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Are UVA's Academic Standards Too High to Succeed at Football?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

During Virginia's recent struggles on the football field, many fans theorized that the Hoos could not compete with other colleges because of their high ranking academic standards. Virginia is one of the top 25 universities in the country according to US News and World Report when looking at the quality of the school - which takes into account its selectivity in accepting students and the quality of its academic programs amongst other factors. Therefore, it has been thought that some of the most talented recruits do not have the grades to be admitted. However, when looking at the other top schools in the rankings, the academic standard excuse does not hold true for the poor record on the field.

Of the top 25 universities, 16 of them do not field D I FBS football teams (Princeton, Harvard, Yale, etc).  Of the nine that do, only California-Berkeley has a worse record than UVA in the past five years and seven of them have been to more bowl games as seen in the chart below.

UVA Football Compared to other US News Top 25

Being behind storied programs like Notre Dame and USC on this list is understandable, but Duke, Rice, and Northwestern are not football powerhouses. Stanford is the 5th ranked university in the country, and yet has a .805 win % in the tough PAC-12 and has made a bowl game each of the past 5 years, including two Rose Bowls.

Admittedly, the story is a little more optimistic on the basketball side of things for Virginia. Of the 18 top-25 schools that play D I basketball, UVA has the third best record in the past five years. Only four schools have been to more NCAA Tournaments than the Hoos as the corresponding chart illustrates:

UVA Basketball Compared to other US News Top 25

How are Stanford and Notre Dame excelling in football and Duke and UVA are succeeding in basketball with high academic standards at their respective universities?