"It didn't just happen," Tuberville says. "It has been a team effort from the players, the coaches, the administrators and the academic support staff. Everybody has been on the same page with this. It has been fun to watch it improve."
Auburn's first-year score for the 2002-2003 academic year was 960. The Tigers scored 990 out of a possible 1,000 for the 2003-2004 academic year to give them a two-year APR rate of 981.
"We are real excited about that," Tuberville says of the Auburn 981 score. "We work hard at it. It just doesn't happen. I am proud of our academic people--Virgil Starks, Brett Wohlers, Troy Smith. They don't get nearly enough credit. They work night and day on these guys, making sure they work hard in the classroom.
"Our assistant coaches do a good job of working with our academic folks. It all boils down to the players--them getting the job done in the classroom."
Tuberville says the Tigers have set the bar high. "You want to keep it that high," he says. "It is going to be tough. We set a pretty high benchmark pretty quick so that will be an area we try to achieve every year."
Tuberville says he believes there is a correlation with players who are willing to work academically and players who are successful on the football field. "If you have good academic players, guys who go to class and do things right off the field, it is going to carry over to your football team. It has obviously done that with the success we have had the last few years."
The coach says he believes it is a bigger challenge than ever to keep close tabs on the players because of rules limiting the amount of time football coaches can spend with players. "For some reason, the NCAA and all of the rules make it harder to do what we have done--win games and graduate players."
The figures announced on Wednesday are for the 2003 and 2004 football seasons and the following semesters.
"It is just an outstanding job by everybody involved," Tuberville says. "Again, that is our main focus. It starts by recruiting the type of player who can come in a get a degree. To be the top public school in the country, APR-wise, is like winning a national championship. APR is not about having good grades. It is about graduating."
Tuberville says the fact that Auburn has won as many games as any team in the conference in recent years and is at the top of the APR statistics is "pretty special."