20 BCS Conference Teams Heading into the 2012 Season with No Hope of Success
This list runs down the 20 teams from BCS conferences with the least hope for a successful 2012 season.
However, success is a broad term.
In the college football universe, making a bowl game might be considered a successful season for one program, while finishing with 10 or more wins may be a better measure of success for another.
Yet another team program might consider it a success to win more than two games.
For the purposes of this list, we will define success as having a winning regular season.
Even though bowl games look favorably upon .500 teams, this list does not.
My apologies if your favorite team made the list, but it's not looking good for them next season.
20. Vanderbilt Commodores
Usually, one would not be surprised by the presence of the 'Dores on such a list.
However, last season, they finished 6-6 during the regular season.
While head coach James Franklin has some nice things going on at Vandy, it's difficult to see them taking a step forward next season.
Although Presbyterian and UMass are not exactly the type of non-conference opponents to strike fear into the hearts of fans, the brutal toughness of their 2012 SEC slate makes a winning season a more than difficult proposition.
19. Northwestern Wildcats
Yes, I am well aware that Pat Fitzgerald has taken the Wildcats to three consecutive bowl games, trying to make this the norm rather than an exception for Northwestern.
That said, the past two seasons for the Wildcats have been the epitome of mediocrity.
They are 13-13 in those two seasons, and will not be better than .500 in 2012.
For Northwestern—who suffered through a serious dearth of success prior to the arrival of Fitzgerald—that might be a small measure of success, but in the grand scheme of things, they still suck.
18. Texas Tech Red Raiders
The Red Raiders have one of the easiest non-conference schedules in the nation in 2012.
However, the conference schedule is going to be rough.
The Raiders are likely a lock to beat only one conference team, Kansas.
And while they may pull off an upset or two, it's difficult to see them winning three games in the Big 12.
17. Missouri Tigers
Mizzou had a horribly underwhelming season last year, in spite of their 8-5 record.
The biggest bright spot of the season was the progression of quarterback James Franklin.
While Franklin is returning, and will likely put up some big numbers again in 2012, he's going to have a tough time leading the Tigers through a tough SEC schedule in 2012.
The Big 12 is known for less than dominating defenses, while that is pretty much all Franklin and friends will meet in the SEC.
It's going to be tough sledding.
16. Maryland Terrapins
I'm sorry, Randy, but things are not looking good for your Terrapins again in 2012.
Count me as one of the few that expected the Terps to make some noise last season with their plethora of talent.
The Terps are losing star defender Kenny Tate, and will still be adjusting to Edsall's new system.
Expect them to struggle.
15. Syracuse Orange
Syracuse has struggled in the Big East each of the past few seasons.
This was even while they somehow managed to beat the best team in the conference—West Virginia—both of those seasons.
You might say the Orange chased them off.
However, the rest of the conference is still hangin' around, and the Orange don't get to move to the ACC until 2012.
The talent level is just not that great in Syracuse, and they will demonstrate that for us once again next season.
14. Texas A&M Aggies
It's all about attrition for the Aggies.
There is that little matter of conference transition.
Without Jeff Fuller, Ryan Tannehill and Cyrus Gray, they are going to find life in the SEC particularly difficult.
They will win a few, but it will be surprising if they manage to hit .500.
13. UConn Huskies
Paul Pasqualoni is a brave man.
The Huskies have fallen far since their 2011 Big East title, and while they are going to level out this season, .500 is ambitious.
Having UMass and Buffalo on the calendar really helps out matters significantly.
The rest of their schedule, not so much.
12. Illinois Fighting Illini
The Zooker is gone, so things will be better very soon—just not this year.
Sack-master Whitney Mercilus is gone, and even with quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase playing at a very high level, the Illini are going to struggle to hang with the rest of the Big Ten.
Non-conference bouts with La. Tech and at Arizona State are going to be difficult, but the conference slate is brutal.
The Illini must travel to Northwestern, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan.
The good news?
They get to play Minnesota.
11. Oregon State Beavers
See that picture?
The Beavers are going to see more of that next season.
They will wind up neck-and-neck with Washington State for worst team in the Pac-12 North.
Quick, name one impact player that will make a big difference for the Beavers...
That's right, you can't.
10. Kentucky Wildcats
Somebody please explain to me again how Kentucky is even part of the SEC.
They have enjoyed minimal success on the gridiron, and just managed to sneak to 5-7 last season.
With every team in their division of the conference improving significantly (here's looking at you, Tennessee), the 'Cats are going to find it more difficult to win next season then they did in 2011.
I'm guessing 4-8 is reasonable.
9. Washington State Cougars
Cougar fans can be extremely grateful that Paul Wulff is gone.
Likewise, they should rejoice to see the arrival of Mike Leach.
Let's not get carried away, however.
The Pac-12 North is stout, and the Cougars are going to lose to Washington again next season.
It will take a couple of years for Leach and his system to start making an impact. So hang in there, next season will be rough, but it will start getting better in 2013.
8. Ole Miss Rebels
Houston Nutt is finally gone.
The Rebels have toiled in the darkness of relative obscurity for the lat few seasons under his leadership.
It remains to be scene whether Hugh Freeze and his new system will make a difference.
Whether they do or not, it won't be in 2012.
Ole Miss fans will have to wait until at least 2013 to see some progress, and judging from their recent recruiting, it might take a little longer.
7. Minnesota Golden Gophers
No offense to Gopher fans, but your team sucks.
Jerry Kill is a slight upgrade at coach from Tim Brewster, but the Goofers just don't have the talent on either side of the ball to hang with the Big Ten's middle class at this point.
Kill's 2012 recruiting class was solid, the type of class that could be a foundation for some good things in years to come, but it will be a few seasons before they have much impact.
6. Boston College Eagles
Luke Kuechly is gone.
The Eagles were miserable this past season, finishing with a 4-8 record, in spite of boasting the tackling machine that anchored the defense.
Without Kuechly, things are going to be even uglier.
5. Colorado Buffaloes
The Buffs figured out in 2011 that scheduling 13 games in consecutive weeks with no break is not a good idea.
While they are going to have an improved record in 2012—mainly due to schedule—it's hard to see them making it over .500.
Of course, playing Arizona, Washington State, UCLA, Sacramento State and Fresno State help some, but it's still a difficult proposition for this team.
4. Kansas Jayhawks
I hate to break it to you, Jayhawks fans, but Charlie Weis is not going to be the answer.
At least not in 2012.
The talent coffers are too bare, and Weis will be implementing his system for a couple of seasons.
The Jayhawks just do not have the talent—even with transfer Dayne Crist—to hang with the explosive offenses they will face in the conference.
3. Indiana Hoosiers
Look, Kevin Wilson is the right guy to turn around this program if anyone can, but it's going to be difficult.
Recruits don't show up and players don't execute. It's tough to win with those issues in any conference, especially one of the best in the country.
The Hoosiers just don't have the talent to hang with the rest of the conference, and even Minnesota appears to be prepared to take a leap upward.
Football is just not a Hoosier sport—they should stick to basketball.
2. Arizona Wildcats
Nick Foles, the superb quarterback that has toiled in Tucson in obscurity, is gone.
On top of that, his partner in crime, receiver Juron Criner, is also out.
Rich Rodriguez was a great hire, and will no doubt make an impact extremely soon, but it won't be in 2012.
The Wildcats couldn't rush the ball worth a darn in 2011, and that was with a solid passing game.
Imagine how brutal it will be without the benefit of that help.
1. Duke Blue Devils
Look, they are Duke.
The Blue Devils have not had a season where they finished .500 or better since 1994.
That season they went 8-4.
David Cutcliife is doing his best to stem the tide of futility flowing from the Duke football program.
However, it's tough to battle decades of less-than-stellar play.