Sunday, December 31, 2017

Muscle head

I love college football too much. In recent years, I have overspent my valuable time watching games, almost always on TV versus seated in the bleachers on a crisp fall afternoon.

Yesterday, I saw something rare during ESPN's telecast of the 2017 Orange Bowl contest between the University of Wisconsin Badgers and "the U" (as in the University of Miami) Hurricanes. During the game, the broadcast team of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Molly McGrath highlighted the off-field achievements of star Hurricane receiver, Braxton Berrios. Turns out, the talented senior graduated December 15 with a near-perfect grade point average, a whopping 3.961. That means he probably scored one B in one course while earning a double major in finance and entrepreneurship and Valedictorian ranking from Miami's School of Business Administration.

Unfortunately, you're not likely to hear many stories like this one. However, if a college baller goes to jail for a DUI, smacking his girlfriend or shoplifting a shirt from a department store, it will make national headlines. There is actually a Web site called College Football Arrest Nation that lists players who have tangled with the cops. When I Googled "college football academic stars" I don't see anything comparable. Just a list of the nations top 25 college football teams ranked by academics.

Ask any fan who won the Heisman Trophy for best pigskin player in the land and you'll get the answer before you can say "Boomer Sooner!" But quiz the same group about who snagged the William V. Campbell Trophy for 2017 and I'll bet you hear crickets. The National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Hall of Fame awards the hardware to the football player who demonstrates he's the best scholar-athlete in the land. That means the guy is also a leader community service.

With as much negative attention as the media gives to athletes who lose their way, we owe it to society to showcase those who counter the unfair stereotype. How about some high profile, front-page feature stories on the guys who earned William V. Campbell Trophy nominations? I want to learn more about these men who have developed impressive brain power while pumping iron and competing on the gridiron. What makes them tick? How do they balance school and the demands of sports? What are their dreams for life after the game?

By the way, Berrios was one of the finalists for the Campbell Trophy. University of Virginia linebacker, Micah Kiser is the 2017 winner, earning First Team All-America honors while leading the Atlantic Athletic Conference in tackles per game for the third consecutive season.

If you'd like to see Kiser in the spotlight he deserves, tune into the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship on January 8, 2018 where he'll be recognized during the game.

Many Heisman Trophy winners don't amount to much on the NFL stage. But the guy who hefts the William V. Campbell Trophy has already done some genuine heavy lifting in the game of life.

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