Making the morning rounds.
• Wow, those numbers sound high. Wait, are those numbers high? Sports Illustrated goes large Wednesday with its cover story on crime rates in college football, the result of a six-month investigation in collaboration with CBS Sports that finds, among other things, that 7 percent of players on teams ranked in SI's 2010 preseason top 25 had some kind of criminal record in their past, almost 40 percent of which were "serious" incidents. Only two teams in the study, Oklahoma and TCU, perform formal background searches on recruits.
The article is long on anecdote – including the story of Pitt defensive end Jabaal Sheard, right, who was allowed to return to the team after allegedly throwing another man through a window last summer – and woefully short on context. Questions you won't find answered:
How do those numbers compare to the college population at large? Best answer after 10 minutes of research: According to a 2009-10 study, about 3.5 percent of college students have a criminal record – half the rate of players in the SI/CBS study. But as Slow States points out, less than two-thirds of the players who make up the piece's Big Number – 7 percent – were convicted, pled guilty or "paid some penalty" for the crimes represented in that number, bringing the football players' rates within one percent of their peers'.
How does that compare to the entire population at large? Best answer after 10 minutes of research: Based on 2000 Census data, about 6.6 percent of the population will serve prison time at some point in their lifetime. That number jumps significantly (to somewhere between 9 percent and 11 percent) for males, higher than the simple "criminal record" rate in the SI/CBS study, which includes players who were actually incarcerated. About 4.4 percent of the population was arrested for some kind of crime in 2009.
That's without an attempt to take into account the much higher arrest and incarceration rates for young, black males – 1 in 9 black males between ages 20 and 34 was incarcerated in 2008 – a group that is significantly overrepresented (compared to the population at large) in the sample size of the SI/CBS study. This is a subject that deserves a book, and for six months' work, you'd think we would have gotten at least a good summary chapter of that book. Take two pages with a very large grain of salt. [Sports Illustrated]
• The rap sheet. Another piece of anecdotal evidence for the mill: Auburn running back Eric Smith was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence on Feb. 22, prompting his dismissal from the team over the weekend. Smith was also arrested (and suspended for a game) on third-degree assault for allegedly striking another student in July 2009. [al.com]
• Get well soon. Diminutive but hyper-productive Oregon State receiver/return man James Rodgers underwent a second surgery last week on his right knee, putting his return for the fall in further doubt. Rodgers has already been granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA following a season-ending injury in early October, but still isn't certain to be back at full speed by the start of the season. [The Oregonian]
• Freak is freakish. Speaking of "full speed," the best 40-yard dash time at the 2011 NFL combine officially belongs to Miami cornerback Demarcus Van Dyke, who turned in a blistering 4.28 on Tuesday. The most impressive showing of the entire weekend, though, might have come from LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, who tied for second with a 4.34-second dash at 219 pounds, raising his profile as the possible No. 1 overall pick next month. [NFL.com, Baton Rouge Advocate]
Quickly… Dan LeBatard glowers disapprovingly in the direction of ex-Miami athletic director Kirby Hocutt in the wake of his departure to Texas Tech. … Ranking the all-star coaching staffs by conference. … And if this is actually true, Miami's in a lot of trouble.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.