One of the priorities for Sonny Dykes when he became the new head coach was to improve the academic profile of a beleaguered Golden Bear program. After a few rough years of transition, it appears the program is back to stability.
When Dykes arrived in 2012, Cal was coming off a multi-year APR in the 930s, the lowest in the Pac-12 and the worst in the nation. It was perhaps the paramount reason the Bears decided to move on from Jeff Tedford. Dykes did manage to get academics improved a bit, raising the single-year APR from 923 in 2011-12 to 968 in 2012-13. The APR dipped in 2013-14 to 946 as Dykes saw a noticeable group of mostly Tedford recruits graduate early or transfer, but it was still an improvement over the three straight awful years at 923 or below (2009-10: 921; 2010-11: 923; 2011-12: 923).
This year, it appears the worm has turned. Dykes confirmed again that he expects a single-season of APR of 997 for 2014-15.
This kicks in the first part of a provision in Sonny's new contract that would ensure he earns an extra year on his contract--this provision comes into effect if the Bears hit a 980 single-year APR and Cal wins seven games in 2016.
Since multi-year APR counts through a spectrum of four years, that would mean the 923 goes off the books and the 997 comes on, guaranteeing a significant APR double digit jump. Cal went from 938 to 941 in multi-year APR last season; I'd expect a bigger leap in the multi-year this time around to somewhere near 957 to 960, which would be somewhere close to the national average.
Sonny emphasized the importance a high multi-year APR will have on recruiting based on academic merits. More from Ryan Gorcey:
"So, we're trying to sell academics to kids, and the kids and their parents are going, ‘Well, you're selling academics, and you guys have a terrible graduation rate and a terrible APR. How do those two things equate?'" Dykes remembered. "Now, we can sit there and say, ‘Our APR is 997, and it's going to be one of the top APRs in the country, so they see now, that, if they come to Cal with an interest in academics, we're going to provide an atmosphere and a culture in our program that's going to allow them to be successful, give them the academic support and all the things that they need in order to do well in a place like Cal. From that standpoint, it's a night-and-day difference."
And of course, if Cal can maintain a 980 to 1000 score range in 2015-16 when the 2011-12 APR gets eliminated, the Bears should be back to near the top of the heap, and you can expect the Bears to be able to recruit even more aggressively on its academic merits. Given the way Stanfurd and UCLA have been recruiting, getting back on equal footing with these programs will be huge for Dykes in establishing Cal to young prospects in future seasons.