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Posts Tagged ‘Larry Blakeney’

[Coach's Name] Field at [Trustee] Stadium

True or false: Idaho’s Kibbie Dome is named after Lloyd Kibbie, a former head coach at the university who reeled off eight straight winning seasons before stepping aside in favor of his loyal assistant, Ted Bank, in 1935. Well, one part of that question is true – Bank was named Idaho’s head coach in 1935.

No, the Kibbie Dome is not named after a former head coach, but rather a construction executive named William H. Kibbie, one of the project’s main contributors. This is how it goes for the wide majority of F.B.S. stadiums: The names on the outside typically honor trustees, school presidents, benefactors, veterans or, simply, the school itself.

One more true or false: Of the 124 stadiums in the F.B.S., 26 honor a former coach in some fashion – either with his name gracing the stadium or with a field named in his memory. That’s true. Here they are:

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    No. 100: Troy

    Troy is – or was, or was and will be again – a paragon of consistency in a sport largely devoid of programs with staying power. This is especially true on the non-B.C.S. conference level, where few programs have shown an ability to reach the top of a conference and stay there, fighting off all challengers, for a period of time beyond one or two seasons. Troy dominated the Sun Belt for five years, from 2006-10, and no, dominate is not too strong a word. The Trojans won 77.3 percent of their conference games over these five seasons, the fourth-best conference winning percentage in college football – behind Boise State, T.C.U., Ohio State and Virginia Tech. That’s some elite company. And that’s one reason why it’s safe to say that Troy will be back, even if this swoon last two years, not just one.

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      Future Members of the Hall of Fame: Coaches

      So there are issues with the College Football Hall of Fame’s eligibility criteria for coaches, as discussed at length earlier today. Eliminating those whose career spanned less than 10 years is silly; excluding those with a career winning percentage less than 60 percent is ridiculous. But rules are rules: Howard Schnellenberger deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame, but he’ll continue to be ineligible until the National Football Foundation alters its criteria. For now, active or recently active coaches who deserve Hall of Fame consideration must meet the Foundation’s existing — and puzzling — stipulations for inclusion.

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        No. 68: Troy

        Troy’s faced challengers before, upstarts who wanted to take the Trojans’ place as the Sun Belt’s top dog. First it was the built-in presence of North Texas, which had won three straight conference titles from 2002-4; then came Middle Tennessee State, followed by Florida Atlantic, perhaps followed by Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana-Lafayette. All have tried but failed to hang with the Trojans, putting together fine individual seasons but, more often than not, falling behind Troy when it comes to the long-distance race. Now, Florida International is the latest to throw its hat in the ring. Will Troy shrug aside its latest challenger as it has so many before, or do the Golden Panthers have the sort of staying power needed to keep pace with the Sun Belt’s premier program?

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          Forecasting the Sun Belt in 2011

          Troy owns the Sun Belt more than any other F.B.S. program, B.C.S. or otherwise, owns its respective conference. We’re in the middle of five straight tied or outright conference championships, which places Troy in a very elite historical group of programs with such a successful run — I smell a 100-word preview question, by the way. The Sun Belt will continue to belong to the Trojans in 2011, in my mind, but Florida International presents the greatest challenge yet seen to Troy’s run of dominance. The Golden Panthers are full of confidence after last year’s bowl run, and might be even better with another year of experience. Then there’s Middle Tennessee State, which made a change at both coordinator spots in an effort to avoid another disappointing season.

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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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              Troy Owns the Sun Belt — Again

              New year, same story: Troy scores, M.T.S.U. watches.

              What’s domination? It’s when you own a five-game winning streak over the second-best team in your own conference. It’s when this same opponent circles your trip to their house in red ink way back over the summer, when the schedules first came out — when the loud, boisterous home crowd color-coordinates — yet you still open up a 21-7 halftime lead, a 35-7 fourth quarter lead and cruise to a 29-point victory. When you’ve won at least a share of four consecutive conference championships, whether it’s the Sun Belt or otherwise. Don’t look now, but Troy owns the Sun Belt — again.

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                No. 64: Troy

                Quick note for the Sun Belt: as history has shown, Troy is susceptible to the Trojan Horse.

                I made myself a solemn promise two years ago, shortly after my preseason pick to win the Sun Belt — yes, Florida Atlantic — saw its title hopes evaporate in a 13-point home loss to Troy, the eventual conference champions. I swore that I would never again pick against the Trojans, saying in last year’s preview that it had “become clear – painfully, in my case – that as long as the Countdown exists, Troy should be viewed as the prohibitive favorite in the Sun Belt.” Yet here I am, two years later, picking a team other than Troy to win the Sun Belt championship. I’m obviously a glutton for punishment.

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                  The Countdown

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