And the exploits of the Stargazer
appeared to be suggested or otherwise popular reading at the Academy - that's probably telling something, considering how many ships Starfleet has out there...
Would an adventurous career of exploration be enough to boost Picard to high positions (and not merely to popular fame), though? Or did he need to spend those eight or nine years between the commands honing his political skills, sucking up to a number of Admirals, and otherwise buying votes?
It would rather seem likely that a skipper who has been Out There for twenty years would be out of the loop and lacking in connections. But perhaps that's why Picard was such a good candidate - he didn't have too much San Francisco muck on his uniform yet.