Hlist Week 11: You can win at football anywhere
Baylor and Stanford were nothing special not that long ago
1. Keep Hope Alive: Let's say you're an Iowa State football fan. Or a football fan of Purdue, Illinois, Kansas or Colorado. Your team's getting beaten and beaten up. Well, you can win anywhere.
Some places have it harder than others, of course. But Bill Snyder transformed Kansas State from serial loser to big-time winner. Barry Alvarez did the same at Wisconsin. Hayden Fry did it at Iowa. They were all former ghost ships.
Look at the present. Nobody was as bad for as long in major-college football as Baylor. From 1996 to 2009, the Bears' Big 12 record was 14-98. That averaged exactly to one conference win per year. For 14 years!
But last Thursday, Baylor beat Oklahoma. By the score of 41-12. And it could have been worse.
Imagine how ludicrous that would have during the entire previous history of the Big 12.
Stanford has had its good times in college football before the last five years, but from 2002 to 2008 the Cardinal was 23-55.
Baylor got the right coach in Art Briles. Stanford got the right coach in Jim Harbaugh, who gave way to another right coach in David Shaw. Baylor is 8-0. Stanford is 8-1 and fresh off a 26-20 win over Oregon.
Maybe that will be Purdue in three years. Or Colorado. It will be someone who is getting clobbered in 2013. Things happen. It's a Ferris wheel for a lot of programs. You're up, you're down. You're down, you're up. You pay your money and ride the ride.
2. More Revivals: Vanderbilt didn't have a winning season from 1983 through 2007. It was 2-10 in 2009 and 2010. But it's 20-15 under James Franklin, with the latest game maybe the best of all in Franklin's three seasons. Vandy vanquished Florida in Gainesville, 34-17.
That was the Commodores' first win over the Gators since 1988. It was Vandy's first win at Florida since 1945. It marked the first time Vandy had beaten Georgia and Florida in the same season. With the Tennessee Titans doing the unthinkable and losing Sunday to the Jacksonville Jaugars, the cooolest Nashville cats are the Commodores.
Duke locked up its first winning season since 1995 by defeating North Carolina State Saturday, 38-20. Duke is 7-2. They have won five in a row. David Cutcliffe is Duke's coach. He is a wizard.
3. More Turnarounds: Hard times come for shorter periods some places, but they don't have to linger. Auburn has gone from 3-9 last year to 9-1 this season under first-year Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn.
Missouri was 5-7 last season. It is 9-1. Minnesota was 3-9 in 2010 and 2011. It is 8-2. Central Florida was 5-7 in 2011. It is 7-1.
Ohio State was 6-7 in 2011. It hasn't lost since.
But oh, how ESPN2 would have appreciated it had McCarney's Mean Green not clipped Ball State in Denton on Sept. 14, 34-27.
Had Ball State won that game, the Cardinals would go to Northern Illinois Wednesday with a 10-0 record to face the 9-0 Huskies. As it is, the game is for the upper hand in the MAC West.
The third team that is unbeaten in MAC play is Buffalo, which is 7-2 overall. The Bulls have played Ohio State and Baylor. The scores:
Ohio State 40, Buffalo 20
Baylor 70, Buffalo 13
Comparing scores often is a fool's game, but Buckeye fans who put down Baylor when BCS chatter is chattered should look at those two results before bad-mouthing the Bears.
5. Radio Daze: The Hlist had the satellite radio on during the long drive home from Purdue to Cedar Rapids Saturday night, and heard a lot of college football from around the nation. LSU-Alabama, Texas-West Virginia, Houston-Central Florida, Notre Dame-Pittsburgh, UCLA-Arizona, Fresno State-Wyoming.
Here were the lasting impressions from it all:
a) Alabama is the best team in the country.
b) If you accurately and consistently give the score, down-and-distance, the yard-line, and the time remaining, you aren't all bad.
c) The local announcers almost all think the officials constantly miss holding calls against the opposing teams.
6. Go Figure: The only Pac-12 Utah has beaten in its six league games is ... Stanford. The Utes are 8-16 in the Pac-12 since joining in 2011, which dwarfs Colorado's 3-21 mark.
How good would the Big 12 be if had remained the Big 12 of 2011, with Missouri and Texas A&M? Both are in the top 11 of the latest BCS standings. Which makes one wonder if the SEC isn't spectacularly overrated, seven straight BCS championships or not. Mizzou and the Aggies haven't exactly withered against the Georgias and Ole Misses.
Just how ready is Maryland for the Big Ten when it lost at home to Syracuse Saturday, 20-3? The crowd at Maryland for that game was 37,213.
The attendance at Saturday's Western Michigan-Eastern Michigan game at EMU was 2,177. EMU's average home crowd last season was 3,923. It plays in a 30,200-seat stadium. How does the school remain in FBS? How is it funding 85 football scholarships?
The school had bigger problems last week. It fired coach Ron English Friday because of his 11-46 record, a vulgar rant to his players, or a combination of both. The next day, Eastern beat Western in overtime, 35-32. But did it really count if no one saw it?
And this: For some compelling reading, take a look at this New York Times story on how gang members in Fresno love their Fresno State Bulldogs.