Thursday, October 27, 2011

NCAA updates football graduation rates ...

Annually updated graduation rates for college football players were released a few days ago by the NCAA, and the range among Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) programs is, well, extensive. Officially called the Graduation Success Rate, or GSR, the NCAA's measure looks at the percentage of players who earned a degree within six years of entering college. The latest data is for those who entered college in 2004, so it's a somewhat dated measure, reflecting how well those students performed academically -- as measure solely by whether they earned degrees or not -- over the past six years. So if a particular college program decided this year to improve the academic success of its players, we wouldn't see results, as measured this way, until six years later. Of course, the opposite of that is true too -- if a program began dropping the ball, so to speak, on working hard to ensure that their players earned degrees, we wouldn't know about it for many years. It's important to note, too, that the GSR calculation doesn't penalize schools for students who, while in good academic standing, leave the program, perhaps to transfer to another school or maybe even go to the NFL before earning their degree. The NCAA makes GSR data available by school and by conference in a searchable database. And see a rather rosy-sounding NCAA news release, too, covering GSRs for all sports.

Just for grins, I've taken a look at the latest GSRs for the schools in the latest BCS standings. Interesting stuff. Draw your own conclusions:

1.  LSU – 77 percent
2.  Alabama -- 69
3.  Oklahoma State -- 65
4.  Boise State-- 74
5.  Clemson -- 62
6.  Stanford -- 87
7.  Oregon -- 63
8.  Kansas State -- 62
9.  Oklahoma -- 48
10. Arkansas -- 56
11. Michigan State --62
12. Virginia Tech -- 79
13. South Carolina -- 39
14. Nebraska -- 67
15. Wisconsin -- 66
16. Texas A&M -- 59
17. Houston -- 57
18. Michigan -- 71
19. Penn State -- 87
20. Texas Tech -- 68
21. Arizona State -- 64
22. Georgia -- 65
23. Auburn -- 63
24. Texas -- 57
25. West Virginia -- 75

Monday, October 24, 2011

Coach turnover rate surprisingly high ...

At top-level (Division I) college football programs, chances are only about 50-50 that a player's head coach as a freshman will be his head coach when he is a senior. So it's a good idea for high school football recruits to base their commitment decisions on more than how they like those coaches personally. Recruits should also consider whether the college itself is a good fit for them academically, socially, and geographically.

Looking at the numbers, head coach turnover averaged nearly 19 percent annually over the past three years (2009-2011) at Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) programs, according to NCAA statistics. And head coach turnover averaged more than 13 percent annually over the last three years at Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) programs. No data is available for lower-division programs.

So taken together, this data indicates that there were head coaching changes at nearly one-half of NCAA Division I football programs over the most recent three-year period (2009-2011). And that doesn't take into account other coaching changes among offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators, and other assistant coaches. Many of them leave and join college football coaching staffs every year, even if the head coach remains the same at a given program.

Assistant coaches are often the primary points of contact for college players, so a player's college football experience can be greatly affected when those assistants leave and new ones arrive -- another great reason for taking into account other factors, such as academics, social issues, and location -- when recruits try to determine where to play college football.

Coaching changes often begin in late November and December, soon after the end of a football season in which a college team might fail to meet the expectations of fans, alumni, and other supporters.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Texas regulates two-a-day football practices ...

In a big step toward improving player safety, Texas is outlawing two-a-day sessions during the first four days of late-summer high school football practices, limiting two-a-days to every other day, and requiring at least a two-hour break between two-a-days on days when they are allowed. This is a big, welcome step for football-crazy Texas, where late-summer temperatures frequently exceed triple digits. Wonder if this move will influence other states to take similar action if they haven't already done so. Didier Morais writes a good summary piece in the Houston Chronicle and Rick Cantu offers some excellent commentary in the Austin American-Statesman.