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Why Do Great Football Areas Produce Poor College Teams?

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davecisar
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When posting back and forth with Mike M about the NFL and local cultures and how it affects how you watch football- I wondered- Why do some great football areas produce consistently poor college football teams?

I get to travel all over doing clinics and working with teams in areas where youth football and High School football is very popular with great numbers, HUGE population bases, good quality football but terrible college football. Any ideas on why that may be?

I was in Southern Illinois doing a clinic last week and the guys there were whining about how bad Illinois was. The HS program was excellent, they had over 300 kids in their youth program. Ive probably done at least 8 clinics in the Chicago area- all very well attended. Good interest and football there. Same for Northern Virginia. The DC area- Northern VA, Ive done at least 5-6 really well attended clinics- I see teams from VA a the PW and AYF National Championships all the time. I worked with a HS team in VA saw all their game film for 1 year- good stuff, good football.

Examples- very quick run down, I think my numbers are right, did it early this am:
University of Illinois- Huge Population base, 2nd largest city in US, football very popular. Last 50 years they have won 9 games just 4 times- while having 30 losing seasons. Northwestern is a little better- not much.
University of Virginia- same deal, great youth football, very good HS football, football very popular. Last 50 years- 6 nine win seasons- 25 losing seasons. Virginia Tech has done pretty well the last 20 years- but no National Titles- before that nothing much etc.

Yes there are ups and downs with any program- but the above teams seem to have been consistently bad in spite of what most would consider huge advantages. Does their NFL fandom hurt their college teams? Bears and Redskins are very popular there.

On the other side of the spectrum last 50 years- listed alphabetically, maybe with less NFL interest?
Alabama 27 nine win seasons- 8 losing seasons- 7 National Titles ( I used official wins- which means those 3 times Bama was penalized by NCAA for cheating- vacated wins I counted like the NCAA did)
Nebraska 46 nine win seasons- 2 losing seasons- 5 National Titles
Oklahoma 29 nine win seasons- 5 losing seasons- 5 National Titles
Ohio State- 30 nine win seasons- 4 losing seasons- 2 National Titles
Texas- 29 nine win seasons- 6 losing seasons- 3 National Titles
USC- 25 nine win seasons- 6 losing seasons-6 National Titles

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.Winston Churchill


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Coach Kyle
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I remember when Michigan used to make these lists :'(

Anyways, I don't think that pro football teams hurt the fan base. First because they're so well coordinated on timing, and second because that's not how I think people tend to work. I think people work in synergies. If they like football, then they're going to like other football. College is my favorite, and because of that, I have watched some NFL. I don't think I would ever watch the NFL if it wasn't for college. It may seem like some people are against college because of the NFL, but that doesn't mean that they would be for college if there was never an NFL team for them to root for.

What I think makes up a good college football program is the board of directors at the school and the athletic director. A lot of schools don't want football. It's expensive if you don't attract the fans, and attracting fans is actually quite hard. There's a huge barrier to entry, too. You can't just start up a football team and start wining. It's the winning that gets the fans. Sure, they could probably buy their way in with lots of expensive coaches and people who know how to build a winning program, but that's a huge investment. So finding the investors is hard.

But why are well established teams not doing well? Well it takes a good atmosphere to support a winning football team. Of course, you probably know this. Not everyone is capable of working in a team, and just because someone is paid a million dollars to coach doesn't mean he actually gets it because money is not the answer to everything. Just because the teams have fans and therefore money doesn't mean they possess the know how or buy in. And you clearly have to have that buy in for a very long time before the top recruits in the country start to take notice. It's a whole circus.

Deaths while walking 4,743Deaths from football 12


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Shamrocks
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I seen New Jersey produces a lot of Div I players and NFL players but I dont know of any college there other than Rutgers and they are going to get killed in the Big 10.

Someone here posted a list and I was shocked to see New Jersey so high, go figure


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davecisar
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Kyle

I didn't go by any list- I just went random based on teams that I thought were consistent winners over the last 50 years
Michigan and Notre Dame would surely be on that list by pure numbers
Ive always liked Michigan and hope they get it turned around- Ann Arbor is a great town- loved doing a clinic there last year.

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.Winston Churchill


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CoachCalande
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When posting back and forth with Mike M about the NFL and local cultures and how it affects how you watch football- I wondered- Why do some great football areas produce consistently poor college football teams?

I get to travel all over doing clinics and working with teams in areas where youth football and High School football is very popular with great numbers, HUGE population bases, good quality football but terrible college football. Any ideas on why that may be?

I was in Southern Illinois doing a clinic last week and the guys there were whining about how bad Illinois was. The HS program was excellent, they had over 300 kids in their youth program. Ive probably done at least 8 clinics in the Chicago area- all very well attended. Good interest and football there. Same for Northern Virginia. The DC area- Northern VA, Ive done at least 5-6 really well attended clinics- I see teams from VA a the PW and AYF National Championships all the time. I worked with a HS team in VA saw all their game film for 1 year- good stuff, good football.

Examples- very quick run down, I think my numbers are right, did it early this am:
University of Illinois- Huge Population base, 2nd largest city in US, football very popular. Last 50 years they have won 9 games just 4 times- while having 30 losing seasons. Northwestern is a little better- not much.
University of Virginia- same deal, great youth football, very good HS football, football very popular. Last 50 years- 6 nine win seasons- 25 losing seasons. Virginia Tech has done pretty well the last 20 years- but no National Titles- before that nothing much etc.

Yes there are ups and downs with any program- but the above teams seem to have been consistently bad in spite of what most would consider huge advantages. Does their NFL fandom hurt their college teams? Bears and Redskins are very popular there.

On the other side of the spectrum last 50 years- listed alphabetically, maybe with less NFL interest?
Alabama 27 nine win seasons- 8 losing seasons- 7 National Titles ( I used official wins- which means those 3 times Bama was penalized by NCAA for cheating- vacated wins I counted like the NCAA did)
Nebraska 46 nine win seasons- 2 losing seasons- 5 National Titles
Oklahoma 29 nine win seasons- 5 losing seasons- 5 National Titles
Ohio State- 30 nine win seasons- 4 losing seasons- 2 National Titles
Texas- 29 nine win seasons- 6 losing seasons- 3 National Titles
USC- 25 nine win seasons- 6 losing seasons-6 National Titles

I didn't read your whole post but my short answer is that I would bet the local talent just wants to get the heck out of the area and not come back. I think some places don't attract players because the area is flat out awful to attend .

I think of Temple football, theres little doubt that a football recruit with the choice between Penn state, pitt and temple is going to go to Penn state.

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davecisar
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There may be something to that, not everyone wants to attend a school in the middle of a dense large old city.
Jackie Sherrill was able to get some of those PA kids to go to Pitt- but he paid them to attend. He won, but he cheated and got caught- did the same at A&M>

But Champaign, Ill and Charlottesville, VA aren't awful inner- city campuses and they are both near HUGE population bases where football is important.
I cant see how those places are any worse than Tuscaloosa, Lincoln, Columbus, Austin, or Norman

When I attended  Texas A&M, goodness gracious it wasn't a very attractive area and remote- same for Manhattan, KS- impossible to get to, no scenery, tiny, nothing to do. I don't know the answer, hoping others had ideas.

USC- I don't get, when I spent a night there in a Frat house on campus back in 1980- I thought it was in a really bad part of town, maybe things have changed.

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.Winston Churchill


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Coach Kyle
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Kyle

I didn't go by any list- I just went random based on teams that I thought were consistent winners over the last 50 years
Michigan and Notre Dame would surely be on that list by pure numbers
Ive always liked Michigan and hope they get it turned around- Ann Arbor is a great town- loved doing a clinic there last year.

I didn't take it personally  🙂

Deaths while walking 4,743Deaths from football 12


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davecisar
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No worries

This isn't meant as a comparison of the most consistent college football teams

I'm just curious as to why over the long haul some University teams are awful in areas where youth and HS football is very popular.

These schools seem to have teams that are very good at other sports- Virginia is the top rated College Baseball team this year etc

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.Winston Churchill


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DL
 DL
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I can't speak to other areas.  I can speak to Illinois.  There are several reasons why IL and Northwestern aren't very good.

The vast majority of Illinois population is in Chicago area.  People have no pride or special connection with the state itself. 

People in Chicago area generally have no loyalty to Champaign beyond that of any other school.  Madison, Ann Arbor, Bloomington, South Bend are the same relative distance to Chicago as Champaign.

Illinois has had no long great tradition with a long standing top coach.  They have had little spurts of success.  (1989 Illinois team made me a big fan).

The best basketball players go to Duke, Michigan, Kansas or sometimes Wisconsin more so than IL.  Great coaches use IL as a stepping stone to better jobs. 

The best football players go to Notre Dame, Michigan or Wisconsin and elsewhere before IL.    IL hasn't had a great football coach in my memory. 

Northwestern is poorly located, has inferior facilities and is very difficult to get into.  Also, it is not the funnest place with the prettiest girls relatively speaking.    It is a difficult recruit.  Only Gary Barnett recruited successfully there and he left as soon as he got a better offer.

The city itself has very poor football for the most part with the exception of some Catholic schools.  There are some great programs in the suburbs, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

The percentage of great h.s. coaches in IL is very low and vast majority of them are at Catholic schools.  For most of the conferences I would bet that Joe. C. or Coach Mountjoy would win with literally any of the schools within the conference regardless of tradition or talent base.    I see a lot of bad football at the h.s. level.    The best are still the best, but there is a bigger drop off here than many other places.

We have no Spring Football beyond casual 7 on 7 leagues and that puts us behind the states that do.  In the winter a lot of people do nothing and lose muscular development.

I see athletes state wide that have the measurables to be great players - 40 time, size, strength, etc., but they lack the development from great coaches to be 4 or 5 star recruits.    They just don't look as good on film as they could be.

The IL and NW coaches don't work hard enough to identify kids with talent, but played on bad teams or for bad coaching. 

They also don't even sniff the baseball and basketball stars who could make the transition to football if redshirted and coached up.  When I was young I can remember going to a basketball state championship game downstate.  At half time they had a 3 point contest and a slam dunk competition made up of kids from around the state.    The slam dunk winner was 6'6 and about 220 lbs.  He apparently couldn't dribble or shoot well enough to play college basketball.  He came from an area without much football.   

BUT nobody thought to try him out in football in college?    He could dunk from the free throw line!!!  This was in the late 80's.    Suppose he can't catch - he can't play rush DE or something?    He's not worth a shot at least with that kind of size and pure athletic ability? 

They lose out on the 4 or 5 star kids AND they lose out on the kids that develop in college to 4 or 5 star kids.    Or maybe they just aren't developing them.

Eastern had a local QB drafted in 2nd round (they also had Tony Romo).  NIU developed a safety into a first round pick this year. 


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mahonz
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Good question.

Denver is an NFL town thru and thru. The Big 3 Youth Football Leagues here have been in business for well over 50 years. High School Football rules. Boulder Colorado is probably one of the most beautiful settings anywhere for a major College Campus and is only 30 miles from Downtown Denver yet most of the blue chip players leave the State.

I have many family members that are Colorado alumni and every one of them says the Regents just don't put a lot of stock in Athletics unless it has to do with the Olympics. They dropped baseball about 30 years ago because they didn't want to deal with it. Compared to a school like Nebraska or Texas, Colorado's facilities are lagging big time and I think that has an impact on the kids making these decisions.

I do know that Colorado State is on a huge upswing as far as Athletics go because they are pouring mega funds into their facilities. The Air Force Academy will always be who they are as far as Athletics....up and down but always held in high regard as a Program.

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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davecisar
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Thanks for the replies

When I do clinics in Chicago, I know the suburban teams have big numbers and the Catholic schools do a nice job. Glazier Chicago does great numbers. I was in Bellville, Il  last weekend doing a clinic- they love their football in that neck of the woods- great numbers. The guys there were about 70% Il fans, 20% Mizzou, then Notre Dame and others.

As to loyalty, I guess that makes sense. Illinois has put out 378 DI kids in the last 5 years, Virginia had 312. One would think both would get their fair share of that number, enough to keep from being at the bottom of the competitive list for college football teams. 

I think in 2012 a low top 25 Nebraska team plucked out Chicago area Mr Illinois Football, Jordan Westercamp a WR, so what you are saying probably rings true. Im guessing you are there and understand better than others why there is no loyalty. I have no idea, that's why I'm asking.  I thought most kids like to stay reasonably close to home when they go off to college- that would be a plus for VA and IL. Im not sure it can be attributed all that much to $$. NU and Illinois have fairly similar football budgets, similar geography, weather etc- but much different results. Ron Zook who most think is one of the very best recruiters in all of college football didn't make a go of it there, if he can't maybe it is a lost cause.

What about the students, alumni and local support? When Northwestern plays a home game they are often times outnumbered by opposing fans. Beautiful venue- they have teams that can compete, very good coach IMO. Why aren't they supported when football is so popular in the area? Ive heard NWU has poor facilities, but they have great academics and Chicago is known as a very fun place - a destination attraction. Im surprised they haven't become the Stanford of the Midwest- lots of similarities one would think. Maybe it's more landlocked than Stanford.

Mike- Goodness yes, Boulder is unbelievably beautiful. Osborne came within inches of pulling the trigger and taking his entire coaching staff with him to CU back in the late 70s. He felt it would be MUCH easier to recruit to and much bigger population base etc CU was very good with McCartney at the helm (National Title)- shocked they haven't been able to put it together since. As to baseball- I totally get it- you simply cant play baseball in Boulder in late Feb, March even April- tough deal.

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.Winston Churchill


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CoachBrian
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I live in Virginia and most kids think of Virginia Tech as the top school, not UVA.  UVA just doesn't have the winning tradition to pull in all of the top talent in the state.  If given the choice between the two, most will be headed to Blacksburg.  That said, schools like Alabama, Florida and Florida State are popular among the kids in Virginia too.

This is much different than the state of Ohio, where I used to live.  Nearly every Ohioan that receives an offer from Ohio State will end up being a Buckeye.


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WBCoach
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I seen New Jersey produces a lot of Div I players and NFL players but I dont know of any college there other than Rutgers and they are going to get killed in the Big 10.

Someone here posted a list and I was shocked to see New Jersey so high, go figure

New jersey has some of the best football in the country and were bad for so long at the college level that most local kids thought of rutgers as a last resort school. Greg schiano worked very hard to change the culture here and was very successful at it up until he left. Kyle flood took over and now we are starting to go the wrong way again. The key for small state success is the same for big state success which is the same for high school and youth and that is COACHING. Without good coaching you cannot sustain success. See VT, Boise, Washington, vandy and any smaller state school that produces wins. After these great coaches leave what happens? Wish rutgers could get another good coach.

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mahonz
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New jersey has some of the best football in the country and were bad for so long at the college level that most local kids thought of rutgers as a last resort school. Greg schiano worked very hard to change the culture here and was very successful at it up until he left. Kyle flood took over and now we are starting to go the wrong way again. The key for small state success is the same for big state success which is the same for high school and youth and that is COACHING. Without good coaching you cannot sustain success. See VT, Boise, Washington, vandy and any smaller state school that produces wins. After these great coaches leave what happens? Wish rutgers could get another good coach.

R

I have to disagree. Colorado burned thru Nuehiesel, Barnett and Hawkins pretty quickly. Then tried disastrously to bring in past Players to run the show.  You must have the players and the support from the Regents. Brown came to CU as the DC a few years ago with an outstanding College FB resume and produced the 119th ranked D out of 119 schools. You'd think a guy like that could at least get them to 118th.  😛 When the cupboards are bare.....

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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davecisar
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Mike

You may have something there

Barnett had some success- the guy worked miracles at Northwestern

Rick N- his resume is a bit uneven

I thought Hawkins was going to be a home run- the guy did really well at Boise. Maybe Boise is it's own special deal.

OTOH I always thought CU, Missouri and Texas A&M had much poorer records than their talent warranted

However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.Winston Churchill


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