Dan Mullen, Mississippi State’s head coach, has said that keeping college football’s tradition is incredibly important in the face of the new play-off system coming in 2014.

He said: “The one thing I don’t want to see us lose is the tradition that is college football.  The great thing about the bowl system, we like talking different ways.  We want to talk education.  These guys are student-athletes.  This is not a professional sport.  They’re there to get an education.  But on the top end, there can only be one champion, we have to have this big extended playoff.  Where at the bowl system, we had a bunch of seniors leave winning a championship in their last football game last year.  What a great educational tool that is for them winning the Music City Bowl.  That’s their lasting memory of football.  The majority of them, that will be the last game they play.  I hope a lot of them get the opportunity to play professional football.  A lot, that will be their last opportunity.  The tradition that goes along with it, the excitement with the fan base, when you pull up to Nashville at the Music City Bowl, there’s 30,000 fans outside the stadium to meet the bus, what a neat experience that is for your players and fans. I hope we don’t lose any of the traditions and things that make college football special, you know, just because we want to form a playoff that right now there’s four teams.”

He added: “I’m sure there’s going to be discussions that whoever finished fifth is not going to be happy.”

One thing that Mullen said he worries about is the fact that student athletes are having to cope with rising academic standards, throwing out the age-old notion that players aren’t there to learn, they are there to play. Recently, NCAA team grade scores have been on the rise as the NCAA continues to threaten teams who score badly on their work that they will miss the post-season.

He said: “The biggest concern I’ve always seen in looking how it affects the big picture.  You look and say, Okay, recruiting, we have some guys that might have to academic redshirt.  That’s fine.  What it does, it takes numbers away, takes depth away. The one thing to me that’s disappointing is maybe give the guys an extra reward.  There might be a guy that is a great student, done everything the right way, that now because of depth concerns with other guys having academic redshirt, maybe you would have redshirted to give him a chance to develop and grow.  Now this young man has to go play on the field and essentially be punished for being great in school because now he only has four years with you.  He’s going to lose his opportunity to get a Masters because he had to play his first year. If you meet this standard, are above it, maybe you get five years of eligibility as a reward. You don’t have to make that tough decision if you’re going to redshirt those guys that qualified academically.  Everything was done more on a punishment basis, to punish the guys that didn’t do it, they’re going to have to academic redshirt and can’t play. I would have loved to see more of that approach taken and you reward guys for doing well instead of punishing guys that don’t do as well with their academic standards coming in from high school.”

 Quotes: RedandBlack.com

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