Let’s take a look at the win-loss progression for this FBS team from 2009 to 2012:
Now let’s look at their APR scores for those same four seasons:
That’s a precipitous drop in both metrics. NCAA bylaw nerds will note that those four APR scores add up to a 903 four-year average, well below the 930 threshold. Everyone else reading this website will note that a seven-win drop over a four-year span is enough to get any coach fired.
The team in question is Idaho. Robb Akey was replaced with Paul Petrino following the 2012 season, and Idaho will spend its 2014 season paying for those past mistakes in the classroom.
Does it matter where correlation ends and causation begins here? Not really. The point is, it’s there. More often than, a team that takes care of business on the field takes that same approach in the classroom. As Idaho has proven, with falling wins and APR scores for four consecutive years, the reverse is also true.
In Petrino’s first season, in which the Vandals again went 1-11, he spent Sundays building depth with what the team referred to as “Get Better Sundays”. It was a chance for players that didn’t play the day before to get game-like reps. And it’s now gone.
“That is a hard penalty,” Petrino told the Idaho Statesman. “Sunday is going to be a big thing. We’ll add a two-hour study hall on Sundays, which we’ve already done, and take away our ‘Get Better Sundays,’. It’s a very stiff penalty, one we have to overcome.”
Along with losing four hours a week of practice time, Idaho is also ineligible for postseason play. The Vandals are the second program to see APR-related sanctions in 2014; UNLV is also ineligible, and as many as three more teams could join them next month according to CBS Sports.
There is good news on the horizon for Idaho, though. The program showed a rapid improvement in the classroom in year one under Petrino, leaping from 831 to an expected score of 960, according to the Idaho Statesman.
If Idaho is proof that bad academics can sink a program’s win-loss total, there is evidence the reverse is also true. Fourteen FBS programs posted an APR of 977 or higher in 2012 (released in June 2013), and all 14 of them played in a bowl game later that winter.