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.