TIME College football

College Football Top 25, Ranked By Academics

Cameron Echols-Luper of the TCU Horned Frogs celebrates his 69-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter during a game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 15, 2014 in Lawrence, Kansas.
Cameron Echols-Luper of the TCU Horned Frogs celebrates his 69-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter during a game against the Kansas Jayhawks at Memorial Stadium on Nov. 15, 2014 in Lawrence, Kansas. Ed Zurga—Getty Images

TCU didn't get in the football playoffs, but at least the Horned Frogs won something.

Correction appended: Dec. 19, 2014.

Forgive fans of Texas Christian University’s football team for feeling blue over the holidays. After all, the Horned Frogs entered the last weekend of the regular season ranked third in the college football playoff rankings, good enough for a coveted spot in the four-team national semifinals. But by the weekend’s end, they painfully fell out of contention.

Horned Frogs boosters, take some solace. Because according to an annual academic ranking of the top 25 college football teams, your school is number one. “Overall, TCU is really the standout,” says Alexander Holt, policy analyst at New America, the Washington, D.C. think-tank which publishes the rankings, viewed first here at TIME. “It’s a real academic football power, which is very rare.”

For the final results, check out the chart below. Click the left tab for the football rankings, the right one for the academic top-25:

To compile the rankings, New America started with each school’s football graduation success rate (GSR). The GSR is an NCAA metric that, unlike the federal graduation rate, doesn’t penalize schools for having players who transfer or leave for the pros–as long as those players depart in good academic standing. The higher the school’s graduation success rate, the higher they start out in New America’s rankings.

But New America penalized schools for graduating football players at different rates than the overall male student body at the school. To compare players to students, New America relied on federal rates, since there’s no GSR for the general population. The bigger the discrepancy, the harsher the penalty. It’s important to note that even if a school graduated football players at higher rates than the overall male student population — four schools in the top 25, TCU, Arizona State, Arizona, and Boise State, did so — the difference was counted as a penalty. Why? “We were not going to reward schools with really low overall graduation rates,” says Holt. In fact, schools got an added bonus for having high overall rates.

TCU, for example, has a 77% federal graduation rate for football players, and a 73% federal graduation rate for all male students. This four point difference is relatively minor. But Boise St. has a 70% football graduation rate, and a 31% graduation rate for all the male students. The low overall rate hurts the school tremendously in these rankings: despite a strong 85% graduation success rate for football players, Boise State fell to 24th in these rankings.

Of the four playoff teams — Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State — the defending champion Seminoles have the lowest GSR, at 65%. “It’s super troubling,” says Holt. “Florida State is a very good football school. But what’s going on here with the other 35% of the players?”

TCU’s academic win won’t match the euphoria that a national title would deliver. But it’s something, right? “Sure,” says Jamie Plunkett, a TCU alum and managing editor of Frogs O’ War, a TCU fan site. “It’s always cool to be ranked number one in something. Where’s Baylor on that list?”

Correction: A number cited by Alexander Holt was misquoted in the original version of this story. The percentage of Florida State players who did not graduate is 35%.

Read next: The Big 12 Bites Itself in College Football Playoff


The Big 12 Bites Itself in College Football Playoff

Iowa State v TCU
Texas Christian University Quarterback Trevone Boykin throws a pass during the thrid quarter of the Big 12 college football game against the Iowa State Cyclones at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Dec. 6, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. Christian Petersen—Getty Images

Naming TCU and Baylor co-champions gives College Football Playoff Committee an out: let a true conference champ in

Five power conferences. Four playoff spots.

Someone was always going to be left out.

It’s early December, which means one thing: a contingent of the country will be whining about its place in the college football postseason. Pick your administrative acronym! Whether it’s the BCS, or this year’s much-discussed CFP (College Football Playoff!), a school or schools were going to get screwed, according to players, coaches, and supporters of that school or schools. In this, the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff, the screaming is particularly loud, as two teams from Texas — which happens to be the corporate headquarters of the playoff committee, and site of the national championship game — didn’t get an invite to the national semifinals.

Texas Christian University and Baylor, from the Big 12 conference, entered the weekend ranked third and sixth, respectively. They both took care of business this weekend: TCU trounced lowly Iowa State by 52 points, while Baylor beat No.9 Kansas State, 38-27.

But in college sports, that on-field business doesn’t always count. It’s the off-field machinations, conducted by highly-compensated bureaucrats, that determine the fate of unpaid amateurs.

The college sports business bit the Big 12. Schools like Missouri and Texas A&M and Colorado and Nebraska started abandoning the conference a few years back; the Big 12 now has only 10 teams. Under NCAA rules, you need 12 teams to hold a conference championship game; so the Big 12 didn’t have a clear champion in the eyes of the committee.

In lieu of a championship game, the Big 12 created a “One True Champion” campaign that now looks like a joke, since Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby presented both TCU and Baylor championship trophies on Saturday. Bowlsby played politics: he didn’t want to tick off either member of his club. But he got played. Without giving the selection committee a clear choice, even though Baylor beat TCU head-to-head in the regular season– no more logical tie-breaker on the planet exists — Bowlsby gave the selection committee an easy out.

Put Ohio State in the playoff.

The Big 10 has 14 teams. (We know, we know, the conference names really make no sense). So it played itself a championship game, and the Buckeyes, with their third string quarterback, destroyed 13th-ranked Wisconsin, 59-0. Such a decisive win in a high-stakes affair made the decision easy. Put the champs from four of the five power conferences in the playoff — Alabama (SEC), Oregon (Pac-12), Florida State (ACC), and Ohio State (Big 10). Leave the touchy-feely Big 12 — both of you boys win!! Trophies for everyone!!– out of it.

You have to feel for the players of TCU and Baylor: bad politics cost them a shot at the national championship. But we all know what the committee knows. College football wins here. Ohio State, with high-strung coach Urban Meyer, is a more compelling national draw than either TCU or Baylor. In the first year of the playoff, the New Year’s Day semifinals — Alabama vs. Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, Oregon and Florida State in the Rose Bowl — will get monster ratings.

As for the Big 12 — well, start adding teams. Or lobbying for a waiver start a championship game with 10 teams. Or change the tie-breaker rules.

In other words, get back to business. That’s what always wins here.

TIME College football

College Football Playoff Will Feature Alabama, Oregon, FSU, Ohio State

SEC Championship - Alabama v Missouri
Blake Sims #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts after throwing a touchdown pass to Derrick Henry #27 against the Missouri Tigers in the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on Dec. 6, 2014 in Atlanta. No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Kevin C. Cox—Getty Images

Baylor and TCU, which both went 11-1 in the Big 12, were left out

After a season’s worth of debate, the College Football Playoff field is finally set. The selection committee unveiled the four teams that will compete for the national championship on Sunday.

No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, while No. 2 Oregon will face No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl. Baylor and TCU, which both went 11-1 in the Big 12, were left out.

Here are the top six teams in the playoff committee’s final rankings.

1. Alabama (12-1)
2. Oregon (12-1)
3. Florida State (13-0)
4. Ohio State (12-1)
5. Baylor (11-1)
6. TCU (11-1)

This article originally appeared at SI.com


New Video Released for Right-to-Die Advocate Brittany Maynard’s 30th Birthday

Maynard, who died Nov. 1, became the face of the right-to-die movement

A new video released by supporters of the so-called Death With Dignity movement shows Brittany Maynard, on what would’ve been her 30th birthday, advocating for expanded right-to-die legislation around the United States.

The advocacy group Compassion & Choices has released the video, made in August, nearly three weeks after she died Nov. 1. Maynard had moved from California to Oregon in order to take advantage of a state law that allows terminally ill patients to obtain life-ending medication. Diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, she quickly became the face of the right-to-die movement, releasing several videos that advocated for more states to legalize the practice.

MORE: Brittany Maynard Could Revive the Stalled ‘Death With Dignity’ Movement

Only five states currently allow physicians to give drugs to people who have terminal illnesses. In the last few weeks, lawmakers have drafted or advanced right-to-die legislation in Colorado, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

TIME Farming

Monsanto Reaches $2.4M Settlement With U.S. Wheat Farmers

Sean Gallup—Getty Images

In settling, the firm said it was seeking to avoid a protected legal battle

Monsanto agreed Wednesday to pay almost $2.4 million to settle a lawsuit filed by U.S. wheat farmers, after a genetically modified strain of the grain was found in an Oregon field and spooked importers of American wheat.

No genetically engineered wheat has been approved in the U.S., but in 2013 wheat matching a strain of an experimental type developed and tested by Monsanto a decade earlier was found growing in a field in Oregon, the Associated Press reports. The modified wheat was not approved by federal regulators, and the seed juggernaut had said it had destroyed the crop.

A government report judged the incident to be an isolated case, but it did not conclude how the errant wheat had come to be in the field. Nations wary of genetically modified crops were alarmed: Japan and South Korea briefly stopped importing American wheat, and American farmers cried foul over the damage done to their revenues and reputations.

The St. Louis–based company’s settlement includes giving $2.1 million to farmers in the states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho who sold soft white wheat between May 30 and Nov. 30 of 2013, as well as paying $250,000 to multiple wheat growers’ associations.


TIME Crime

Body Found After Mom Threw Son in Oregon’s Yaquina Bay

Jillian Meredith McCabe Newport Police Dept.

She was subsequently arrested for aggravated murder, murder and 1st degree manslaughter

The body of a 6-year-old boy was found in Oregon’s Yaquina Bay after his mother called cops to say she’d thrown her son off a bridge, officials said early Tuesday. Police said that Jillian Meredith McCabe, 34, of Seal Rock, Oregon, had been arrested for the murder of her son London.

An Oregon woman by the same name penned an appeal for funding to help take care of her autistic son London and multiple sclerosis-stricken husband Matt. A mugshot released by police matched social-media posts showing the wife of a Matt McCabe and their son.

Authorities mounted an extensive search, with…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Culture

See Which States Allow Assisted Suicide

Brittany Maynard was one of hundreds of people in five states who've taken advantage of death with dignity laws

Few issues are more personal—or divisive—than ending a life with a doctor’s lethal prescription.

The issue has sparked national debate recently, after Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman who had terminal brain cancer, went public with her decision to end her own life. She did so on Saturday in Oregon.

Maynard is one of more than 750 people in Oregon who have ingested a lethal dose of prescription medication since the Death with Dignity Act went into effect in 1997. While Oregon has had increased participation over the last 16 years and has spurred similar legislation in other states, aid-in-dying laws remain a lightning rod of contention and deliberation.

Advocates say competent patients should have a right to choose how they die if they are already in the process of dying from a terminal illness. Opponents counter that such a precedent is ripe for abuse.

The battle has been shaped over many years. In the 1990s, Jack Kevorkian assisted in the deaths of more than a hundred terminally ill people to much public outcry. In 2009, politicians sparred over a provision in the Affordable Care Act concerning end-of-life consultations – called “death panels” by critics – to help control health-care costs. (Roughly 28%, or $170 billion, of Medicare is spent on patients’ last six months of life, according to Medicare Newsgroup.)

Here is how aid-in-dying laws look today, and a snapshot of the ways in which they are implemented:

Sources: Oregon Health Authority; CompassionandChoices.org; NotDeadYet.org; New York Times


Brittany Maynard Could Revive the Stalled ‘Death With Dignity’ Movement

"In a way, the Death with Dignity movement has been waiting years for someone like Brittany Maynard"

Long before the world knew of Brittany Maynard’s wrenching decision to end her own life Saturday at 29 rather than continue treatment for terminal brain cancer, Eli Stutsman, an Oregon lawyer, began meeting with a group of physicians and businesspeople in Portland who shared his belief that the terminally ill should be able to decide how and when to die. The group started small, meeting first in public libraries, then graduating to a church and eventually a small office space. By 1993, they hammered out what would become the state’s Death With Dignity law, the first in the United States to give people with months to live the right to access lethal medication.

Then, as now, it was a polarizing idea. Earlier efforts to pass similar measures had failed in California and Washington.

“We were being hit with these overheated arguments, mostly from the Catholic Church,” Stutsman says when his group first went public with their proposed legislation. “It felt like we had made a horrible career mistake.”

But a grassroots campaign and lobbying effort built enough support, and in 1994 the bill Stutsman co-wrote passed the Oregon legislature. It took effect three years later, after an appeals court lifted a federal injunction prompted by legal challenges that the law violated the Constitution’s First and Fourteenth Amendments. For the next decade, where a candidate stood on the Death with Dignity law became a crucial litmus test in Oregon politics.

The culture wars have since moved on. “Those days are long gone,” Stutsman says. “It’s not an issue in campaigns. There was a time when it was a big issue, but all of that has settled down.”

As the controversy faded, so did momentum for similar laws around the country. Oregon is one of only three states that allow aid in dying, which generally lets doctors prescribe drugs to terminally ill patients who are deemed mentally competent. In the 17 years since the law took effect, almost 1,200 people have used it to obtain medication to end their own life, according to the Oregon Public Health Division. About 750 have actually taken the medication.

Washington passed an end-of-life law in 2008 modeled after Oregon’s legislation, and Vermont did the same in 2013. The matter is fuzzier in two other states. Montana’s Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that state law does not prohibit end-of-life care, while a district court judge in New Mexico ruled earlier this year that terminally ill residents who are mentally competent have a constitutional right to prescribed end-of-life drugs. That decision is under appeal.

But the debate was revived by Maynard, a 29-year-old newlywed who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in April and decided to move from California to Oregon to take advantage of the state’s Death With Dignity law. She went through with it Saturday, and news broke Sunday after publication of this article.

“Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love,” she wrote on Facebook before dying. “Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me … but would have taken so much more. The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type. … Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

In a way, the Death with Dignity movement has been waiting years for someone like Maynard. In the public imagination, the person most often associated with aid-in-dying is Jack Kevorkian, the late Michigan physician who was known as Dr. Death. Kevorkian claimed to have helped more than 100 people end their own lives through “physician-assisted suicide” (a term disliked by the death with dignity supporters), and he was eventually convicted of second-degree murder of one of his patients. Kevorkian raised Americans’ awareness of the issue, but not in the way many of its supporters had hoped.

Maynard may have been Kevorkian’s polar opposite: a young, sunny schoolteacher who should have had far more of life ahead than behind. Her story has resonated much more than those of most patients who utilize aid-in-dying laws, who tend to be in their 70s. More than nine million people have viewed a video of her describing her illness and talking about her recent wedding, how much she will miss her beloved dogs, and all of the things she wanted to do before she dies.

“Brittany Maynard is transformative for our movement,” says Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit organization that supports aid in dying. “I’ve never felt this energy or seen this level of engagement in any of our campaigns.”

Surveys show that Americans support having choice at the end of their life if they’re suffering from an incurable disease. Gallup polls have consistently found that about 7 in 10 Americans support doctors who help bring about “some painless means if the patient and his or her family request it.” Support may be waning, though it remains high. In a November 2013 Pew survey, 66% of respondents said that there are circumstances in which a patient should sometimes be allowed die, down from 73% in 1990. Meanwhile, 31% said medical staff should always do everything possible to save a patient, up from 15% in 1990.

Despite popular support, aid-in-dying has stalled in statehouses and on ballots around the country. It’s not exactly a galvanizing political issue, and the Catholic Church has staunchly opposed the measures that do find their way to a vote.

“Our opponent is well-organized and well-funded,” Stutsman says. “You could put this issue on the ballot anywhere in the country, and if there were no political campaigns organized around the issue, it would pass in every state. But if you look at where the money comes from and the political expertise and organization, it’s always the Catholic Church.”

The most recent battleground was Massachusetts. In 2012, the state included a Death With Dignity law on the ballot, and several polls showed what most national numbers indicate: about 60% of people in Massachusetts supported it, and many political observers predicted that the heavily Catholic state would actually vote it into law. But the measure failed, 51% to 49%. Of the $5 million spent to defeat it, about $4 million came from the Catholic Church or individuals with ties to the church.

“We think fundamentally that these laws institutionalize an injustice in which society decides some people’s lives are not worth protecting as others,” says Richard Doerflinger, associate director of pro-life activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Church sees the issue of a piece with suicide and abortion, all of which it opposes out of adherence to the commandment Thou Shalt Not Kill. Doerflinger says that even though surveys often show a majority of Americans and even Catholics say they favor of end-of-life legislation, many can’t bring themselves to vote for legalizing the practice.

It’s too soon to know the effect of Maynard’s heartrending story. Death with Dignity legislation is pending in Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and a measure may be introduced in Colorado in January. Supporters are optimistic that the young teacher’s ordeal may be enough to tip the balance their way.

“She brings it home to people in a way that hasn’t been brought home to them,” says Lee of Compassion & Choices. “So far, because it hasn’t been front and center and people have not had the awareness and the motivation to become activist about it, politicians have been able to ignore it. But I think they won’t be able to ignore it anymore.”


Read next: Terminally Ill Woman Who Planned Assisted Suicide Dies

TIME Health Care

Terminally Ill Brittany Maynard May Not End Her Life, After All

Death With Dignity Advocate
This undated file photo provided by the Maynard family shows Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life under Oregon’s death with dignity law. AP

The 29-year-old woman, who was diagnosed with brain cancer, explains her state of mind two days before her scheduled death

A terminally ill 29-year-old woman who has said she plans to commit physician-assisted suicide on Nov. 1 implies in a heart-wrenching new video that she may not go through with it in the end.

In the six-minute clip, released with advocacy group Compassion & Choices, Brittany Maynard says she may or may not choose to die on that date, People reports.

“So if Nov. 2 comes along and I’ve passed, I hope my family is still proud of me and the choices I made,” says Maynard, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given six months to live last spring.

Read more at People

Read next: Dear Brittany Maynard: Our Lives Are Worth Living, Even With Brain Cancer

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 23

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. A “13th year” of public education combines the supportive environment of high school with the first year of community college — and more students are staying enrolled.

By Rebecca Schuman in Slate

2. Imagine drones as solar-powered and mobile cell towers delivering connectivity to underserved areas.

By Adele Peters in Co.Exist

3. Large employers offering employees at-home solar power at a deep discount could help scale and create demand for this critical renewable resource.

By Diane Cardwell in the New York Times

4. If “democracy” is intended to work for everyone, not just the political class in America, it’s clearly failing.

By Clive Crook in Bloomberg View

5. With each success, new community partnerships exercise greater strength, building civic confidence to solve persistent regional problems.

By Monique Miles in the Aspen Journal of Ideas

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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