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The biggest hits doled out by the APR report are reserved for which conference, you ask? The MEAC, made up of football powerhouses like Hampton, South Carolina State, and Morgan State, will take the brunt of the blow from the NCAA. With their postage-stamp sized facilities, barebones budgets, and deteriorating programs, we're sure it'll serve as a helping hand to the programs, not as a final death blow to small conference football. Myles Brand then followed up the announcement by kicking a baby stroller over, smacking an old lady with a clipboard, and told the skinniest girl in the room she'd be really pretty if she would just lose ten pounds.

Just another step in Brand's "virtuoso performance" as head of the NCAA. Someone seems to think he's doing a good job--at least someone in the NCAA, who pay him upwards of a quarter-million dollars a year for "his efforts", which according to the bizarre USA Today article include his deft hand at "shaping policy, if not setting it." (Read: nitpicky, not all that creative, and thoroughly bureaucratic.) While firing Bobby Knight should have gotten someone a cash reward...three quarters of a million dollars a year for creating a system where Auburn's nipping at the heels of Boston College for the football APR crown?

$750,000: gets you a Zonda super car, or Myles Brand for a year.

Speaking of Auburn's newfound status as an academic powerhouse, here's how the top 25 fared by APR ranking. Surprises abound:

School (rank in poll)
Two-year avg. APR
Boston College (17) : 982
Auburn (14) : 981
Florida (16) : 966
Florida State (23) : 959
Penn State (3) : 957
Miami (Fla.) (18) : 956
TCU (9) : 953
Louisville (20) : 952
Georgia (10) : 950
Notre Dame (11) : 946
California (25) : 945
Clemson (21) : 940
LSU (5) : 935
Virginia Tech (7) : 935
Nebraska (24) : 932
Texas (1) : 931
Southern California (2) : 929
Texas Tech (19) : 928
Oklahoma (22) : 928
West Virginia (6) : 926
Ohio State (4) : 925
Alabama (8) : 916*
UCLA (13) : 915*
Wisconsin (15) : 914*
Oregon (12) : 900

*Team received a squad-size exemption.

Florida ranks almost on par with...Boston College? Take that you pasty Jesuits! Miami, Florida State, Auburn, and Florida all outrank Notre Dame in the APR? Step back. Have a cup of coffee. Take a stroll perhaps, and let the day's worries sink away for a moment with the gentle rhythm of your walking. Then come back and look at that sentence again and see if the WTF factor mellows a bit with time. We just did that, and it looks worse after the step back. This alone is indicative of something very, very fucked up.

Also: that "squad-size exemption" is the statistical wiggle built into the system to allow programs to recalculate their scores based on the small sample size of scores. At this point, without four years of data, we think under the rules that everyone is eligible for a squad-size exemption; only squads with failing scores are granted it to prevent them from taking penalties in the short run. (At least we think that's what the rule means. Read it for yourself--ahem, lawyers--and see if we're getting our APR jurisprudence straight here.) It will be phased out over time, but at the moment it's a nice loophole for programs like Wisconsin to drive their 18-wheeler sized academic problems through. (Current AD? Barry Alvarez. New AD? Barry Alvarez. Want to put some cash on that actually getting better? We would.)

For the moment, this all means very little. Actually, for the long run it means very little: ten percent of a failing team's scholarships could be taken away in theory, though an organization that hasn't dropped the boom on a team since the 1980s can't reasonably claim anything close to status as a regulatory committee. There's plenty of creative ways around this: juco transfers, money shuffling, and the low-grade money laundering that keeps many "non-scholarship" players afloat at the collegiate level.

It's one thing to suggest that the NCAA is setting up a sham system by allowing for such wiggle room combined with weak penalties, though; it's another to look at the strange demerits handed out for students withdrawing or transferring, the ones penalizing teams for sending players to the NFL, and see what the NCAA really has become in this instance: an incoherent, defanged and incompetent arbiter speaking Bantu to its constituents. The more we look at the APR, the more we think that this is less a matter of fraud, and more one of public incompetence.

Hello, boys. Let me just sign this letter those MEAC bastards here...