Louisville looks to buck Year One Blues

By Bart Doan
On Twitter @TheCoachBart

The BCS gave us a lot in its time, an extra football game, more kvetching over who was the “real” college football champion, great games for the ages (Texas-Southern California), games you’d rather forget (Alabama-Notre Dame), but most everlasting of what it gave was the rise of the conference rooster measuring contest.

Because of the BCS, enemies became friends, strange bedfellows were bore, and it became from abnormal, to normal, to mandatory to fly 10, 12, 14 flags outside your trailer, being able to bandwagon whoever is winning based on some idea of being in the same conference/region.

If it sounds as stupid as it reads above, that’s the point.

But how really valid is the argument? And with another three teams hopping BCS conference to BCS conference, how might they fare? As the odds would have it, probably not good.

Teams of recent that have jumped on the trend of conference realignment from BCS conferences and the Big East (snicker, snicker) have found that no matter where they go, the waters are choppy to start.

You’d say “that doesn’t bode well for Maryland, Rutgers, and Louisville” and you’d be right, but let’s throw out the first two because nothing bodes well right now for Maryland and Rutgers.

Louisville, on the other hand, leaves one conference as a behemoth to swing to another (ACC) and it’s supposed to be business as usual.

Truth is, business as usual isn’t good. As teams from Power 5 conferences (and the Big East/Mountain West) have shifted the last five years, only one (Texas A&M) showed a markedly better season from one in another conference to a first in their new conference, the allegedly mighty SEC.

Although with TAMU it’s important to note they switched coaches (Mike Sherman to Kevin Sumlin) and discovered some guy named Johnny Manziel who was pretty okay at college football.

Louisville has a decent shot to buck this trend if they can get off to 1-0. That’s because ACC game number one is game number one against ever-improving Miami.

The Cards have their issues … specifically on the offensive line and at safety … but Will Gardner looks the part to replace Teddy Bridgewater after throwing for 17 miles worth of yards (exaggeration, for the meek minded) in the Spring Game, which is fool’s gold at times becuase if your offense is a searing spade through butter, it might be because your defense has the stink to it.

But the Cards also are blessed with immense talent at the skill positions, a schedule that features its only back-to-back road games against clubs they’ll be favored against heavily other than Clemson (Virginia, Florida International, Syracuse), and a style in Bobby Petrino that has worked at all levels … and quickly.

Switching conferences has been a laborious task for most teams not nicknamed the Aggies in college football in year one, and for some … like former MWC powerhouse Texas Christian and Big East power West Virginia … the sting has gone beyond year one.

Both teams were bowl eligible after taking that initial dip, and then scraped the bottom with dual 4-8 seasons in year two, indicating just how difficult it is sometimes to jump region. Others, like Missouri in the allegedly mighty SEC saw a major rise from year one to year two. Some, like Nebraska, saw for the most part, saw not too high and not too low.

If anyone has a shot to go against the grain, it’s probably the Louisville Cardinals. No, they’re probably not going to get 12 wins again, so they’re more likely than not to be another point of proof to plug into the Year One Blues, but long term, if anyone can make it work out, Louisville can.

The chart below shows teams who have switch from BCS conference to BCS conference (Mountain West included) and their last overall record, last conference record, first overall record in their new conference, first conference record in said conference, and then the differences in overall wins and conference wins.

Team Last LConf 1st 1st Conf Dif Dif Conf
Colorado 5-7 2-6 3-10 2-7 -2 -1
Utah 10-3 7-1 8-5 4-5 -2 -3
WVU 10-2 5-2 7-6 4-5 -3 -1
TCU 11-2 7-0 7-6 4-5 -4 -3
Nebraska 10-4 6-2 9-4 5-3 -1 -1
Missouri 8-5 5-4 5-7 2-6 -3 -3
TAMU 7-6 4-5 10-3 6-2 +4 +2
Pitt 6-7 3-4 7-6 3-5 +1 +1

Bart Doan is an associate editor with The Student Section and a member of the Football Writers Association of America.