Nothing gets my blood boiling more than talking about the ridiculous recruiting restrictions that SMU put in place after the death penalty. The conversation started up again yesterday over at the message board as we were discussing the demise of the SWC (by the way, you really should check out the amazing job the San Antonio Express-News did recently on the subject, which can be found HERE).
The whole recruiting restrictions, to me, is a great fraud on the part of Pye, the faculty and others. It is a fraud in two ways. First, the fraud is that all losing can be blamed on the death penalty. Poll 100 people on the boulevard as to why SMU loses and the death penalty will be the overwhelming answer. Poll 100 people with no connection to SMU as to why SMU loses and the death penalty will again be the overwhelming answer. The death panalty gives cover to those that hoped to establish some kind of college football utopia where starting positions were assigned based on SAT scores an dnot ability and the football team still won on the field. The death penalty allows those pollyannas to avoid all accountability for their actions.
Second, the recruiting restrictions are a great fraud because they play into the ego of the SMU faculty alumni, faculty and administration. We are told the recruiting restrictions are necessary because SMU is such a prestigious academic institution. This is sham. SMU is a fine school, but its undergraduate rankings rarely drift above the mid-70s and perrenially trail numerous schools that are successful on the football field as well. Again, as I said earlier, when the recruiting restrictions were being put into place, the acceptance rate at SMU was 91%. Does that make sense? For every athlete in the lowest academic category that enrolls at SMU, there are three non-athletes from the same category. Is that lowering standards? Football players graduate at a rate that exceeds the university as a whole. How can recruiting restrictions that lead to such a result, be justified?
SMU can have academic integrity and win football games. However, it needs to do it the same way other schools that graduate their football players do. Of the 25 schools that graduated 70% or more of their football players, more than 20 had been to bowl games in the past five years. We should be emulating those schools rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. Get the kids in school, offer things they are interested in, make them go to class, make them study.
And I won't even go into the fact that since TCU decided to get serious about football, its acceptance rates have improved, its percentage of accepted who enroll has increased and its average scores have increased all at rates that exceed SMU's.