Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Analyzing past teams' conference moves
By Josh Moyer
Maryland and Rutgers are to officially join the Big Ten on July 1 and, until their first seasons are in the books, plenty of questions will swirl around just how they will perform.
So, we decided to take a look at how past teams did in similar situations. Did new conferences help or hinder the programs? How did those first seasons go? And just how quickly did the teams assimilate?
We looked at teams that moved into new BCS conferences (outside of the Big Ten) prior to the 2012 season. Obviously, there are plenty of variables at play, but here is a look at nine programs that transitioned -- and how they fared:
Boston College, Big East to ACC, 2005
Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 9-3 (SOS – 74), won 2004 Big East title. Beat North Carolina in Continental Tire Bowl, 37-24
Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 9-3 (SOS – 22), won 2005 ACC Atlantic Division. Beat Boise State in MPC Computers Bowl, 27-21
Synopsis: The Eagles didn’t skip a beat in the first season with the ACC, and they actually ended up winning three division titles in their first four years in the conference. The wheels only started to come off for Boston College once it fired Jeff Jagodzinski for interviewing with the New York Jets following the 2008 season. The 2009 season was the last time Boston College had a winning conference record.
Colorado, Big 12 to Pac-12, 2011
Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 5-7 (SOS – 33), finished fifth in Big 12’s North Division. No bowl berth
Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 3-10 (SOS – 21), tied for last in Pac-12’s South Division. No bowl berth
Synopsis: The Buffaloes haven’t had a winning season since Gary Barnett coached the team in 2005, so the move to the Pac-12 really only saw Colorado go from bad to slightly worse. In its first three seasons with the Pac-12, Colorado won three, one and four games, respectively.
Miami (Fla.), Big East to ACC, 2004
Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 11-2 (SOS – 40), shared 2003 Big East title. Beat Florida State in Orange Bowl, 16-14
Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 9-3 (SOS – 9), tied for third in ACC. Beat Florida in Peach Bowl, 27-10
Synopsis: The Hurricanes rolled into the ACC as a great team, but the conference has been relatively harsh on them. After making four straight BCS bowls in the Big East, Miami hasn’t made a single one in the 10 seasons since joining the ACC. On the plus side, they have had winning records in eight of those past 10 seasons -- but they have never had double-digit wins during that span.
Missouri, Big 12 to SEC, 2012
Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 8-5 (SOS – 13), finished fifth in Big 12. Beat North Carolina in Independence Bowl, 41-24
Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 5-7 (SOS – 1), finished fifth in SEC East Division. No bowl berth
Synopsis: Lingering injuries to quarterback James Franklin didn’t do Missouri any favors in that first season, as Missouri’s pass efficiency dropped from No. 30 in 2011 to No. 103 in 2012. The Tigers bounced back in their second year in the SEC, however, and finished first in the SEC East Division with a 12-2 record.
TCU, Mountain West to Big 12, 2012
Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 11-2 (SOS – 86), won 2011 Mountain West title. Beat Louisiana Tech in Poinsettia Bowl, 31-24
Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 7-6 (SOS – 16), tied for fifth in Big 12. Lost to Michigan State in Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 17-16
Synopsis: In TCU’s seven seasons in the Mountain West, it finished with within the top 25 a total of six times -- and came away with four conference titles. In the Big 12, so far, it has underachieved by quite a bit. Part of the reason for the drop-off in Year 1 was that quarterback Casey Pachall withdrew in October to enter inpatient rehab. But even with Pachall back in 2013, TCU fared even worse at 4-8, the first time it didn’t make a bowl since 2004.
Texas A&M, Big 12 to SEC, 2012
Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 7-6 (SOS – 4), tied for sixth in Big 12. Beat Northwestern in Meineke Car Care Bowl, 33-22
Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 11-2, (SOS – 6), tied for second in SEC Western Division. Beat Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, 41-13
Synopsis: A new head coach like Kevin Sumlin and a freshman like Johnny Manziel are enough to ease any transition. The Aggies finished with 11 wins during their first season in the SEC, which also happened to be the first time they broke double-digit victories since 1998. With Mack Brown leaving Texas, A&M is a team whose stock is certainly on the rise now. A move to the SEC only helped.
Utah, Mountain West to Pac-12, 2011
Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 10-3 (SOS – 50), finished second in Mountain West. Lost to Boise State in Maaco Bowl, 26-3
Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 8-5 (SOS – 49), tied for third in Pac-12’s South Division. Beat Georgia Tech in Sun Bowl, 30-27 OT
Synopsis: Utah fared extremely well in the Mountain West -- finishing with double-digit wins in five of its last eight seasons there -- and did pretty well in its first season in the Pac-12. But, in the past two seasons, the Utes twice finished 5-7 in part because their passing game has been grounded. Still, if quarterback Travis Wilson is healthy this season, some are expecting Utah to return to the postseason.
Virginia Tech, Big East to ACC, 2004
Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 8-5 (SOS – 60), finished fourth in Big East. Lost to Cal in the Insight Bowl, 52-49
Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 10-3 (SOS – 42), won 2004 ACC title. Lost to Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, 16-13
Synopsis: The move appears to be a great one for the Hokies. From 1991 to 2003, Frank Beamer came away with just three Big East titles. From 2004 to the present, he has won four ACC championships. Although the past two seasons have been a step back, Virginia Tech finished with double-digit wins during its first eight seasons in the ACC.
West Virginia, Big East to Big 12, 2012
Record prior to move (Strength of schedule rank): 10-3 (SOS – 57), won share of Big East title. Beat Clemson in Orange Bowl, 70-33
Record in first year of move (Strength of schedule rank): 7-6 (SOS – 29), tied for fifth in Big 12. Lost to Syracuse in Pinstripe Bowl, 38-14
Synopsis: In WVU’s past 10 seasons in the Big East, it made 10 straight bowls and won at least eight games every year. But Year 1 in the Big 12 was a defensive disaster and a step backward. The Mountaineers allowed more than 45 points in six of their first seven conference games and, the next season, had to replace a lot of starters and finished No. 100 in the nation by allowing 33.3 points per game. West Virginia missed the postseason last season, the first time since 1999.