If you can't already tell, we've been bitten by the medical hardship scholarship bug. If anyone out there can help shed some light on the topic it would be greatly appreciated. In the meantime we are going to look for cases of players who we know were injured badly enough to be unable to continue to contribute to the team on the field, yet remained on football scholarship and remained part of the team.
Despite how warn and fuzzy it feels to hear that an injured player is given a free ride to continue his education as long as he leaves the football team to free up a scholarship for another player, we believe that guys in this situation, unless they simply can't walk, should be allowed to stay with the team, work hard at whatever capacity they can, and continue to earn their scholarship by working as hard as they can, instead of just kicking them to the curb with a free meal ticket in order to avoid APR penalties, but then again, we believe in commitment and teaching guys commitment by sticking with them through injuries and continuing to mold and shape them through the 4 most life-altering years of their lives. Of course we're not getting paid $4 Million Dollars a year to win football games either, though.
Maybe for some coaches the pressure to win is so great that they don't have a problem talking a kid into leaving the team and taking a medical hardship scholarship (which we still don't understand how it works other than the player has to leave the team and he gets his education paid for).
First stop, Mike D'Andrea, former #1 linebacker recruit from the 2001 recruiting class.
"Mike D’Andrea (6-3, 248, Sr.) – D’Andrea was the third member of the shining 2001 recruiting class that included Clarrett and Zwick (and, of course, Smith) but, so far, Mike’s career at OSU has been plagued with bad luck and injuries. A man-child as a freshman, D’Andrea worked hard and saw some playing time backing up Matt Wilhelm but had shortened sophomore and junior seasons. His junior season ending with knee surgery. He sat out all of last year and seems to be struggling to get back in health for this season. If he can get everything together and stay healthy, OSU will be thick at middle linebacker."
Why was Mike D'Andrea not given a medical hardship scholarship so that Ohio State could replace him with a new recruit? Simply put, because that is not how Jim Tressel rolls. He doesn't oversign and he doesn't abuse the medical hardship scholarship thingy. Instead, Mike D'Andrea finished his degree while on a football scholarship and watched the last 33 football games of his college career from the sidelines, with no real hope of ever seeing the field in a meaningful way.
Here's a nice summary of Mike D'Andrea's time at Ohio State: http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=10399&draftyear=2007&genpos=ILB
Obviously there is a fine line between protecting a player that is truly at risk and abusing a loophole to make room for an overstuffed roster. It's hard not to be suspicious of medical hardships that come during spring and summer practice and conditioning when a roster is oversigned and no matter what players have to be released or the school will face NCAA violations for being over the limit of 85.
Simply put, we would not be so suspicious of medical hardships that Nick Saban and Butch Davis dole out if their rosters weren't so heavily oversigned. Even if you submit to the notion that the medical hardships are legit, the fact that they oversigned ahead of time still leaves us feeling as though they are taking advantage of a loophole. We'll state this again, coaches should have to prove where a scholarship is coming from before it is given out. If a player is going to take a medical hardship then his scholarship shouldn't be given out until he is officially removed from the team.
What football player do you know of that suffered career-ending injuries but remained on football scholarship and remained with the team until they finished school? We want to know!