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UCLA’s Josh Rosen is one of the better quarterbacks in college football, but that doesn’t mean he approves of the student-athlete lifestyle.
In a recent interview with Matt Hayes of Bleacher Report, Rosen offered some insightful comments on the experience of balancing football and academics. He believes that certain aspects of student-athlete life, such as incredibly compressed schedules and a lack of compensation, are unfair to players who have ambitions beyond the NFL. He also believes that the presence of so many players who aren’t focused on school creates an environment that does not value academics.
“Look, football and school don’t go together. They just don’t. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. There are guys who have no business being in school, but they’re here because this is the path to the NFL. There’s no other way. Then there’s the other side that says raise the SAT eligibility requirements. OK, raise the SAT requirement at Alabama and see what kind of team they have. You lose athletes and then the product on the field suffers.”
Rosen dismissed the early graduations of players like Deshaun Watson, who took three years to earn a sociology degree from Clemson, as a counterargument, saying that not all majors are created equal.
“If I wanted to graduate in three years, I’d just get a sociology degree,” he said. “I want to get my MBA. I want to create my own business. When I’m finished with football, I want a seamless transition to life and work and what I’ve dreamed about doing all my life. I want to own the world.”
Rosen, the owner of a 135.8 passer rating in 19 games as a Bruin, is considered one of the most intriguing quarterback prospects in the country and could be a high selection in the 2018 NFL Draft. In today’s league, even backup quarterbacks have significant earning power, so just a few seasons could potentially set him up for life.
But Rosen doesn’t just want to prepare for life after football as well as he can — he also recognizes that most NCAA athletes will never sniff the professional ranks.
“You have a bunch of people at the universities who are supposed to help you out, and they’re more interested in helping you stay eligible,” he said. “At some point, universities have to do more to prepare players for university life and help them succeed beyond football. There’s so much money being made in this sport. It’s a crime to not do everything you can to help the people who are making it for those who are spending it.”
Rosen isn’t the first athlete to call for a better, more balanced experience for student-athletes — Richard Sherman famously addressed the issue during a 2015 press conference, while former Syracuse cornerback Julian Whigham sounded off just recently. But it’s refreshing to hear a current student summarize the issue in such plain terms.
Rosen and UCLA will kick off their season on September 3, when they host Texas A&M.