Big Ten Kickoff: Coaches Press Conference

Questions about title games, the ever-expanding schedule and NCAA changes to practice rules elicited some emphatic responses at press conferences held during the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon.

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Michigan coach Lloyd Carr discussed the ongoing debate regarding academic reform in collegiate athletics; the earlier practice schedule and the continuing prospect of a longer season, whether or not that includes a Big Ten Championship game:


"I think if you have studied the history of the game there has always been this argument. Theodore Roosevelt, back at the turn of the century, spoke of the violence of the game. And of course academic reform has been going on forever. I do think that academic reform is important and I think it is necessary. But I think when you talk about academic reform and you talk about extending the season and playing a 12th game. I don't think those two match. I think something is wrong there. We have a group called the collegiate athletes coalition that wants to organize college athletes. There are a lot of issues out there.


"We are reporting (for fall camp) at Michigan on August 4th, the earliest date in history that we will be practicing. As a football coach, I love to coach, I love to play the games. I'd love to play 20 games. But I know this: we are not playing professional players. These student athletes go to class. I have read a number of articles by  people who have say they are not interested in academics. Let me tell you something. Throughout this country there are thousands, make it tens- or hundreds of thousands of young people who had an opportunity to go to college and get a college education because of the opportunity that was afforded them through athletic scholarships. Not every single guy is going to graduate. That is the goal, that is what we want to do. But to extend the season and to talk about academic reform. There is something wrong there.


"The truth is the 12th game will be played for money. I know a lot of people out there think that if you are going to play that 12th game you ought to take that money and pay the players. I'm not in favor of paying the players and I was a scholarship athlete so I know what it is like. But I just think that is a critical issue. But I hope that the presidents and NCAA, the people that are making those decisions, will do the right thing in that area."


Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo spoke at length about the new fall  practice rules:


"I don't think that the new legislation hurt. I've done 2-1-2-1. In other words, where you can't have two-a-days twice in a row. The change in college football is that you play year round so you have a better conditioned team reporting to camp. In the old days there was a reason for the two-a-days. The team was not in shape, you had 140 players on scholarship—things were different. I don't think there is anything wrong with the 2-1-2-1 system. I resent being told that I have to do it by people who don't know anything about football.


"I think the one rule that is absolutely a terrible rule and is absolutely anti-academic is freshmen don't come in early. I think that is an awful thing. My sophomore year of college was the first year that freshmen were eligible. So we had a bunch of freshmen thrown in with the old guys. They had never been on a college campus. They were just thrown into this incredible situation. About 10 years later they passed this rule that brought the freshman in early for five days. It was a fabulous rule. You worked with them on the field, they had academic orientation. You gave them a lot of really valuable things that you can't do any longer. So now in order to have the same amount of practices, they have eliminated the freshmen camp, they bring our older guys back, and to me that is biggest thing about the new rule. I will be curious about the wave of attrition we will have from the young freshman who comes in and is intimidated by the situation and hasn't had a chance to meet with an academic advisor and all of that stuff. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. In college basketball, prior to a players freshman year, you are allowed to pay for a student's summer school. They don't play until October 15th and they don't start the season until November. But in football, we start the season before they will ever take a class and yet you can't pay for summer school. I want to see the genius who made that one up."

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