Stanford’s rigorous academic standards and their impact on the university’s athletic programs are well documented. And as the Cardinal football team has grown into a viable powerhouse over the last half-decade, Stanford players reinforcing the “student” in “student-athlete” is frequently praised.
But not everyone is impressed. The below screenshot, via Reddit.com’s college football community, is a Facebook conversation that featured star Cardinal linebacker Shayne Skov getting involved.
Relaxed standards for a certain sect of the student population would understandably raise hackles at one of the most academically exclusive universities in the world. Anonymous online conjecture seems like a petty way of airing such grievances. Kudos to Skov for defending his teammates, in particular his citing of the team’s graduation rate.
Indeed, Stanford players graduate at one of the highest rates among Bowl Subdivision programs. Kevin McGuire breaks down the graduation rankings, and Stanford is No. 6.
The Cardinal seems to have found a balance between classroom and on-field success. It has played in three consecutive BCS bowls, and this past season won the Pac-12 Conference championship.
Shayne Skov was key to the outstanding Cardinal defense, recording a team-high 81 tackles, including nine for loss. Stanford’s defensive unit will again be at the forefront of a push for BCS bowl No. 4.
Stanford is perhaps the flagship of a growing movement among college football’s premier academic universities. Consider the Duke Blue Devils and Rice Owls appeared in bowl games; the Northwestern Wildcats and Vanderbilt Commodores finished ranked in the Top 25; and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish reached the BCS championship game.
The stereotype of an empty-headed Ogre screaming out, “NERDS!” just doesn’t hold much weight anymore.
Still, Stanford’s elite standards elevate expectations on everyone — including football players. Surprisingly, the Pac-12 All-Academic 1st and 2nd teams were not rife with Cardinal.
Further, one detractor in the above thread points to honor code violations. Shayne Skov was suspended at the beginning of spring practice, the result of a DUI arrest.
Such things are simply examined with greater scrutiny at a university like Stanford. But so long as head coach David Shaw continues to develop NFL talent, coupled with a Stanford degree, the Cardinal players have bright futures before them regardless of their critics.