Taking a Step Back: 10 College Football Teams Likely To Slide in 2010
Now that the NCAA men's basketball tournament is over, it's time to start talking college football.
For many, spring means baseball, but for football fans, the season never really ends—it just takes a month off.
This season should provide many of the same faces dominating the landscape of college football; however, there may be some familiar faces who take a step or two back from previous seasons' success.
Whether through graduation, early defections, or coaching changes, some prominent, if not recently successful, programs will face a hard time in 2010.
South Florida Bulls
Skip Hotz may be the new face of the Bulls, but ousted coach Jim Leavitt was the father of South Florida Football.
Following his ugly departure amid accusations of assaulting a player, South Florida swooped in and grabbed Hotz.
Leavitt's shadow, however, is not entirely removed from the program. It is hard to wipe away totally the influence of the man who started the team and led it to become a nationally recognized and respected program.
Holtz is a fine coach, but with any change comes bumps in the road. I suspect South Florida will continue to be good, but this year may mean a few extra losses as they look to find their way under new leadership.
The Bearcats have not been a big-time program until recently, when former coach Brian Kelly led them to back-to-back BCS Bowls.
Now Kelly is at Notre Dame and Cincinnati is going to have to start from scratch.
So the question now is whether Butch Jones can keep the momentum going or if the Bearcats' success was the product of Kelly's ability to recruit and develop players.
We will see come the fall, but I would have to expect a drop-off for Cincinnati this season.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Can the Nittany Lions keep the dream going for Jo Pa?
No one is more surprised about the recent resurgence of the Nittany Lions than I am.
I just don't know how confident I am that it will last. Quarterback Daryll Clark is graduating, and he was a big part of Penn State's recent success.
I am expecting a bit of a fall for the Nittany Lions this season, but not a drastic one, and, in the end, perhaps there won't be one at all. I've learned from my past mistakes of underestimating the master that is Joe Paterno.
Another team with a new coach.
I know, I know, USC had a down season last year, but I am not expecting a quick turn around with Lane Kiffin at the helm.
It will be only a matter of time before old Lane starts rubbing people and players the wrong way with his "my way or the highway" routine.
For many, he is the complete opposite of Pete Carroll, and that may or may not be a good thing for the Trojans.
In both of his two head coaching jobs, he has been fired before slithering out of town.
Now I know USC recruits itself, but it wasn't that long ago when the program was in major decline. If they want to avoid another similar fall from grace, Kiffin better win—and win early.
I just don't see it happening.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The Yellow Jackets have re-emerged as a national program since Paul Johnson took over.
However, I feel the question many asked when he took over will rear its ugly head this season. Can a BCS-level team win running the triple option?
As creative as Johnson has been, can he recruit top talent to run his offense? There is no doubt he was able to win at Navy with less talent than that available to Georgia Tech, but will that be enough?
Chan Gailey got fired, and he was fairly successful. I suspect the Yellow Jackets will struggle with some key losses on both sides of the ball.
I also suspect the re-emergence of traditional powers in the ACC (Miami and Florida State, I'm talking about you) will hurt their chances of a BCS Bowl repeat appearance.
The Hawkeyes surprised many with their extremely successful season in 2009 that featured a victory in the Orange Bowl.
Had starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi not gotten hurt early, the Hawkeyes could have provided a problem for the BCS computers in determining the national champion.
That being said, can the Hawkeyes duplicate and build on their success in 2010?
I say it will be difficult with Ohio State and Penn State looming in conference play. Iowa should be successful in 2010, just not as successful.
The Longhorns have their work cut out for them. Sure they are a premier program, but can they rely on the arm of a sophomore quarterback?
Colt McCoy is gone, and Mack Brown will have to see if Garrett Gilbert can fill the void that will be left.
My guess is he will do fine, but I'm not sure if he can do it as well as McCoy did. This may be an interesting year in the Big 12, and in the end it may take more than three points to knock off Nebraska.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Gone is Mike Leach, the man who provided the fire and offensive genus behind one of the nation's most prolific offensive schemes.
Leach also provide a lot of drama that the university was just tired of dealing with.
Enter Tommy Tuberville. A proven coach, but certainly not as sexy as Leach, and the brand of football in Lubbock will never be the same.
My guess is that the Red Raiders will be decent if not very good, but they won't be the same, and I don't seem them duplicating the kind of success Leach had.
At least not this year, anyway.
Boise State Broncos
Perhaps I'm foolish to doubt the Broncos. They have, after all, proven to be the best team full of players you have never probably heard of.
College football's version of a mid-major program has had unprecedented success despite the fact that no one believed they could challenge the big boys.
Boise State has proven it can do that. The only question is whether the Broncos can sustain it over several years.
My guess is they will again be very good, but I suspect they won't sneak up on anyone anymore. If they do, then shame on the program that doesn't take them seriously.
Tim Tebow is gone, Urban Meyer is blowing up at the media, and—oh yeah—the Gators just lost a lot of talent to the NFL.
To make matters worse for Meyer, he has to break in a new quarterback in probably the best league in all of college football.
I suspect Meyer will pull it together enough where the Gators will compete again for the SEC championship; I just don't see them winning it.
I can see them losing possibly two or more games this year, which, for Florida, is a very big deal and the sign of a new day indeed.