Today, the Washington Post has articles about how the coaches of two of the nearest big time college football teams, U. of Virginia and U. of Maryland, have their heads on the chopping blocks because alumni are sore about losing seasons.
The Virginia story at least mentions talent issues:
On the morning of Jan. 5, 2001, University of Virginia President John Casteen uttered two words -- national championship -- that established a lofty goal for Al Groh, even before Groh could provide his first comments as Virginia's newly named head coach. ...One thing the article doesn't mention is that U. of Virginia has a mean SAT score of 1326, one of the highest for any public university in the country. Maryland's is about 50-60 points lower, but still pretty good for a state flagship university, and flagships are much harder to get into than a generation ago. To win a college football national championship, you need a whole lot of players who have no business being in college except to play football.
"As long as it takes us to get players like I saw on television the other night," Groh said that day, when asked how quickly Virginia can become a national power. "We saw the other night that Florida State can be beat if you get the players Oklahoma got." ...
"I think everyone was excited nine years ago," said Shawn Moore, a former all-American quarterback at Virginia. "But if you ask any alum today, they will tell you that they are extremely disappointed that the program has not gone to that next level, has not taken that next step."... "There's no way that we should not be competing for an ACC title," Moore said. "There's a ton of athletes playing in the NFL right now with University of Virginia degrees. I truly believe that with all the things we have in place now -- the facilities, the new stadium, the new locker room, all the things we've added in the last 10 years, we should be competing with Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Alabama. We should be competing on that level."
If Saturday is Groh's final game as head coach, he will not need to look far to realize what went wrong. When asked why his program has trouble winning at home in recent seasons, Groh answered bluntly: "talent." The answer was not much different when discussing the difference between winning and losing seasons.There's so many components that go into winning, but certainly the key one that you start with is talent," Groh said. "And the more top-end talent -- that is playmaking talent, guys who can just make the play -- that makes the difference."
...The slide started after the 2005 season. Virginia had been to four consecutive bowl games and won three of them. Groh lost four members of his coaching staff before the offseason: offensive coordinator Ron Prince to Kansas State, defensive coordinator Al Golden to Temple, associate head coach/outside linebackers coach Danny Rocco to Liberty and inside linebackers/special teams coach Mark D'Onofrio, who followed Golden to Temple.
The problems were exacerbated when the Cavaliers' 2006 recruiting class included eight players, out of 24, who were not admitted into school that year. Only two of those eight ended up attending Virginia, creating a gap on the roster.
Then the Cavaliers ran into disciplinary and academic issues, and saw players depart early for the NFL draft. Sewell and cornerback Chris Cook, both key players on this season's team, missed the 2008 seasons because of academics. Standout defensive end Jeffrey Fitzgerald transferred to Kansas State because of an academic issue. Heralded recruits J'Courtney Williams and Mike Brown were dismissed for disciplinary reasons. Offensive lineman Branden Albert and wide receiver Kevin Ogletree both left Charlottesville early for the NFL.
However, no departure was more costly than Peter Lalich, who was the best pro-style quarterback recruited during Groh's tenure. Lalich was dismissed from the team last season while facing legal issues [underage drinking], leaving the team without a long-term answer at quarterback. ...
"There are a lot of alums who are extremely disappointed that we can't even win the in-state recruiting battle right now," Moore said. "And Virginia Tech has owned Virginia eight of the last nine years."...."Coaches with schemes but without talent," Groh said that day, "quickly become unimportant coaches."
As Groh enters what is likely his final game as head coach, he could see his words come true.
Similarly, Charlie Weis of Notre Dame has his job on the line, too, with talk of the college paying him $18 million to go away if they lose to Stanford on Saturday. (Nice work if you can get it.) The Fighting Irish, 6-5, have had a very entertaining season, with numerous thrilling victories and defeats, but alumni don't want entertainment, they don't want equality, they don't want egalitarianism, they just want what Genghis Khan wanted from life.
But the University of Notre Dame has used its football reputation to build a strong academic institution. And that means it can't recruit the kind of players it takes to win national championships. One insider said that if the ND coach brought the current admissions office the files of the stars of ND's last national championship team in 1988, they would set them on fire.
Nowadays, ND can recruit a lot of good offensive players, but not too many top defensive players, so it plays a lot of 33-31 games. The over-under on ND-Stanford is 64.5 points.
On defense, "talent" pretty much is synonymous with "speed times weight." Speed basically means blacks which means lower SAT scores. Notre Dame legend Paul Hornung pointed that simple truth out on the radio a half decade ago:
"We can't stay as strict as we are as far as the academic structure is concerned because we've got to get the black athletes. We must get the black athletes if we're going to compete."
Hornung then got fired from his job broadcasting Notre Dame gams after the New York Times raised a stink.
They fired Paul Hornung for being honest with the public.
Football's not like basketball, where Duke can compete for the national championship with a team of whites, mixed race kids like Shane Battier, and mostly upscale blacks like Grant Hill. College football teams are huge. Alabama, for example, has 109 players on its roster.
It costs a lot of money to keep a huge number of fast/huge kids eligible. And it helps if the school just isn't that tough in the first place. Alabama's mean SAT score is around 1100, a standard deviation lower than U. of Va.'s.
Florida's SAT scores are quite high, but, presumably, they are willing to do what it takes to win at football.
You might think that secondary state schools with lower average SAT scores, like Florida State, Auburn, or Texas A&M, would be a better fit for football players than state flagship schools like Florida, Alabama, and Texas. But, it usually doesn't work that way because flagship schools tend to have richer alumni.
It's kind of like diversity crisis at the Coast Guard Academy. We aren't supposed to talk about the Inevitable Logic of Diversity -- if the Naval Academy takes in more maritime-oriented blacks in the name of Diversity, there will be fewer for the Coast Guard Academy -- so nobody understands the Logic of Diversity.
It's also like the two Academies in that one reason the Coast Guard Academy doesn't have affirmative action in admissions is because it doesn't play big time college football.
Basically, the battle for the national championship in college football comes down to who is willing to a tradeoff between the SAT score of the students versus the SAT score of the football team.