Cal head coach Sonny Dykes expects single-season football APR to be one of the best in the Pac-12

Cal head coach says academic profile of the program is night and day from when he and his staff came in.

An 8-5 season certainly changes the national perception of the California football program, but perhaps the biggest change, when it comes to recruiting, has been in the classroom.

In a post-season wrap-up teleconference, head coach Sonny Dykes said that he expects the Bears' single-season APR (academic progress rate) to be 997 when announced in late spring (usually mid-May).“Three things are different. No. 1, I think there’s familiarity with our coaching staff, there’s relationships that are established, all those types of things are so much further along, and that helps. That’s the No. 1 thing," Dykes said. "The No. 2 thing is, I think, the program has much more credibility than it has before. People know that we can win, people have seen us win, seen us compete, and seeing that we’re not that far off. The third thing, I think, is that I think, as much as anything else, we were trying to recruit to an academic school that had a really, really bad academic track record, when it came to football."

In May of 2015, Cal’s multi-year APR climbed three points from 938 to 941, last in the Pac-12. This year, a 923 mark from the 2010-11 season will come off the books in the four-year rolling calculation, leaving scores of 923 in 2011-12, 968 in 2012-13 and the 946 from 2013-14, plus the expected 997. The 2009-10 APR was a conference-worst 921. The 2012-13 single-season APR was 969, but dipped to 946 in 2013-2014 (only ahead of Arizona in the Pac-12) with transfers of Johnny Ragin, Chad Whitener and Jacobi Hunter, and NFL early-entrants Kameron Jackson, Villiami Moala, Khairi Fortt and Brendan Bigelow.

When Dykes and his staff came in, in the winter of 2013, they faced an uphill battle, made more difficult by the transfers and early departures.

"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.”

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