I’ve spoken with a lot of Auburn fans recently who exhibited caged optimism at best regarding the upcoming season. That attitude really surprises me. I think the Tigers have a lot to look forward to despite the fact that we have under performed the previous two seasons. With some still hesitant to fully embrace the faith I compiled a list of 5 teams I think would trade places with the Tigers right now strictly from a football program standpoint.
Louisville Cardinals #9
Though the program dates back to the mid-1940’s, its most impressive results have come within the last 25 years. Since 1990 the Cardinals have played in 14 bowl games and won 7 of those. Most notably the 1990 Fiesta Bowl (H. Schnellenberger), 2006 Orange Bowl (B. Petrino), and 2012 Sugar Bowl (C. Strong).
Indeed, the Cardinals ride a wave of momentum into 2013 stemming from a stunning campaign in 2012 that concluded with a victory of the Florida Gators in the BCS Sugar Bowl. This will be the first and last season that they will be a member of the American Athletic Conference before departing for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014. That’s where things tricky.
The program has shown an ability to rise up for short periods of time and become a major force, but geography has played a key role in limiting its success. The University of Kentucky offers top in-state talent a chance to compete in the SEC without having to leave home.
This will continue to be an issue when they join the ACC in 2014. Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Notre Dame will all be tough to recruit against when you consider that most of the talent Louisville will target will be forced to move far away from home to attend school. Would the Cardinals fly south for a better location? You bet they would.
Northwestern Wildcats #22
To suggest the Wildcats could have ‘little brother syndrome’ would be an understatement. As members of the Big 10 Conference they have a winning record against exactly one fellow member institution(Indiana) and have only two bowl victories to their claim (1948 Rose Bowl and 2012 Rose Bowl). To add insult to injury; they hold an 0-3 record all-time against future conference member, Rutgers University.
With programs like Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Michigan State all having a stranglehold on potential talent; Northwestern has naturally struggled to stay relevant at times. It would be interesting to see what head coach Pat Fitzgerald’s blue collar approach could produce if given the resources of an upper-tier SEC program. Plus, Chicago has brutally cold winters.
Oregon State #25
Auburn fans know all about competing against an in-state rival that will go to any lengths imaginable to maintain a competitive advantage. The Beavers of Oregon State know this plight tenfold. They basically have the task of competing against an entire show company in the Oregon Ducks. Not to mention the conference they play in also boasts some impressive programs: USC, Cal, UCLA, Stanford, and Oregon to name a few.
The Beavers have a winning record in bowl games with their two most notable wins being the 2001 Fiesta Bowl and the 1942 Rose Bowl. Overall they are 10-6, but have curiously been invited to 17 bowl games. Oregon State was also invited to play in the 1960 Gotham Bowl, but upon the realization that they were in fact NOT the team from Oregon with the crazy uniforms no opponents were interested enough to play them in a game.
In a day and age where branding and building a national image to recruit to are key factors in building a prominent college football program, the Beavers are up against the buzz saw to end all buzz saws in the Oregon Ducks. Oregon State can only dream of having the same talent pool to draw from as Auburn.
Oklahoma State #14
Imagine for a moment the Cowboys’ situation: They have money to invest in the program, they are in a good conference, they are located near a huge pool of talent, and they still struggle to compete for BCS bowls. What’s wrong with this picture you ask? Texas and Oklahoma, that’s what.
With local recruits being pulled in so many different directions, it’s no wonder that selling OSU football is a tough gig. Despite that, they have been on the radar of late under Gundy and continue to push Oklahoma and Texas for conference supremacy.
Oklahoma State sits amongst an absolute hotbed of high-school football talent. Their facilities are top-notch and head coach Mike Gundy has shown that he has the skills to lead a team to great heights. But competing against conference juggernauts Texas and Oklahoma is no easy task and Texas A&M’s recent move to the SEC has only made things worse. Something tells me they would greatly benefit from joining them and finally having a conference advantage on the local recruiting trails.
You don’t have a football program? Here, talk to Walter Riggs. He’ll get you everything you need. Mascot included. He’ll even coach some games for you.
Need another coach? Seriously? Here, talk to John Heisman.
You can’t seriously be looking for another coach again can you? Talk to this guy’s brother. He might be able to help you out.
What is it now? You can’t score points? Fine, but this better be the last time. We know a guy that might be able to help you out. Ok, to be fair they knew each other long before hand but Clemson is beyond weird stalker status at this point.
Same mascot, similar colors, and many other similarities make this college football’s premier fatal attraction. To say that Clemson wishes they were Auburn is an understatement. They already are Auburn in their own minds in many ways. Let’s just hope they never try to return the favor by sending us Dabo Swinney. Blegh!
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