People are taking notice of the 5-0 record. Wins are impressive, no matter the competition. Eventually people want to test that record. They pay a little closer attention when you play and to how you are winning. They bring up your name in conversation and put you on front pages. The legitimacy of your accomplishments start being questioned. People overhear these conversations. Later, when they see your name on a scroll or in a pamphlet or in the newspaper they think “Weren’t they that team that is winning all those games or something?”
That is why you play beatable teams in your second year. Hell, that is why you play beatable teams anywhere.
South Alabama is a full-fledged FBS member. They are terrible. Georgia State is going to be an FBS member. They are 0-5. TAMU-Commerce and NW Okie State? Mismatches. New Mexico State? The worst in the WAC.
This is how you build a program from scratch. In fact, this is how a program is re-built. Mike Leach’s Texas Tech teams beat up on Sun Belt schools to beef up their win totals before getting beat up in the Big 12.
You build up momentum, get guys some reps in a preseason-like environment and hope that carries you to wins you “shouldn’t” get in conference play.
We are missing something in this narrative, however. You don’t just schedule a team, compare rosters, then declare a winnner.
You have to go out and play the games.
In 2006 Larry Coker was fired from Miami. The once-dominant Hurricanes finished 7-6, and caused national hand-wriging after their bench-clearing brawl with FIU. In his six-year run he lost fifteen times. Twelve of those losses were in the last three year run.
People said he won with Butch Davis’ players and couldn’t build nor maintain a winning program. In the aftermath, he couldn’t even get a job coaching Rice. Coming to San Antonio, for all the opportunity it presented and for all the claims made by Coker about his desirability, it seems that a start-up program was the only option.
In year two, with only 70 scholarships to pass out, and a bunch of overlooked, under-recruited guys who have to practice at a high school stadium he is 9-6.
Maybe keeping that 2001 Hurricane team with 17 NFL stars wasn’t as easy as setting out the uniforms before the game. Maybe Larry Coker knows a thing or two about coaching. Maybe coaching the most popular team in the nation — one full of young 19-22 year-olds — in city like Miami will bring down any coach.
Maybe we only have to look at Pete Carroll’s USC in LA. (Sure, he won more, but his biggest accomplishments are not official.)
I mean, Butch Davis assembled a ton of future NFL talent in North Carolina, too. I don’t see any BCS titles in Raleigh.
Soon the wins will be scarce. The WAC isn’t filled with NMSUs. La Tech, San Jose State, and Utah State have a combined 12-2 record. This undefeated run won’t last but don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t enjoy it while it’s going.
Rice is very beatable. Assuming the worst against the best teams in the conference (that is to say 0-3 vs La Tech, SJ St, and Utah St) this thing could be 8-3 headed in to the big finale against Texas State.
I can totally live with that.
Right now? The view from Undefeated Mountain looks real good.
Editor extraordinaire, UTSA grad student. Twitter