Low APR to cost Okla. St. practice time

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While not nearly as severe as UNLV’s or Idaho’s punishment, another FBS program will be getting slapped by The Association for failing to meet minimum classroom expectations.

As first reported by Jon Helsley of The Oklahoman, Oklahoma State will be stripped of one practice day per week during the 2014 season for failing to reach the minimum 930 on the Academic Progress Report (APR) required by the NCAA over a four-year period.  The Cowboys avoided a postseason ban because its two-year average was half a point above the 940 threshold.

USA Today wrote that “the Cowboys probably will cease their customary Sunday evening practice, which was a brief on-field session used to correct mistakes from the previous day’s game.”

“We are taking steps to ensure that our APR numbers improve moving forward,” OSU azthletic director Mike Holder said in a statement released by the school. “We are accountable for what we do and ultimately, we are here to serve our student-athletes and do our best to keep them on track to be lifelong contributors to society.”

While OSU failed to make the grade academically, it did so by a razor-thin margin.  From the paper’s report:

OSU fell a fraction of a point shy of avoiding penalty, with its number at 929.41 for the last four years. Had the Cowboys been at 929.50, the number would have been rounded up, meaning they missed by nine-one-hundreds of a point. The Cowboys avoided a more damaging postseason ban.

That bowl ban will be felt in 2014 by UNLV and Idaho, as previously reported, while those two teams will also be hit with the practice time penalty.  Along with OSU, New Mexico State was the only other FBS program to lose only practice time because of low APR scores.

There were also total of seven FCS teams who are banned from the postseason playoffs.

On the positive side, the Top 10 in APR scores consisted of four schools from the ACC (Duke, 992, No. 1 to keep its historic streak alive; Georgia Tech, 983, T-No. 7; Clemson, 983, T-No. 7; Boston College, 981, No. 9), two from the Big Ten (Northwestern, 991, No. 2; Wisconsin, 989, No. 3), two from the Mountain West (Utah State, 988, T-No. 4; Boise State, 988, T-No. 4) and one from the Pac-12 (Stanford, 984, No. 6).

“Ten years ago, the membership designed the APR to encourage student-athletes to stay in school and earn good grades. We are pleased to see that more and more student-athletes are doing that every year,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said in a statement. “The significant academic standards adopted by our membership help us support success in the classroom to the same degree that we support success on the playing fields.”

The four-year average for the programs at the FBS level is 956, the second-lowest of 20 college sports.  The lowest?  The FCS level of football with a 947.

Below are the highest and lowest APR scores for the top seven FBS conferences (membership as of July 1, 2014):

AAC: UCF, 978; Houston, 937
ACC: Duke, 992; North Carolina 938
Big 12: Kansas State, 968; Oklahoma State, 929
Big Ten: Northwestern, 991; Penn State, 954
Mountain West: Boise State and Utah State, 988; UNLV, 925
Pac-12: Stanford, 984; Cal, 938
SEC: Missouri and South Carolina, 980; Tennessee, 932

While the Vols may have the lowest four-year average of the programs in the SEC, UT has undergone a significant academic transformation under Butch Jones, whose focus on the classroom that was vowed last year likely helped his team avoid penalties that could very well have included a postseason ban.  The Vols’ 962 APR for the 2012-13 academic year was the highest one-year mark since the system was implemented nine years ago; last summer, that number was a lowly 924.

And, for those wondering, here’s a handy infographic provided by the NCAA that shows how the annual APR is calculated:

APR Formula

SEC leads NFL Draft for 11th straight year as Alabama and Michigan set school records

Brandon Wade/AP Images for NFLPA
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The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone, and once again it is the SEC claiming another NFL Draft national championship. A grand total of 53 players from the SEC were drafted by NFL teams. It is the 11th straight year the SEC has had the most players drafted by NFL teams.

The ACC ended the draft with 42 players drafted, followed by the Pac-12 (36) and Big Ten (35). The Big 12 ended the draft with just 14 players drafted.

Helping to contribute to the SEC’s NFL Draft total was Alabama setting a school record with 10 players drafted.

Alabama’s nine players drafted in the first 80 picks was also a new Alabama record.

Michigan ended up having more players drafted than any other Big Ten team, slipping past Ohio State by the time the draft closed up shop this year. For the Wolverines, 11 players ended up being drafted. The previous school record for draft picks was 10, set in 1972 and tied in 1974. Head coach Jim Harbaugh will get plenty of the praise for developing that many players getting a chance to be drafted, but Brady Hoke should be recognized for recruiting those players as well (and blamed for not developing the talent he brought in).

 

Air Force changes rules for football players with NFL aspirations

AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo
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One of the top players from Air Force was ineligible to be drafted by the NFL this weekend, and it had nothing to do with NFL rules. It also had nothing to do with NFL teams backing away from a particular player due to off-field concerns. Instead, a policy at Air Force is what is to blame for wide receiver Jalen Robinette not moving on to the NFL at this time.

The U.S. Air Force will not approve requests from academy graduates to defer their two years of active duty in order to be allowed to play professional football. Just a year ago, the Department of Defense changed the policy to allow for the possibility, which made it possible for Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds to be allowed to play. Reynolds later joined the Baltimore Ravens. Reynolds had received a recommendation to be allowed to play by the U.S. Naval Academy.

“The Air Force notified academy leaders [Thursday] that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military commitments for cadet athletes,” a statement from Air Force read. “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve, which would allow their participation in professional sports. The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”

Because of the policy change and confirmation, Robinette was not able to be drafted. He may still have been a long shot to be drafted by an NFL Team, but the policy also means he is unable to be signed as an undrafted free agent as well.

Rawleigh Williams carted off at Arkansas scrimmage

AP Photo/Chris Brashers
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Any time a player that has previously undergone neck surgery goes down on the field and needs to be carted off is quite the scary moment. On Saturday, the Arkansas football program had that exact scare when Rawleigh Williams went down on the field in pain and ended up having to be carted off the practice field during the Arkansas scrimmage.

Williams was placed on a stretcher and taken out of the facility on a cart to receive medical attention. His legs and arms were moving on the ground, a slight sigh of relief given the hit and his injury history. In 2015, Williams was carted off and had to undergo surgery on his neck. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said the injury concern on Saturday was apparently not related to the previous neck injury, which was expected to have a full recovery.

It is an unfortunate ending to the spring for Williams, because all indications seemed to be he was certainly improving running the football. Bielema said earlier in the week Williams was running with more patience, which is always a key for a running back.

Arkansas moved its final scrimmage of the spring indoors due to bad weather rolling through the area.

Justin Herbert shines in first Oregon spring game under Willie Taggart

Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images
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A glimpse of a brand new era of Oregon football took center stage in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday as the spring football season drew to a close. Willie Taggart showed fans a little bit of what to expect from Oregon in the fall as the program looks to bounce back from a down season under the coach who has shown a knack for improving programs. As is usually the case in a spring game, Oregon’s quarterback situation was under a microscope, and sophomore Justin Herbert took advantage of the opportunity.

Herbert completed 16 of 26 passes for 327 yards and established a connection with wide receiver Darren Carrington. The two connected for three touchdowns in the game. Sophomore Travis Jonson and early enrollee Braxton Burmeister also saw playing time in the game, but Carrington was confident in saying this is Herbert’s job to lose.

”Our chemistry has definitely improved this spring, and it’ll improve more by the time fall comes, but Herbert, I mean, that’s the guy right now to beat,” Carrington said after the spring game.

As for the team as a whole, Taggert knows there is much still to address as a new system and style are implemented and the roster adjusts physically to the demands of the new coach.

‘We’re still building. We’re nowhere where we need to be as a football team yet. We have some good players. We don’t have a lot of depth that we need to have, that’s going to be a work in progress,” Taggart said. ”The thing for us as coaches is just to make our guys better than they were before. If I guy wasn’t good enough we want to make him look better than he was before. If I guy was good we want to make him great.”

Og course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon spring game without having that typical Oregon uniform flair. Even with a new head coach and with the talk suggesting the Ducks will go for a more traditional approach to uniforms in the fall, the spring game was used for some sizzle on the unis.

Oregon’s spring game crowd of 36,821 assured the Ducks of having the highest spring game attendance among Pac-12 school for a third consecutive year.