Big Names Fighting To get Back
Posted By:Brett Haynes Tags:
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Across America, as we start the 2009 season, there are college football programs that have seen major success, but are now longing to get back to the pinnacle of the college football mountain. These schools were once used to winning at will, but now are seeing that what they once had was truly a special thing. Here is a quick look at some schools who believe they are the best in the game, but are now in a fight to get that kind of respect back.
Notre Dame - The Irish need to get rid of Charlie Weis - and FAST! The guy is not going to get it done, everyone and their dog knows it. Not only is he hard to look at and listen to, but ND sucks! The Irish have a mediocre schedule, and I see them (thanks to that) going about 8-4 or 9-3. But the honest truth is that Notre Dame just isn't very good. Alabama spent a fortune on Nick Saban for a major overhaul. Excpect ND to try the same on Urban Meyer (yes, I know he said he wouldnt go) in 2010.
Michigan - Michigan is in trouble. I know everyone says that Rich Rod just needs "his players" and the Wolverines will be right back in the mix. But that is easier said than done. UM went 3-9 last year. 3-9. Folks that is real bad, and I don't think one year of recruits will make much difference. I see Michigan going 7-5 - an improvement - but far from the typical top ten finishes, or national titles, that they like in Ann Arbor. Rich Rod will win a bit more this year, but the droughts at this school aren't tolerated long. Lloyd Carr is watching and laughing so far.
Miami (FL) - The Hurricanes are a ways from being back. I am not sure what gives me that feelling, but I just do not see the spark in the 'Canes ways that I am used to. I think that the U needs a HUGE name coach to win. This is no slap in the face to Randy Shannon, but more of a fact that glamour is what fits in Miami, and Shannon aint glamour. Players rally around trust, and I just dont think they trust Shannon can produce results. The talent at Miami is sick, but those guys aren't going to listen to just anybody. I see them turning in another 8-4 type season.
Florida State - Coach Bobby Bowden has said for the past three years that his team wasn't very good entering the season. And what happened? Well, like he said, they weren't real good.This year, however, he said that his 'Noles are quite close to being back where they need to be, and I believe him. With a veteran qb in Christian Ponder returning and a very respected coaching staff also, FSU may indeed be closer than people think to being a national factor once again.
Nebraska - Ok, so the Cornhuskers are a pretty darn solid football team under 2nd year coach Bo Pelini. But, starting the year ranked number 22 (AP) isn't where Husker fans are content on being. Throughout the Tom Osborne era (1973-1997) Neraska expected no less than the top five and a shot at a national title. So while being in the top 25 is nice, nobody in Lincoln is saving newspapers over it! They have a very managable schedule (VT away is tricky), but a top 10 or 15 season this year - which is a reasonable goal - would be a nice step towards a regular top 10 finish year-in and year-out. Pelini is popular in Lincoln, and early season wins could result in a big season for Nebraska.
Alabama - The Tide were so in the middle of the college football world in 2008, that some may wonder why I have them in this list. The reason is that they - despit the fine 2008 record - expect to win national championships, and nothing less. Alabama spent seven weeks at number one. But the week that mattered - the final week - saw the Tide at number six. Saban is one of the best coaches in college football, and with back to back elite recruiting classes, Alabama will challenge for years to come.
Penn State - The Lions have finished in the AP top 10 six times since 1987, but their last national title hasn't come since 1986. The folks in Happy Valley would love nothing more than to tear down the town one more time before Coach Joe Paterno is just too darn old to coach. With just nine starters returning, it is proof of the respect they get with a number nine preseason ranking. The schedule is decent enough for a run, but don't expect a crystall football this year in State College.
Auburn - The Tigers of Auburn won it all in 1994 and 2004. The only problem is that they were not recognized for doing so either time. In 1994 they were 11-0 but were not allowed to compete for the trophy because probation made them bowl-ineligible. In 2004, they finshed the regular seaon 12-0, SEC Champs, and then beat Virgina Tech 16-13 in the Sugar Bowl, but were snubbed for USC in the national polls. The Tigers were 1957 national champions, but have not been back to the top since. They bring in a first year coach this season, so 2009 probably will not be that year.
Georgia - The Dawgs last one the national championship in 1980. Their best season since then was probably the 2002 season in which they won the SEC title. Georgia has had a decent amount of success under Mark Richt, but has not done what all of those in Athens are dreaming for, and that is winning a national title. Years like this can be surprises, though. Tennessee won it all in 1998 - just one year after all-world quarterback Peyton Manning left the school. This year, UGA replaces Matt Stafford, who was as popular at UGA as Manning was at UT.
Tennessee - And speaking of the Vols, they have not done much either in the last ten seasons. After the 1998 national crown mentioned above, UT slid slowly until the dismissal of Coach Phil Fulmer this past winter. In comes Lane Kiffin, who will look to take a new gameplan and new attitude to a very talented to group of players.
Clemson - Clemson????? What the......? How can I include the Tigers amongst these huge name teams? Because the Tigers won it all in 1981, and were the class of the ACC for many, many years until FSU arrived in 1992. Since then, though, CU hasn't done a whole lot. The Tommy Bowden era (1999-2008) produced no conference titles and no top 10 finishes, but a few big wins were fun for the fans. Enter Coach Dabo Swinney - an Alabama alum - who honestly believes second place is for girls. Clemson is a team to keep your eye on coming into 2009 unranked. There is a reason 82,000 fans each home game support a school with 13,000 students. A national title is not a realistic goal for Clemson in 2009, but a trip to the top of the ACC mountain is.
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