The subject of the Gophers' Academic Progress Rate has been written about in these parts before. The APR lives in some sort of alternate universe, where grade point averages don't matter (too bad for Minnesota, because a number of Gopher footballers are Academic All-Big Tenners), but keeping your kids enrolled does. For those needing a quick breakdown (Wikipedia you better be right darnit): each player on the roster is given two points per term - one for staying eligible, and one for staying with the school. The APR is calculated as the number of total points for a team, divided by the total amount of points possible, multiplied by 1,000 because people hate decimal points. If you're below a total of 925, you can get zinged.
This is intimately familiar to Minnesota, because they were docked 3 scholarships for 2009 earlier this year for having a multiyear APR of 915. That's right, 915. There are only two schools lower than Minnesota in football, and they are South Florida and Ole Miss. For the 2007-08 reporting period, the Gophers' score dropped from its previously precarious 927 to a downright disastrous 887, thanks to the results of Mason's kids leaving, and seven out of eight Brewster recruits no longer being at Minnesota (thanks to Kyle Theret for sticking around), as well as a steady flow of 2008 recruits and athletes (including Brodrick Smith, Tramaine Brock, Roszell Gayden, Vince Hill, and John Nance) leaving the program. Also, MarQueis Gray's, er, grayshirt hurt the Gopher APR.
The wound opens again this week with the news that Terrell Combs has left the program. In regards to depth or on-field play, this doesn't hurt the Gophers to any great extent. However, the APR is calculated on a rolling average over a period of years, so when any kid leaves the program it hurts the Gophers' ability to get its scholarships back (why, by the way, hasn't South Florida had more than a wrist slap for such terrible APR numbers?)
We are now left without Smith, Brock, Nance, Combs, Hasan Lipscomb and Joey Searcy (according to my scrimmage program) on the 2009 active roster. This means points taken away from the APR, and it means that the Gophers are more likely to be taking the field again next year with only 82 scholarships.
This feeds into the general consternation some Gopher fans (I think some may = me) feel when the Gopher nation welcomes, say, a 2 star recruit with offers from ONLY the directional Louisiana schools. Tim Brewster is certainly not the only guy who knew about Dwayne Mitchell - he was the MVP of his conference and had exactly ZERO offers from the BCS-conference schools in an area that knows its football. What do the rest of BCS don't know that Brewster does, or more importantly, that Brewster may be ignoring? Brewster is currently in no position to take flyers on kids that may not qualify. The Gophers have historically operated from a talent deficit in comparison to the rest of the Big Ten. There is no reason to impose self-penalties by losing quality athletes to academic ineligibility, and then compounding it with NCAA scholarship sanctions. There is no sugar-coating that Brewster needs to bring in a class with no academic casualties to get those three scholarships back.