Oklahoma State Football's APR Penalty Is Significant but Shouldn't Doom Cowboys

Ben Kercheval@@BenKerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterMay 14, 2014

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy directs an Orange Blitz NCAA college spring football practice in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, April 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

Just when the offseason news cycle was slipping into a peaceful slumber, the NCAA hit Oklahoma State with a wake-up bucket of ice-cold water.

According to John Helsley of The Oklahoman, Oklahoma State's football program will lose one practice day per week this season. The news was first reported by GoPokes.com (subscription required)

The punishment reportedly comes as a result of the program's Academic Progress Rate (APR) falling below the NCAA minimum requirement, which is either 930 over a four-year period, or 940 over a two-year period.

From The Oklahoman

OSU fell a fraction of a point shy of avoiding penalty, with its number at 929.41 for the last four years. Had the Cowboys been at 929.50, the number would have been rounded up, meaning they missed by nine-one-hundreds of a point. The Cowboys avoided a more damaging postseason ban.

The program’s numbers were actually improved from a year ago, when OSU scored 926 over four years, but the NCAA raised its minimums for this season, from 900 for four years and 930 for two years, to 930 and 940.

This is obviously sobering news for the Cowboys. As B/R's Michael Felder, a former college player himself, tweets, there are only so many practices a week a team uses for game preparation. 

Losing a day is a disadvantage no matter how you slice it. However, it would be interesting to know if Oklahoma State can choose which day of practice it will forfeit. That could change the perception of the punishment's severity. 

As Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated notes, a good day to miss is Friday, when teams do little more than walk through everything from plays and packages to substitutions before Saturday's game. 

It is by far the easiest day of "practice" and could be moved to either Thursday or Saturday. Another possibility is eliminating Oklahoma State's Sunday practice. 

The thing to consider is head coach Mike Gundy has lightened up his in-season, on-field practice schedule (h/t Footballscoop.com). That makes the NCAA's punishment seem less dreadful than at first glance. 

"We started [compiling] all that about three years ago, and we started putting it in effect really this year," Gundy told ESPN's Ivan Maisel in 2011. "Last spring, spring ball, we did not scrimmage one time and tackle to the ground. This August, we did not scrimmage one time and tackle to the ground. Nothing."

None of this is ideal or to suggest losing a day of practice isn't significant. It is, especially if the NCAA is the one dictating the terms. 

But all things considered, it's not as devastating as it could be. 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand.