Davidson College Ranks Ahead of The Irish: GSR or a Sick Rick Reilly Fantasy?

I can’t do anything about Lo Wood’s Achilles, but I can do something about the Janus Bifrons of anti-journalism that is ColinReilly a/k/a RickCowherd. Now, I don’t need to go after these dopes on their lazy opinions. Twibby did that already. I’m going to go after their underlying fiction as it pertains to “student-athletics” because I refuse to throw up my hands and acquiesce to the notion that college football is just one big academic fraud (Cowherd) or that Notre Dame needs to be taken down from its pedestal (Reilly). And, after you’ve seen the numbers, neither will you.

According to those very numbers, which, like Shakira’s hips, don’t lie, Notre Dame is the only program ranked in the Top 26 by AP, USA Today, ESPN.com and by the NCAA’s Graduation Success Rate. Pedestal, please, Mr. Reilly. We deserve it. We’ll perch upon it as you watch us on television thanks to our gaudy contract with NBC or perhaps we’ll scoot it up to the BCS table while we plot another cycle of bowls and conference alignment.

You see, the NCAA tracks academic metrics on every school. One of those metrics is the Graduation Success Rate (GSR), a number that “takes first time full-time freshmen in a given cohort and only counts them as academic successes if they graduate from their institutions within a six year period.” The cohort (whatever the hell that means in this context) (again, Arts & Letters, here) as per the NCAA’s tables, comprises the years 2001-2004. With that out of the way, may I please present you Notre Dame’s 2012 schedule as arranged by opponent and their GSR:

TEAM GSR
ND 97%
Navy 91%
Purdue 59%
Michigan State 62%
Michigan 71%
Miami 88%
Stanford 87%
BYU 57%
Oklahoma 48%
Pitt 65%
BC 93%
Wake Forest 81%
U$C 61%

Holy shattered academic illusions, Bat Man! Navy only graduates 91% of its football players in six years?!?! Actually, the percentages that surprised me were BYU at 59% (maybe it’s something to do with their mission year?) and Oklahoma at 48%. That’s a joke, right, Coach Stoops? You’re taking a page out of the ol’ Bearcats playbook, aren’t ye boy-o? Attention parents of recruits! YOU HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF GUESSING A COIN TOSS THAN YOU DO OF GRADUATING FROM OKLAHOMA. LSU, by the way, rates a respectable 77% – a percentage only made respectable by Oklahoma, Purdon’t’s 59% and Pitt’s 65%. Michigan’s in at 71%. Tee hee.

I may have been unfair to Oklahoma in comparing it to Cincinnati’s basketball program of old, which graduated 0% of its players at one point. But 48% is pretty poor. And since the 50-50 coin toss analogy above may have been perhaps too facile such that it lost its resonance, here’s one that you history buffs out there can explain to the masses: you stood a better chance of landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day and coming out unscathed (41% casualty rate) than you do of getting a degree from Oklahoma as a football player.

So, ND runs the table against its schedule, as far as GSR. But Ooooooh! Oooooooh! Bayou Irish! So what? Big deal! Open it up! Take it national! Where does ND stand against everyone else? Peep this, Loyal Readers:

Rank Team GSR
1. Brown University 100%
2. Columbia University 100%
3. Dartmouth College 100%
4. University of Pennsylvania 100%
5. Furman University 98%
6. Colgate University 97%
7. Davidson College 97%
8. ND 97%
9. Yale University 97%
10. Harvard University 96%
11. Bucknell University 95%
12. Lafayette College 95%
13. Wofford College 95%
14. Northwestern University 94%
15. Boston College 93%
16. Cornell University 93%
17. University of Dayton 93%
18. Duke University 93%
19. Rice University 93%
20. College of the Holy Cross 92%
21. University of Richmond 92%
22. University of New Hampshire 91%
23. United States Naval Academy 91%
24. Valparaiso University 91%
25. Villanova University 90%

Kudos to BC and the Middies for showing up, but, really? Until I started this project, I thought Furman was a muppet and I still don’t know what a “Wofford” is. Possibly where they did the Olympic cycling? Fr. Sorin, I am sure, is tickled (and possibly thereby making bagpipe sounds) at having TWO teams on the list, in a manner of speaking. But our football program is eighth out of 235 and has a higher GSR than Yale and Harvard. Think about that.

So, to return to Messrs. Reilly and Cowherd, ESPN ranks ND at 25. ESPN, for those of you living in compounds protected only by high walls and a complicit national intelligence service, pays Reilly and Cowherd, so there’s a no small amount of irony in that juxtaposition as they pocket their pieces of silver. USA Today ranks ND at 24 and AP has us just outside the top 25 with 83 votes.

SO FIND ME ANOTHER TEAM RANKED IN THE TOP 26 ACROSS ALL THE POLLS! Unless and until everyone goes full North Carolina and just stops making football players go to class at all, let’s not so readily dismiss the “student-” part of “student-athlete.” It’s beyond grotesque to lump ND, or any school for that matter, in with Penn State, as Reilly did, and equate the covering up of child molestation with a mediocre run of football. Sticking to the football part of that effrontery, Biscuit dismantled the idea that a team cannot recover from a run like ours, for starters. So, there’s that.

And there’s also this: what I am going to call the NFL Success Rate (NSR). How many Irish players got drafted last year? Four. That’s right, four. In the middle (or maybe it’s the end?) of all this suck, we produced one more draft pick than U$C and Michigan and the same number as Stanford. And what school has had the most players picked overall? Not Notre Dame. Notre Dame is in second with 471, behind USC, with 480. In third place is Ohio State with 404. Not a bad NSR.

So after all these years of desert wandering, we’re still putting out draft picks with the best of them PLUS we’re graduating 97% of our players. I like that. I’ll like it more if we’re 4-0 after the Michigan game. And I’ll like it most if we’re playing for the MNC soon. What’ll RickCowherd say then?