Athlete-student. All the time.
Long before I went to college. Long before Woody Hayes came to Ohio State. Long before Bear Bryant went to Alabama.
Long before the first BCS National championship game and long befoe ESPN College Gameday, college football coaches drooled over talent.
Not the talent to solve long equations or write brilliant prose. They're not knocking down the doors of the kids who ace chemistry exams or win spelling bees.
College football coaches want fast, strong, big kids. A quarterback who can throw it 60 yards in the air. A 300-pound lineman with quick feet. A receiver who runs with the wind. A tailback with gaudy stats.
If they happen to excel in the classroom, that's a bonus. Coaches want players on the roster who can lift weights not the school cumulative GPA.
They are called student athletes because it sounds like the school in question gives a damn about an athlete's academic performance.
In fact they are student athletes because going to class is the only way they can stay eligible to compete.
Now to Ohio State's most recent issues. 4 players including two guy who may well have been named team captains later this summer, experiencing some type of brush with the law.
A high profile tailback is listed as "person of interest" in a Columbus Police Department case in which a woman was allegedly struck while in a bar in the Arena District.
A potential All-America defensive back was involved in a scuffle in a bar in Blomington, Indiana. Why an Ohio State football player would walk into a bar in another Big Ten town late at night in the first place is rather suspect but that's another topic. There was an altercation, polic were called and now this player is in trouble for the first time in his career.
The names here are not important. Frankly, neither is the school.
These "student athletes" could play anywhere.
The trouble with student athletes getting themselves in trouble lies as much within the system as it does with the individual.
Athletes are not recruited based on their ability to make wise decisions in bars late at night.
They are not recruited because they know how to back down from a fight.
They are not recruited because they are lacking confidence to win wheter it be the attention of a woman or a football game against Wisconsin.
The Columbus Dispatch ran the picture of a sign in Ohio State's football bulding. The sign says:
"Decisions. Honesty, Treat women with respect. No drugs. No stealing. No weapons."
The accompaning column discusses the merits of recruiting talent over character.
And that is the crux of the issue whether the school is Ohio State, Florida, Notre Dame or Michigan.
The premium is and always will be on talent. Speed, strength and size make a Division I college football recruit not honest humility and charity.
It'll never change. If anything with college football becoming closer to the NFL every fall, it was probably only get worse.
So, shake your head at the arrests and the bad decision making all you want. As long as your team wins on Saturdays everything will be okay.