College football has long been a major part of American culture. From the tiniest private college to the Division I juggernauts, every football school has several basic things in common: players, coaches, a desire to win and an obligation to educate. But in many cases the desire to win has superseded all else and tainted the game and its traditions. This is a problem that cannot be ignored, yet neither can football and other "big-time" college sports just be eliminated from these institutions of higher education. Steps must taken to ensure that decisions are made with the student in mind rather than victories and the money that accompanies them. .
The root of this problem begins with the administrations at each university, which places the burden of winning games and acting as guardian for the players solely on the coach's shoulders. The Ohio State University has been a prime example of this at times. On January 2nd 2001, OSU fired head coach John Cooper despite the fact that he was one of the winningest coaches in the country during his 13-year tenure (112-43-4). The main reasons given for his dismissal? He never won a national championship, he had a 2-10-1 record against archrival Michigan, and his players had poor academic records (Maisel 21). Of course the administration does not accept any responsibility for the inadequate academic performance of the players, nor do they inquire as to why the students" professors may not have brought the in-class problems to anyone's attention. Above all else, it seems the student/athlete at this level is rarely held accountable for their own actions on or off the field. In his article regarding Cooper's firing, Sports Illustrated's Ivan Maisel highlights the seemingly unrealistic task many college coaches are charged with in addition to winning. He states that, "In college athletics the coach is responsible for his players" performance in the classroom and for their behavior off the field.