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Posts Tagged ‘Geoff Collins’

No. 31: Mississippi State

What last fall did was bring Mississippi State back down to Earth. Run roughshod over the SEC? Leap tall buildings, Nick Saban and L.S.U. in a single bound? Put together an offense that will leave this defense-based conference gasping for breath? It’s not that easy, with last season as our evidence — but don’t get off the bandwagon. Instead, adjust your thinking to recognize the battles that await any team hoping to reach bowl eligibility in the SEC, let alone one planning to go from the outhouse to the penthouse in a three-year span. The road to a major bowl will always go through an Auburn, Arkansas, L.S.U. or Alabama; that’s life in the SEC West, where you’re either quick or you’re dead, and no one wants to be Mississippi. So where does that leave the Bulldogs heading into fall camp? Here’s where it should: firm in the knowledge that progression comes in all shapes and sizes; that sometimes, improvement is not necessarily manifested in the win column; and that last year’s team was not necessarily worse than the nine-win team that preceded it. All systems are still go. The bandwagon remains full. But it will never, ever be easy to navigate the rocky shores of the SEC West.

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    No. 22: Mississippi State

    Here’s a new one: now that the Florida ship has sailed, Dan Mullen will be the next coach at Ohio State once that program begins a national search in January. No, that can’t be right. I thought Mullen was just biding his time until Joe Paterno hung up his whistle at Penn State? Scratch that: Mullen’s next in line at Texas, clearly, once Mack Brown goes; or L.S.U., when Les Miles’ in-game shenanigans become too much for that program to bear; or Oklahoma, Alabama, U.S.C. and so on. Seems like the only place people won’t predict Mullen will be five years from now is Mississippi State. Why is that? Why couldn’t Mullen hunker down and make Starkville his home for the next five years, decade, the rest of his career? If last season is any indication, Mullen can win at Mississippi State, and there’s always the draw of finishing what one has started — being the face and name behind a program’s ascendancy.

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      No. 70: Florida International

      It was a season of firsts. First non-losing season. First winning season. First year scoring more than 300 points. First year scoring more points than the opposition while on the F.B.S. level. First year with more than three wins in conference play. First winning record during conference play. First conference championship. First bowl game. First bowl win. First year worth writing home about. First, first, first, first. Next up: first year with sizable expectations. As Florida International will soon discover, it’s one thing to do it once; it’s another thing to do it again.

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        Meanwhile, In the Sun Belt…

        Two straight posts with ellipses in the headline? That’s an awful poor precedent to set. They’re unavoidable in this case, as the ellipses suggest the unknown landscape that is Sun Belt football from the end of one regular season until the start of another: few teams make major noise, and any news that may issue out from a Sun Belt denizen quickly dissipates once a major team from a major conference does anything of consequence. So what’s happening in the Sun Belt as the conference begins to look towards the summer?

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          Random Spring Thoughts: Mississippi St.

          Using a combination of various computer programs and the Internet — a task nearly beyond my limited computing skills — I selected 25 F.B.S. teams at random. Teams lucky enough to have been randomly selected will be reviewed with several random thoughts as we enter the heart of spring practice. Up next: Mississippi State, rapidly rocketing up the F.B.S. ladder.

          Here’s a new one: now that the Florida ship has sailed, Dan Mullen will be the next coach at Ohio State once Jim Tressel is sent packing. No, that can’t be right. I thought Mullen was just biding his time until Joe Paterno hung up his whistle at Penn State? Scratch that: Mullen’s next in line at Texas, clearly, once Mack Brown goes; or L.S.U., when Les Miles’ in-game shenanigans become too much for that program to bear; or Oklahoma, Alabama, Miami (Fla.) and so on. Seems like the only place people won’t predict Mullen will be five years from now is Mississippi State.

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            Hats Off to F.I.U. and Cristobal

            The highway markers on the road towards respectability include moments like the first win, the first conference win, the first win against a non-conference foe, first bowl trip and finally, that elusive first bowl win. Florida International’s took the slow lane towards a bowl first, passing eight seasons without posting a winning season — let alone winning a bowl game — but the meandering path only makes a late, palpitation-inducing Little Caesars Bowl win over Toledo all the more meaningful. Nine years into its history, F.I.U. can finally hang its hat on a successful campaign. In turn, we doff our hats at both the program and its fast-rising coach, Mario Cristobal.

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              2010 End-of-Year Awards: Sun Belt

              Every dog has its day, as Florida International can now attest. To say that the program’s foray into the F.B.S. did not go according to plan would be an understatement: while rival Florida Atlantic had already tasted success, F.I.U. entered the 2010 season with a career winning percentage of 26.1 percent — 24 wins, 68 losses. Elsewhere, 6-6 might be a supreme disappointment; even Sun Belt foe Middle Tennessee State, the preseason favorite, must be disappointed in its .500 finish. This isn’t elsewhere, however: it’s Florida International. After going 6-6, F.I.U. breaks out the band.

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                The Countdown

                A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.