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Posts Tagged ‘Troy’

Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 2 (Sept. 8)

Let’s not beat around the bush: this isn’t a great week. I mean, it’s great – better than what we’re used to, better than any non-football weekend – but it’s not great, all things considered. There’s no Michigan and Alabama to end the night; there’s no prime-time game on ABC at all, in fact. Instead, we’ll close our night with Nebraska and U.C.L.A., Georgia and Missouri and, later on, Arizona and Oklahoma State. Very, very intriguing games. But with perhaps the exception of Georgia, depending on how highly you think of the Bulldogs, these games don’t carry any title implications. That doesn’t make the games any less interesting – or change the fact that every game, especially while teams find their footing, carries some level of importance. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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    [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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      Among Optimism, One Bastion of Negativity

      Twenty-five teams down, 99 to go. When you put it that way, it’s hard to find the light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps I’d be wise to take a cue from the triple-digit portion of this summer’s Countdown, which carries a different feel than in years past. I can think of one clear reason why: For many of the bottom 25, the coming season brings with it tremendous reason for optimism. Not optimism in the traditional sense – in the idea that despite the odds, a program feels it can challenge for a major breakthrough – but in the sense that come win, lose or draw, a program is playing with house money. This is somewhat a result of the four new F.B.S. programs that came off of the board in April: Texas-San Antonio, South Alabama, Texas State and Massachusetts.

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        Sun Belt Offenses Catch Up With Troy

        While the underdog portion of the Sun Belt was moving forward, Troy was standing still. I don’t mean this in the big picture, but in one specific category: totals plays. Consider this:

        –Troy led the Sun Belt in total plays run from scrimmage in each year from 2007-10. The Trojans averaged 980.3 plays per season, running at least 972 plays each year with a high of 997 plays in 2010.

        –The Trojans’ offense was on the field for 867 plays last fall, which tied Florida International for fifth-most in the Sun Belt. Arkansas State led the way with 1,016 plays, followed by Louisiana-Monroe with 939 plays, Middle Tennessee with 938 plays and Louisiana-Lafayette with 893 plays.

        –And the Trojans weren’t doing more with less. Last year’s offense averaged 5.3 yards per play, a program-low since 2007. Troy averaged 5.9 yards per play in 2010; 6.5 yards per play in 2009. Both totals paced the conference. Two teams, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette, tied for the S.B.C. lead at 5.7 yards per play last fall.

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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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            Idaho, N.M.S.U. Hope Sun Belt Moves West

            If Idaho and New Mexico State wish to remain part of the F.B.S. — and here’s guessing they do — each could choose to attempt to make a go of things as an Independent. There are two issues with dropping any conference affiliation: one, the Vandals and Aggies would need to find seven games to replace the conference games lost with the WAC’s disintegration; and two, the two schools would need to find a way to recoup the lost conference revenue. As an Independent, one way for the Vandals and Aggies to keep the money flowing into their respective athletic departments is to play seven or eight road games against B.C.S. conference competition every season. Is that a tenable solution for two programs that have failed to win with any consistency since joining the WAC in 2005 — and for the decades prior to joining the league?

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              F.A.U. Eyes the Wright Stuff on Offense

              Brian Wright is familiar to fans in the hinterlands of college football, those in the Montana-Idaho-Dakotas region, but his name has never crossed the lips of football fans in the Sunshine State. Or hadn’t, before Carl Pelini named Wright, the former offensive coordinator at Montana State, to the same position at Florida Atlantic, where Pelini is preparing for his first season as Howard Schnellenberger’s successor. Now Wright has become a name to watch, perhaps the most important member of the new F.A.U. staff outside of Pelini himself, thanks to the Owls’ inability to achieve the most basic of offensive achievements in 2011 — you know, like first downs, field goals, touchdowns and the like.

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                What’s Up is Down, Which is Fun

                What’s up is down. Florida Atlantic, which wore the Sun Belt crown in 2007, might not merely be the worst team in the conference; the Owls may be the worst team in the country. Middle Tennessee State, winners of 10 games in 2009 and the presumptive conference favorite heading into 2010, recently bottomed out with a loss to Western Kentucky. Troy, which has run this conference with an iron fist throughout the Sun Belt’s history, just suffered its worst home loss to a conference foe since, well, ever. So what’s up? Louisiana-Lafayette — that’s what up. And Arkansas State. And even the Hilltoppers, who have stormed out of the Sun Belt gate to a 2-1 start.

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                  The Countdown

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