2012 Ooops & Helmets - The Notable Misses

Posted Mar 12, 2012

Which top-programs and traditional powers had problems in one or both of the major sports?

Ooops & Helmets 2012

The Notable Misses

By Richard Cirminiello 

Oooooops & Helmets 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008
Hoops & Helmets 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007

- 2012 Hoops & Helmets
- 2012 Hoops & Helmets, Part 2
- 2012 Oooooops & Helmets

NCAA Tourney Picks East | Midwest | South | West

… and then there are the ten notable schools from major conferences still pining for a big postseason game and something to cheer about in 2011-12. Oops and helmets, if you will.

10. Tennessee
Rocky Top. Rocky, indeed. The Volunteers are mired in a nasty funk in football, losing at least six games in four straight years. That degree of futility hasn't happened since, well, ever. Head coach Derek Dooley is 11-14 in two seasons, entering 2012 in an unequivocal must-win situation. The 2011 edition went 1-7 in SEC play, missing out on reaching bowl eligibility with an inexcusable first loss to Kentucky since 1984.

While the Tennessee basketball team was far more competitive than its counterparts on grass, its journey will continue in the NIT. The Vols got hot late in the year, posting impressive wins over Florida and Vandy, but it wasn't enough to offset a rugged start that included losses to Oakland, Austin Peay and the College of Charleston. Cuonzo Martin's young team will attempt to spend the next couple of weeks getting a head of steam for 2012-13.

9. Wake Forest
Demon Deacons basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik will be back in Winston-Salem for at least one more year, but not because of what occurred on the court this season. Wake Forest got bounced in the first round of the ACC tournament last week to finish 13-18 and tied for the conference basement. Quality wins were non-existent, while losses to Wofford, Georgia Tech and Arizona State pretty much wrote the story of the 2011-12 campaign.

On grass, the Deacons were slightly more successful, closing the year in second place in the Atlantic Division. Wins over NC State and Florida State helped secure the school's first bowl berth in three years. However, a listless, 1-5 close to the year ensured Wake of a 6-7 mark and a third straight losing season.

8. Ole Miss
Hey, they still partied with all their might at the Grove last fall, but the post-games weren't quite as cheery as the locals would have liked. The football squad, the signature athletic program in Oxford, hit a new low in 2011 by going 2-10 and failing to win a conference game. The Rebs have now dropped 15 consecutive SEC games, a degree of futility that cost head coach Houston Nutt his job in early November.

Nutt's counterpart on the hardwood, Andy Kennedy, is facing no such job security worries. His Ole Miss basketball team left a positive impression at the tail end of the regular season that carried into the SEC tournament. While an NCAA tournament berth eluded the 20-13 Rebels, they'll be taking a head of steam into the NIT.

7. Arizona State
The Sun Devils have no business being here. The basketball team wasn't supposed to be very good, but Dennis Erickson's football squad was pegged as a darkhorse candidate to win the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game. Instead, it didn't even win a watered down South Division, falling apart in the second half of the year. A Las Vegas Bowl invite to face Boise State was a consolation prize, and the pathway to an improbable losing season. Erickson didn't survive the 6-7 disappointment.

On the hardwood, Arizona State dropped to 10-21 for its second consecutive losing campaign. The administration might have had another job search to conduct, but Herb Sendek will be afforded at least one more year to turn things around. The Devils were a wire-to-wire calamity, losing to the likes of Fairfield, Pepperdine and 5-24 Northern Arizona in non-conference matchups.

6. Minnesota
New coach in the fall. Same old results for the Golden Gophers football squad. With Jerry Kill on the sidelines, Minnesota duplicated its 3-9 mark from a year earlier. It somehow lost at home in September to New Mexico State and North Dakota State, providing an indication to the new staff of just how far it will have to travel before achieving respectability.

The situation was a little more promising indoors as Tubby Smith's kids cobbled together an 19-14 mark. The high point was a huge upset of Indiana in Bloomington; however, a six-game losing streak to close out February slammed the door shut on a longshot hope of qualifying for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

5. Oregon State
In a role reversal, the Beavers football team is weighing down the basketball team in Corvallis. Mike Riley's squad is mired in a two-year slump, going 3-9 in 2011. Oregon State sputtered out of the gate, showed brief signs of life in October, but was unable to get past rampant issues on both sides of the ball. The Beavs were hammered by rival Oregon in the annual Civil War for their fourth consecutive loss in the series.

Craig Robinson's 19-14 hoops team has shown considerable signs of progress, even if it won't be enough to snap a string of 22 straight years without an NCAA tournament appearance. It's locked up a winning season for just the second time since 1990, knocking off Cal and Oregon in January behind the all-around play of junior G Jared Cunningham.

4. Maryland
Athletically speaking, the winter has been nothing shy of a disaster in College Park. Randy Edsall imploded as the football head coach, transforming a 9-4 squad into a historically feeble two-win wreck. Almost as bad as the product on the field were the numerous defections as disgruntled Terps bolted from the school. The program is in a very fragile state, with Edsall already under the microscope after just one year.

The basketball squad, while far more competitive than its gridiron brethren, will still miss out on the NCAA tournament for a second straight year. After flashing potential in November and December, Maryland was unable to survive in the ACC meat grinder, stumbling to the regular season finish line at 16-14.

3. Washington State
Yeah, there's been progress in Pullman, but not enough to avoid the indignity of making yet another cameo in Hoops and Helmets hell. There were moments on the hardwood, such as a thrilling upset of Cal on Jan. 21, but not enough to avoid a ninth place finish in the Pac-12.

The long-suffering Cougars football team raised expectations in September, only to finish with a familiar thud by the end of November. Following a 3-1 start that raised hopes for a first bowl invitation in eight years, Wazzu was unable to get over the hump. It was victorious just one time after Oct. 1 to close out the year 4-8. The high point for the athletic program occurred on Nov. 30, the day Washington State hired Mike Leach to guide the football team back to relevance.

2. Texas Tech
The Red Raiders peaked on Oct. 22 with a stunning upset of Oklahoma that ended the Sooners' 39-game home winning streak and their hopes for a perfect season. It was all downhill from there in Lubbock. Incredibly, the football team did not win another game, dropping five straight to snap a streak of 19 consecutive bowl-eligible seasons.

The losing dovetailed neatly into the winter, with Billy Gillespie's first hoops team going 8-23, including a school-worst 1-17 in Big 12 play. While the coach has a reputation of elevating sagging programs, this project is going to require a healthy dose of patience. Away from United Spirit Arena, the Raiders won just a single game in 15 attempts.

1. Boston College
There was a time not long ago that this program was more likely to be celebrating the annual release of Hoops and Helmets rather than fearing it. Fans on the Heights miss those days. It was a most miserable year for head coach Frank Spaziani and the football program, which endured its first losing campaign—and bowl-less winter—in 13 years. Although the Eagles showed a little life down the stretch, winning three of the final five games, it wasn't nearly enough to avert a 4-8 collapse and fifth place finish in the ACC Atlantic.

Steve Donahue's young basketball squad fared no better, dropping more games than any other team in school history. Bad memories littered the schedule, including unsightly regional losses to Holy Cross, Boston University and Rhode Island.

- 2012 Hoops & Helmets
- 2012 Hoops & Helmets, Part 2
- 2012 Oooooops & Helmets

NCAA Tourney Picks East | Midwest | South | West