Open Mic: The Rutgers Debate—Does Good Football Equal a Better School?

Adam HelfgottCorrespondent IJuly 6, 2008

For years prior to Greg Schiano's arrival at Rutgers, many students and alumni argued that Rutgers football was in such bad shape that the school should move down a division and put all its focus mainly on academics and smaller sports.

Today, Rutgers has a rising football program that has spread the Rutgers name across America for three straight seasons.

Applications at the university have more than doubled due to the football exposure, which has brought new students from different parts of the country to Piscataway.

The Rutgers 1000, a Rutgers anti-athletics organization that strongly wanted Rutgers to move to Division I-AA years ago and was most recently outraged at the new stadium expansion, have unfairly labeled new students as "slobs who bring no academic success to the university and who came to Rutgers only for football."

These comments were made on a news program on WRSU this past spring when members of the Rutgers 1000 came in to debate the proposed stadium expansion.  Instead, the group was met by my co-host on my sports talk show for WRSU who abruptly called the Rutgers 1000 out on many of their false accusations.

The basis of the argument for the Rutgers 1000 was that big time athletic schools attract students who only care about sports and bring no academic prestige to the school.

It is clear many of the claims from the Rutgers 1000 are simply idiotic and have no backing to them.

But where they stand on athletics does raise some interesting questions.

Does having a good football program make you a better school?

Do you want students applying to Rutgers based on the fact it is now becoming a well-known athletic school?

To me, a good football program will not make you a better school.  What it can do is attract students it would not normally attract just on academics alone.  These new students who are coming to Rutgers are attracted to sports but also can perform well in the classroom.

Not every student who likes sports is a "slob."  I am one of those students who loves sports yet does well in class.

I dare the Rutgers 1000 to say I am a slob.  If they don't like the fact I have a 3.44 GPA and go to every football game, then too bad.  They can have fun sitting home on Saturdays while everyone else comes together as a community to root for Rutgers.

The overall scheme of things recently has shown that the success of the football team has spread the Rutgers name to every part of the country.

Hats, shirts, jerseys, and car magnets from Rutgers are visible everywhere in the New York area now.  This can keep high school students from wanting to go away to other schools.

Rutgers is a great academic school, and a young student could be watching a game on ESPN and like the fact Rutgers is a good football school also.  Then if that student decides to apply to Rutgers, he or she will find out how great its academics are as well.

No one should judge students based on the fact if they like sports.  It's people like the Rutgers 1000 who start these false claims that students cannot be into sports and academics.

This coming from a group that didn't know that the Rutgers football team was one of only six Football Bowl Subdivision programs to be ranked in the top 10 percent in the APR scores.

Rutgers was the lone state university on the list and the only institution to have its football team ranked in the top 10 percent of the APR and to have won a bowl game last season.

Guess the football players don't listen to the Rutgers 1000 either.  Seems like they enjoy sports and do well in class as well!