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California posts worst graduation rate in all of college football

If this isn't rock bottom for California football, it's hard to wonder what could be worse. The Golden Bears are 1-6, allowing the second-most points per game in all of the FBS with an injury-riddled defense, and haven't beaten an opponent from the top tier of college football in more than a year.

Now, Cal is dealing with equally embarrassing results in the classroom, as it ranks dead last in all of college football according to the latest graduation rates released Thursday. Just 44 percent of players from the freshmen classes of 2003-06 graduated under the NCAA's Graduation Success Rate (GSR), a figure that drops to 39 percent using the Federal Graduation Rate (FGR).

Nationally, FBS football teams graduated 71 percent of their players during that same span, the highest mark ever recorded under the GSR.

Northwestern (97 percent GSR), Boston College (94), Notre Dame (94), Stanford (93) and Duke (92) had the five highest scores.

Those results are especially galling for Cal considering its reputation as the No. 1 public university in the nation and the dramatic chasm between itself and archrival Stanford.

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Those academic downturns, along with declining on-field performance, led to the firing of head coach Jeff Tedford in December. Tedford was the program's most successful coach in the modern era, winning a share of the Pac-10 title in 2006 and contributing to Cal having the fourth-most alums on NFL opening day rosters this season, including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, running back Marshawn Lynch and wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

The early academic returns under new head coach Sonny Dykes have been positive, as the team posted its highest GPA in five years during the spring 2013 semester. Such improvement will be necessary to avoid possible scholarship losses or a postseason ban under the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate.

"Although we still have a lot of work to do and have put systems in place that we believe will raise the success rate for under-performing teams, we are proud of what we have accomplished over the past year," athletic director Sandy Barbour said in a statement.

It is just one more obstacle Dykes will have to deal with to put Cal back on the road to respectability.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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