A trip down football memory lane
Before we start another season, let’s take a last look at last season to remember the good times. And put the bad guys to a worthy end. Lessons from the past can be useful in preventing failures in the future. Unfortunately, many of the schools that appeared in the 2006 FirstWorst Futility rankings seem destined to stay there.
There are some perennial powerhouses that live among the FirstWorst. The Duke Blue Devils know this place well. While Army and Navy have a terrific track record of producing people who can blow things up and take other people’s things, Army can rarely manage to produce more than 3 and out on the gridiron. Perhaps this is because their graduates are expected to achieve, and therefore the best high school recruits go elsewhere. The Army Mules are still trying to convince each other that a win over Kent State counts as a win.
Losers deserve respect. Without them, the Nebraska Cornhucksters would have no schedule. Eastern, Western, Southern, Central, Lower, and Upper Michigan states would have no way of funding their sports programs. Troy State (who?) bankrolled a good chunk of their athletic budget by sending eleven poor bastards to Lincoln in September to go down for a 56-0 thrashing of the Big Red. Nebraska cashed in for this. Big Red fans really paid.
Being cannon fodder playing against a top school has its rewards, although winning is rarely among them. The Sage acknowledges that while the Montana State Bobcats thrashed the Colorado B’lows in their season opener in Boulder, most underprivileged schools grit their teeth, accept the beating and the paycheck. However, underdog players and coaches must question their self-esteem. Still, Sage is betting that Montana State had fewer players arrested in the offseason than CU, unless you can get arrested for shooting rabbits in Bozeman.
Losers deserve respect because they may not always be among the best of the worst. The wise will miss Rutgers. The Knights destroyed years of school tradition last year by falling to a dismal 11-2 record. The campus has not yet recovered. The monkey wrench the Knights dropped in predictions early last year has tipsters twirling their Cross pens wondering how they got it so wrong. And now CA sportswriters have to learn to spell ‘Piscataway.’ By building a legitimate show, Rutgers has failed fans across the country and relegated their show to respectability. A fate worse than the Sage cannot imagine.
Losers have their place in this world. They balance everything. The sage loves to find bits of wisdom and irony in lost football. To these little moments of fun, this column is officially dedicated.
Here are the original picks for the ten worst in college football. Before continuing, the Sage points out that this list: · Lacks any scientific process · Focuses on but is not limited to BCS teams · Develops entirely at the whim of the Sage of College Football · May contain inappropriate references for underage readers · May require literate adults to explain the finer points to children or people who paid to watch Nebraska play at Troy State May have nothing to do with an actual football game
Number one: Duke’s poor blown heck
This one is a no-brainer. Basketball schools shouldn’t try soccer; Putting the ball over the goal posts does not award any points. Also, that ball bounces weird. The BDs ascended to the lofty status of number one on the FirstWorst list by virtue of their brilliant 0-12 record last season. Capped off by a season-ending loss to rival powerhouse North Carolina, the Bleu Devils stole defeat from the jaws of defeat by coming back to have an extra point blocked late in the fourth quarter to seal the loss by a spot. This strong record and strong finish set up Duke’s coach, who loses and gets the job. – to another splendid recruiting season.
Included in the head coach job description is: “Study, evaluate, and recommend innovations in soccer team and strategy. Qualifications required at this level: Education/Coaching N/A”
At least the University is realistic. The Wise Man wonders if it is possible to produce a winner by designing new pants. In any case, the University capped off its celebration of the perfect season by adding new parking at the stadium for more than 500 cars. The occupants of such vehicles can anticipate another spectacularly futile season.
2- Owls of the Temple
After going through their challenging schedule, facing and losing to the likes of Buffalo (not the Bills) in which neither team scored a touchdown, the Owls fought hard to close out the season on a five-game losing streak, including losses to Toledo and Akron. . The Pitiful Owls also had to play Ohio State and survived losing 35-7. That seven points were scored in favor of Temple was cause for celebration. Pennsylvania produces hundreds of star high school recruits each year. Unfortunately for Temple, they all choose other schools.
The forces in Chambana recently declared a second “St. Patrick’s Day.” When spring break coincided with the holy day of alcohol, local bars howled that they were losing business to foam-drinking students in Florida. So, to support local bartenders, the university introduced a second St. Patrick’s Day celebration. It is this type of visionary leadership that has earned Illinois third place in the FirstWorst rankings. The (D)UI leadership also showed foresight and strength in retiring Chief Illiniwek this offseason. Illini, who was crying, then had an extra reason, as well as an extra day to drain his sorrows in green beer consumed in Gatorade glasses. The Oranges and Blues finished the 2006 season with wins against Eastern Illinois (yes, there is such a place and they play football), and they got a surprise win at Michigan State. If the Illini can win at home this year against a Big Ten school, the University has promised to declare a third St. Patrick’s Day.
It pains the sage to declare Army a member of the FirstWorst club. The only “Shock and Awe” delivered by the Mules in 06 was that people kept coming to see them. The Army’s Black ‘Nights’ simply cannot produce a win against a quality team. Beating VMI, Kent State and Baylor doesn’t qualify as a stellar season. The Sage wishes the Army the best this year, but West Point’s top brass may have to call in close air support to complete a pass. We’ll see if Air Force can help.
5-State of Boise
The Sage can hear it now… ‘How can a big Fiesta win against OU on New Year’s Day rank a school among the worst in College Football? The simple reason is the hideous blue soccer field they play on. Just because it’s possible to create blue grass doesn’t mean it has to be done. A quality team deserves to play in something other than the Tidy Bowl. A blue soccer field doesn’t exist in nature for a reason. The Sage does not know what that reason is, but he is sure that it is a good one. BS students need to be smoking something different in their pipes before home games for it to look real. BSU proved that you don’t need a blue field for any competitive advantage and you can win in a big game. Lose the blue field!
A team called the Fighting Ducks should find its way onto the FirstWorst roster. But that’s not the reason for the Ducks’ inclusion this year. Oregon puts out a good team on its two-tone field, but every year, it displays an incredible lack of taste in putting its team — appropriately descriptive wording eludes Sage — in those hideous yellow uniforms with tire tracks on the shoulders. The ducks look like highlighter pens against green felt. The assistants in the Department of Psychology must have devised some kind of experiment to see if such a poorly dressed football team can generate a competitive advantage. The Sage thinks that a state where the other University is called Beavers, he would insist on putting a team on the field that could look as good as his record. Ducks often look like cheap office supplies.
The aforementioned Duke Blue Devils almost made the Heels reconsider showing up in those baby blue uniforms last year. NC failed to pull off a loss in their season-ending game against Duke, but came close enough to earn a spot on the FirstWorst roster. Blocking an extra point in the closing minutes against the Dukes squandered the Heels’ chance to finish in the top five. Maybe Duke and NC should play soccer on the basketball court. How can two southern schools have such poor football programs?
The Buffalos of Colorado started last season strong at home with a solid loss to the Division II Montana State Bobcats. Then B’low’s season quickly went downhill. CU was in contention for a top-tier finish and had a real shot at number one in the FirstWorst standings before losing its form and not losing to conference foes Texas Tech and Iowa State. Former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins is going to dye the grass at Folsom Field pink in 2007 to match the red noses of CU students.
Stanford’s “Cardinal” nickname was declared after school administrators dropped the nickname “Indians” in 1972. At least “Indians” was plural and implied that there would be more than one person on the football field dressed in red. (Yes, the Wise One acknowledges that “Cardinal” is technically plural, but without an ‘s’, the ghosts of college football lore have abandoned the Stanford kids and cast their curse on the red eggheads.)
Although it has produced some good teams in the past, Stanford is a perennial favorite in the losing bracket. The school is still best known for sending its band onto the field to stop a Cal kickoff comeback in ’82. Even that failed and Stanford went on to record the biggest last-play loss in history. The 2006 season produced a single win against PAC-10 foe Washington. Stanford has always had trouble finding people who can pass the first few tries and pass the entrance exam. The plan for 07 is to multitask the tuba players to play offensive line between tunes.
9, 10 and more: the pathetic western conference
If all the losers meet in the same conference, some will come out winners. The boys playing home toilet bowl in Boise turned in a respectable season. The rest of the conference succeeds in losing. Four WAC teams combined for a total of seven conference wins in 2006. The Sage can only imagine the WAC Skywriters Tour in July, kicking off in Hawaii, followed by visits to outfields like Boise, Louisiana Tech, Fresno, and Las Cruces, NM . Hawaii, despite its winning record, deserves an honorable mention… any team named Rainbow Warriors qualifies. Imagine being assigned to cover the New Mexico State – Idaho game. The sage shudders.
The Sage wishes these schools the best of luck in 2007. Visit http://firstworst.com weekly for the wit and wisdom of Scholarly Sage, as well as updates on the FirstWorst College Football Futility Rankings.