They don’t write, they don’t call.

I’ve got a question for you:  which football program in a BCS conference is the most invisible right now?  The team that even if you spotted Stewart Mandel’s buddies from Montana a map and a cable subscription to ESPN would still completely escape their notice?

I thought I’d see if I could identify the school through the process of elimination – who, outside of conference roundup articles or Phil Steele’s obsessiveness, never gets mentioned.

First, get rid of the national powers, the teams likely to be ranked in the top 15 or so in the country going into this season:  Auburn, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Clemmins, Virginia Tech, Southern Cal, Oregon, Arizona State, South Florida, Rutgers and West Virginia.  We hear about them regularly.

Next, eliminate the “cult of personality” schools.  The ones that are identified with cultural icons/living legends (whether in their minds or others), for better or worse:  Alabama, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Penn State, Texas Tech, Florida State, North Carolina, California, Illinois, Arizona State and Purdue.

Schools with fat head coaches – gone.  Tennessee, Kansas and Maryland.  People like talking about fat coaches.  (Notre Dame gets an honorable mention here.)

Teams that are so bad they get noticed:  Vanderbilt, Minnesota, Duke, Syracuse and Stanford.

Teams with head coaches that look like Freddie Mercury:  Washington State.

Everybody likes to talk about new head coaches.  It’s that whole “hope springs eternal” vibe.  For 2008, this would include Ole Miss, Arkansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Georgia Tech, UCLA, Texas A & M and Baylor.

Schools living off the past.  The danger here is that the discussion turns, sooner or later, to whether the past glories can be recaptured. If they can’t, at some point, these programs don’t get any more attention.  Examples include Miami, Louisville, Kansas State and Boston College.

Schools with a Wannstache:  Pittsburgh.

Schools with crusty, cranky or truculent SOBs:  Oklahoma State, Arizona, Kentucky, Virginia and Michigan State.

Schools with head coaches that march to a different beat:  Colorado and Wake Forest.

Programs that are headed by coaches on death watch:  Iowa and Washington.

When the dust settles, that leaves us with the following:

  • Indiana – Terry Hoeppner’s was a heart warming story, but I doubt anyone not a true fan of the school knows anything else that’s happened to this program in the last 25 years.
  • N. C. State – Tom O’Brien may be the most colorless head coach in college football.  I even had to check to see if his last name was spelled with an “e” or an “a”.
  • Iowa State.  Name the town the school is located in.
  • Northwestern.  Not too bad, not too good.  Just there.
  • Oregon State.  For what it’s worth, the Beavers are getting new uniforms this year.
  • Connecticut.  A boring Big East team.  Yeah, they went to a bowl game last year.  Can you name it?

Forced to pick, I’d go with NC State.  Outside of O’Brien, I couldn’t give you the name of a single person affiliated with the program unless I looked it up.  I’m not even sure I could tell you what the Wolfpack’s record was exactly last season.  Things just haven’t been the same since the Chest left.

Your thoughts?

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19 Comments

Filed under College Football

19 responses to “They don’t write, they don’t call.

  1. I dunno, Washington State seems pretty invisible to me, new coach or no. Even back in 2002 when they went to the Rose Bowl, you kind of had to stop and remind yourself that WSU was actually the Pac-10 champion and Southern Cal only got a BCS bid as an at-large team.

    Plus they’re located in a town of barely 27,000 people located literally in the middle of freaking nowhere. There can’t be more than a handful of BCS-conference programs situated in smaller towns than that.

  2. peacedog

    NC State just had the #1 pick in the NFL Draft a few years ago, so I’m not crazy about them as the most invisible. Also, Oregon State doesn’t strike me as invisible though they’re certainly less accomplished than their in-state brethren.

    Doug makes a compelling point about WSU, who has accomplished more than many BCS schools and yet has so little to show for it. And yeah, Pullman. Yikes.

    Indiana has a good argument, though.

  3. Doug, good points, but WSU’s had some (fairly) recent successes.

    And I bet even Mandel’s Montana buddies know who Mike Price and Ryan Leaf are/were.

    Plus, Paul Wulff really does look like Freddie Mercury. That’s gotta count for something.

  4. NC State just had the #1 pick in the NFL Draft a few years ago, so I’m not crazy about them as the most invisible.

    Again, the time frame for this is the here and now. That program was certainly more visible a few years ago, with Chow, Rivers and Amato. But now? How many players or coaches from Raleigh can you name without looking it up?

  5. NebraskaDawg

    I say take the school you couldn’t name one player off the team. UConn, Iowa State, and Northwestern

  6. I know NC State isnt visible so much now about what is going on there at the moment but I think with Mario Williams in 2006 and Amato that it still bleeds over in that people maybe could at least tell you they are the Wolfpack and their team colors, whereas with Iowa State there would be little to nothing and I imagine that they would try to attribute things from Iowa to them.

    Indiana gets a little over shadowed by the basketball program but in this way people are going to have at least cursory knowledge about the school even if the football team is invisible.

    Northwestern is kinda just there but they have had some success so I see them as “meh” but not really invisible.

    Oregon St gets noticed just because they are the Beavers.

    UConn are certainly a boring Big East team but they get noticed by avg joe on the street kinda like Indiana because of their Basketball program and I think they get a little bit of a pass here since they just recently moved up to 1-A ball.

    Im going with Iowa State.

  7. Grew up in Raleigh, so I follow the Pack here and there. I’d generally consider the program a lighter version of South Carolina- little to no success historically, fans with a vulgar chip on their shoulder, etc. They’ve actually thrown a ton of money into football in the last few years (closing in both endzones of Carter-Finley Stadium, all the cash they gave to Amato) but don’t have squat to show for it.

    There was a time a few years ago that NCSU was about to become the new beast of the ACC, but Phillip Rivers’ senior season was a flop, and they never regained any program momentum.

    Oh, their on-again-off-again QB Daniel Evans…he and I were actually on the same varsity baseball team in high school. So there’s you something random.

    Put in my vote for Iowa State. The complete indifference that greeted their Huge! Uniform! Change! is proof positive.

  8. In a few years I can see Purdue being the king of this list. Their offensively inoffensive nondescript-ness is already overwhelming, even with Tiller still at the helm. Gotta feel sorry for that crew, subjected to Pam Ward and 11:30 a.m. starts about 9 games a year.

  9. chefboyardee

    How about (and they qualify by fact that they didn’t make the list at all) Wisconsin ?

  10. baltimore dawg

    i lived in bloomington for six years. the only things i can recall about iu football from that time are cam cameron, antwan randle-el, and gerry dinardo. i think the hoosiers’ long, long streak of invisibility (hoeppner notwithstanding) precedes all others you’ve mentioned.

  11. How about (and they qualify by fact that they didn’t make the list at all) Wisconsin ?

    Look again – they’re in the first bunch.

    Besides, Bielema will always have a spot in my Coaches’ Hall of Fame for the way he ticked off JoePa manipulating the clock rules a couple of years ago. ;)

  12. chefboyardee

    Oh, so you mean I actually have to READ the post to comment ? Sheesh.

  13. If it’s recent successes you’re talking about, WSU has barely sniffed a bowl game since beating Texas in the Holiday in 2003, while NCSU won a bowl game in 2005, even if it was the Meineke Car Care Blah Blah Whatever. As for Mike Price and Ryan Leaf, they’re probably fairly well known — but you play a word-association game with those two names and you’re gonna get “strippers/got fired from Alabama” and “destroyed the San Diego Chargers,” respectively, long before anyone actually remembers where they played or coached in college.

    Iowa State, though, I can see, and one need only examine the trajectory of their head coach’s career as proof. A few years ago it was, “Wow, Gene Chizik! Somebody’s gonna snap him up as a head coach, just you wait!” And now it’s, “Whatever happened to Gene Chizik? He didn’t die, did he?”

  14. Chuck

    I think this warrants a more scientific treatment. I think you, Senator, are pretty well versed on CFB. So, see which of the Division 1 a teams you can name the coach, any player, the team name, the state in which it is located, any one or anything famous that was or is associated with it.

    There will be some that you cannot get any of the above. There’s your invisible school.

    Another interesting exercise would be to do the same thing with teams that have a winning record or some other standard of quality to see what team is most unjustly invisible.

  15. Gotta be Iowa State. Does anyone know anything about this program since Seneca Wallace left? Never goes to bowl games, never picked as a potential darkhorse or sneaky-upset candidate, could be under several feet of water from the recent floods for all I know — just unremitting, boring, Midwestern mediocrity. And that inexplicable angry cardinal emerging from its cyclone logo creeps me out.

  16. Atlchris

    Baylor…

  17. Hobnail_Boot

    Is this a test?

    For me it’s Cincinnati, and from the looks of things you also forgot about them.

  18. HB, you’re right.

    And to fall back on a recently used phrase, res ipsa loquitur. :)

  19. eggsinbasket

    Cool post, and I agree with O’Brien and NC St. I have told all my ACC brethren that the best two coaches in the ACC are at perrenial doormats in Wake & NC St. Those days are over as long as these two coaches are on the sidelines.