5 Teams Many Think Are Elite...But Really Aren't
Fans are funny. Saying they lack perception about their team is like saying Charlie Sheen has just a few issues.
The most out-of-touch fans are probably the ones whose team did have success years ago, perhaps in the fan's parents' time. Yet every season, fans are sure it is the one their team wins it all.
I don't mean to make fun of fans. Their passion is one of the very best things about sports, but fans also give me much to write about.
I thought I'd take a look at some teams that have a reputation that doesn't quite match their on field success in recent years. To be fair, that perception can come from and be perpetuated by the media too. This isn't all on fans.
This is by no means a ranking or a complete list. These five teams just came to mind, and I welcome input about any other teams.
Not as Many Stars and Wins on the Field as on the Helmets.
It's hard to call a team with five Super Bowl wins overrated, but the last win was in 1996, which was a remarkable third in four years. Since then? Nothing much.
The Cowboys have a playoff record of 2-7 since that last Lombardi Trophy win. They've gone through numerous coaches since Jimmy Johnson. Is the fact that the Super Bowl wins stopped when Johnson left a coincidence?
Johnson was responsible for putting that great team together. His fleecing of the Vikings in the Hershel Walker trade built the Cowboys that won those three Super Bowls. No coincidence at all.
Since Jimmy took his hair to Miami and then Fox, the Cowboys have not fared so well in the draft—the lifeblood of a team. Of the 14 first-round picks since Johnson left, I'd say only DeMarcus Ware and Roy Williams were hits, but Tyron Smith and Morris Claiborne still have chance to make it big.
That won't get it done.
The Cowboys have a revenue advantage with their stadium and other marketing deals. Until owner Jerry Jones hires a real general manager and gets out of the way, the mediocrity will continue.
The Echos Have Been Asleep for Quite Some Time
I grew up a Notre Dame fan, watching the highlights of their games every Sunday morning. There was a special aura about the gold helmets.
Fast forward to today and every team's on TV. Winning matters to today's prep stars and none of them were alive in 1988 when the Irish won their most recent National Championship. That season kicked off five years of double-digit wins in six seasons under Lou Holtz.
Since then, Notre Dame's double-digit win seasons have been 2002 and 2006.
Their bowl record? An overall 15-15 with a dismal 3-9 in their last dozen.
Going back to 1989, the Irish have had eight first-team AP All Americans. By comparison:
Florida State: 27
You get the idea.
So, what are the issues? Well, don't underestimate the issue of weather. Syracuse had a football recruit from Florida step off the plane for his visit in February and turn around and get back on the plane. It was far too cold for him.
Prep stars want warm weather and sun.
Notre Dame is in a small, rural town and has tough academics. This combination is rough.
Brian Kelly is a great coach and will do well there. They just need to be realistic about what well is.
Tar Heels Look Down on the Terps
It's tough being Maryland and having to compete with the Tar Heels, Blue Devils and the rest of the daunting ACC. Imagine being ranked in the AP top 10 and not making the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Welcome to Maryland basketball in the '70s when only the conference champion made March Madness.
The Terps enjoyed great success under Lefty Driessel and Gary Williams. Williams brought his alma mater back, winning a National Championship in 2002. Mark Turgeon just completed his first year and is a good coach with a chance to bring the Terps back.
But it's been a while. The last Terp to be first-team All American was Juan Dixon in 2002. The last second teamer was Greivis Vasquez in 2010 and third teamer was Dixon in 2001.
There was a long drought of NBA-caliber players—from Buck Williams, drafted by the Nets in 1981, to Steve Blake, now playing with the Lakers.
Can they return to more prominent status?
Shouldn't the Red Storm Be Better?
St. John's 1,686 wins are the seventh most in NCAA Men's basketball history. Their 27 NCAA Tournament appearances are also seventh most. Unfortunately it is also the most appearances without a championship.
Since the heyday of the Big East when Louie Carneseca's sweater was on the bench, the Red Storm have struggled mightily. It doesn't bode well that they're in the heart of a vibrant recruiting base.
The last first-team All American was Walter Berry in 1986. The last second teamer was Malik Sealy in 1992 and the last third teamer was Ron Artest in 1999. He doesn't even go by that name now.
Steve Lavin has a chance to really turn things around as long has his health allows him to be on the bench full time. Here's hoping he gets that shot.
Bruins Are Kings of Court. Football? Not so Much.
It says something when Rick Neuheisal brings a record of 66-30 to Westwood and leaves with a Bruin record of 21-29. The Bruins rest their hopes for a turnaround now on Jim Mora, Jr.
Being located in the heart of such a fertile recruiting base should lead to more wins for UCLA. Their Bowl record of 14-16-1 is inflated by eight wins between 1982-1991. Since then the Bruins are 4-9.
In the last 32 NFL drafts, the only first-round hits have been Troy Aikman in 1989 and Jonathon Ogden in 1996.
UCLA's struggles are made even worse by the success of the Trojans. Mora has his work cut out for him.