The Washington think tank New America, has released their annual academic ranking of the top 25 football teams and the FSU Seminoles come in at #8. The Seminoles finished the regular season #9 in the College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings.
Last year FSU finished the regular season CFP at #3 with an academic rating of #22.
The rankings of the Top 10 teams are listed below.
To see full report click here.
New America compiled the rankings by using each school’s football graduation success rate (GSR).
Schools lose points for graduating football players at different rates than their overall male student body. To compare players to students, New America relied on federal rates, since there’s no GSR for the general population. (Since Navy, ranked no. 21 in football, does not provide a federal rate, the Midshipmen were excluded from these rankings). The bigger the discrepancy, the harsher the penalty.
It’s important to note that even if a school graduated football players at higher rates than the overall male student population — six schools in the top 25, Alabama, Baylor, Utah, Oklahoma, Houston, and Tennessee did so — the difference was counted as a penalty. Why? New America does not want to reward schools with low overall graduation rates. In fact, schools got an added bonus for having high overall rates.
Northwestern rose to the top on the strength of its 97% GSR for football players. But the biggest winner in these rankings might be Clemson. The country’s top football team finished a very solid fourth in the academic standings, behind scholastic stalwarts Northwestern, Notre Dame and Stanford. The Tigers face Oklahoma, No. 15 in academics, in one national semifinal on New Year’s Eve; Alabama, No. 6 in New America academics, plays Michigan State, No. 22, in the other.
Clemson turned in a solid 84% GSR for football, but more importantly, the school graduated football players at the same federal rate (79%) as the rest of the school’s male student body. “This suggests to us that unlike many schools with major college football programs, Clemson is treating the educations of its players and overall students equally,” says Benjamin Barrett, a researcher at New America.
The biggest disappointments? The University of North Carolina, whose athletic department has been tainted by a far-reaching academic fraud scandal, finished at the bottom of New America’s academic rankings. The team’s most recent federal graduation rate — 31% — fell way below the 88% rate of UNC’s male students. USC, which finished second-to-last, showed a similar disparity (41% for football players, 90% for the students). “That’s just unacceptable,” says Barrett.