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Question Re. UCLA & Cal Football Programs' Academic Standards

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During last five years we have heard a number of excuses for UCLA football's mediocre to below average performance under the leadership of Karl Dorrell, the worst head coach (in terms of record) since WW2.

Time and time again we have rebutted all of the excuses proffered by Dorrell apologists here on. The latest round took place when Bill and Ted embarked on a little adventure on BN here and here.

Still there has been one specific excuse that I still see popping up every now and then on various message boards during the recruit season. It has to do with academics and it specifically concerns Cal head-coach Jeff Tedford's football program, which has the Bears fans giddy about their football program up in Strawberry Canyon. The excuse goes something like this: Tedford has had an easier time building up a solid program in Berkeley, because (according to Dorrell supporters) Cal football has lowered it academic standards compared to UCLA.

Does that sound like a plausible excuse? Well last week I reached out to the guys over at the California Golden Blogs, which has quietly emerging (during Tightwad Hill's absence) as the best Bear blog in the internets. I asked those guys whether they can shed any light on the notion that Cal football academics standards < UCLA football academics standards.

Well they didn't disappoint at all. CGB blogger Yellow Fever went to town on this issue and dug up the available numbers of UCLA and Cal football recruits since 2003 (Dorrell's first year and Tedford's second year). Here is the thorough analysis which led him to this conclusion:

So does this prove that UCLA has higher academic standards?  Conclusively, no.  The sample sizes are just too small.  What could prove it perhaps would be a significantly lower average SAT score and/or GPA on the part of Cal recruits, but that just isn't there.  The vagaries of recruiting also don't let those outside the process know why students do or don't get offers from particular schools, as well.  With us having all gone through the admissions process, you and I alike know that high school students may prefer one school over another for any number of reasons.  Schools may not bother offering a scholarship to a player they know is highly unlikely to accept, making it an empty gesture and a waste of time and effort on their part.

Without going into much further detail on why we'll never know exactly why recruits go where they do, what I am inclined to say is that the argument that higher academic standards can probably only apply to a few schools - the Ivy League ones.  While some recruits do have more trouble than others getting through the admissions process, I find it hard to believe that if Karl Dorrell wanted a borderline student badly enough for his program, he wouldn't find some way to get them in.  The fact that both Cal and UCLA recruited so many students with similar academic profiles (a profile that was hardly outstanding) should speak to this.  So the next time the head of your favorite Division I-A program says they can't compete because of academics, it's probably something else.  It almost always is.
Please read Yellow Fever's entire post again in which he goes through the SAT scores, GPAs, and number of Junior College transfers in Cal and in UCLA rosters before reaching that conclusion.

So here is my question.

To me it seems like his conclusion is pretty much on the mark. It just doesn't seem believable to me when I read something along the lines that Tedford has had an easier road to building a program than Dorrell because he somehow doesn't have to deal with the same academic constraints Dorrell allegedly has to deal with UCLA. Does that argument make any sense to you?

Here is another strand of thought. We can assume Coach Howland has to deal with the same academic standards as Dorrell deals with in football. Yet we never hear the basketball coaches using academic constraints as an excuse for putting together a solid program.

So what gives here? I know the UCLA athletics administration and Dorrell lackies are closely monitoring what we are writing on BN. If there is any validity to the notion that Cal's athletic program has lowered it's academic standards compared to UCLA, then give us some numbers. We are not looking for anecdotes, but numbers showing how UCLA's football programs have academic standards that are higher than California. I have yet to see anyone offer any kind of tangible evidence to back up that assertion. If there are numbers to back it up, now is the time to step it up here on BN.

Otherwise, next time we hear that argument from a Dorrell supporter, we are going to quash it with facts (with the information dug up by CGB) just like in the threads in response to B&T.