Tag Archives: Ron Zook

These college football programs can’t turn talent into wins

(Associated Press)

“Battleship.” “Rock of Ages.” And coming this weekend: “The Watch.” Yes, this summer has once again supplied us with a bounty of star-studded bombs to prove the old adage about the sum not always equaling its parts.

Of course, you don’t need to fork over 10 bucks for a crummy Ben Stiller movie to know that. Just wait a few weeks for college football, which has more than its share of teams with rosters that feature future NFL stars, but somehow still manage to drown in the sea of mediocrity.

Boosters of programs like Alabama, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Southern California aren’t able to relate to what I’m talking about. Their teams are college football’s equivalent of “The Avengers:” superhuman stars who always win in the end. If you’ve ever watched the University of Texas blow out Rice, you know why there are more Longhorns than Owls in the NFL. The recruiting classes at Texas — along with those of their aforementioned fellow juggernauts — annually rank in the nation’s top 10, and not coincidentally, those teams always finish the season ranked in the top 10 (at least when they’re not on probation). Cynicism aside, their success makes sense.

It only gets confusing when you look at the teams with more future NFL players than BCS appearances. These programs are great at grooming blue-chippers for paying gigs at the next level, but somehow struggle to turn all that talent into wins against Temple, James Madison or Montana State. Let’s call it the Stiller Syndrome to honor the reigning champ of A-list ensemble eyesores like “Tower Heist,” “Night At The Museum” and those inexcusable Fockers sequels.

So, which college football teams suffer from the most severe cases of Stiller Syndrome? I’ve poured over the last 10 years looking for the ugly combination of tell-tale symptoms, including: quantity of a school’s alumni currently in the NFL, the quality of said current NFLers, and a less-than-impressive winning percentage. Here’s my top five:

* Warning: the following might cause severe depression and nausea for fans of these teams.

North Carolina

Record the last 10 years: 54-69
Current NFL players: 37
Noteworthy players:
Julius Peppers, DE, Bears
Hakeem Nicks, WR, Giants
Jeff Saturday, C, Packers
Robert Quinn, DE, Rams
Greg Little, WR, Browns
Quinton Coples, DE, Jets
Zach Brown, LB, Titans
Jason Brown, C, Rams
Vonnie Holliday, DE, Cardinals
Gerald Sensabaugh, S, Cowboys
Connor Barth, K, Buccaneers
T.J. Yates, QB, Texans

Bottom line: In Peppers, the Heels have (at least) one future Pro Football Hall of Famer … but zero BCS appearances. Coples, Quinn, and Holliday are three more first-round picks from UNC’s defensive line. Say what you want about their Tobacco Road rivals, but at least Duke stinks because their players stink. What’s Carolina’s excuse?

Maryland

Record the last 10 years: 67-58
Current NFL players: 34
Noteworthy players:
Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers
D’Qwell Jackson, LB, Browns
Domonique Foxworth, CB, Ravens
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Raiders
Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens
Randy Starks, DE, Dolphins
Josh Wilson, CB, Redskins
Madieu Williams, S, 49ers
Bruce Campbell, OT, Panthers
Shawne Merriman, LB, Bills
Shaun Hill, QB, Lions
Nick Novak, K, Chargers
Jared Gaither, OT, Chargers

Bottom line: Former head coach Ralph Friedgen satisfied his appetite to fill his roster filled with future NFLers. So, it’s hard to figure why he couldn’t coach them to gobble up cupcakes like Middle Tennessee State.

Pitt

Record the last 10 years: 74-51
Current NFL players: 29
Noteworthy players:
Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals
Shady McCoy, RB, Eagles
Andy Lee, P, 49ers
Jabaal Sheard, DE, Browns
Clint Session, LB, Jaguars
Jason Pinkston, G, Browns
Jon Baldwin, WR, Chiefs
Antonio Bryant, WR, Seahawks
Henry Hynoski, FB, Giants
Shawntae Spencer, CB, Raiders
Jeff Otah, OT, Jets

Bottom line: No other college program — not ‘Bama, not USC, no one — can make a case for producing the best NFL player at four different positions (RB: McCoy; CB: Revis; WR: Fitzgerald WR; P: Lee). Rather than making a bad pun about the how the Panthers’ inexplicable mediocrity in the laughable Big East has been “the pits,” I’ll just say they stink. If you don’t believe me, dig up some video of them getting humiliated by Alex Smith and the Utes — Alex Smith! — in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.

Illinois

Record the last 10 years: 44-77
Current NFL players: 31
Noteworthy players:
Brandon Lloyd, WR, Patriots
Pierre Thomas, RB, Saints
David Diehl, G, Giants
Corey Liuget, DE, Chargers
Rashard Mendenhall, RB, Steelers
Brandon Moore, G, Jets
Vontae Davis, CB, Dolphins
Whitney Mercilus, DE, Texans
Mikel Leshoure, RB, Lions
Jon Asomoah, G, Chiefs
Martez Wilson, LB, Saints
Neil Rackers, K, Redskins
Arrelious Benn, WR, Buccaneers
AJ Jenkins, WR, 49ers
Jeff Allen, G, Chiefs
Tavon Wilson, S, Patriots
Steve Weatherford, P, Giants
Tony Pashos, OT, free agent

Bottom line: Like the Florida Gators before them, this team got Zooked (as in: great recruiter/horrible former head coach Ron Zook). With just one BCS appearance (an 49-17 embarrassment at the hands of USC in the 2008 Rose Bowl) and a record 33 games under .500 over the last 10 years, the Illini belong in remedial classes.

Boston College

Record the last 10 years: 84-45
Current NFL players: 22
Noteworthy players:
Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons
Matt Hasselbeck, QB, Titans
Luke Kuechly, LB, Panthers
B.J. Raji, DT, Packers
Chris Snee, C, Giants
Dan Koppen, C, Patriots
Mathias Kiwanuka, LB, Giants
Anthony Costanzo, OT, Colts
Marc Columbo, OT, Dolphins
Jeremy Trueblood, OT, Buccaneers
Mark Herzlich, LB, Giants
Antonio Garay, DT, Chargers
Gosder Cherilus, OT, Lions

Bottom line: Last year’s Super Bowl featured four of the above Golden Eagles. The last 10 years’ worth of BCS games featured no Golden Eagles. Inexcusable.