When all's said and done, though, Humphries' most significant accomplishment may be the glorious example he set as a scholar-athlete. Says Schembechler, "All Stefan Humphries stands for is everything this game is supposed to be about. Football is always important to him, but never, never to the exclusion of academics." And there's the rub. Why can so few athletes successfully combine big-time sports and big-time academics?
Says Anne Monterio, director of academic services for the College of Engineering, "Are athletics and academics incompatible? Well, athletics and engineering—very definitely. Neither side is very giving about relaxing its demands." Canham says, "They're not incompatible, but they're very difficult to combine." Adds Duderstadt, "Usually, you have to compromise on one or the other." Humphries is cautious on the subject of games and brains. Do they mix? Long pause. Real long pause. Finally he says, "They can."
But do they?
Pause. Long pause. Real long pause. At last he says, "It takes a lot of commitment, a lot of discipline. Sometimes I miss out on what the normal student might experience—like getting involved in clubs, time to sit around and talk, go to parties. I used to think how nice it would be to have time to spend an afternoon in a pickup basketball game. I find myself always wanting another hour. Just one more. It's hard to sit up and study when you're tired and your body is sore. It takes inner motivation."
So the two mix, sort of?
Pause. Long pause. Real long pause. Finally he says, "Professors here aren't too tolerant of athletes flunking classes and just getting by. The truth is, playing football at this level is a real disadvantage academically. I have to admit it. But in the growing it makes you do as a person, it's an advantage."
So you could have gotten a better education without football?
Serious silence. Hello? Stefan? The lights are on in there, but is anybody home? Finally, he says quietly, "No." Feel free to translate that as "Yes."
Richard Scott, an engineering professor and Humphries' adviser, agrees. "What's his average—3.6, 3.7?" says Scott. "He's about reaching academic saturation." But obviously racing through Humphries' fertile mind—don't be tricked by his sleepy eyes and his demeanor, which suggest he's stuck for an answer when somebody says hello—are memories of those weeks when football required 50 hours, studying another 30, and classes and labs 15.
Humphries' father, Thornton, is the principal of the Everglades Traditional Middle School in Fort Lauderdale. Thornton makes sure not only that his school gives out the same number of awards for academic achievements as for athletic accomplishments but also that the trophies are the same size. "The two can mix," he says, "but a young person has to want them to mix. The big problem is that sports bring immediate recognition while nobody sees an A being made in chemistry. The benefit of that A is down the road. What has to be emphasized is that education is the way you become successful. Stefan had the background when he went to Michigan to compete academically as well as athletically. However, you don't start preparing for that in high school. You start on the first day of kindergarten."