Arkansas football is ranked second in a new top 25 from Sports Illustrated and CBS. In this case, that’s a bad thing. The report ranks football programs in Sports Illustrated’s 2010 pre-season top 25 in terms of how many players had criminal records. Arkansas’s team tied for second with Iowa’s with 18 players charged.

The reporting does not break down the crime for specific schools. That may come later; I suspect this is a multi-part deal. But in the aggregate, 7% of the players that make up the teams preseason top 25 had been charged or cited with a crime. Among the nearly 300 incidents, nearly 40% included serious offenses. More than 100 were for drug and alcohol offenses (most of Arkansas’s 18, I believe). And race didn’t play a major factor: 48% of those with a criminal history were black and 44.5% were white. Only two of the schools in the top 25, Oklahoma and Tulsa, said they did background checks on their athletes.

The implication isn’t much of a shocker: Athletic ability erases questionable character.

UPDATE: A Boy Named Sooie points me to an Auburn sports blog that takes the report to task for not providing context. The SI findings say of the 7% charged, 4% were charged or convicted. But according to a broader survey of college students cited by the Auburn blog, the average number of college students with criminal records? 3.45%. Maybe SI will provide more context in further reporting, but a half-a-person difference between crime rate of the average college student and the top football players doesn’t quite signify that college football is especially thug-y.


UPDATE II: Jeff Long responds with a breakdown of the arrests.

· Seven were traffic violations that did not involve alcohol or any other illegal substances

· Three additional violations involved driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol

· Five involved illegal use or possession of alcohol

· Two involved marijuana possession

· One involved shoplifting

“It is worth noting that none of these violations involved any acts of violence. Unfortunately, the article placed our students in a misleading context, one which failed to distinguish the nature and severity of violations from those featured in the story.”

Full response on the jump.