It was just two years ago that many analysts were blaming Notre Dame’s high academic standards for their dwindling prowess in football. People were arguing that is was a new era and that a school like ND just couldn’t compete anymore with the likes of Texas or Oklahoma, which are less rigorous academically.

Then in comes new coach Charlie Weiss, who turns the Fighting Irish around in his first year. With the 2006 season about to begin, ND is being ranked either 1 or 2 by most experts. Combine this development with the NCAA’s new focus on academics, where they are considering banning teams from bowl berths and placing other sanctions on programs with poor academic performance, and you’ve got a whole new can of worms when it comes to college football and it’s place in the world of education and professional sports.

No doubt that NCAA football is the minor league training ground for the NFL and a major fundraising vehicle and moneymaker for a hundred or so schools. But then there’s the other part—the guys who, after their final year of eligibility has run out, find themselves with no degree, no focus and no future. Will academic sanctions help this problem? Might they keep a top team out of a national championship game? Will schools just internally inflate grades? Should college football programs become actual minor league programs, where the players don’t go to school or don’t have to go to school?

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