UCLA over Texas for a better chance at landing a plum job upon graduation. Hence, what it comes down to is shear manipulation by the media, parents, and coaches to convince someone to attend a school. More than 95% of college athletes go pro is something other than sports. Remember that, next time you are a parent who is looking for short-term gain, rather than long term. Send your child to the best academic AND athletic school.
* Lack of education. It is possible that athletic recruit may have no idea where each school lies in the hierarchy of academia. Sports are their primary focus, and not academia. Yet, as the scores show, Stanford and UCLA are better athletic programs after they crushed Notre Dame and Texas. Hence, we need to educate our high school athletes more about a schools academic reputation as much as their athletic reputation. Stanford has the highest SAT average in the country for athletes at 1,130 based on the old scale.
* Harder to get in. Stanford and UCLA have higher academic standards. It’s foolish to assume that all college athletes can get into Stanford and UCLA just because they are physically talented. Academic standards are lower for those students who are going to “work” for the school, however the top schools in the country don’t stoop as low as others. Hence, we can’t all blame the media and parents.
Adults hold significant sway over high school students. Unless the athlete is clearly head and shoulders above everyone else athletically, and is already being talked about as a future professional, it’s important to push him or her towards the academically superior school. Goodness forbid he is one of the majority who graduates and never enters the NFL. At least he will have a prestigious degree with connected alumni to help him land a job to start a good life.
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Updated for 2016 and beyond.