ASU’s athletics graduation rate at all-time high; UA last again

For the fourth straight year, ASU has improved its Graduation Success Rate, reaching an all-time high. It now sits one point shy of its 80% goal (established when the GSR was created) and only 4 points from second place in the conference.

“The graduation success rate is the most significant measure of student athlete academic achievement that exists, ” said Jean Boyd, Associate Athletic Director for the Office of Student-Athlete Development. “This is the fourth consecutive year that we have improved in our Graduation Success Rate. The 79-percent ranks us in the Top 5 of the Pac-12, which is an elite academic and athletic conference. We are just one percentage point away from our goal of reaching 80-percent and are working hard to reach that goal.”

In addition, ASU’s football team ranks third in the conference, trailing only Washington and perennial leader Stanford. UA, which has often unfairly denigrated ASU’s academics while performing much worse, again manages to rank dead last.

ASU has been helping to set the national lead in academic support services and innovation in the last few years, owing much of its success to Jean Boyd and a renewed athletic department commitment to academics. Kudos to another year of solid improvement.

ASU Blackouts Missouri in overtime

It wasn’t necessarily a pretty game for the Sun Devils, but it was enough of an effort to knock off #22 Missouri in a nationally televised and highly anticipated matchup.

The Sun Devils took control of the game in the fourth quarter, only to squander a 14-pt lead late and survive overtime. The win, which broke Missouri’s long streak of out-of-conference wins and gave ASU’s its first win over a ranked team since its 2007 Pac-10 co-championship year, lived up to the hype of the Blackout.

The sellout crowd was in it from beginning, had a great showing of black to match the new uniforms on the field, and rejoiced when Jamal Miles scored a touchdown in overtime and the defense held Mizzou on fourth down to secure the win.

For those of you who wanted to relive the thrilling overtime period, check out the video below:

UA has the worst graduation rate of any major sports program in the nation

The University of Arizona and its fans have often, and repeatedly, chided ASU as an academically inferior institution. In particular, UA football coach Mike Stoops has repeatedly lobbed false claims that recruits who chose ASU over UA did so because it was easier to get into ASU, even though admissions standards are set by ABOR and are identical at all three state universities.

When it comes to the academic accomplishments of its athletes, UA is right: things are different in Tucson—but not for the better. For example, earlier this week Stanford’s The Bootleg reported on the results of the NCAA 2010 Graduation Success Rate Report.

For UA, the numbers are nothing short of shameful.

Arizona has fallen into last place. Remarkably, and a fact we would hope Arizona taxpayers would note, U-of-A! also has the worst graduation rate of all major basketball programs and the second-worst graduation rate of all BCS football programs.

Yes, you read that correctly: UA has the worst basketball graduation rate of any major basketball program in the nation, as well as the second-worst graduation rate of all BCS football programs. Worst, and second worst, in the nation.

The “University” of Arizona pulled off an appalling, but impressive hat trick, with the Pac 10’s worst graduation rate in football, basketball, and baseball.

And after reading those stats, it’s not surprising to guess what’s coming next.

Arizona’s graduation rate of 65% for all athletes is the worst for any major sports program.

Yikes—the worst major sports program in the country for graduating student athletes?!! Wow. Even this diehard ASU fan is embarrassed for them in earning such a distinction.

Now, ASU still has room for improvement in the athlete graduation department, but it’s certainly not competing for dead last in the country. In fact, ASU has made some good progress and been a national leader in launching programs like Scholar Baller, which has now been adopted by more than 50 universities.

Of course, none of this should be too surprising. ASU’s been making some serious strides in important measures like increasing freshman retention rates and decreasing loan default rates, even while growing as fast as Phoenix. Arizona, on the other hand, seems to be sitting on its hands and watching those same numbers move in the wrong direction.

That’s probably why UA’s own student paper, the Daily Wildcat, had this say last fall (emphasis mine):

According to a recent poll in The Wall Street Journal, Arizona State University ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to U.S. companies’ desire to hire graduates. The UA did not even crack the top 25.

The UA has spent years pooh-poohing its neighbor to the north, certain in its status as the academically stronger and more rigorous Arizona university. But increasingly over the past several years, that attitude simply doesn’t match up with the facts.

I’m of the opinion that arguing about whether one university is academically better as a whole than another is a futile exercise unless one of those institutions is either among the very best, or among the very worst in the nation. Otherwise, it’s like arguing which color is better: it all depends on how you measure it and the circumstances of the situation you’re in; what works for one student might not work for another. In general, college is like any other learning opportunity: you get out what you put in.

But one thing is clear—the tired old smack talk that UA sports fans often resort to in denigrating ASU’s academics just no longer applies. And that’s really got to hurt for UA faithful to acknowledge.

As the Daily Wildcat article explained, “Painful as it is to say, ASU must be doing something right.” UA clearly isn’t.

It’s Time —> ASU’s celebration of the past

Leading up to its big rebranding announcement, ASU’s been celebrating its past. Here’s a recap of all of the videos they’ve released thus far.

I’m excited to see ASU put together another marketing campaign—I enjoyed the Sun Devil Laws and the 2007 football season videos.

Rebranding ASU Athletics

UPDATE: The new uniforms are here. Check out some the official announcement, and a photo gallery. The video below does a good job of recapping today’s announcement event.

Go Devils!

——–

Big changes are coming to ASU Athletics. We’ll find out exactly what they are on April 12, 2011 at 2pm [event details], but some in the Sun Devil Club will get a sneak preview on April 9 at 5pm at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort [update: the event was reportedly sold-out]. I’ll miss both of those events, but I’m curiously awaiting the official unvieling (you can watch the webcast of the April 12th event on http://foxsportsarizona.com“>Fox Sports Arizona).

The leading rumors are that Sparky will be de-emphasized and that the pitchfork will become a recognizable symbol for Arizona State University. Most notably, that means that you won’t find Sparky on the football helmet. Speaking of helmets, it sounds like we may have three of them: a gold one, a maroon one, and a black one. That’ll provide some gameday options with the five new uniforms we’re expecting to see: gold, maroon, black, white, and pro-combat. Nike is leading the redesign, though some have confirmed that Disney has also been involved (which may help cool the backlash when Bert Anthony’s Sparky design goes missing).

It also sounds like there will be some additional information provided about the athletic department’s fundraising efforts, namely the Sun Devil Club. Some of the conjecture around a new Sun Devil Stadium and the Olympic Village concept doesn’t appear to be part of the announcement next week.

So far, none of this has been confirmed—but there’s plenty of insider speak and conjecture, and it’s great to have some excitement around ASU football this time of year. ASU’s done a great job so far of creating a buzz while keeping things under wraps until the announcement. I think Sparky is one of the most original mascots out there, but I’m waiting to form an opinion until I see the new designs.

Here’s a good local news interview about the upcoming changes:

By the way, if you haven’t purchased or renewed season tickets for our first year in the PAC-12 conference, maybe you should go ahead and do that right now.

UPDATE: And for those of you who read all the way to the bottom, here’s a momentary sneak peak at some of the leading rumors. And follow the official #ASUIt’sTime hashtag feed.

Fear the Fork — Go Devils! ——E



The Future of Sun Devil Stadium?

The ASU Athletic Department has been touting a major announcement on April 9. A few days ago they posted this revised video (note the James Brooks PAT block against Arizona and the new pitchfork logo). Fan message board speculation has been high, and there seems to be a growing consensus that the announcement will focus the future of Sun Devil Stadium, which needs major renovations in the coming decade.

Update: It appears the announcement will focus on the new uniform branding, and not the stadium. Work is underway on a new stadium, but it’s not yet ready for release. Rumor is that Sparky will disappear from the football helmets.

2011 PAC-12 football schedule

This isn’t the most timely post, as the schedule for the new PAC-12 conference was released nearly two months ago. Nonetheless, here’s what the first season of PAC-12 football will look like:

2011 PAC-12 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

Thu, Sept. 1
Montana State at Utah

Sat, Sept. 3
Northern Arizona at Arizona
UC Davis at Arizona State
Minnesota at USC
UCLA at Houston
California (game to be scheduled)
San Jose State at Stanford
Oregon vs. LSU
Oregon State (game to be scheduled)
Eastern Washington at Washington
Idaho State at Washington State
Colorado at Hawaii

Sat, Sept. 10
Utah at USC
Arizona at Oklahoma State
Missouri at Arizona State
San Jose State at UCLA
California (game to be scheduled)
Stanford at Duke
Nevada at Oregon
Oregon State at Wisconsin
Hawaii at Washington
UNLV at Washington State
Colorado (game to be scheduled)

Sat, Sept. 17
Stanford at Arizona
Arizona State at Illinois
Syracuse at USC
Texas at UCLA
California (game to be scheduled)
Oregon (game to be scheduled)
Washington at Nebraska
Washington State at San Diego State
Colorado vs. Colorado State
Utah at BYU

Sat, Sept. 24
Oregon at Arizona
USC at Arizona State
UCLA at Oregon State
California at Washington
Colorado at Ohio State

Sat, Oct. 1
Arizona at USC
Oregon State at Arizona State
UCLA at Stanford
Washington at Utah
Washington State at Colorado

Thu, Oct. 6
California at Oregon

Sat, Oct. 8
Arizona at Oregon State
Arizona State at Utah
Washington State at UCLA
Colorado at Stanford

Thu, Oct. 13
USC at California

Sat, Oct. 15
Arizona State at Oregon
Stanford at Washington State
Colorado at Washington
BYU at Oregon State
Utah at Pittsburgh

Thu, Oct. 20
UCLA at Arizona

Sat, Oct. 22
Utah at California
Washington at Stanford
Oregon at Colorado
Oregon State at Washington State
USC at Notre Dame

Sat, Oct. 29
Arizona at Washington
Colorado at Arizona State
Stanford at USC
California at UCLA
Washington State at Oregon
Oregon State at Utah

Sat, Nov. 5
Utah at Arizona
Arizona State at UCLA
USC at Colorado
Washington State at California
Stanford at Oregon State
Oregon at Washington

Sat, Nov. 12
Arizona at Colorado
Arizona State at Washington State
Washington at USC
UCLA at Utah
Oregon State at California
Oregon at Stanford

Sat, Nov. 19
Arizona at Arizona State
USC at Oregon
Colorado at UCLA
California at Stanford
Washington at Oregon State
Utah at Washington State

Sat, Nov. 26
California at Arizona State
UCLA at USC
Oregon State at Oregon
Washington State at Washington
Colorado at Utah
Louisiana-Lafayette at Arizona
Notre Dame at Stanford

Sat, Dec. 3
Pac-12 Championship Game