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By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - How unbelievable would it be to see this scene?

It's early February, signing day for high school athletes around the country to decide where they'll be going to college.

The ESPN cameras are set up in the school gymnasium to televise the decision to the millions of folks who concern themselves with such things.

Where the cameras are doesn't matter. Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, take your pick.

It's the decision that matters.

Some big stud is about to make one college football coach very happy and the rest will move on to try and corral another big stud.

The stud who has drawn the raves of all of the recruiting websites - hence, the ESPN cameras - sits behind a desk with five college hats in front of him. Alabama, LSU, Southern Cal, Miami, Nebraska. His final five choices, or so we think. All of these heavyweights, and every other NCAA football heavyweight, wants this kid. Needs this kid (He could be a basketball player, too, but football carries more cache).

And that's when something funny happens. And something surreal. And something really cool.

The stud, after making the obligatory thank yous to all of the coaches who recruited him, and to his parents, and to his high school coach, and to the school principal, and to the kid down the street, says he's had a change of heart.

With that sentence, every other big-time coach in the land thinks he's back in the game. The kid is going to do a 180 and choose me.

Then the kid clears his throat and says, "After thinking about this all the time, and weighing my future, I've decided I'm going to go to (drum roll) Harvard."

The college football recruiting world stops for a moment. Did he just say he's going to Harvard? The No. 1 recruit in the country, the surefire All-America, the future Pro Bowler, is going to play in the Ivy League?

Wouldn't you love to see it? Just once? I know I would.

Yes, you're saying the Ivy League doesn't give athletic scholarships. I know that, but the Ivy League also isn't stupid. Or poor.

If a kid, such as this mythical stud, wanted to go to Harvard or Yale or Princeton, the powers-that-be at those places would find a way (read a lot of grants) to get it done.

What a boon for the school. The league itself. And for every other kid in the future who would now see their choices had just expanded to include the finest educational institutions in the country.

(Disclaimer: I am not an Ivy League grad. If I had even applied to an Ivy League school oh so many years ago, they'd still be chuckling at my transcript. But I do love Ivy League sports).

What made me think of this came from watching the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and looking at a team like Kentucky, which is full of players who stay for one year and then go pro.

That just isn't right. They've taken away a spot from another student and if they flounder as a pro or get hurt, where does it leave them? Not in a good spot.

Even Kentucky coach John Calipari doesn't like the one-and-done idea, but since it doesn't break any rules, and he's paid to win games, he and plenty of other coaches do it.

That's why seeing a big-time recruit choose the Ivy League, and the education, is so appealing.

There were six Ivy League grads on NFL rosters at the start of last season (plus others on practice squads) with the best known being Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (Harvard). A handful of Ivy Leaguers might get drafted by the NFL in April.

The point being, picking an Ivy for college doesn't mean you've surrendered your future. You've enhanced it.

Heaven knows, wherever you play, if you can play, the scouts will find you. And if you can't play, there's really nothing wrong with an Ivy education, not that I'd know.



Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

Copyright 2012