Updated: May 11, 2009 at 12:00 am
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun called it "a college football phenomenon."
Last week, the NCAA released its Academic Progress Report (APR), and Air Force ranked No. 2 among 120 Football Bowl Subdivision programs.
"Of all the schools that play in conferences, nobody's even close when it comes to what's required academically compared to the Air Force Academy," Calhoun said. "You just don't see this. It just does not happen where a team, football players - every single one of them - have to take this kind of academic load and still be part of a competitive team."
The APR is based on the eligibility, retention and graduation of each scholarship student-athlete over a four-year period - in this case through the 2007-08 school year. Teams can receive penalties for poor scores.
Air Force football's APR rating was 983, just below Stanford (984) and just ahead of Duke and Rutgers (tied for third at 980).
Navy (978) and Army (967) ranked sixth and 16th, respectively. Among MWC foes, Utah finished the highest - tied for 31st at 954. Colorado State ranked tied for 57th at 944.
Calhoun credited the faculty and "caliber of kid" at the academy for the high mark.
"The faculty here is absolutely the best as far as being dedicated to students," he said. "There are no (teacher's assistants) or (graduate assistants) teaching classes. It's always the instructor. Teachers are also the tutors, whose top priority is availability to cadets."
Air Force was ranked as the top Baccalaureate College in the West by U.S. News and World Report in 2008, and the Princeton Review ranked it tops in the country in professor availability the past four years.