Ooops & Helmets 2013
The Notable Misses
Oooooops & Helmets
2010 | 2009
Hoops & Helmets
2013 Hoops & Helmets
- 2013 Hoops & Helmets, Part
2, No. 8 to 16
… and then there are the dozen notable schools from major conferences still pining for a big postseason game and something to cheer about in 2012-13. Oops and helmets, if you will.
12. Georgia Tech
The 7-7 Yellow Jackets represented the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship Game, and defeated USC in the Sun Bowl. Big whoop. Miami would have gone to Charlotte had it not been for a self-imposed ban, and the Trojans wanted nothing to do with El Paso in December. Tech has reached a plateau under head coach Paul Johnson, going 21-19 over the last three seasons. The Yellow Jackets struggled to maintain their early hardwood success, when a cushy non-conference schedule failed to unveil glaring weaknesses on ends of the court. They dropped their first five league games, and never regrouped in a middling 16-15 campaign.
The Boilermakers didn’t belong in a bowl game this past season. A bloated postseason format created an opportunity that exposed the program in a 58-14 Heart of Dallas Bowl loss to Oklahoma State. Purdue finished with a losing mark for the fourth time in the last five years, resulting in the firing of head coach Danny Hope. There are no such worries for basketball coach Matt Painter, who entered this season having won at least 22 games in six straight years. However, the Boilers’ streak of NCAA Tournament appearances was snapped, as a young team was unable to climb above the .500 mark in a very deep Big Ten.
10. Virginia Tech
The Hokies could always count on the football squad to avoid this indignity … until this past year. For the first time in two decades, Virginia Tech lost as many as six games during a season. Not only did the program fail to capture an ACC Coastal Division that was essentially gift-wrapped for it, but the team needed to win the regular-season finale just to qualify for the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Gobblers were even worse in shorts than they were in pads, occupying the ACC basement in basketball. After a crisp 7-0 start, including an upset of Oklahoma State, G Erick Green and his teammates went just 6-19 the rest of the way.
Through two seasons with Randy Edsall on the sidelines, the Terrapins have only won six games. The team did get off to an unexpectedly good 4-2 start in the fall before injuries, especially at the quarterback position, became too much to overcome. Maryland will carry at least a six-game losing streak into a season for a second straight year. Head coach Mark Turgeon came painfully close to guiding the Terps into the NCAA Tournament, but the team’s bubble burst in March. There certainly were moments, such as upsets of ranked Duke and NC State in College Park, but an 8-10 ACC mark and a tissue-soft non-conference schedule became impossible to overlook by the committee.
Disaster. It’s the only way to describe the Hogs’ football season, which began with so much promise, yet ended hideously. Arkansas never recovered from a Week 2 loss to Louisiana-Monroe—or the offseason ouster of head coach Bobby Petrino, winning just four times. The one-time darkhorse to capture the SEC was eliminated from bowl contention weeks before the regular season ended. Had all of this season’s basketball games been played at Bud Walton Arena, the Razorbacks might have been a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, road games are mandatory, so 19-13 Arkansas missed the NCAA Tournament for a fourth straight year. Mike Anderson’s kids were just 1-9 outside Fayetteville, including eyesore losses to South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
Just a year after winning the National Championship, injuries and departures left the Wildcats unusually vulnerable on Selection Sunday. And so for the first time since 2009, and just the second time in two decades, Kentucky will not appear in the NCAA Tournament. The 21-11 ‘Cats lost five of their final nine games, and just weren’t the same after star freshman Nerlens Noel was lost to a season-ending knee injury. The University fan base has been suffering since the fall, when the football team won only two games, none versus SEC opponents. The Wildcats were rarely competitive in head coach Joker Phillips’ final year, dropping eight games by at least 13 points.
The Utes’ move to the Pac-12 two years ago has been good for plenty of things, such as the University balance sheet and its overall television exposure. Competitiveness and postseason appearances, though, have greatly suffered. A BCS-buster no longer, Utah football missed the postseason for the first time since 2002. It knocked off rival BYU, but was only 3-6 in league play. The 15-18 Utes were equally ineffective for basketball coach Larry Krystkowiak, who has struggled in his first two seasons since leaving his Montana alma mater. Utah has finished no higher than tenth place in the Pac-12 since becoming a member, a far cry from the glory days of the Mountain West.
5. Wake Forest
It’s been a long time since there’s been anything to cheer about in Winston-Salem. Jim Grobe’s football team has played in just a single bowl game over the last four years, losing at least seven games in each of those campaigns. The most recent edition of the Demon Deacons finished the regular season with a loud thud by dropping the final three games by a combined score of 130-27. Jeff Bzdelik’s cagers haven’t sniffed the .500 mark in his three seasons at Wake Forest, once again putting the coach’s future in severe jeopardy. There was the shocking upset of Miami on Feb. 23, but not much else for a program that ended a second straight season 13-18.
4. Washington State
New year, same old futility on the Palouse. The Cougars didn’t enjoy the instant uptick in football that many had privately hoped for in head coach Mike Leach’s debut. Yeah, the new staff inherited a weak roster of players, but an eight-game losing streak, which preceded an Apple Bowl upset of Washington, ensured that Wazzu would be bowl-ineligible for a ninth year in a row. Even high-scoring Aussie F Brock Motum couldn’t elevate a Washington State basketball team that spent much of the year in the Pac-12 cellar. The Cougs went 13-19 for embattled coach Ken Bone, winning just a single game outside of Pullman.
3. South Florida
Go ahead and blame this appearance on Skip Holtz. When the head coach arrived from East Carolina prior to the start of the 2010 season, the Bulls were considered a rising star of the FBS. After consecutive losing seasons, though, including last year’s first-ever nine-loss campaign, South Florida is regrouping … with a new man in charge. USF couldn’t even carry its weight in a fading Big East, losing 12 of its last 14 league games. After appearing in the NCAA Tournament last year, the Bulls appeared miscast in the Big East. Their 12-19 mark included a wicked stretch of 14 losses in 15 conference games.
2. Boston College
Thank goodness for the hockey squad. A young BC basketball team improved as the regular season wound down, but it still finished the year below .500 and without an NCAA Tournament bid for the third season in a row. On grass, the Eagles wrapped up one of their sorriest football seasons by going 2-10, missing the postseason for a second straight year and canning head coach Frank Spaziani. Yeah, Boston College is cashing bigger paychecks as a member of the ACC, but the price for leaving the Big East in 2005 has been a gradual decline in competitiveness in both football and hoops.
The football team’s crash and burn in the fall set off what has to be considered the worst winter in Auburn sports history. The Tigers went 3-9, their worst in six decades, including winless in SEC play. Head coach Gene Chizik was shown the door after his kids were schooled by rival ‘Bama, 49-0. It’s hard to imagine that this program was on top of the college football world just two years earlier. Tony Barbee’s basketball team is in even worse shape. Auburn hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in a decade, and skidded down the stretch to a 9-23 mark with 16 losses in 17 games. The Tigers are perennially rebuilding on the hardwood.
2013 Hoops & Helmets
- 2013 Hoops & Helmets, Part
2, No. 8 to 16