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6/5 Roundtable - The Least With The Most
Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis
Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis
Posted Jun 5, 2009

Which teams have the most going their way and do the least with their advantages? Either the programs don't get the most out of their recruiting bases, they have everything in place but don't win consistently, or they have the talent and just don't produce. It's the Friday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

June 5

Which Program Does The Least With The Most?

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
June 4 Who does the most with the least?
June 3 The star players of September
June 2 The star teams of September
June 1 The coach you'd want for one game
May 28 Should the Big Ten expand, and if so, then what team should be added?
May 27 Should the Pac 10 expand? If so, then what two teams should be added?
May 26 Chizik, Kiffin or Mullen?
May 25 Heisman race sleepers 
May 22 2009's most interesting teams

May 21 Is Tebow the best QB ever?
May 20 When should preseason polls come out?
May 19 Does 2008 Utah have a beef?
May 18 No BCS, No Weis?

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: Which program perennially does the least with the most?

If I was in a particularly combative, kick-the-hornet's-nest mood I'd say USC might belong here, at least in theory, considering it only has one national title and that AP thing under Pete Carroll despite having more talent than anyone in college football over the last eight years (while playing in the Pac 10), but I'm not up for yet another round of blastings from the Trojan faithful. Here are my five head-scratcher programs.

5. Texas A&M - The short answer to why not Texas A&M is simple: Texas and Oklahoma. But if Texas Tech can become a power, even though it needs a gimmick to do it, then there's no reason the Aggies shouldn't be getting their share of top Texas talent, especially from the Houston area, and be a player in the Big 12 South race once in while.

4. Illinois - The Illini has started to dabble in success under Ron Zook, but the program. For some strange reason, has hardly been a consistent winner even though it has Chicago and St. Louis to recruit from. Yes, it's perceived as a basketball school, at least by the fan base, if not the rest of the sports world, but the facilities are fine, the basics are in place to win, and the alumni would go berserk if the team became good year in and year out.

3. Clemson - There isn't the basketball school excuse that most of the ACC programs have, and recruiting has never been an issue, even though there's the SEC schools to battle against. The flake factor for the team was set at 11 under Tommy Bowden, but considering the talent level there should've been at least one dumb luck ACC title over the last few years.

2. UCLA - The weather is just as nice as it is at USC, the coeds are just as hot (although I've heard plenty of arguments to the contrary from several Bruins), the academics are just as good, depending on the year and the study, the recruiting area is just as fertile, and the campus is in a better location. It's not like UCLA doesn't know how to win, it has a rich tradition in just about every sport, but for some reason it hasn't been able to take things to another level like Pete Carroll has been able to do down the road. 

1. Notre Dame - If only Notre Dame could catch a break. All the most fabled program in college football has going for itself is the richest tradition, a slew of movies, a ton of Heismans, a national TV contract, great academics, a worldwide fan base, a national recruiting base, a brand name on par with the New York Yankees and Boston Celtics, and a sweetheart of a BCS deal that ensures a spot in a big game if the team is merely above-average. Alright, so the weather sucks, the players have to actually go to class, and no one goes there for the girls (especially after taking a recruiting trip to Florida or USC), but there's no excuse for Notre Dame not to be special every year.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: Which program perennially does the least with the most?

Can someone kindly explain to me why Texas A&M hasn’t been able to get its act together this century?

The Aggies have all kinds of built-in advantages, but haven’t been able to capitalize in a long time. They reside in one of the most talent-rich areas of the country, boast a loyal fan base, and sport a rich set of traditions. Yet, the program is no longer in Texas’ league, has fallen way behind Texas Tech, and is in danger of being caught by Baylor. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense. You want tangible proof? Take a look at some interesting numbers. Since 1999, Texas A&M has sent 37 players to the NFL, a very healthy number unless your Ohio State, USC, or Florida. However, it’s averaged a paltry six wins a year over that span, and has a Gallery Furniture Bowl victory as its lone postseason triumph. That’s a pathetic example of how little the Aggies have milked from their talent pool.

A&M is certainly not alone in this category. Out of the Pac-10, Arizona State and UCLA have been perennial underachievers for a long time. Neither team has been able to play up to its level on a consistent basis. Present staffs excluded, it’s been a while since either the Sun Devils or Bruins had an ace on the sidelines. Shouldn’t Clemson have nailed down at least one ACC championship in the last quarter-century? Certainly over the last few seasons, the Tigers have had as much talent as anyone in the league, yet have been notorious for squandering it. .

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: Which program perennially does the least with the most?

Clemson. Go to your handy encyclopedia and look under "B" for "Bowden, Tommy." Maybe Dabo Swinney can change things, but for now, the Palmetto State brand of Tiger leads the nation in underachieving. No one's a particularly close second, either.

Jon Miller, Publisher,

Q: Which program perennially does the least with the most?

Over the past five to ten years, the answer to that question is Notre Dame and I am not sure it’s even close. This is a team that has advantages that every program outside of two or three dream about, and yet they won their first bowl game last year since the early 1990’s. They have been less than impressive under Charlie Weiss despite having recruiting classes that are routinely ranked in the Top 25, or much better than that. When you look at their departure in their final ranking (or lack thereof) from their preseason magazine consensus rankings in the years they have been rated since 2000 (six times), the Irish are on top of this dubious category. However, Michigan is a team that has performed well below their preseason ratings going back to 1989, more so than any other program in football. Then again, they haven’t tanked out of the Top 25 like Notre Dame has until just the past season.

Hunter Ansley, Publisher,

Q: Which program perennially does the least with the most?

If a team is perennially coming up short, then the talent must not be that great. It’s a two-way street. Sure, bad coaching can hinder great skill, but then again even great coaches would have a hard time coaxing consistent wins out of bad players.

But I think the most obvious answer is Clemson. Seems like every year the Tigers get a lofty preseason ranking, have loads of talented starters returning, yet they still haven’t played for the ACC title. I’ll use last year as an example, thought it’s hardly the first time Clemson has disappointed. They started the season in the top ten with a returning senior quarterback who had just enjoyed an extremely efficient season. Also back for another go were CJ Spiller and James Davis – a duo that many felt would become 2008’s posh pick for best backfield. The defense wasn’t short on playmakers, including top overall recruit Da’Quan Bowers. But the season went south in a hurry following a blowout loss to Alabama.

The future may be brighter with Dabo Swinney taking over for Tommy Bowden, a guy who many felt was the problem. But if the Tigers aren’t competing for ACC titles every year then fans will rightfully view the year as a subpar season. Look at the NFL Draft. Clemson players consistently test as well as anyone at the combine and their pro days, but often lack the polish to become first day picks. That’s coaching. Or a lack of it.