The University of Notre Dame ranks first in both the current Bowl Championship Series standings and the current NCAA Graduate Success Rate figures for football (released last month) — and that’s the first time in the history of the BCS and the GSR that any team has ranked atop both sets of standings.
“I took the Notre Dame job wanting to have an opportunity to play for a national championship and have high graduation rates,” says Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly. “I think this year we are in a position to validate that, with the number-one rankings right now in football and graduation — that you can do both, and they don't have to be mutually exclusive in college football. I have not seen anything here in my time that will not allow us to continue to have the highest graduation rates and compete for national championships.”
This season’s double so far is similar to the 1988 season when Notre Dame finished 12-0 and won the national championship in football on a unanimous basis — and the Irish also won the Academic Achievement Award that year from the College Football Association with a perfect 100 percent graduation rate for the Irish football squad. Notre Dame also won the CFA award in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1991 and 2001 (it was first presented in 1981). The American Football Coaches Association took over presentation of the award beginning in 1997.
The NCAA began announcing graduation rates in 1992 based on federal graduation figures — with Notre Dame first ranking number one in football for the three combined entering classes for 1983-84-85.
The NCAA began issuing GSR numbers in 2005 based on a combined four years of entering classes for student-athletes. Notre Dame football ranked number one each of the last four years — in 2012 (97 rate for classes 2002 through 2005), 2011 (97 for 2001 through 2004), 2010 (96 for 2000 through 2003) and 2009 (96 for 1999 through 2002).
The University has football student-athlete records back to the 1962 entering class — and since then 98 percent of Notre Dame football players who entered on scholarship and remained enrolled for at least four years have received their degrees.
Notre Dame also has two current players already selected as 2012 first-team Academic All-District V selections by Capital One and CoSIDA (College Sports Information Director of America). Irish senior linebacker Manti Te’o (3.324 grade-point average as design major in College of Arts and Letters) and senior offensive guard Mike Golic Jr. (he graduated last May with a 3.429 GPA as a film, television and theatre major in the College of Arts and Letters—he’s currently in graduate studies) both currently are on the national Academic All-America ballot (the national team will be announced Dec. 6).
Notre Dame has produced 32 first-team Academic All-Americans, including two-time selections Tom Gatewood, Greg Marx, Joe Restic, Greg Dingens and Tim Ruddy and three-time honoree Joe Heap. In addition, Irish players have been second-team selections on 14 other occasions. Only Nebraska has produced more football Academic All-Americans among Football Bowl Subdivision institutions.
Notre Dame football also has produced:
17 recipients of the National Football Foundation National Scholar-Athlete Award, including Te’o in 2012.
17 recipients of NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarships, most recently tight end John Carlson in 2007.
From the football rating standpoint, this is the first time Notre Dame has ranked atop the BCS standings and the first time since Nov. 14, 1993, that the Irish have been number one in the Associated Press poll. Notre Dame has won 11 consensus national titles,including eight (1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1966, 1973, 1977, 1988) since the AP poll began in 1936 (Alabama also has won eight).
This week marks the 90th time in the history of the AP poll that Notre Dame has ranked number one (preseason polls not included). Only Oklahoma with 91 has been number one more often.