College football’s overacheivers and under acheivers

The first decade of the 2000’s has revealed a few things about college football. The one thing that fans of college football may have noticed is that the line separating good programs from bad programs have become blurred. More programs than ever have the opportunity to play in bowls although there are only a few that are legitimately able to compete for a BCS bowl bid or a National Championship but those are articles and arguments for another day. There are programs however that have done more with less despite the odds being stacked against them. There are programs that have entrance requirements, a considerable dearth of high school talent in the area, facilities that are far below the quality of its rivals or just overcoming the stigma of location. There are a few surprises on this list but no one can dispute that these programs have overachieved.

Overachieving Programs

10. University of Southern California
Record 102-26

Synopsis: Okay, I know the obvious question will get asked; why is USC on this list? Here is the argument, travel around the Pac-10. Where would you rank USC facilities? The school is situated in not exactly the greatest neighborhood. So what is it? Is it a testament to Pete Carroll selling recruits on tradition, because if a recruit visits USC and Oregon and all things were equal a kid should choose Oregon, based on facilities and the potential college experience. The school is a private school despite appearances, has admissions standards, and all of things that exist at a private school; a disparity between haves and have nots. Granted, those do not make a lot of difference if you don the cardinal and gold on Saturdays, it could be those hundred dollar handshakes.

9. Tennessee
Decade Record 83-44

Synopsis: Tennessee has been a traditional power in the SEC, but unlike the other schools in the SEC the in-state recruiting talent is not great. So what does Tennessee do? Year after year they wade into the talent pools in the backyards of ACC and SEC powers and somehow are able to convince them that Knoxville is the place for them. The fan base makes this program. The program has fallen on hard times in the past few years, however there are programs with far more going for them than the Vols and are nowhere near as successful.

8. Iowa
Decade record 80-45

The westernmost program in the Big-10 is in a pocket of America that is not exactly a college football recruiting hotbed. You do not see too many other Big 10 coaches or any other coaches standing post at high school stadiums in the state of Iowa in search of talent. Iowa has good facilities and a rabid fan base like Tennessee. Iowa has done more than many of its Big-10 brethren nationally. Iowa also has a victory over an SEC program on his resume something that not too many of his Big-10 brethren can boast of.

7. Georgia Tech
Decade record 81-48

Synopsis: Let’s see I got a 1000 on my SAT , have a 2.7 GPA and have trouble in math, I want to go to college and play football, I guess I can get accepted to Georgia Tech. Somehow I don’t think that will happen, yes athletes can get waivers but the challenge is remaining eligible. Additionally Paul Johnson’s option attack may scare of top flight recruits.

6. Wisconsin
Decade Record 86-43

Synopsis: I recognize it is hard to look at a Big 10 program as being an overachieving program but Wisconsin is not exactly a place that recruits nationally or regionally grow up dreaming of wanting to attend. The kids from “That 70’s Show” made Wisconsin look cool but I suspect you have to be a special football player to want to spend 4-5 years in Madison.

5. Boston College
Decade Record 88-40

Synopsis: You pull players from New England states, and convince recruits from Florida that the winters in Boston are not that bad. You mix those together and somehow you have success that your Catholic School rival (Notre Dame) would probably at this point would take. BC has a consistent program.

4. Fresno St.
Decade record 81-49

Synopsis: Fresno State has enjoyed success this decade and is a program that could be on the level with some Pac-10 programs in football. In fact there are Pac-10 programs that will not play the Dogs because they have a better than even shot of beating them and how would you explain a loss to your alums to “That program”. I will say that Fresno St. Could make the underachiever list very easily because they should have the best talent in their conference but are not able to gather enough top flight talent to be a consistent player in the WAC.

3. Texas Christian University
Decade Record 95-29

Synopsis: TCU is the second best program in the state of Texas! T-C- freaking U., this is a program that had an 0-11 campaign in the 90’s and somehow is a better program than Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor. The Frogs get the next best recruits after Texas. So what is it? The Purple uniforms, the crazy color changing helmets or is just that Gary Patterson has built a consistent winner in Fort Worth.

2. Boise State University
Decade Record 112-17

Synopsis: Boise St. is a program that 15 years ago was gearing up for a schedule with the likes of Northern Arizona, Montana, Eastern Washington and Weber St. There are programs that have been full D-1 programs for 50 years and have not had anything close to the success that Boise St. has enjoyed. The program is much more than the legendary blue turf it is a program that will not back down, and is a program that is feared by BCS programs.

1. Utah
Decade Record 86-36

Synopsis: You are Utah, you are the second program in the state, kids in your state grow up dreaming of playing for your rival, and kids from out of state have a perception of the state you are located in that is not flattering. But in spite of all of that you have 2 BCS appearances 2 wins in those games, respect nationally, Second programs throughout the nation need to ask Kyle Wittingham what is his secret? If you are asking why Utah gets the nod over Boise St. it is simple Utah has beaten an SEC squad, and plays in a better conference.

Underachieving programs

10. Syracuse
Decade Record 38-68

Synopsis: Once a proud program and even featured in a movie called “The Express,” this program has really tanked. Since 2004, they have only manage to win 14 games. Only two winning seasons this decade…and they only play in the Big East! Many thought a former Duke point guard could be their saving grace at QB, but that hasn’t worked out so well.

9. Arizona State
Decade Record 65-58

Synopsis: Why is ASU not better? The admissions standards are not that of UCLA, Cal or Stanford. Tempe is a Phoenix suburb its sunny and warm 90% of the time and the women on campus are incredible. It’s proximity to southern California should make it attractive to recruits that some California schools pass on for academic reasons. This is a program whose biggest post season moment this decade came in the form of a beat down by Texas in the Holiday Bowl. ASU has had talent in this decade, look at any NFL roster and you will find someone who has come through the program. Arizona is a hidden gem when it comes to prep talent, and ASU gets its share. So why is ASU not a national power, could it be the cartoon devil on the helmet and God is angry.

Decade Record 67-57

Synopsis: The Bruins are firmly the second program in Los Angeles. “Skippy New” rolled into town proclaimed that the monopoly that USC has enjoyed is over, well it does not seem as if that has come to pass. UCLA is getting better but right now is looking as if it may start to look at the games with SC as games it has to play in conference but the rivalry with SDSU means everything. UCLA has everything to attract athletes to its campus but cannot get them to don the powder blue uniforms.

7. California
Decade Record 71-53

Synopsis: When you research California’s football program you are struck by this nugget of information Cal has not been to a Rose Bowl since 1959. WHAT? In that span of time Northwestern, Big Game rival Stanford and football heavyweight Indiana have been to a Rose Bowl. Cal should be higher but I will give them the benefit of the doubt for this reason it is not easy to get into Cal. I know they can make some concessions for athletes, but you are in talent rich California (which can be somewhat over-recruited) but you should get decent prep athletes.

Decade Record 41-77

Synopsis: I can kind of see why they do not get top flight recruits. I spent a week in Vegas and felt it may have been four days too long. Your 18 or 19 and cannot truly enjoy the Vegas experience and there are a number of distractions. But Las Vegas is a four hour car ride from southern California, so it should get its share athletes. It is a city in excess of one million people and you are the only game in town. Additionally, UNLV should be able to attract every good Junior College player is wants, lower admission standards and in true Vegas form 21 is a lucky number. Most JC athletes are 21 years old, so Vegas should come alive for them.

5. Maryland
Decade Record 71-52

Synopsis: Fear the turtle, by why? Maryland has had recruiting classes at the top of the ACC but somehow fail to be threats in the ACC. There are some good recruits that come out of the area but seem to find their way to schools in the Big-10, or SEC. Maryland needs to reverse this trend if it wants to get off of this list.

4. San Diego St.
Decade Record 37-81

Synopsis: Are you kidding me that SDSU has never won a conference title or even challenged for one. SDSU’s best finish is a fourth place in 2000. Spend a week in San Diego do you want to leave? The weather is great, the school is nice, it is in talent rich southern California, the admission standards are more relaxed than all of the California schools in the Pac-10. The recruits that can’t go to any of those schools and want to stay close to home should be going to SDSU. SDSU is a sleeping giant. Problem is it is a giant that has swallowed a bottle of Lunesta , with warm milk after a bottle of red wine.

3. Virginia
Decade Record 65-59

Synopsis: Year after year Virginia had one of the top ranked recruiting classes in the ACC, if not the nation; expectations are high and dreams of ACC championships dance in the heads of fans. Then the season starts and the “hoos” finish with records of 8-5, 7-6, 9-4 and a fourth or fifth place finish in the ACC. So what gives? Al Groh may have been there too long, or did not have enough hungry recruits, whatever the reason Al Groh is gone and Virginia wasted another decade.

2. Texas A&M
Decade Record 63-59

Synopsis: A&M has had success in the past. Perception should be that it is the second program in the talent rich state of Texas. Last year Texas produced over 300 D-1 scholarships football players. If Texas gets 15-20 of those top 50, A&M should get at least 10-15, and if you figure over a 4 year period, those top tier recruits should occupy your two deep depth chart, meaning you should be pretty good. So why is A&M without a conference championship, an appearance in a conference championship game, or a berth in a BCS bowl game?

1. Notre Dame
Decade Record 70-52

Synopsis: This is a no brainer, you have your own network, you have tradition, a national fan base, you have movies about your football program. The thing the Irish do not have is a championship a BCS bowl game win or even a close loss. This is how bad things are for Notre Dame; they just fired a coach who got a raise and contract extension after wait for it…. A LOSS. They hired a coach from Big East power Cincinnati (sarcasm) and fully expect him to return the Irish to prominence.