Oh yea. Welcome to all LA tech fans arriving. Yea, I probably sound like an idiot here, and for that I apologize. I'm just trying to have a little fun and get a chuckle out of some people, so please don't take this too seriously. Good luck next season.
Reason for Hope: Dick Tomey always fields competitive teams, and as long as he's in San Jose, the Spartans are likely to compete for a low tier Bowl every year. The problem is of course Boise, Hawaii, and Nevada, which all have potential of finishing in that exact order in the WAC from here to eternity.
Even Phil Steele doubted this miracle worker.
It's Bad, Real Bad: UAB didn't even have a football team until 1991, while the acronym for the current Conference-USA team may be one of the most unrecognizable in America. UAB has actually been decent the past few seasons, but hasn't been either good or bad enough to attract much attention. Therein lies the obscurity, as the Blazers play a modest schedule in the middle of a fairly unrecognizable brand spanking new Conference-USA. The dragon logo seems more equipped for a "Create-A-Team" mode on a video game then an official representation of the team. What is it from anyway? Are their dragons in Alabama?
Reason for Hope: The program has a solid base of talent to draw from in 'Bama, while the noncon scheduling has been beefy enough to give the Blazers an opportunity to garner at least some national attention. UAB played Oklahoma tough last season, so a decent upset one of these days isn't out of the question. New coach Neil Callaway was a top coordinater at the SEC level and a solid recruiter.
UAB Blazers or Maitland Dragons?
8. Eastern Michigan
It's Bad, Real Bad: Most people know the so called Michigan "directional schools" exist, but when it comes down to naming the three, many stumble to name them all. While Central and Western Michigan have had recent success, The Eagles have done just enough not to gain national acclaim for how poorly they've played over the last twenty five years while doing almost nothing positive in terms of building a national reputation. Last year's 1-11 team was competitive but couldn't irk our a win, and prospects for '07 look bleak as the rest of the MAC (including Buffalo) appear ready to overtake the Eagles. In 2001 the Eagles lost to a 2-9 I-AA team, which is extremely embarrassing.
Reason for Hope: ESPN continues to broadcast MAC games for Tuesday and Wednesday nights, so I guess EMU may have a chance at a national TV audience one of these days. One of the better teams to recruit out of Canada, it's not impossible for EMU to enjoy a decent season down the road, but climbing out of the MAC cellar won't be easy, especially with up-and-comers Temple and Buffalo.
It's Bad, Real Bad: Troy State was playing football since 1909, but didn't make the move to I-A until 2001, and after the 2004 season dropped the "State" part of the name for just "Troy." Until last month, Kyle was under the impression that Troy was actually just "one guy," so you can imagine how surprised he was when he found out the Trojans were actually playing the Bulldawgs in '07. Despite pulling off several decent upsets since moving to I-A, the Trojans remain just a small-time team from Alabama with virtually zero publicity in the publicity-drained Sun Belt conference.
Reason for Hope: The Trojans managed the scare the hell out of Florida St., but then again who didn't in 2006. The Bowl win over Rice was nice, even if only 19 people tuned in, while the commitment of former Hoover wide receiver Cornelius Williams probably made millions of American teenagers inadvertently aware of the school's existence. The team once kicked my ass on Heisman mode of NCAA 2007 when I was trying to rebuild an Army program that ran a variation of the pistol offense (why that matters, I'm not sure.) They out-recruited everyone in the Sun Belt this year, and probably have the best chance to break the conference's horrible cycle of non-conference blowouts.
Rush Propst Approved
It's Bad, Real Bad: The Aggies have been horrible in the modern era, and suffered through another one win season last year, saving themselves from a winless campaign by surviving a 13-12 scare against a horrible Fresno St team. The team has had 23 non-winning seasons in the past 25 years, which is almost as bad as Temple. The University's location in the interior west doesn't help much, while a light schedule (4 BCS con. teams over the past three years) doesn't help garner any national attention.
Reason for Hope: Utah St. is actually a fairly large university which sits in lovely Logan, Utah. I can't really think of anything else to say, so apologies to any Utah St. readers.
5. Lousiana Tech
It's Bad, Real Bad: The Bulldogs won three games in 2006, all of which came over bad teams (Utah St, Nicholls St, N. Texas.) Tech's uniforms reflect the makeup of a poorly equipped Division II team trying to borrow some misguided patriotic approach to fashion, while the team has settled into a niche of playing remark ordinary football in the bottom half of conference which gets little attention as it is. Tim Rattay, whose football card was my first exposure to the existence of such a university, has fizzled somewhat in the NFL, while the presence of about a billion other college football-playing universities in the state beg the question of what's so special about Louisiana Tech?
Reason for Hope: The University continues to schedule some difficult non-conference games which boost national attention, while the bottom half of the WAC begs a team to distinguish itself from the conference's miserable bottom half. Unfortunately for Tech, that team was San Jose State.
The Great Hope of Ruston himself
4. Arkansas State
It's Bad, Real Bad: While I was aware of an existence of a certain ASU, I didn't even realize what it stood for until the Indians played Army in 2005. However ASU has been playing I-A ball in 1992, joining the now-defunct Big West in 1992 and then moving to the Sun Belt in 2000. I don't know, you just don't think of Arkansas as having a state university, at least not in this mid-atlanticer's mind. Nevertheless ASU has gone 6-6 the past two seasons and performed well in he Sun Belt, which in and of itself isn't something to be terribly thrilled about. Limited exposure and mediocre play make an excellent combination for football obscurity.
Reason for Hope: Like all Sun Belt members, Arkansas St. tends to play a murderous nonconference schedule, although playing games on ESPN360 while getting blown out 52-0 isn't likely to do a whole lot for you. Recent success in the Sun Belt lends to the possibility of going Bowling in 2007, or maybe not.
3. New Mexico State
It's Bad, Real Bad: New Mexico State left the bottom of the Sun Belt for the bottom of the WAC, going 0-12 during 2005. The Aggies haven’t been to a bowl game since 1960. For whatever reason, NMSU gets pretty much zero publicity, although ESPN actually did a Sunday night game against Boise there last season. The location of the university probably doesn't help much either. Las Cruces (where the university is located) is basically in Mexico.
Reason for Hope: Hal Mumme is something of an offensive genius, at least according to some people, so that definitely helps. Thanks to people like Brian Urlacher, people actually realize football exists in the state of New Mexico, so I guess the program has nowhere to go but up.
Las Cruces- Prettier then the football team which plays there
2. Florida Atlantic
It's Bad, Real Bad: Nobody’s debating the legacy of Howard Schnellenberger, but how many of you actually knew he had been coaching the FAU Owls the past six seasons? They answer; comparatively few. Florida Atlantic has only been playing football since 2001, and when you considered the program is only five years removed from losing to the likes of Drake and St. Peter's, I guess you could say they've made some progress. Still, there is a reason many people still hold the I-A team count at 117; they have no idea this program even exists. After a decent year in 2004, the Owls have gone 2-9 and 5-7 respectively, and aren’t exactly due for a breakout season in '07.
Reason for Hope: FAU continues to schedule a murderous non-conference slate, and with it hopefully some much needed publicity. Florida is, as everyone knows, a talent rich state, so football players aren't in short supply. Nevertheless, FAU remains a microcosm of the Sun Belt, and as long as the conference remains the laughing stock of major college football, befuddlement over the meaning of the acronym FAU isn't likely to stop.
1. University of Lousiana Monroe
It's Bad, Real Bad: While Navy fans may recognize the presence of Charlie Weatherbie, don't kid yourself on this one, the vast majority of college football fans probably have no idea what ULM stands for. Commonly confused with the University of Louisiana, which appeared in the Adam Sandler movie Water Boy, ULM has been obscure even within the obscure Sun Belt conference, and that's saying a lot. Going a undistinguishable 4-8 doesn't help much for the still young I-A program.
Reason for Hope: Depending on your opinion regarding Charlie Weatherbie, I guess you could make a case that the program is certainly on the way up. One thing that is for sure is the line between Bowl-bound and Bottom-Ten bound is extremely thin in the Sun Belt conference, so hope exists for each team in the conference, including this one.
CW has seen better days. Oh well...
Also Considered: Buffalo, North Texas, Idaho, Louisiana Lafayette, oh hell the entire Sun Belt Conference.
A Note on Teams Left Out: Florida International would of been a prime candidate for obscurity had it not been for that disgusting incident with Miami last season, to which the entire sports world now knows of. While some may argue my own bias towards my ancestral home of Buffalo, New York played a role in the absence of The University at Buffalo from this list, the truth remains that the Bulls have been so bad the past few years that everyone is aware of their situation. Temple was left of the list because A) It's a freaking huge university and B) They've also been so bad for so long its impossible to escape attention. I'm open to suggestions, but I highly doubt you'll find more obscure teams on the I-A level.