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Monday, April 15, 2024

Back to the Glory Days: Scott Carrell


UC Davis professor talks sports, opportunities athletics provides

Ever wondered if any college professors once played collegiate athletics? This second article in a series of three continues to follow and question different UC Davis professors to talk about their collegiate athletic playing days and why they decided to take a different path from athletics to become a professor.

This week, The California Aggie had the chance to sit down with Scott Carrell, a professor of economics and the Faculty Athletics Representative at UC Davis. At the graduate level, Carrell teaches public finance, and at the undergraduate level, introductory microeconomics. He played college football for the Air Force Falcons.


Have you spent your whole life playing football, or was it something you just started playing in college?

I first played tackle football when I was seven years old. I played in second and third grade. I moved to Iowa and they didn’t have tackle football until seventh grade, so I had a three or four year period where I didn’t play, then played since seventh grade all through high school. I was then recruited by a number of teams to play and ended up going into the Air Force Academy.


How was your experience in collegiate athletics?

I want to start by saying that I grew up in a small town in Iowa with 11,000 people and the default was not to go to college or go to community college. What being recruited to play football did was open my eyes to going to different places. I had never thought about serving in the military until those schools started recruiting me. One thing that athletics does, even at UC Davis, is it brings students here who may have never thought about going here, which is unique. My playing career was relatively short-lived — I entered the Air Force Academy in 1991 and was doing quite well. The Air Force requires you to do basic training when you arrive and I lost a bunch of weight, which made me even more undersize then I was, and it became very hard for me to regain that weight, so I got cut the beginning of my sophomore year.


Why did you choose to become an economics professor after your collegiate football was done at the Air Force?

I am an economics professor by accident, so to speak. I was an economics undergraduate major so once I was cut from the team I thought about transferring to get another opportunity to play, but ultimately decided to stay. I ended up an economics major because it was the class I liked the most and we had to declare majors. My GPA rose quite a lot when I stopped playing football, which is also why I admire the high level of academics of the athletes here at UC Davis. The Air Force Academy contacted me in the future and said that they needed instructors to teach and if I wanted to go to grad school. I went to the University of Florida and actually fell in love with the field of economics and the economics of education. I left the Air Force in 2005, spent two years at Dartmouth College and been at UC Davis since 2011.


Why did you choose to come to UC Davis to teach?

Growing up in Iowa and living in Colorado, even as a professor, I had never even heard of UC Davis. A job opening came up in a unique job market and so it was one of about 100 jobs I applied for. I went to the interview and learned a lot about the place [UC Davis]. I came out to visit in my on-campus interview and thought this was a really special place, and it’s a shame more people don’t know about it.


Do you ever miss playing football?

Absolutely. I still have some regrets about choosing not to go back and play when I had the opportunity. I have been a longtime youth football coach here in Davis, and last year was my last year of coaching the eighth-grade team. I was also the president of the Davis Senior Davis Youth Football Program. I love the game and it is very much a large part of who I am and became. I do not think I would be here as a professor if it wasn’t for the opportunities that athletics gave me.


Being a former athlete, do you have any general advice for current and/or future student athletes?

Athletics is just a pathway to success, it teaches you teamwork, discipline, etc. The skills that you learn in becoming an athlete are those skills that make you successful in life. I like athletics because it is a gateway for learning opportunities and brings people to places, like UC Davis, that wouldn’t otherwise be here.


Written by: Ryan Bugsch — sports@theaggie.org


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