03 May 2010
UPDATED 5/6: TEAMS 1-5
I love Mizzou baseball, softball, tennis, golf, etc as much as the next person. But let’s face it, an athletic department revolves around two sports: football and men’s basketball.
A lot of people were disappointed with Mizzou’s 8-5 football season. Some also thought the men’s basketball team could have done better than its 23-11 season. Maybe they are right. However, Mizzou is in a small minority of schools that not only fielded a bowl eligible football team, but also an NCAA tournament basketball team this season.
Last year, 25 schools achieved this feat. This year, only 21. Only 13 schools achieved both tasks in consecutive seasons. So of the schools who did both in the 2009-2010 season, who fared best? Based on season outcomes (bowl results and NCAA tournament results), which school had the best athletic program of 2009-2010? Allow me to tell you.
Mizzou's 8-5 football season might not have been something to cry about after all. (Photo from Columbia Tribune)
Here’s how it works:
Last year, I ranked the 25 qualifying teams completely subjectively. However, this year I thought I’d go John Hollinger on my rankings and try to add some objectivity to them. Here’s what I came up with.
1) To qualify, a school must have a football team that went to a bowl game AND a men’s basketball team that made the NCAA tournament.
2) Points were assigned based on what bowl game a team went to, whether they won or lost that game, and how deep the hoops team went in the NCAA tourney.
3) Bowl games were divided into tiers and assigned points that mirror the points assigned to reaching each round of the NCAA tournament.
4) Tiebreakers in the point systems were decided by regular season success, conference tournament results, and my own opinion.
Making the tournament: 2 points
Advancing to the second round: 3 points
Sweet Sixteen: 5 points
Elite Eight: 6 points
Final Four: 8 points
National Title participant: 10 points
National Champion: 12 points
Tier 1 Bowl: winner gets 2, loser 1
Tier 2 Bowl: winner gets 3, loser 2
Tier 3 Bowl: winner gets 5.5, loser 4
BCS Bowl: winner gets 8, loser 7
National Title participant: 10 points
National Champion: 12 points
Statistically, making the tournament is more difficult than making a bowl game. More recognition is given to a team for making the tourney than say, losing the Little Caesar’s Bowl, so making the tournament was awarded more points than strictly making a bowl game.
1st – The “WTF kind of bowl is that?” bowls:
Little Caesar’s Bowl
New Mexico Bowl
St. Petersburg Bowl
New Orleans Bowl
Armed Forces Bowl
Eagle Bank Bowl
2nd – “I’ll force myself to pretend I care about this,” bowls:
Music City Bowl
Car Care Bowl
Las Vegas Bowl
Champs Sports Bowl
3rd – “Finally, some games we care about,” bowls:
Capital One Bowl
BCS – Legit (except when kU scams their way in):
National Championship Game
Granted, this is rather subjective. Perhaps an argument could be made to put the Alamo Bowl in the 3rd tier now that it is played on January 2nd, but at the end of the day the Alamo Bowl still pits the 4th or 5th team from the Big 11 vs. the 5th team out of the Big 12, so it’s not exactly always a prestigious match-up.
21. Temple (3 points: Lost Eagle Bank Bowl, lost 1st round)
Perhaps the most surprising team on this list, Temple checks in at number 21. You may be shocked to know that Temple even has a D1 football team, yet alone a bowl eligible one. From 2003-2008, the Temple Owls were a combined 13-51. In 2009 however, Temple went 9-4 and ended the season with a 31-20 loss at the hands of UCLA in the Eagle Bank Bowl. Not exactly a historic season, but when you’ve only won 13 games in the previous six seasons, hell, nine wins is historic. In hoops, the Owls went 29-6 and won a very competitive Atlantic 10 conference. Although their season ended with a first round loss to Purdue, Temple should be thrilled that they’re even on this list.
20. Houston (3 points: Lost Armed Forces Bowl, lost first round)
Houston is another surprise on this list. Unless you’re stuck in the 80’s, when you think NCAA tournament, you don’t exactly think Houston Cougars. Houston went to the national title game in ’83 and ’84 but prior to 2010, they hadn’t been dancing since 1992. After going 7-9 in Conference USA play, the Cougars put together a Cinderella run and won the C-USA tournament. It’s Houston’s football team that gave them the nod over Temple for the 20 spot. They went 10-4 and were America’s sweetheart for the early part of the season. Houston raised eyebrows nationwide when they knocked off 5th ranked Oklahoma State in Stillwater. They kept them raised when they snuck by Texas Tech at home one week later. After a 4-0 start and climbing as high as #12 in the AP poll, Houston fizzled out. They went 6-4 the rest of the way and were handed a 47-20 beating by Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. Nonetheless, 2009-2010 was a solid year athletically for the Houston Cougars.
19. Minnesota (4 points: Lost Insight Bowl, lost first round)
Minnesota somehow finds their way on to the list for the second straight year. Their football team is just bad enough to be irrelevant yet just good enough to make a bowl game, thus keeping them on our list. They lost their bowl game to Iowa State. The last time a team lost a bowl game to Iowa State, Blaine Gabbert was a freshman in high school. As for basketball, the Gophers reached the Big 10 tournament final, knocking off Michigan State and Purdue along the way. However, for the second straight year, Minnesota lost in the first round of the Big Dance, this time to Xavier.
18. Ohio (4 points: Lost Little Caesar’s Bowl, advanced to second round)
Eventually this list will get some more big name programs on here, but number 18 Ohio is another surprise. In football, the Bobcats went 9-4, reached the MAC title game and also beat fellow list-making team Temple. But they’re not here because of their football team. They’re here because the Bobcat basketball team shocked the world (and ruined a few brackets in the process) by stomping 3 seeded Georgetown in the first round of the tourney. Ohio didn’t have a winning record in MAC play, they hadn’t won an NCAA tournament game in 27 years, yet they beat Georgetown the way Juice Williams beat the Mizzou secondary in 2008: with ease. That win alone carries them to number 18 on our list.
17. California (5 points: Lost Poinsettia Bowl, advanced to second round)
Decent in both sports, but outstanding in neither; Cal comes in at number 17. The football team went 8-5 and had impressive wins at Minnesota, at #17 Stanford, and at home against #17 Arizona. However, they ended their season by giving up a two-touchdown lead in the Poinsettia Bowl against Utah. (Fun fact: Utah has won 9 straight bowl games - Longest streak in the FBS). In hoops the Bears were the best of the JV league known as the Pac-10. You know a conference is weak when its best team (Cal) is 0-3 vs. ranked opponents yet still wins the league. Cal earned an 8 seed in the tourney and advanced to the second round before being bounced by Duke.
16. Texas A&M (5 points: Lost Independence Bowl, advanced to second round)
It’s odd to think that A&M’s football team has been the one keeping them off this list recently. The 2009 football season certainly wasn’t anything to write home about, but six wins is six wins. Who cares if they were 0-2 vs. ranked opponents? Who cares that they only won three Big 12 games? Who cares that they lost Colorado and Kansas State? At least they made our list. The basketball team faired better than their football counterparts. They were only 4-7 against ranked opponents but still managed to go 11-5 in a tough Big 12 conference. The Aggies were also just 4 seconds away from surviving an OT thriller with Purdue and advancing to the Sweet 16.
15. Clemson (5 points: won Music City Bowl, lost in first round)
The ACC cracks the list with Clemson at number 15. The Tigers football team quietly won nine games and advanced to the ACC title game. A 40-37 win at 10th ranked Miami was the highlight of a season that ended with a Music City Bowl win over Kentucky. Meanwhile, the Clemson basketball team got off to their typical hot start (15-3), only to have another late season slide (6-6 the rest of the way). They completed their season with their annual one and done performance in the tournament and this time it cost coach Oliver Purnell his job. However, it didn’t cost them a spot on our list.
14. Missouri (5 points: Lost Texas Bowl, advanced to second round)
A year after checking in at number 6 on this list, the Tigers will have to settle for 14th in 2009-2010. Missouri’s season outcomes are similar to Clemson’s, but our Tigers get the nod due to their win over Clemson in the NCAA tournament. Mizzou’s football season was one of the more frustrating ones in recent memory. 0-3 vs. ranked teams, the Nebraska collapse, losing at home to Baylor, and failing to show up for the bowl game were all negatives. However, 8 wins in a “rebuilding year,” Blaine Gabbert proving he was worth the hype, Danario’s mind boggling performances against just about everyone balanced things out a bit. In basketball, the Tigers were a few close games away from improving their 23-11 season. “Upsetting,” Clemson in the first round set a nice foundation to be improved upon in 2010-2011.
Fun fact: Since 2000, Mizzou has made the NCAA tournament six times. All six times, the team they lost to advanced to the Final Four.
13. Oklahoma State (6 points: Lost Cotton Bowl, Lost in first round)
Much like Missouri a year ago, Oklahoma State had high expectations heading into 2009. Those quickly came crashing down thanks to a week two home loss to Houston. The season ended with another disappointment: a 21-7 Cotton Bowl loss to Ole Miss. 9-4 is typically a good season, but after starting the reason ranked 9th in the AP poll, I doubt many people in Stillwater were pleased with the Pokes’ outcome. In hoops, James Anderson averaged 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists to lead Oklahoma State to the tournament for the second straight year. The fact they were bounced in the first round prevent them from climbing any higher on our list.
12. Pittsburgh (6 points: Won Car Care Bowl, advanced to second round)
For the first time on the list we’ve got a team that won their bowl game and advanced past the first round. Although the football team played a relatively weak schedule (played one ranked team) their 10 wins in 2009 were the most they’ve had since Dan Marino was the Panthers quarterback. While the Car Care Bowl doesn’t exactly ooze prestige, Pitt managed to beat North Carolina for that 10th win. In basketball, Pitt went 24-8 and had impressive wins over Syracuse, West Virginia, and Villanova. However, for the second straight year the Panthers made a premature exit in the tourney, this time in the second round at the hands of Xavier.
11. BYU (6 points: Won Las Vegas Bowl, Advanced to second round)
BYU started the year by upsetting third ranked Oklahoma in week one. They ended it by beating 18th ranked Oregon State by 24 in the Las Vegas Bowl. In between, BYU went 9-2 and beat in-state rival Utah. BYU has played in five straight Las Vegas Bowls, but this year’s win over Oregon State boosts them ahead of Pitt. As for BYU basketball, I’ve got one name for you: Jimmer Fredette. Fredette stole the spotlight in the first round when he put up 37 points in the Cougars double overtime win over Florida.
10. Wisconsin (6 points: Won Champs Sports Bowl, advanced to second round)
Last year, Wisconsin lost the Champs Sports Bowl and advanced to the second round and that put them at 20th on our list. That’s proof that this year’s qualifying teams don’t pack quite the punch that last year’s did. The Badgers lost their two biggest regular season games of the year (Iowa and Ohio State) by a combined score of 51-23. However, their bowl game win over Miami gave them 10 wins, their most since 2006. Unfortunately, the football team didn’t carry that momentum into recruiting. Their 2010 class is ranked 80th in the nation by rivals.com. As for basketball, the Badgers went 24-9 including an impressive 5-2 mark against ranked teams. Less impressive was their performance in the big dance. They barely got by Wofford in round one and then got beat up by Cornell in round two.
9. Florida State (7.5 points: Won Gator Bowl, lost in first round)
Would any other 6-6 team out of a mediocre BCS conference get offered a spot in the Gator Bowl? Probably not, but when your head coach is Bobby Bowden you get those kind of breaks. The Seminoles sent Bowden out right too. They beat 16th ranked West Virginia in a New Year’s Day bowl game. Who cares if they only won 7 games? In hoops, the ‘Noles finished 4th in the ACC and earned a 9 seed in the tourney where they lost to Gonzaga. Florida State’s impressive bowl win, some sympathy for Bowden, and the fact that their Nike Pro Combat uni’s were even cooler than Mizzou’s earn them the 9 spot on our list.
These are awesome.
8. Kentucky (8 points: Lost Music City Bowl, advanced to Elite Eight)
If there is a coach I cheer against in college basketball, it’s John Calipari (and whoever coaches kU). He leaves every school in a wake of scandal and he sends the vibe that he can’t be trusted. Good basketball coach? Absolutely. Good guy? It’s debatable. Case in point: When highly touted recruit Terrance Jones chose Washington over Kentucky, Jones received a call from Calipari. “You hurt thousands of people,” Calipari told Jones.
Chill out, he’s a high school kid picking a college. Get over it. Anyway, Kentucky had a great season (35-3) but it came to a surprising end in the Elite Eight. That prevented them from climbing any higher than they already did.
7. Tennessee (10 points: Lost Chik-fil-A Bowl, advanced to Elite Eight)
This year’s list again proves it is weaker than last’s with Tennessee coming in at number seven. The Chik-fil-A bowl is very respectable, but at 7-5 Tennessee was no match for 11th ranked Virginia Tech. After leading his team to an 0-4 record against ranked teams, Lane Kiffin was probably just glad to be there. His team promptly lost 37-14 and Kiffin promptly jumped on his first to coach another proud program on the decline at USC. Tennessee basketball meanwhile is on solid footing with Bruce Pearl at the helm. Since taking over in 2005, Pearl has gone 126-46 with the Vols. This year they advanced to the Elite Eight as a six seed before falling to Michigan State. The Vols advanced as far as Kentucky and their football team went to a better bowl. That earns Tennessee the 7 spot.
6. Georgia Tech (10 points: Lost Orange Bowl, advanced to second round)
If there is one team Gary Pinkel wants to avoid scheduling at all costs it should be Georgia Tech. Their offense is like Navy’s…except better. With Jonathan Dwyer and Josh Nesbitt running the triple option, Georgia Tech was able to run their way into the Orange Bowl. Although they lost to Iowa it was still a good season for Tech. They went 11-3, won the ACC, and entered their bowl game ranked 9th in the country; All this in only Paul Johnson’s second year as head coach. In basketball, the Yellow Jackets snuck their way into the tournament despite going 7-9 in the ACC. They upset Oklahoma Sate in the first round before bowing out to Ohio State. It’s Tech’s outstanding football year that earns them the 6th place in this year’s rankings.
5. Florida (10 points: Won Sugar Bowl, lost first round)
Despite falling short of a national championship, Florida’s football team carries them into the top 5. They held the nation’s number one ranking for the first 13 weeks of the season, but a loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship game cost them a shot at the title. Instead, the Gators took their frustrations out on 3rd ranked Cincinnati, beating them 51-24 in the Sugar Bowl. They finished the year ranked third in the country. The Gator basketball team lost five of its final six games, but was still awarded an at-large bid for the Big Dance. Although they fell short of their ultimate goal, Florida’s football team accomplished something else: Earning the Gators the fifth spot on our list.
4. Texas (10 points: Lost BCS Championship, lost first round)
In the middle of the basketball season it looked as if Texas might be in line to be the best athletic school of 2009-2010. Their football team was coming off a season in which they won the Big 12, went undefeated in the regular season, had a Heisman Trophy finalist, and appeared in the BCS Championship game. Meanwhile, the hoops team was sitting at 17-0 and ranked number one in the country. Not bad. What was bad was what the basketball team did after that. They went 7-10 the rest of the way and barely earned a bid to the tourney. When they got there, they lost a close game to Wake Forest in the first round. Thanks to the Longhorns National Title appearance in football, Texas checks in at number four.
3. Michigan State (10 points: Lost Alamo Bowl, advanced to Final Four)
Unlike Texas, Michigan State was not in good shape for this list in the middle of basketball season. On December 22nd the basketball team was 9-3 and had lost arguably its three biggest games of the year (Texas, Florida, and North Carolina). Meanwhile the football team sat at 6-6 as they prepared to take on Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl. From then on, things got better for Michigan State… well, the basketball team at least. The football team lost the Alamo Bowl 41-31. However, the basketball team once again defied odds and made it to the Final Four. They were just 2 points away from a second straight National Championship appearance. Tom Izzo’s magic combined with a solid (although not necessarily deserving) bowl game earn Michigan State the three spot.
2. West Virginia (12 points: Lost Gator Bowl, advanced to Final Four)
2009-2010 was a great year for the Mountaineer athletic program. Their football team ended the season with nine wins and ranked 22nd in the country and the basketball team beat Morgan State, Missouri, Washington, and Kentucky en route to a Final Four appearance. They finished the year ranked 3rd in the country. The highlight for the football team was knocking off 9th ranked Pittsburgh in the Backyard Brawl. The fact that the win came on a 43 yard field goal as time expired made it that much sweeter. But like Michigan State, West Virginia is propelled all the way into second place on our rankings because of their basketball team. The Mountaineers won the Big East Tournament, took home 31 wins, beat eight ranked teams along the way, and oh yeah, made the Final Four.
1. Ohio State (14 points: Won Rose Bowl, advanced to Elite Eight)
Ohio State leaps 10 spots from last year and claims the title as the top athletic school of 2009-2010. After losing three straight BCS bowl games, the football team finally returned to glory beating 7th ranked Oregon in an entertaining Rose Bowl. Overall, the Buckeyes went 11-2, claimed victories over Penn State and Michigan, and finished the year ranked 5th in the nation. The basketball team faired almost as well. They won the Big 10 conference tournament, won 29 games, advanced to the Elite Eight as a two seed, and finished the year ranked 11th in the nation. Throw in the fact that Buckeye forward Evan Turner is the consensus number two pick in the upcoming NBA draft and it was quite a year for Ohio State. Congratulations Buckeyes, you’re our choice for the top athletic school of 2009-2010.
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