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Posts Tagged ‘Todd Berry’

U.L.M. Shocks, Rewrites Arkansas’ Season

Louisiana-Monroe owns the SEC. Not really. No, really: U.L.M. owns the SEC – with a slight caveat. The Warhawks are as good against the SEC as any non-B.C.S. conference program in the country, I should say. Last night, the Warhawks beat Arkansas, 34-31, in overtime, to notch the program’s second win against the nation’s premier conference since 2007. The victory joins that earlier win against Alabama in Nick Saban’s first year; the two wins sandwich seven losses, but that’s neither here nor there.

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    No. 107: Louisiana-Monroe

    U.L.M. has an image problem. It’s not about L.S.U., because L.S.U. is L.S.U., and that’s fine. Louisiana-Monroe doesn’t compete with the Tigers, and wouldn’t dare try, of course. U.L.M. competes with Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech and Tulane for in-state eyeballs, and as the Warhawks head into the summer, they’re losing the battle for public attention. The Ragin’ Cajuns are riding a wave of good vibes after earning their first bowl berth on the F.B.S. level, beating U.L.M. to the punch. In addition to hitting its groove under Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech is now back in the news thanks to this week’s jump into Conference USA. Even Tulane, despite suffering a setback to its hopes for an on-campus stadium, has moved back into the regional conversation since hiring Curtis Johnson in December. In a state with five F.B.S. programs, U.L.M.’s Q rating comes in last. Perhaps being last isn’t new for the Warhawks; being a distant last, however, is a recent development.

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      The 2012 Locksley: Winter Watch List

      They’re the survivors. Purdue’s Danny Hope barely nudged into bowl play, removing himself from the hot seat in the process — and landing a contract extension, in fact. George O’Leary’s common flirtations with mediocrity has led him to alter the makeup of his coaching staff, though he remains entrenched at U.C.F. as the program begins its move to the Big East. Another Conference USA head coache, Rice’s David Bailiff, putters along the road to mediocrity yet seems to experience minimal challenges to his job security. Middle Tennessee State’s Rick Stockstill is made of Teflon, if not some similarly strong fluorocarbon solid, as is UTEP’s Mike Price.

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        No. 94: Louisiana-Monroe

        It’s just the way things are, for better or for worse. The better: Louisiana-Monroe has a fine year in 2010, winning five games, and returns 19 of last season’s starters. Like Arizona State, which does the same, these two factors combine to raise expectations to a healthy level. Or is it unhealthy? The Warhawks haven’t made a bowl trip since joining the F.B.S. in 1994 – haven’t won more than six games in a season – so why should we expect this season to be any different? Raised expectations are a boon to the program, on the other hand, and it’s good, even if it feels strange, to think of Louisiana-Monroe as a program on the rise. Yet it never hurts to keep things in perspective, asking yourself if it’s really a good idea to get behind the idea of a U.L.M. bowl run when we’ve seen this program enter a year with raised expectations in the past only to find itself disappointed with the end result.

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          No. 114: Louisiana-Monroe

          Henry Clay, the original War Hawk, is not confident in Louisiana-Monroe's chances in 2010.

          There is no second act in life, or so it’s said. Don’t tell that to Todd Berry, the new Louisiana-Monroe coach whose career bottomed out during his disastrous four-year stint as the head coach at Army from 2000-3. Berry has done his best to remake his reputation in the year’s since, a period that included two relatively successful seasons as the U.L.M. offensive coordinator under his predecessor, Charlie Weatherbie. His task, much as it was with the Cadets, is to bring to the forefront a program mired in years of irrelevance. Few expect the Warhawks to ever break upon the national stage — though the program did so briefly with its win over Alabama a few years ago — but the program is tired of mediocrity. Is Berry really the right guy for this?

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            The Countdown

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