Thursday, July 06, 2006

Graduatin Irish | by Mike

While most remember the on-field juggernaut Lou Holtz built at Notre Dame, many seem to have forgotten that only a handful of programs matched the academic performance of Holtz's Irish squads. Given that performance, the following quote from the promotional materials for Holtz's upcoming book is unexceptionable:

A standout is Holtz’s long-term position at Notre Dame, of special importance not just because of his devout Catholicism but also his refreshing devotion to strict academic standards for the players. In fact, what stands out is his modesty and adamant belief that football is ultimately less important than education.
Thus I was surprised to see the following reaction from the normally astute guys at EDSBS:
Stop laughing. Really, stop laughing. Your boss is getting suspicious.
I can't speak to the academic performance of Holtz's players at other universities, but the empirical data regarding his charges at Notre Dame speaks for itself. Since 1981, the CFA and AFCA have presented their Academic Achievement Award to the I-A institution with the highest graduation rate among members of its football team. In Holtz's eleven years at Notre Dame, the Irish won the award twice (1988 and 1991) and received honorable mention recognition every other year. Since the award is given out in the spring, the award years corresponding to Holtz's tenure at Notre Dame are 1987-1997. During this period, the only other schools to receive recognition each year are Duke, Vanderbilt, and Virginia. Yet the snark regarding the above excerpt has not emanated from Charlottesville, Nashville, or Durham. In case you were wondering, neither Florida nor Michigan has ever won the award. Florida has garnered honorable mention recognition three times (1992, 1998, 2002), and Michigan has been recognized twice (2001, 2003).