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If you thought American colleges and universities were all about thugging it up and diagramming the Z-scheme, you’d be surprised to learn how big of a deal football is. Heck, if you were to visit some universities on Saturday afternoon in autumn, you’d be surprised to learn that you were on the grounds of an institute of higher learning. And it’s not just the four year colleges and universities that can be called Football-U.

California has the best public university system of any state in the US. Multiple University of California schools are ranked as top national universities. On top of that, the state also has the California State University system and a ton of community colleges.

Only five of the public universities in California field Division I-A football teams, out of the seven DI-A schools in the state. But 72 of the community colleges field football teams — four more than the 68 teams in the rest of the country combined. A recent expose in the San Diego Union Tribune aims to find out where the money comes from to support those football programs (also, see here).

Because community college football teams don’t bring in tons of revenue, the schools are investing lots of money in football. This comes at a time when the community college system is struggling to make ends meet and employing many part-time faculty. This is — yet another — story of the conflicts between university academics and university athletics. I’d be interested to know what one particular blogger thinks about this.

At least you can’t say that the California community college system isn’t producing talent. The article points out that O.J. Simpson, Warren Moon, Frank Gifford and John Madden all started their careers in California JUCOs. Within the last ten years, the local JUCO where I grew up produced Chad Johnson and Steve Smith — Chad moved out there because partially because of his cousin Keyshawn. Even the four year JUCO down the block produce a Heisman Trophy winner.

(Via The Wizard of Odds.)