For decades, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish offered football recruits the opportunity to play for a potential national champion. For a few years, it didn't offer that, but promised students that they'd graduate and get to play Division I football. Now, they pitch both to recruits -- and it's working.
The Fighting Irish aren't just No. 1 in the current BCS Standings, they're also No. 1 in graduation rates amongst D-I football players, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education - the first time both honors have ever been held by the same school. Coach Brian Kelly spoke on the distinction:
"We're going to validate that this year, obviously with the No. 1 graduation rates that you can do both, and they don't have to be mutually exclusive in college football," coach Brian Kelly boasted in November.
The payoff is that now, Notre Dame is also near the top of another standing: Rival's 2013 recruiting rankings, which puts Notre Dame No. 2. It's Kelly's best class, with 14 four- or five-star recruits coming in. The school recently landed five-star running back Greg Bryant from Delray Beach, Fla., a recruit widely expected to sign with an SEC school. But when his father spoke to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, he said the school's commitment to ensuring its athletes got a quality education was key.