The Education Debate

The NCAA is essentially the feeder system to the NFL and after three years of playing in the NCAA players are eligible to declare for the draft. This means that many players have a decision in their third year of College. The decision is whether or not they should stay in school to get a degree or make the jump to the NFL and earn millions of dollars. This was the decision facing USC QB Matt Barkley who came in to focus late in the season as one of the best QBs in the NCAA. Barkley made his decision last week when he stated that he would stay at USC for his last year in school. This has become a familiar stage as last year the same decision was made by Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck. Luck decided to go back to Stanford for his last year to get his Architecture Degree and to have one more chance at the National Championship and Heisman Trophy. Luck finished this year as the runner-up in the Heisman again and did not make the National Championship but he will now have a degree and will still be the #1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Barkley will hope that he can have more success in his final year as he will have every opportunity to do just that. Barkley is considered one of the best QBs in the league this year but next year he will be considered the best QB in the NCAA, along with Robert Griffin III. This means that he will get more focus in his last year as NFL teams will be able to see him much more than they did this past year. Barkley will also gain a lot more consideration for the Heisman Trophy, which he was not considered for this year, and could win. Along with all of this Barkley will also lead his team in the first year of bowl eligibility since the Reggie Bush scandal saw the Trojans banned from the postseason for two years. This means that Barkley can lead the Trojans, who were very good this year, to a possible National Championship Game berth. Barkley likely would have been a 2nd round draft pick in this year’s draft but coming back could make him the most sought after QB in the 2013 draft. The decision for Barkley to stay makes good business sense if he hopes to have a good start in the NFL but there is one more reason that makes the decision to go back to USC a good one.

Although the NCAA is a factory for the NFL it is also an organization that provides all of its athletes an opportunity to gain an education. Many of the athletes that play on these teams are from places where an education is almost unheard of but football is an escape and an opportunity to make a better life for themselves in something more than football. The idea of scholar athletes has been lost along the way though as many people have claimed that a decision to return is a terrible one. Their idea is that these athletes should come out as soon as they can to capitalize on good seasons and to prevent an injury in their senior year that could hurt them in the draft. It is an attitude of get your money while you can rather than get an education. Something is wrong with this thought process as the education that these athletes get is great and can be used for something beyond football. How many times have there been stories of football players not having anything to do when they retire. The lack of education is the main reason why many retired players suffer from depression as they have nothing to do beyond football. Getting an education can prevent this as it gives someone the credentials they need to have a career after football whose average career life is 2.5 years. For all of the Matt Barkley’s and Andrew Luck’s out there the decision to get an education is always the right way to go. Whether or not someone wants to say they are missing out on a lot of money an education is the best thing that can help you for a life after football.

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