PHOTO: USA Today Sports
Early in October I wrote about the most disappointing teams in college football. I thought it would be interesting to take a look back now that the regular season is over (except Army/Navy) and see which teams end up on the final version of this season's naughty list. Let's go through each conference and which teams disappointed the most....
American Athletic Conference: USF Bulls (2-10 overall, 2-6 in AAC)
The Bulls have been one of the most disappointing teams in recent years. They made my mid-season list and couldn't play their way off of it. This year, the Bulls got a new head coach in Willie Taggart and the expectation was that they would at least take a small step forward from their 3-9 finish in 2012. They lost their first four games including games to McNeese State and FAU. Then they beat a pretty good Cincinnati team and won on the road at UConn but after that they lost six straight and finished with just two wins on the season.
also considered: Rutgers Scarlet Knights, UConn Huskies
ACC: UNC Tar Heels (6-6 overall, 4-4 in ACC)
Like USF, the Tar Heels made this list at mid-season. The most disappointing thing about the Tar Heels is that they didn't have to play the two best teams in the ACC (Clemson and FSU) and their half of the ACC was wide open. After starting 1-5, the Heels did run off five straight wins but only one of them was against a team with a winning record (7-5 Boston College). They capped their season with a 27-25 loss to in-state rival Duke, who did take advantage of a wide open Coastal Division to play in the Conference Championship Game. It wasn't a horrible season for the Heels, but a lot more was expected of them.
also considered: North Carolina State Wolfpack, Virginia Cavaliers
Big 12: TCU Horned Frogs (4-8 overall, 2-7 in Big 12)
Along with Boise State, the Horned Frogs were the toast of the Mountain West Conference. In their last four seasons in that conference, they went 30-1 in league play. Upon entering the Big 12, they were expected to take a step back and they did in 2012 as they went 7-6 after battling injuries and off the field issues. In 2013, the expectation was that they would improve (or at least post a similar record) with Casey Paschall back at QB. TCU did have a lot of close games (lost to LSU by 10, lost to Texas Tech by 10, lost to Oklahoma by 3, lost to WVU by 3, lost to Kansas State by 2 and lost to Baylor by 3) but they simply didn't finish. When your only two conference wins are against two teams that combined to go 3-15 in conference play, it's safe to say you had a disappointing season.
also considered: Iowa State Cyclones, West Virginia Mountaineers
Big Ten: Northwestern Wildcats (5-7 overall, 1-7 in Big Ten)
When I made the mid-season list, the Wildcats sat at 4-0 with a game coming up against #4 Ohio State. Northwestern played Urban Meyer's squad tooth and nail and came up just a bit short. After that, the Wildcats started a free fall that lasted the entire season until they squeaked out a three point victory over Illinois to close the year. Phil Steele gave the 'Cats a "decent" chance at winning ten games this year, I thought they would go 8-4. After five straight bowl trips, the way the Wildcats tripped up down the stretch lands them on this list.
also considered: Michigan Wolverines, Purdue Boilermakers
Conference USA: Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-9 overall, 2-6 in C-USA)
Tulsa went from first place in the C-USA West last season to second to last in 2013. Todd Graham left after the 2010 season and you have to wonder about the job Bill Blankenship is doing on the recruiting trail. After going 11-3 in 2012, they dropped completely off the radar this year winning just three games. As they head into the American Athletic Conference, the Golden Hurricane have to be worried about the direction their program is headed.
also considered: Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
MAC: Kent State Golden Flashes (4-8 overall, 3-5 in MAC)
In 2012, Kent State went 11-3 overall and 8-0 in the MAC. Darrell Hazell moved on to coach at Purdue, star Dri Archer missed a couple of games early and the Golden Flashes never rebounded. The key stretch of the season was a five game losing streak from October 5th to November 2nd that saw them lose to the likes of South Alabama and Akron. The hire of Paul Haynes from Arkansas, after the Hogs went 3-9 in 2012, was a curious one and he has a lot of work to do after a disappointing 2013 season.
also considered: Eastern Michigan Eagles, Miami Redhawks, Western Michigan Broncos
Mountain West Conference: Air Force Falcons (2-10 overall, 0-8 in MWC)
Air Force coach Troy Calhoun had led the Falcons to six straight bowl games until the team fell completely off the map this season. Their only wins were in the season opener against Colgate and an early November win against Army. Before this season, Calhoun had posted a winning conference record every year except 2011 when the Falcons went 3-4. This season the Falcons did not win a single conference game and finished the year by getting absolutely demolished by Colorado State 58-13.
also considered: Boise State Broncos, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans
Pac-12: Oregon State Beavers (6-6 overall, 4-5 in Pac-12)
Oregon State has been a weird team over the last few years. They went 3-9 in 2011 but came back with a vengeance last year posting a 9-4 record. This year they settled for the in-between at 6-6 but it was the way they finished that landed them on this list. After losing their opener to Eastern Washington, yes Eastern Washington, the Beavers put together a six game winning streak including close calls at Utah and San Diego State. QB Sean Mannion was among the Nation's leaders in TDs and passing yardage. Then came the tough part of the schedule and the Beavers were not up to the task as they went 0-5 in their last five and in the game they had the best chance of winning (against Washington at home) they got blown out 69-27.
also considered: California Golden Bears, Utah Utes
SEC: Florida Gators (4-8 overall, 3-5 in SEC)
This one was a "no brainer". The Gators started out 4-1 and proceeded to lose their next seven games including the low point of the year (and possibly the school's football history) when they fell to Georgia Southern 26-20. Yes they had injuries, a lot of them, but you had to go back to 1979 to find a Florida Gators season worse than this one. Will Muschamp has made some changes on his staff heading into 2014, but you have to wonder if he's the right man for the job.
also considered: Arkansas Razorbacks
Sun Belt: Georgia State Panthers (0-12 overall, 0-7 against Sun Belt competition)
Nobody expect the Panthers to have a winning record this season. This was the Panthers inaugural season in the FBS and when you move from the FCS to the FBS it's always nice if you beat teams from the lower division you are moving up from. The Panthers went 0-3 against FCS competition losing to Samford, Chattanooga and Jacksonville State. The Panthers have now lost 16 straight games. In just their fourth year, you want to see progress with any program but that hasn't come yet for Georgia State. Trent Miles has his work cut out for him and I hope he is successful but it's going to be a long, hard road.
also considered: Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks