December 13, 2004 [LINK]

JMU vies for national title

The James Madison University "Dukes" football team beat the William and Mary "Tribe" in the NCAA Division I-AA semifinals game in Williamsburg last Friday, by a score of 48-34. (Talk about two weird university team names! "Dukes" refers to the pet bulldog of a former university president, not to nobility.) JMU will play the Montana Grizzlies in the Division I-AA Championship Game this Friday in Chattanooga. See This is a big morale booster and great P.R. for an up-and-coming public university. One of my students at JMU last year was a football player, and I was impressed by his serious attitude and hard work in keeping up with studies while putting in long hours in practice sessions and team meetings. Meanwhile, the U.Va. Cavaliers turned down an invitation to appear in one of the pre-Christmas "consolation" bowls after they lost to Virginia Tech a couple weeks ago, because the game is being held during finals week. Thank goodness there are still exemplary institutions whose athletic programs take scholarship seriously. It's ironic there is a national championship for the second tier universities but not the top tier. I've always been deeply skeptical of having a national championship series for college-level football, and the controversies over the BCS serve to validate that. It would only hasten the trend toward the professionalization of college sports, but it seems that's where things are heading.