USC is Biggest Disappointment of the 2009 College Football Season

by Paul Grossinger
(Baltimore, MD)

Which Team Is the Biggest Disappointment of the College Football Season?

My Nominees:

1. Oklahoma
2. USC
3. Ole Miss
4. Virginia Tech
5. Notre Dame

Admittedly, the college football season is not over. However, with ten games completed, we are close enough to the finish line to determine the season’s biggest loser. Maybe I’m just a ironic person but this is my favorite part; everyone else can gripe about the winner while I choose a loser.

My five nominees are those teams I thought had the worst hype-to-achievement ratio. This means that, while Michigan’s collapse from 4-0 and a ranking to 5-5 and a likely second bowl miss pains me deeply, the Wolverines are not on the list because the preseason perception was that it was still a rebuilding year. Instead, my nominees are those supremely talented squads that came into the season with high rankings and BCS aspirations and were left ‘holding the towel.’

The first team I will eliminate from “worst” contention is Oklahoma. Though they have technically fallen farthest, from preseason number three and 2008 runner-up to unranked 5-4 team, much of this was due to injury. Quarterback Sam Bradford, who foolishly snubbed the draft after a Heisman winning season last year, has been out most of the season and joining him were star TE Jermaine Gresham and several other key offensive cogs. Because the team has never performed at full strength all season, it would be unfair to declare them the season’s biggest disappointment while other top contenders have been creamed repeatedly with their full complement on the field.

In addition, despite the impression left by their horrifying flop against Navy last week, Notre Dame also falls short of the title. Though in the discussion as a possible BCS player all season, the Fighting Irish always seemed more pretender than contender and an early season loss to Michigan hinted at their vulnerability.

Notre Dame is similar in this regard to the Ole Miss Rebels who, despite last years’ Cotton Bowl victory over Texas Tech and a top four ranking earlier in the season, always appeared overrated. Indeed, when South Carolina crushed the Rebels at home, Quarterback Jevan Snead almost seemed relieved at the defeat; hardly the behavior of a team that saw themselves as a true contender.

That leaves us with Virginia Tech and USC. The preseason number seven, Tech is now 5-3 and number 17 in the rankings. While having three losses, especially coming out of the ACC, is disappointing, a closer look reveals that two of the losses were to Alabama and Georgia Tech. Since the Crimson Tide and Yellow Jackets are now both in the top 10 (with Alabama an undefeated number three) only their third loss to North Carolina is really embarrassing.

By contrast, preseason number four USC has only two losses but both were quite humiliating. The first, a putrid performance against perennial basement dweller Washington, can be partially attributed to the performance of backup QB Mitch Mustain (his play looked like a mustard stain) and the presence of former USC offensive guru Steve Sarkisian on the other sideline.

The second, however, was a 47-20 embarrassment against Oregon that likely cost USC the Pacific 10 title. For a team that has won the Conference Title and either a
national title or Rose Bowl win every year since 2001 (except a 2005 Rose Bowl loss), that result is a monumental disappointment.

While USC will likely be back stronger and more driven than ever next season, for now they are, in my opinion, College Football's most disappointing team in 2009 because they had the largest gap between preseason hype and actual performance this season.

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