Sunday, January 1, 2012

Georgia Tech Administration Has A Tough Decision To Make

Recruiting is the life blood of any college football program. If you don't recruit better players than your opponents you are not likely to succeed.

Yes, coaching is important too but the most highly regarded coaches usually have the best players. It is not simply a coincidence.

Just like any business the bigger your recruiting pool is the more likely you are to attract top talent.

I have argued for a while that Georgia Tech's recruiting pool is more limited by its lack of academic offerings more so than its entrance requirements and have urged it would be in the best interest academically and athletically to expand.

Recent events by the State of Georgia Board of Regents (BOR)(and some time to reflect on their decision) have made me realize Georgia Tech will likely never be able to significantly expands its academic offerings. This was cemented when instead of expanding programs at an institution ranked in the top five nationally in engineering, the BOR decided to install new engineering programs at the University of Georgia. These new academic programs, which are the second most expensive behind medical, were added during the state's biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Tech has to operate with a reduced recruiting pool due to a lack of academic offerings and stringent academic requirements added on top.

Yes, Georgia Tech does not require its recruits to clear the same level as a non student-athlete. But so does everyone else and Georgia Tech's student-athlete requirements are still above nearly all of its competition on the football field.

I don't care if Nick Saban, Les Miles or Urban Meyer is coaching at Georgia Tech. They are not going to win big consistently without top talent. Meyer turned down the Notre Dame job before accepting Florida when the school refused to lower academic requirements. Now, Brian Kelly is getting more players the elite programs want because the school has bent.

Since Georgia Tech does not have control over their academic offerings due to inaction by the state, should they change their requirements?

They have before and it has brought the most successful seasons the Yellow Jackets have seen in the BCS era, including three straight wins over UGA and the 11 win season in 2009. It probably also played a part in poor graduation rates under George O'Leary and the academic ineligibility of 10 players prior to the 2003 season, an embarrassing ordeal for the school.

Tech stakeholders are split over the academic vs football debate. Some don't want Georgia Tech to lower their requirements for one recruit just to compete better in football. Being able to win without sacrificing standards is a source of pride. Others will argue the value of the Georgia Tech degree will not be cheapened by a dozen or so kids getting a special exemption because they play football well.

School President Bud Peterson has to keep his constituents happy and that includes academics as well as fans. His salary is what it is to get these tough decisions right.

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