911 Is A Joke. What About 925?
Mike Leach would call it the AP-HYYYYAAAAARRRRRR, but to us non-pirates it's just the APR and--much like a class taught by Jim Harrick--everyone passes, at least for now. EDSBS pointed out a MiamiHawkTalk thread that spawned a HawkTalk article slamming the NCAA for "chickening out" by not dropping the hammer on the 53 I-A and I-AA programs that failed to make the 925 Mendoza line. The somewhat esoteric reason for sparing the rod is the "Squad Size Adjustment"--essentially the NCAA is claiming not enough data so not make big. Clearly this is more of an issue for basketball teams than 85-scholarship football teams. Thus the stink:
Moreover, this selective use of data allows the NCAA to dumb down its own standards, paper over its problems, and present a rosy picture to the press, even though without the "adjustments," over 40% of Division I-A and I-AA football programs would have flunked.
I think that goes a little far. The above backgrounder on the SSA indicates that teams should look upon this edition of the APR as a serious matter should they fail to clear the bar and that once they have a full four-year set of data--next year--the hammer will drop.
Is this an excercise for the press only, a paper tiger? Deduction says no.
As someone who wanders over to places where "scUM" is considered clever by the natives to scope recruiting information, I think that NCAA schools are taking the APR seriously enough. Witness the case of towering Ohio wide receiver Josh Chichester, who was committed to Ohio State until just before signing day. The Buckeyes cut him free, citing academics. Chichester ended up signing with Louisville; Ohio State ended up short a wide receiver they wanted. Why?
OSU wasn't concerned about Chichester not qualifying--the Big Ten does allow oversigning and the Buckeyes have taken advantage of that in the past. They didn't make up the academic issues as a cover for preferring another player--OSU ended up signing zero wideouts in the '05 class*. The answer can be found here (PDF):
Football (235) 925 40th-50th
925 is the drop-dead APR cutoff; OSU teeters on the edge of sanctions. Their sudden reluctance to take chances on the Josh Chichesters of the world is a direct reaction to the situation. OSU was reportedly slow to offer Florida WR Greg Mathews and Ohio LB Thaddeus Gibson due to academic concerns. The Buckeyes ended up offering both, but lost Mathews to Michigan and almost had the same happen with Gibson. Clearly OSU is taking 925 seriously.
Why can Michigan take these chances? Well, you can find Michigan's scores here--they're uniformly excellent. They can take some academic risks the Buckeyes can't because they've built a buffer between themselves and APR doom. (Cue be-tinfoiled Irish fans muttering about kinesiology and failure to graduate black players... now.)
While it's disappointing from a fan's standpoint not to see Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Minnesota's academic riskapaloozas take a lead pipe to the back of the head, this is the way the NCAA planned it from the start. If Michigan State can get their 907 up in two years, then more power to them (and good luck with that all 5'3"-Asian secondary). I suggest you reserve judgement.
(*Unless you consider 5'10" Ray Small a WR like Rivals does, but I think he's a cornerback to most. And Small was widely considered a Buckeye lock from birth, so there was no sudden swing in his attitude that made Chichester expendable.)