A rather new magazine called STACK, is the first magazine dedicated to helping high school athletes improve their performance safely and effectively. One of the things that this thorough, fact-checking magazine has done is compile a list of the Elite 50. The Elite 50 is a ranking of the best schools for academically minded athletes. After months of crunching numbers [wins, losses, championship titles, school rankings and academic progress], Stack listed a compilation of information that gives High School Student-Athletes a guide to choose a school that provides the right balance of academics and athletics.
Overall, Notre Dame cracked the Top 15 of the list at 13. I guess this is Stack's attempt of emulating the NCAA Overall Sports Trophy (NACDA Director's Cup, formerly the Sear's Director's Cup). Here's the breakdown of rankings in each sport: Women's Soccer(1), Women's Tennis(4), Men's Cross Country(4), Men's Soccer(4), Women's Cross Country(6), Lacrosse(6), Hockey(8), Men's Tennis(8), Football(12).
Being ranked 12th in football, I don't have a problem with, especially after this season's debacle. This is what the magazine had to say about it:
Notre Dame’s strong academics won’t be enough to keep football ranked 12th next year, after this season’s dismal performance. But the strength of women’s soccer (1), men’s soccer (4), men’s XC (4), women’s tennis (4), women’s XC (6), and men’s tennis (8) may keep them near the top-15 overall
Now here is my concern I have about this whole football ranking system. Stack used four academic and athletic performance categories (2008 U.S. News & World Report on America’s Best Colleges, Academic Progress Rate [APR], Athletic Performance, and STACK Factor) to determine the top 15 teams. The main area I really had a beef about was the APR. According to Stack, the APR:
Established by the NCAA in 2005, APRs gauge how well collegiate athletic programs move their student athletes toward graduation. Every team receives a rating based on the academic eligibility and retention of its players. Two points are awarded each season to every student-athlete who meets academic eligibility standards and who remains with the institution. A team’s APR is the total points earned by its members in a given period, divided by the total points possible. The highest rating is 1000. Teams that fail to reach minimum standards, which depend on the sport and its number of participants, risk NCAA sanctions.
Now here is where it gets interesting. Notre Dame's APR was at 964, while such great football factories like Auburn, Georgia, and Florida, are 967, 963, and 961, respectively. How in the world does Auburn have a higher APR rate than Notre Dame? I can live with the fact that little brother, Boston College (976), and California (965) have higher APR's than the Irish, but definitely not WAR EAGLE, err, I mean the Tigers.
With the players we do have that don't transfer, Notre Dame does do a wonderful job of keeping their players eligible and eventually graduating within five years. In fact, Notre Dame has had a 98.69% of football players that have graduated from the institution since 1962. Also, Notre Dame was tops in the country this season with Northwestern for having the highest graduation rate (95%) in Division I football. So how come Auburn was ranked higher in APR than Notre Dame? Your guess is as good as mine.
According to the NCAA, Notre Dame is the best at retaining their student-athletes from year-to-year, and graduating them in a timely manner. In their latest Federal Graduation Data, Notre Dame was again at the top. In football, the NCAA looks at three things for a particular cohort: 99-00 graduation rate, four-class average, and student-athlete graduation success rate. Below is the breakdown of numbers:
Notre Dame: 81 (99-00 GR), 84 (four-class avg.), 95 (GSR)
Auburn: 61 (99-00 GR), 56 (four-class avg.), 63 (GSR)
Georgia: 33 (99-00 GR), 39 (four-class avg.), 41 (GSR)
Florida: 32 (99-00 GR), 42 (four-class avg.), 80 (GSR)
Here are the facts. Yes, Notre Dame has had players leave the squad to transfer under the Charlie Weis regime, but so has the other three schools. You mean to tell me that Auburn hasn't lost players leaving early to the NFL or lost them to transferring in the last three seasons? Auburn has actually lost 5 to the NFL early, 7 to transferring or leaving the program, and 11 to being declared academically ineligible the last three years.
This just shows that people can spin numbers anyway they want to, to make a buck. But when they try and compare the 19th best institution in the country, according to US News and World Report, to the 96th is ridiculous. Once again the anti-Notre Dame bias shows.
NOTE: Click on the title to view the Top 15 schools in football according to Stack Magazine