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Searching for a virtuous football program

BY IAN MARTIN | NOVEMBER 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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Just two weeks ago, Penn State was the standard of how to run a clean football program in the murky NCAA. With a Washingtonian virtue, it was a successful team with a lack of NCAA violations and arrests; the combination gave the Nittany Lions the honor of being the model program.

But any time the words "child sexual abuse" become an option for your institution in a word-association game, the title must be stripped. So what program can usurp the throne for "not-corrupt and actually decent college football program?" It's tough to determine.

Here, by my subjective judgment, are the criteria needed to put a program on a pedestal:

1. Four or fewer major NCAA infractions since the governing body began to examine such cases in 1953.

2. At least one national championship and one BCS bowl victory. In other words, teams need both historic and recent success.

3. Fewer than 16 players on the roster with police records — that being the number Penn State had in 2010. This is what eliminates Iowa, by the way, because the Hawkeyes had 18 in 2010.
This doesn't leave many schools. So, who to worship? Warning: The pickings are slim.

Texas

On-field: Three BCS wins in four appearances, two AP, one BCS national championship

Off-field: Two players with police records, no major infractions in last 10 years

Hated more for their pageantry than their play, the Longhorns' passion could be the reason they're not seen as the burnt-orange standard. While Bevo would be a wonderful idol, Texas' "us-against-America" mentality would never allow outsiders to embrace the Longhorns.

TCU

On-field: One BCS win in two appearances, one AP national championship

Off-field: No arrests, one of two Division-I schools known to perform background checks on recruits

Sneaking into the mix because of the 1938 AP National Champion Horned Frogs (who could forget 'em?), now-coach Gary Patterson seems to run a squeaky-clean program down in Fort Worth. No player on last year's roster had an arrest record, and the team has never been better at the sport of football. But TCU isn't nationally prominent enough to become a personified role model.

Therefore, America's new exemplary football program must be:

Duke Basketball

On-field: No BCS wins in zero appearances (this includes stats from the Blue Devils football program); four national championships

Off-field: No major infractions, no arrests

The gloomy conclusion from this brief study of some studies was that there is no nationally prominent example for a football team anymore.

While the Dukies certainly aren't embraced by all of the USA, it would be tough to find someone who doesn't respect the program. Without controversy since Corey Maggette accepted payments from an AAU coach — which happened while Maggette was still in high school — the Cameron Crazies have witnessed a very good and very legal crop of players.

So college football, and college sports, Coach K is the new JoePa. He's the only coach worthy of rioting for.

Note: Arrest records are from a March 2011 Sports Illustrated study, and all NCAA infractions can be found at the NCAA legislative services database.


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