These schools put the student back in student-athlete

Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (“How Ya Like Me Now?” buttons featuring the smiling face of Houston Nutt [1] sold separately in Fayetteville, Ark.):

A September For The Record Books — And The Book-Smart
One month down in this football season and it’s starting to get a little kooky out there. The rash of upsets Saturday quickly shaved the number of unbeaten teams to 18 — and don’t be surprised if Ball State (2) is the last one standing. Honk if you had that pegged in August.

In recapping this September, what stands out to The Dash is the revenge of the nerds — the success of elite academic schools. Apparently the phrase “student-athlete” is not an oxymoron after all: A six-pack of schools that rank in the top 20 — that is, the top 20 national universities for 2009, according to U.S. News & World Report — are winning on the field as well.

“Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing?” said Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald (3) with a laugh. “When did the ‘student-athlete’ term become lost? … The term ‘student-athlete’ hasn’t changed at our schools.