As my favorite line from Roadhouse indicates (in tribute to the late Patrick Swayze, and yes, I’ve seen Roadhouse enough times to have a favorite line) there are people, or in this post, fan bases, that you’d think would be bigger. The question is "why are some football teams so shitty when they have so much going for them?" Here is my list of the top ten schools that are bad despite having so much going for them (which I list) and why I think they’ve never achieved greatness.
University of Texas-El Paso. Pros: Large city with no pro teams. Okay public school. No local competition. Cons: It’s still in Texas with UT, TAMU, Baylor, Houston, Texas Tech, Rice…you get my point. Analysis: UTEP is a very good school in a scenic location, but unfortunately (much like many others on this list), it has no tradition. The Miner Wikipedia page is about 1/5 the size of Taylor Swift’s, which should tell you a little something. That said, it’s amazing that there isn’t more fan support for the football team considering the school has 20,000+ students.
San Diego State University. Pros: Major city. Cool campus. Cons: San Diego is a pro football city. Play in a pro stadium. Analysis: It’s interesting that the school actually has a winning record all time (.556) and a .500 bowl record in 12 bowls. It’s also in a beautiful city. Unfortunately, the team plays in a pro stadium, and I don’t care what argument you want to try to make, playing in a pro stadium sucks ass if you’re not a professional player. It’s a constant reminder that you are second banana. That said, if Brady Hoke would have stayed for more than four years, they might have done something. So might have he.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Pros: Near a large city with no pro teams. Public school. BCS conference. Cons: Four other major football schools within 100 miles. Analysis: There is no reason (besides the basketball school thing) that they aren’t a better football team. They have (and have had) good coaches, but they can’t even ascend in a horribly top heavy ACC. The only more horrible situations that are comparable are Maryland and NC State, who can’t even blame the basketball thing.
University of Nevada-Las Vegas. Pros: Large with without a pro team. It’s freakin’ Vegas baby. The Ickey Shuffle? Cons: Vegas is the girl you have sex with in college but never take to dinner, introduce to your friends, and certainly never marry. Analysis: UNLV is one of those teams that I just can’t understand. There is no competition within miles. It’s a decent state school and they boast a sterling 3-1 bowl record. That said, they just hired a high school coach, and it wasn’t Hugh Freeze. Nice.
Rice University. Pros: Major city. Cool campus. Cons: Houston is a pro football city. Small school. Stadium is really old. Analysis: Coach David Bailiff has the highest winning percentage of any coach (other than one season wonder Todd Graham) hired since WWII. That winning percentage: 47.5%. That pretty much sums it up.
Temple University. Pros: Major city. Large school. No regional competition. Cons: Philly is a pro football city. Play in a pro stadium. It’s in Philly. Philly is a shithole. Analysis: Philly is a shithole.
University of New Mexico. Pros: Large city without a pro team. No real in-state competition. Cons: People think that the team is nicknamed after the famous sheriff from BJ and the Bear. Analysis: Much like UNLV, you’d thing the Lobos would be better. Picturesque town, good school, no real regional rivals before Arizona and Arizona State decide to get good. They hired a coach who redefined mediocrity at the Notre Dame College for Catholic Gentlemen and Protestant Athletes after the former head coach punched an assistant coach, which kinda epitomizes the Lobos.
University of Illinois. Pros: Mid-sized city. Very good public school. Cons: Lot of D1 competition within five hours. Analysis: They have 3 national championships, and unlike Ole Miss, they don’t have integration (and implied racism) to "blame" for decades of mediocrity.
University of Memphis. Pros: Major city without a professional football team. Mediocre public school that’s not real hard to get admitted to. Cons: Surrounded by the SEC. Billie Dee Williams advertising choices. Analysis: The tigers have a 4-3 all time bowl record and no discernable tradition. They claim a rivalry with Ole Miss despite losing the series 48-10-2 all time. That’s like Mark Mangino claiming a rivalry with diabetes. That said, last year looked pretty good, and the future will be bright until someone snatches Justin Fuente away.
Tulane University. Pros: It’s in freakin’ New Orleans. Cons: It’s a very good private school. LSU is right up the road. Stupid nickname. Analysis: It’s well known that Tulane has never recovered from leaving the SEC. That said, I think Tulane suffers from Wake Forest Syndrome, which refers to schools that are private, aren’t overwhelming great academically, and field bad sports teams. While the USC and NDs of the world benefit from very good academics and national cling-ons, schools like Tulane don’t have a pre-integration winning tradition, celebrity boosters, Los Angeles, or everyone’s favorite recruiter (i.e., a large envelope of cash) to save them.