In a classic tune written by war protestor Peter Seeger in the 1960’s he asked, "Where are the flowers, the girls have plucked them. Where are the girls, they’ve all taken husbands. Where are the men, they're all in the army."
It was back in the same time when college football powers began to form. From the south it was Alabama and Texas. Out of the Midwest, Nebraska and Oklahoma came into prominence. Eastern powers, Syracuse and Penn State had their day. And then, like Jones, along came Michigan and Ohio State. Not to mention Miami, Fla. and Florida State.
Let’s take a look at five teams who have recently fallen from grace while assessing their prospects for the 2008 season ahead and their chances of returning to super power status. In alphabetical order, they include:
ALABAMA – long gone from the glory days of Bear Bryant, the Tide sent an SOS out to Nick Saban in hopes of resurrecting this once proud program. He guided Alabama to just its 2nd winning campaign in six years in his debut last season. However, seven wins will not be acceptable to the Houndstooth Society in 2008, road games at Georgia, LSU and Tennessee not withstanding. Plenty of work still ahead for a coach that has never had a losing season at the college level.
FLORIDA STATE – in battle with Joe Paterno for winningest coach in college football history (Division 1), Bobby Bowden’s days are numbered in Tallahassee. With heir apparent Jimbo Fisher lurking on the sidelines, a new coaching staff and a sense of urgency may not be enough to see Bowden usher in the octogenarian years with the Seminoles.
MIAMI FLORIDA – it’s been a mighty fall for this former power and the chances of recovery won’t happen anytime soon. Despite arguably the best recruiting class in college football last season, Randy Shannon won’t be able to utilize his players from Northwestern High School (two-time state champs) for a while as many of them failed academic requirements and will be playing at prep schools until making grades. With no quarterback on the current roster that has ever taken a snap in a major college game, patience will be the operative word in Miami.
NEBRASKA – Woe is Bo. Pellini, that is. The new Cornhusker boss has the dubious honor of erasing the memory of last year’s nightmarish season in which the Huskers surrenders 73 and 65 points in conference play. The key here, however, is that Nebraska still has plenty of corn-fed talent and Pellini’s forte is defense. Expect a quicker climb back up the ladder by Nebraska than others in this club.
NOTRE DAME – Wow. From back-to-back BCS bowl games in 2006-07 to 3-9 last year. And were it not for Duke and Stanford being the final two games on the schedule last season a one-or-two win effort would have been likely. Was it an anomaly or a sign of things to come? Not sure but until sophomore QB Jimmy Claussen comes around and performs more to the level of his press clippings the road to redemption will be rocky.
Let’s hope, for the sake of the aforementioned former powers, that it’s more a case of rebuilding rather than lying to rest. Because, as Seeger so sagely put it, if we don’t learn from our mistakes we’re only doomed to repeat them. Which begs the question: “Where have all the graveyards gone? Covered with flowers every one. When will we ever learn? When will we ever learn?”