UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen says college football and studying are incompatible

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen had plenty to say about the difficulties of being a student-athlete in a major college football program.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Just when it seemed as if the world might be spared another Josh Rosen think piece with the UCLA quarterback having gone into scramble-from-the-media mode, Bleacher Report released an interview Tuesday in which Rosen provided his opinion on what he considers the lunacy of playing college football while also slogging through schoolwork at a major university.

“Look, football and school don’t go together,” Rosen told the website last spring. “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.”


Perhaps it’s a good thing the Bruins don’t have the Crimson Tide on their schedule this season. Rosen said he had trouble juggling his football practice schedule with his intended coursework and when there was a conflict, football prevailed.

“Football really dents my ability to take some classes that I need,” said Rosen, an economics major. “There are a bunch of classes that are only offered one time. There was a class this spring I had to take, but there was a conflict with spring football, so ...”

Rosen was then asked if football won out.

“Well, you can say that,” Rosen replied.

Rosen has made a habit of being outspoken, criticizing a host of topics, including President Trump with a profane bandanna draped over a hat and the money-grubbing nature of college athletics. He wouldn’t go so far in his interview with Bleacher Report as to say some football players shouldn’t be in school.

“It’s not that they shouldn’t be in school,” Rosen said. “Human beings don’t belong in school with our schedules. No one in their right mind should have a football player’s schedule, and go to school. It’s not that some players shouldn’t be in school; it’s just that universities should help them more — instead of just finding ways to keep them eligible.

“Any time any player puts into school will take away from the time they could put into football. They don’t realize that they’re getting screwed until it’s too late. 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. 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 was then asked about those same players going on to NFL fortunes after being prepared by their college programs.

“Some do, absolutely,” Rosen said. “What about those who don’t? What did they get for laying their body on the line play after play while universities make millions upon millions? People criticize when guys leave early for the NFL draft, and then rip them when some guys who leave early don’t get drafted. [They say,] ‘Why did you leave school if you weren’t going to get drafted?’ I’ll tell you why: Because for a lot of guys, there is no other option. They were either leaving early [for the NFL] or flunking out. To me, that’s a problem within the system and the way we’re preparing student-athletes for the future away from football. Everyone has to be part of the process.”

The reporter mentioned Clemson’s Deshaun Watson and Artavis Scott having graduated in three years.

“I’m not knocking what those guys accomplished,” Rosen said. “They should be applauded for that. But certain schools are easier than others. … If I wanted to graduate in three years, I’d just get a sociology degree. 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. Every young person should be able to have that dream and the ability to access it. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”

Rosen is not scheduled to speak Tuesday with reporters who cover the team.

Twitter: @latbbolch