Category Archives: Auburn
The Wall Street Journal has a new piece that is, as far as I can gather, intended to make Auburn University’s handling of an endangered academic major look nefarious. I hate Auburn as much as the next guy, but this is a reach.
“At Auburn,” the headline reads, “Athletics and Academics Collide.”
Isn’t that a novel idea? Aren’t student-athletes supposed to be students and athletes? Shouldn’t the duality of that misnomer occasionally yield a collision? Shouldn’t we celebrate (instead of throwing out condemnation) when that actually occurs?
Here’s how the article opens:
In 2013, Auburn University’s curriculum review committee took up the case of a small, unpopular undergraduate major called public administration. After concluding that the major added very little to the school’s academic mission, the committee voted to eliminate it.
But according to internal documents and emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, the committee’s decision was ultimately overruled by top administrators after it met significant opposition from another powerful force on campus: Auburn’s athletic department.
Now some facts:
- 111 students were public administration majors in the fall of 2013.
- 51% those majors were athletes.
- A third of the football team was among those majors.
Those items are facts. Equally factual were the steps taken by the athletic department to preserve the major.
But to assume that everything associated with that salvaging was done out of corruption is to say that none of the athletes within that major valued a degree. And I’m not ready to go there. Per the WSJ, the athletic department’s stance was that “if the public administration program is eliminated, the [graduation success rate] numbers of our student-athletes will likely decline.”
Well no shit. Though graduation success rate measures are usually discussed within the context of the NCAA and college sports, this scenario isn’t unique to Auburn, sports or public administration majors. If the University of Georgia dropped its finance major, the graduation plans of many students would be threatened. Some would have to switch majors and gain differing credits for completion. Others might even consider transferring to another school offering a finance major. The outcome would be undoubtedly damaging to those students (at least in the short-term), regardless of the number enrolled in that major. Auburn’s athletic department didn’t want that happening to public administration majors.
But if you assume everything an athletic department does is in the interest of athletics and self-preservation and never in the best interest of the student part of student-athletes, then the athletic department’s intervention is a smoking gun.
But is it not possible that the athletic department wanted some folks to graduate? Is it not possible that a student—even one—wanted that major because political science, public service and governmental policy was of interest?
I think that is possible. I say that because hundreds of universities (including the likes of athletic athletic powerhouses like Flagler, George Mason, NYU, Johns Hopkins) offer a Public Administration undergraduate major. I don’t think those schools offer the major just to help athletes. And I don’t think the number of enrollees, demographic make up of the student body or other factors should come into play in maintaining the viability of a degree path. And undoubtedly the financial cost of maintaining a major for as few as 100 students created some instability. So why was it so out of line for the athletic department to help the budget of the program?
Heaven forbid the profitable athletic department help out the academic institution at a college. This isn’t North Carolina and no-show attendance policies (at least not yet). This is not Basketball 101 at Georgia (at least not yet). The accrediting body that oversees Auburn told the WSJ that universities must place “primary responsibility for the content, quality and effectiveness of the curriculum with its faculty.”
The athletic department helped keep some of that faculty employed, but did it change the curriculum? We haven’t seen any evidence of that. And I can’t help but think if this was an organization other than the athletics department, this would be viewed differently.
If the Auburn Business Club offered to subside the cost of the unpopular international business major because half of the students within that major were also members of the Auburn Business Club, would we be outraged? Or would we be proud to see a student organization protecting its student members?
And we can move past the idea that this was an “easy” major and therefore the one best fit for certain students, because there’s not anything wrong with that. Some majors are harder than others. Some students are more capable than others. That’s not an argument that anyone can dispute. But don’t pretend public administration was the only “easy” major on campus and don’t pretend the major was only “easy” for the 51% of students who were also athletes.
Auburn’s athletic department stepped in to protect student-athletes in the classroom. If you think that was done solely out of corruption, you’re a fool.
If this was done solely out of corruption, the major would have never been on the chopping block. If this was done solely out of corruption, the major wouldn’t have mattered because professors in another major would be bought. We’ve seen corrupted academic standards. An athletic department helping subsidize a department doesn’t necessarily fit that bill.
That’s all I got/
Eight. Days. Until. Football.
This survey is an absolute travesty, and WordPress is not being very helpful in the formatting department. Apologies for both in advance. Many thanks to the staff for taking the time to save you from it being just me talking about the season, yet again.
Today is Georgia questions, tomorrow is on the national scale.
Comment with your own answers below!
Chad Floyd: 11 regular season wins and (obviously) win the SEC East. The crossover opponents are tough, but this team is head and shoulders above the rest of the division. Split with the Alabama schools, beat everyone else, and go to Atlanta with a playoff bid on the line.
Daniel Palmer: Success for Georgia to me is less a reflection on wins and losses, and more what we see out of this team week to week. A hallmark of the 2014 season was marked improvement week to week in each phase of the game, but there were monumental setbacks (Florida, GT). What I want this year is consistent growth as a team; they keep from backsliding and making the same mistakes, and wins and losses will take care of themselves.
Jason Smith: Beating Florida.
Andrew Hall: A loss to Bama is all but expected. Beyond that missing out on winning the East is outright failure.Chad Floyd: Anything short of a playoff/’Group of Six’ bowl appearance.
Daniel Palmer: If the narrative for this season devolves into “if they only found a quarterback”, then you’ll know we are in trouble. There’s too much optimism around this team for the man under center to define 2015 in a negative light. Once we fall back to quarterback excuses, then EVERYTHING has fallen off the rails and we’re in full rebuild mode.
Jason Smith: Losing to Tech.
Andrew Hall: 10-2 regular season. SECCG Loss, Bowl Win…so 11-3 depending on how you do this.
Chad Floyd: 11-1. Everything postseason is a toss-up.
Daniel Palmer: 10-2
Jason Smith: 10-2
Andrew Hall: Missouri. It always inexplicable to lose to Mizzou. After Tennessee and Bama comes the let down game
Chad Floyd: (I don’t find Tennessee inexplicable). South Carolina. An easy September slate means we have to stub our toe somewhere, right?
Daniel Palmer: God help me, Tennessee.
Jason Smith: The answer to this question is ALWAYS South Carolina.
Andrew Hall: On offense let’s look at Jay Rome to have a big year. I love Blaze as much as the next guy (assuming the next guy isn’t Daniel Palmer), but Rome is getting lots of 1st Team reps for a reason and is more athletic. (Editor’s note: There was no pick for the defense.)
Chad Floyd: Offense: Brice Ramsey. Defense: Jake Ganus (the UAB transfer LB).
Daniel Palmer: Offense: Jeb Blaze. Defense: Pick a DB every week.
Jason Smith: Offense: Terry Godwin. Defense: Trenton Thompson.
What’s the stupidest thing Special Teams will do?
Andrew Hall: Beyond at least one missed extra point and several chip shot field goals (which will happen), look for Georgia to attempt an onside kick early in a game in an attempt to capitalize on momentum and miss out. Then, a mediocre opponent offense gets the ball at mid-field and scores shortly before the half before receiving a 2nd half kickoff and scoring again.
Chad Floyd: Botched punt snap in the 4th quarter of a close game in one of our SEC on CBS appearances.
Daniel Palmer: Yes.
Jason Smith: Miss a seemingly chip shot field goal that means absolutely nothing at the moment but will end up costing us a game because our offense is having an off night.
What’s the game you will have to be most intoxicated to watch?
Andrew Hall: South Carolina. That’s always my answer. You can’t not be drunk for Georgia/South Carolina. Win was the last time Georgia won one of these games with any semblance of ease? 2014 was a loss, 2013 was close late, 2012/2011/2010 were losses, 2009 was a 4-pt win, 2008 was 14-7, 2007 was a loss, 2006 was an 18-0 win with unsteady freshman Matt Stafford, 2005 was a 2-point win, 2004 was a 4-point win. We’re talking 2003. Damn.
Chad Floyd: South Carolina/Auburn. I have too much local/social hate invested in both of them.
Daniel Palmer: As has become tradition, I will be watching the Florida game by myself in silence surrounded by whiskey and moonshine.
Jason Smith: The answer to this question is ALWAYS Florida.
Even though he says stupid things like, oh I don’t know, that he feels he’s the best quarterback in the NFL, you are a monster if you don’t feel at least somewhat bad for Washington QB Robert Griffin III.
He came to Washington in 2012 as the #2 overall pick, a pick for which the Redskins gave up three first-rounders and a second-rounder– some Ditka-level desperation, folks– and he did the unthinkable and led them to the playoffs!
As rich d-bag Dan Snyder should know, you gotta protect your investments. I don’t need to rehash Mike Shanahan running Griffin’s right leg into a bag of Pixy Stix in the 2012 playoffs, but last night was just something else.
(NOTE: this is a preseason game. And this is the beating your quarterback took).
That dude, 75, who got ridden like a middle school blocking sled into Griffin? #5 overall pick Brandon Scherff (don’t draft Iowa linemen).
And…the coup de grace (though not the hit that knocked Griffin out of the game):
Oh, and you wanna know the crazy thing? It could’ve been SO MUCH WORSE. The Detroit Lions are a team that let Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley walk in the offseason. Meaning, THEY DIDN’T TAKE PLACE IN THIS BLOODLETTING. So take what you see above, and add at least one of these:
Starting to see red? Me too.
Or in Suh’s case…
So, yeah. Now that I’ve inspired a little more Auburn-related hate (the original intent was not meant to be college football related at all), I’ll say it again: RGIII had a bad night.
With the aforementioned release of Bill Connelly (USA Today’s dropped this morning, too), there are enough comprehensive college football rankings to do some kind of analysis on them.
Now, let me reiterate: Connelly and Steele are my go-to prognosticators. Why? For one, their factors involve so much more data than the typical returning starters and previous year’s record. Steele has 9 analytical models he uses to produce his rankings, Connelly probably has even more (it doesn’t hurt that they’re both high on the Dawgs for 2015).
Another factor separating them from the national journalists is the fact that they evaluate teams on an “if X played Y” basis, to evaluate team strength. For example, both have Tennessee in their top 20. The thought process follows that the Vols may go 8-4 against this year’s schedule, but put them in the Big Ten or ACC and they may be a 10-2 or 11-1 team.
USA Today and CBSSports, on the other hand? Probably pure clickbait/conversation pieces. CBS especially, as it ranks all of four SEC teams in its top 25. I’m not the world’s foremost SEC apologist, but that’s patently absurd and no objective reader would disagree. Vanderbilt is hot garbage, but are they really only better than seven teams in the country? I highly doubt it.
Here is the chart I put together for the whole SEC, with their average rankings calculated by some furious Excel spreadsheeting:
So, on average, exactly half of the SEC is ranked in the top 25, and there are really no surprises: Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Ole Miss, LSU, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Arkansas and Tennessee are obviously teams that have to prove it on the field, but their finishes made pundits more bullish on them than another high-potential team in Texas A&M.
I also used the data to see the average ranking of each team by each outlet. The key number here? Again, CBS as an outlier, with the SEC ranked almost 10 full spots below the other outlets, on average. Some real #Haterade there, they throw off what is otherwise a fairly good consensus ranking of each team.
Assuming, as a homer would, that CBS is therefore unreliable:
Of distinct note is two flip-flops in the rankings: Georgia vaults to second in the SEC, from an average ranking of 9th to somewhere in the ether between 6 and 7. And my thoughts on Florida are somewhat validated, as they move up 8 spots and jump South Carolina.
If you were curious, Georgia’s nonconference opponents rank as follows:
Tech, as they earned last year and with the return of Justin Thomas and a good bit of its defense, sits somewhere between LSU and Arkansas. Given wins over very strong Georgia and Mississippi State teams last year, that sounds about right to me. Georgia Southern had a GREAT season last year, and is seen, nationally, as Kentucky’s equal. Hopefully the opener against Monroe provides an opportunity to see all three quarterbacks, since that battle ain’t getting settled before September 5.
All told, the rankings of Georgia’s opponents go as follows:
South Carolina: 43.25
Georgia HAS to get out of September 4-0.
Again, note that Tennessee and Missouri are top-25 teams without CBS. Florida is a top-40 team, and well…they’re Florida.
Georgia Southern: 63.5
Given the difficulty of October and my bias towards two things: that we should never lose to Tech and I don’t think Auburn is THAT good, November needs to be another 4-0 month. The playoff committee loves them some teams on hot streaks.
Anyway, this is a lot of data to tackle, but a good place to continue your thoughts on the 2015 season. Any more numbers y’all want crunched? Any further takeaways that I missed in this skim? Shoot me a comment or a tweet @Chad_Floyd and I’ll get on it.
To you dear readers who abandoned us because we had nothing to write about:
Welcome back! In case you missed it (going out on a limb here: you probably did), I wrote a WHOLE LOT of College Football Previews this summer. Some good, some bad, some destined to be woefully inaccurate.
Interested in the Big XII? Vanderbilt? The ACC COASTAL!?!?!?! Get a quick overview of all of them below:
6/30: The whole damn thing.
Tweet a link, and tag @Chad_Floyd, and I’ll give you a shoutout during next Monday’s DudeYouPodcast. Or tell me why I’m wrong in the comments section (HINT: I picked Stanford to win the Pac-12 North).