2011 Offseason: Ranking The Impact Of BCS Programs Under Second Year Coaches
There has been a recent trend occurring in collegiate football. Since the inception of the BCS system, there have been numerous football programs that achieved incredible success in only the second year within a coach's tenure. Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Jim Tressel (Ohio State), Urban Meyer (Florida) and most recently Gene Chizik (Auburn) have even led their respective teams to a BCS National Championship in their second year.
There were many noteworthy hires in the last off-season, so now it is time to analyze and predict the impact of 11 BCS programs with coaches to enter the second year at their respective program. To determine the ranking of "impact" a program will have for next year, one must look at the production of each program's first year, offensively and defensively, their 2011-2012 schedule and other observations (key 2011 recruits, staff, etc.).
This is only a preseason ranking that pertains to the possible impact of these 11 BCS programs. The predictions could be accurate or utterly false. This is just an assessment of what might occur for these programs in the 2011-2012 football season.
On to No. 11...
No. 11: University Of Kansas Jayhawks
2010-2011 Record: 3-9 (1-7 Big 12)
Returning Starters: 14 (eight offensive, six defensive and zero special teams)
The Jayhawks appeared disoriented in their transition to Turner Gill's methods and schemes. For the 2010 season, Kansas was 91st or worse in total offensive yards, passing yards, rushing yards and scoring per game (17.1 ppg). In addition, the defensive production was horrid, allowing roughly 428 yards a game.
However, Gill will certainly turn around this program similar to what Buffalo did during his oversight. The offense, with eight starters returning, will improve over time. As for the defense, the production can only improve from last year's output.
Prediction of Impact in 2011-2012: Kansas will improve to either seventh or eighth in the Big 12, but will most likely struggle on the road against Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M. They also have tough home games against Oklahoma and rival Kansas State. Once the program enters its third year under Gill, look for Kansas to possibly vie for the Big 12 championship in 2012.
No. 10: Texas Tech University Red Raiders
2010-2011 Record: 8-5 (3-5)
Returning Starters: 13 (five offensive, eight defensive and zero special teams)
Texas Tech's situation is far better than Big 12 counterpart Kansas. Their offensive production, in 2010-2011, was above average that was boosted from a top five output in passing yardage. Compared to the Leach era, the Red Raiders did slightly better in the rushing category, but still underwhelmed nationally. The defense was their weakest link, however, ranking as one of the worst in the nation (yardage wise).
This can not happen if Tuberville wants to compete in the most offensive-oriented conference in college football. The offense needs to maintain productivity after losing players such as Taylor Potts and Lyle Leong, while the defense only loses three starters in a unit that will improve next year.
Prediction of Impact in 2011-2012: Texas Tech should finish either fourth or fifth in the Big 12. Tuberville obviously knows how to win games and it will translate to success for the Red Raiders in the future.
No. 9: University Of South Florida Bulls
2010-2011 Record: 8-5 (3-4 Big East)
Returning Starters: 12 (four offensive, six defensive and one special teams)
The USF program will most likely contend for the Big East title in the near future. However, South Florida may not contend next year. Holtz and his coaching staff have to replace 12 starters along with fixing total and passing offense production (93rd and 96th nationally). However, the program will succeed if it maintains rushing production (66th nationally) and continues its defensive excellence (17th nationally in yardage allowed).
Prediction of Impact in 2011-2012: The Bulls have the capability of joining the top half of the Big East Conference, but will probably be behind conference powerhouse West Virginia and rising Syracuse and Louisville.
No. 8: University Of Cincinnati Bearcats
2010-2011 Record: 4-8 (2-5 Big East)
Returning Starters: 17 (five offensive, eleven defensive and one special teams)
Cincinnati's 4-8 record in 2010 was probably a fluke. Key injuries (especially Vidal Hazelton) and inconsistent offensive and defensive production hampered Butch Jones' first year. Statistically, the 2010-2011 Bearcats were average in total offensive yardage and defensive yardage allowed. The offensive might improve slightly but expect the defense to undergo massive improvement with all defensive starters returning.
Prediction of Impact in 2011-2012: Similar to South Florida, Cincinnati could find themselves in the top half (fourth or higher) of the conference if they find a way to win against West Virginia, Pitt and Louisville. The Bearcat faithful will be more ecstatic if the program can produce a key non-conference win at Tennessee early next season.
No. 7: University Of Tennessee Volunteers
2010-2011 Record: 6-7 (3-5 SEC)
Returning Starters: 13 (seven offensive, six defensive and zero special teams)
Derek Dooley, son of legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley, certainly has the Volunteers going in the right direction. While their rushing production was anemic, the Volunteers had an effective passing game in 2010 (24th nationally). Defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox will improve the defense from 69th nationally to historic SEC standards.
Tennessee's 2011 recruiting class has loads of talent from various positions (including WR DeAnthony Arnett and OLB Curt Maggitt). Tennessee's decent performance against North Carolina, in the Music City Bowl, should be a positive indicator for the Vols' future.
Prediction of Impact in 2011-2012: Look for Tennessee to stake a claim atop the SEC East if it can win its key home games against Georgia and South Carolina. Losing at Florida and/or at Alabama can also hinder the Volunteers' season. Overall, Tennessee could place second or third in the SEC East.
No. 6: University Of Louisville Cardinals
2010-2011 Record: 7-6 (3-4 Big East)
Returning Starters: 11 (five offensive, five defensive and one special teams)
Charlie Strong and the Louisville Cardinals look to build upon the successful 2010 season. In one year, the program experienced a winning record, a bowl game win and a stellar recruiting class with notable Miami recruits. Even though Strong and his coaching staff will have to replace 13 starters, expect to see an improved offensive output, with an above average rushing attack (33rd nationally in 2010) and defensive excellence (14th nationally). With Terry Bridgewater, among other recruits, incoming, expect Louisville to appear as a consistent and competitive program.
Prediction of Impact in 2011-2012: It is highly likely that Louisville can win the Big East championship in 2011 and appear in a BCS bowl. Success in games at North Carolina and at Kentucky can lead into a great Big East campaign for the Cardinals. This could be the year for Louisville to beat Pitt, West Virginia and Syracuse to claim the conference title before TCU arrives for the 2012-2013 season. If not this year, then look for the Cardinals to compete with West Virginia and TCU, for the Big East title, for many years in the future.
No. 5: University Of Virginia Cavaliers
2010-2011 Record: 4-8 (1-7)
Returning Starters: 17 (eight offensive, seven defensive and two special teams)
Virginia, under the guidance of Mike London, should expect moderate success in the ACC this year. In the 2010-2011 season, the Cavaliers were more focused on pass production (35th nationally) and were below average on defense (78th nationally in average yards allowed). Similar to Cincinnati and Kansas, there is potential for vast improvement with 17 starters returning. Mike London is a coach who could take this program to an ACC championship in a few years. Honestly, Virginia finding its way atop the ACC Coastal is probable if they find a way to defeat North Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Prediction of Impact in 2011-2012: Virginia, with experienced starters and a great coaching staff, could place second or third in the ACC Coastal division. With an easy non-conference schedule and wins over UNC and Virginia Tech, Virginia could make a surprise climb from the basement of the conference to the near top.
No. 4: University Of Kentucky Wildcats
2010-2011 Record: 6-7 (2-6 SEC)
Returning Starters: 17 (six offensive, nine defensive and two special teams)
Joker Phillips showed that the Kentucky Wildcats program is in good hands. In Phillips' first year as head coach, the Wildcats beat eventual SEC East champion South Carolina. In 2010, Kentucky had an offense that was above average in total yardage (30th nationally) and passing (20th), while the defense was also slightly above average in total yardage allowed (45th nationally). With 17 returning starters, expect improvement in the running game and also the defense as a whole.
Prediction of Impact in 2011-2012: With the program's stability under Philips and experienced starters, Kentucky could fight with South Carolina and Georgia for the SEC East spot for the SEC Championship game. The Wildcats have a tough away schedule, however, with road games at LSU, at South Carolina and at Georgia. If Kentucky can win two of these away games, they could claim the SEC East in 2011.
No. 3: University Of Southern California Trojans
2010-2011 Record: 8-5 (5-4 Pac-10)
Returning Starters: 13 (six offensive, seven defensive and zero special teams)
Even though USC has one more year of its postseason ban (unless the appeal is successful), this article can examine the possibility of USC winning the Pac-12.
Not surprisingly, USC was above average in most offensive categories in 2010. What is most surprising is the lack of defensive cohesion which resulted in poor execution throughout the season (USC was 84th nationally in total yards allowed). However, a defensive coordinator like Monte Kiffin will not allow his defense to continue to disappoint. The one thing that fans want to see is Lane Kiffin's program in its second year (since he left Tennessee after only one year in Knoxville). USC also has an incredible 2011 recruiting class due to Ed Orgeron's remarkable recruiting skills.
Prediction of Impact in 2011-2012: With the talent and staff that USC has, it should not be a surprise to see the Trojans winning the Pac-12. The 2011 schedule for USC includes a home game against Stanford and key away games at Notre Dame and at Oregon. While the schedule is moderately tough, the Trojans should have no problem finishing first or second in the Pac-12.
No. 2: University Of Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2010-2011 Record: 8-5
Returning Starters: 18 (eight offensive, eight defensive and two special teams)
Notre Dame made tremendous progress in the latter part of the 2010 season. The defense was extraordinary and the offense was productive even with key losses such as Dayne Crist and Kyle Rudolph. Expect Brian Kelly's offense to continue its pass-oriented production (31st nationally in 2010) with Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees battling for playing time next year. In addition, Bob Diaco will continue to improve the defense and build from its success in 2010. With a top ten recruiting class in 2011, Notre Dame is poised to become an elite program once again.
Prediction of Impact in 2011-2012: Expect Notre Dame to win at least ten games and contend for a potential BCS bowl berth. The 2011 schedule is a bit tough, with road games against Stanford and rival Michigan along with home games against USC and Michigan State. Overall, Notre Dame should have an incredible season to build momentum to becoming a possible national championship contender in 2012-2013.
No. 1: Florida State University Seminoles
2010-2011 Record: 10-4 (6-2 ACC)
Returning Starters: 18 (eight offensive, eight defensive and two special teams)
Florida State, under Jimbo Fisher, should make the most of its success from the 2010-2011 season. With 18 starters returning, and essentially the No. 1 recruiting class in 2011, the Seminoles should not only win the ACC, but also contend for the national title. Expect a great offense (34th nationally), with an efficient passing game and a productive rushing attack (29th nationally). Under defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, the defense will be an elite unit in 2011-2012.
Prediction of Impact in 2011-2012: Florida State will most likely claim the ACC Championship and then possibly vie for the BCS National Championship. The Seminoles are capable of returning to the success it had in the 90's under Bobby Bowden. With a 2011 schedule that has Oklahoma and a trip down the road at Florida, the Seminoles could make a triumphant return to elite status with these victories along with wins over conference competition.