Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Sportswriter: The ABCS of College Football

Geography and my alma mater's apathy toward even fielding a gridiron team are the two primary reasons I am not a college football fan, so I probably won't watch tonight's college football Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship game between No. 20 Oklahoma and No. 21 Florida.

Yes, you read that correctly: Of the twenty-five schools that finished atop the final BCS standings, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Florida compiled the sixth- and fifth-worst rankings, respectively, in the 2008 Academic Bowl Championship Series (ABCS) rankings.

Compiled by Lindsey Luebchow, an education analyst at the New America Foundation, the second annual batch of Academic BCS rankings consider four criteria:
  1. The team's most recent federal graduation rate (which to be fair, isn't as accurate as the Graduation Success Rate (GSR), which, unlike the federal graduation rate, gives schools credit for a student's graduation even if the student graduated after enrolling elsewhere).
  2. The gap between the team's graduation rate and the school's graduation rate of non-athletes.
  3. The gap between the team's black-white player graduation rate disparity and the school's black-white player graduation rate disparity among non-athletes.
  4. The gap between the team's Academic Progress Rate (APR) and the median APR of fellow teams competing in Division 1 football.

Using these statistics, Luebchow determined Boston College (1), Northwestern University (2), Penn State University (3), the University of Cincinnati (4), and Ball State University (5) claimed the top five spots, while the University of Florida (21), Georgia Tech University (22), Michigan State University (23), the University of Texas (24), and the University of Oregon (25) brought up the rear.

- John C.L. Morgan

P.S. Using Luebchow's formula, I've determined the University of Maine football team's Academic BCS rating is 55, which would've placed the team in the eleventh spot--sandwiched between Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh--if the football team were worthy (or eligible, for that matter) of an actual BCS ranking.

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