DEMAREE: A Football Culture Change

Do the current academic woes of some very talented football players indicate a trend of things to come? Or are these academic woes a result of Kentucky entering the world of big time football recruits, where a recruit's academics are not always the best?

To what is attributed to the, what appears to be an increase in academic casualties on the UK football team? There is a propagation of ideas and directions that are presently pointed to for the root cause of the trend. Again, the picture is nebulous for the average observer. It is not what it appears to be when looking at the big picture. With the loss of Gabe Wallace, Lonnell Dewalt, Chad Anderson, and possibly Tony Dixon, the picture looks bleak. It's only 5% of the team population. Primarily, it's because they are some of the team's best players, which causes anxious moments.

The team and it's recruiting is slowly going through a metamorphosis that parlays into a culture change. The University of Kentucky football program is now recruiting a more quality physical brand of player. When that happens, sometimes as a results of trying to recruit players that can player on a higher level in the SEC, you sometime sacrifice in some academic slippage.

Upon the return to UK, the former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Archer stated that he felt the university was not dedicated to the plight of have a top program during his previous stint. He said that Bill Curry and recruiting coordinator Tommy Limbaugh would not allow them to go head-to-head with big boys in recruiting. Consequently they wound up recruiting against the Mid American Conference and the like for athletes.

What you are witnessing in football at UK is commonplace in major football venues in many top college programs. For instance, in their what's obvious obsessed quest to surpass UK in the two major sports and in particular football, the entire city of Louisville have buried their head in the sand.

Over the last several years, U of L football has recruited and dealt with several questionable athletes both academically and morally. Things that players like Michael Josiah, J.R. Russell, and many others got away with would've gotten them a release from the team at UK. There was actually a convicted felon in the case of Jonta` Woodard that was allowed to stay on the team. Then head coach John L. Smith said, "I want to save him." Just this past recruiting class, U of L signed a convicted felon.

There are many other examples to point to where some character and academics has been sacrificed to get a great athlete. In the recruiting process, Tennessee took o-lineman Jason Respert when Georgia and Florida, because of some character issues, would not touch him. Victor McClure at Tennessee and Keith Henderson at Georgia are just a couple examples of athletes failing in the classroom after their freshman years and were sent to junior college for a year. This is the same route planned for UK's Gabe Wallace and Lonnell Dewalt, which to my recollection have never happened at UK.

A couple of years ago, there was a much-ballyhooed recruitment at the University of Miami, Florida of a convicted felon and a very bad actor on some of his recruiting visits but the Hurricanes were not deterred.

The old buzz phrase at UK dating back through the Jerry Claiborne era was - "yeah, but we lead the SEC in academics." That's what they have been saying in Notre Dame for the last decade but look where they are in football's elite. Paul Hornug was crucified for some of the comments he made about the football predicament at ND but I contend he was on the money.

So as the culture a UK changes in recruiting a better brand of football player, the football fortunes will begin to change.

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