The NCAA has released Academic Progress Rates for all member schools (here's how the APR is calculated) and the multi-year rate for Longhorn Football is the 2nd worst in the Big 12.
TCU - 973
Kansas - 971
OU - 970
Baylor - 956
West Virginia - 953
Tech - 946
KSU - 943
ISU - 938
Texas - 937
OSU - 928
Before pointing out that Texas is a better or more rigorous school than the others on that list, and that might skunk some of what the results purport to show - I concede the point. We've also had a large number of football athletes who are extremely bright - national award winners, in fact - so these scores certainly aren't indicative of intellectual mettle. The APR is a measure of an athlete's basic ability to progress to their degree, such as it is at each school. It's about beating a fairly low bar consistently. Failure here is usually an institutional one.
So forget college football peers - where we relatively underperform - how does Texas football rank against other sports at Texas?
Last. Dead last.
Why is football failing measured against us? Measured against sports with the same demographics and socio-ecnomic make-up of our football athletes, like track and basketball? And sports like baseball and basketball where going pro early is commonplace?
Let's look at our scores in other sports:
- Texas men's basketball scored a perfect 1000.
- Men's tennis scored a perfect 1000.
- Men's golf scored a 995.
- Men's track, indoor scored a 993.
- Men's track, outdoor scored a 990.
- Men's swimming scored a 987.
And we know how football did. One of these things is not like the others.
What do all of the high-performing APR sports at Texas have in common? The answer has been the same for some time now. They all fall under the management of Dr Randa Ryan.
And the only sport that doesn't? You guessed it. Football. Led by Brian Davis. The only sport with which he's tasked and to which we dedicate enormous academic support resources.
One CV lists achievements, the other milestones and appeals to authority. Seven years ago, both our baseball and basketball teams were failing in APR (scores in the 800s) and in complete academic disarray. Facing potential penalties, Garrido and Barnes brought in Dr Ryan and her staff. Scores skyrocketed. They're now model national programs. More crucially, beyond the NCAA's low bar metrics - exceptional and average students maximized, while marginal students stayed eligible, interested, and some even discovered a love of learning they didn't know they possessed.
This issue, fundamentally, isn't about the capable students. They'll be eligible no matter who's in charge. It's about the marginal student who isn't served by trying to bludgeon their deficiencies away with posh facilities, computers, and readily available tutors. Texas football has more resources at its disposal than anyone. What it lacks is management with a capacity for sparking buy-in, human connection, accountability, and tough love (and regular love) to build confidence in a few high risk athletes ill-prepared for a world class university and alien social environment.
A good academic staff can change lives. I'm not sure why an underachieving one would be tolerated.
And if you're a strict pragmatist, my appeal is this: we'll lose out on players that could help us on campus (making us less likely to recruit them in the future if we believe they're impossible to keep in school).
I don't know why processes and institutions have to utterly fail under Brown's regime in order for us to take action, but it's a tiresome trend.
This is Texas. That stands for something. Pull it together.