Time to burn through a few more BCS near-cellar dwellers on today's installment of the countdown ...
75. LOUISIANA TECH
The Bulldogs hired Sonny Dykes, a protege of both Hal Mumme and Mike Leach, to take over their program after Derek Dooley received an unanticipated golden ticket and skedaddled to Tennessee.
With that in mind, let's take a peek at the work Mumme and Leach have done with offenses in their first season as head coach compared to their immediate predecessors:
1996: 12.5 ppg, 4-7 overall
1997: 31.6 ppg, 5-6 overall
Texas Tech (Leach)
1999: 23.0 ppg, 6-5 overall
2000: 27.5 ppg, 7-6 overall
New Mexico State (Mumme)
2004: 24.8 ppg, 5-6 overall
2005: 16.5 ppg, 0-12 overall
There's a mixed bag. So how about the difference Dykes made upon arriving as Arizona's offensive coordinator in 2007?
2006: 16.8 ppg, 6-6 overall
2007: 28.0 pph, 5-7 overall
In three of the four scenarios, the record remained generally unchanged. And the assumption here is that will carry over to Dykes' debut in Ruston, where the Bulldogs might be better than last year's 4-8 --- but probably not by much.
74. SOUTHERN METHODIST
After going 0-4 in games decided by a touchdown or less in 2008, the Mustangs were due to improve last fall.
And so they did, leaping from 1-11 to 8-5 and a Hawaii Bowl rout of Nevada. Of course, Southern Methodist pulled that off by going 6-3 in games determined by eight points or less.
Theoretically, there should be another evening out effect. But that could be canceled out by yet another year for the Mustangs offense to soak in the teachings of coach June Jones.
Not long ago --- read: 2007 --- envisioning a middle-of-the-pack national ranking for SMU wouldn't have made much sense. Yet at this stage, it's a given the Mustangs will at least have the offense to make things interesting.
This could very easily be a team that is better than its predecessor but winds up with a similar result. Chances are, SMU fans wouldn't complain about a second straight bowl berth after a quarter-century sojourn through death penalty-induced gridiron wilderness.
73. IOWA STATE
Few teams nationally are in for a statistical comeuppance quite like the Cyclones are this fall.
First of all, a rundown of teams that reached bowl games last season despite getting outgained by 20 or more yards per game:
83.9: Wyoming (7-6)
62.8: Minnesota (6-7)
51.2: Iowa State (7-6)
38.4: Ohio (6-7)
28.2: Kentucky (7-6)
23.1: Louisiana State (9-4)
22.7: Marshall (6-7)
But that's just the start of matters.
The Cyclones swap out Army, Kent State and North Dakota State for Utah, Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa. Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M --- arguably the bottom three teams in the Big 12 South, though A&M might be the division's No. 3 team --- rotate off the schedule. Hello, Oklahoma and Texas.
Year One was unexpectedly enjoyable for Paul Rhoads and his staff. Chances are, this fall won't be nearly so fun.
High on the list of things that rarely go well together: First-time head coaches at the college or pro level and the SEC. That's a combination the Wildcats will trot out this fall with Joker Phillips, who at least knew this day was coming sooner or later thanks to his head-coach-in-waiting designation the last few years.
Since 1980, there have been 18 other men get their first head coaching gig in the SEC. It worked out extremely well for Phil Fulmer and Mark Richt, fairly well for back-to-back Ole Miss hires Tommy Tuberville and David Cutcliffe, and decent enough (pre-violations, anyway) for Galen Hall.
The other 13 guys? Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but only Gerry DiNardo, Guy Morriss and Ron Zook ever got another major head coaching job.
The rest of this motley contingent: Jerry Stovall, Rockey Felker, Mike Archer, Ray Goff, Brad Scott, Mike DuBose, Mike Shula, Sylvester Croom and Ed Orgeron. Admittedly, the jury remains out on Dan Mullen.
The odds are stacked against a first-time head coach in America's toughest conference. Inheriting a team that struggles to stop the run isn't a good sign Phillips' first impression will be a good one. Perhaps the Wildcats continue to exploit a soft nonconference schedule --- they're 15-1 outside the SEC in the regular season since 2006. If not, a bowl bid is unlikely.
71. WAKE FOREST
It's a testament to Jim Grobe's superb coaching that it took 15 years as a head coach to endure his first in-season five-game skid.
But that skid forces a question or two --- namely, how much better will things be now that Riley Skinner's career is over.
An equally significant concern is the turnover issue. Wake was plus-39 en route to three straight postseason appearances, a simply unsustainable takeaway/giveaway margin. Last year, the Demon Deacons --- already smarting from the loss of Aaron Curry and Alphonso Smith --- were minus-4 and left an inexperienced defense on the field longer than it could afford. Hence, a 5-7 season.
That group should be a bit better, but Skinner's replacement will be on the spot to make sure the offense doesn't decline too much. Please note the use of "too much;" no one should anticipate the Demon Deacons throwing with remotely the effectiveness Skinner did as a senior.
A gunslinger would be nice, but an effective offensive caretaker would probably be enough to get Wake back to its typically overachieving ways under Grobe. After losing twice in overtime and five losses by a combined 13 points, the breaks might be do to swing back toward the Demon Deacons this fall.