Examining CU, Pac-12, and Big XII Football over the last 10 years using The Hist-O-Graph...and then saying stuff.
Step into my office for a moment...I want you to look at this chart and tell me just who in the world let these guys start winning again...
Look at that; they go from 1-11 to 12-1 in four years. What is this? The Conference of Hippies and Fairness? Where everybody gets to win and then go to a bonfire-drum-circle afterwards?
It is? Oh. I guess that explains a lot, then.
(If you're confused by the Hist-O-Graph, the introductory article is linked after the jump).
The Stanford Cardinal Hist-O-Graph: They Got Lucky
Stanford is one of the few Pac-12 teams that hasn't won the conference in the last decade. Though to their credit, their last Pac-10 championship came in 1999 under Tyrone Willingham. Trick is, they're due for another one this year.
Why? Stanford's football program is on the Ten-Year Plan.
Every 10 years or so, Stanford figures out how to do this football thing. They won 8 games in '09 and 12 in '10. The last time that Stanford had back to back 8+ win seasons? '91-92 where they won 8 and 10 games, respectively. Go back again and it's '77-'78, when the Pac-8 became the Pac-10. Again and it's '70-'71 and back-to-back Rose Bowls.
This year the Cardinal are doing well, and they may even win the Pac-12. It won't last though; it never does. Every time Stanford puts the pieces back together again, something happens and it all falls apart.
What happens? The San Francisco Forty-Niners happen.
Three of the last four times that Stanford has climbed up the College Football heap, the San Francisco 49ers come and swipe their head coach away. The only time it wasn't the 49ers was when it was Notre Dame (insert joke about paid college athletes here, sorry Bob).
John Ralston: Back to back Pac-8 Champions and Rose Bowl Victories in '70-'71; hired away by the Broncos. Bill Walsh: Bowl victories in '77-'78; hired by the 49ers. Dennis Green went to the Minnesota Vikings. Bill Walsh came back to Stanford only to leave and go back to the 49ers (again?!)
You get the picture. The problem is that the hammer's already dropped again. Harbaugh was hired away by the 49ers (Stanford fans must hate them for that), and the Cardinal are essentially winning on borrowed time.
Had Harbaugh stayed it would've been different, but after this year I think Stanford's going to be back to their usual 3-8 selves again. Until 2021 rolls around, that is...
The Texas A&M Aggies Hist-O-Graph: There's Always Next Year
It's easy to forget, but when the Big-8 and SWC joined together, it was A&M, not Texas that had been consistently winning leading up to the conference merger. They won the Southwest Conference in '91, '92, and '93.
Texas A&M is similar to Stanford in that while they haven't won the conference in the last decade, they didn't miss by much. They won the Big-12 in '98 against K-State, and lost the championship game to Nebraska the year before.
It's not that the Aggies have been especially bad, it's just that they haven't been especially good, either. Their only bowl win since 1995 was against TCU in the GalleryFurniture.com bowl which they famously nearly boycotted over its ridiculous name.
All that despite recruiting surprisingly well no matter who's at the helm. Whether it's RC Slocum (until '02), Dennis Franchione (until '07) or Mike Sherman, A&M is consistently getting 4 and 5 star athletes into College Station. And then they all poop their pants in the 4th quarter against Oklahoma State and Arkansas.
Why are they paired up this week? The easy one is that though they've been good in the past, they haven't won their conference in the last decade (Stanford may still, A&M...reference the OSU game...poop). A corollary to that is that each team has a schizoid personality; A&M receives hype yearly and doesn't live up whereas Stanford shot from 'crazy-bad' to 'crazy-good' in only four years.
The last reason is that each team is an odd doppelganger for what CU might have been, or might be.
A&M is what our football team would be like if CU were located in Texas. We'd get better recruits, but we simply would not be able to go toe-to-toe with Texas & OU every damn year. We'd be lucky to break past them one year in five. Just as the Aggies are.
To me Stanford resembles the Colorado teams of '01-'02. Strong running with a passing game that attacked the middle with TE's and a Defense perfect for making Chrissy Sims cry. Except instead of Andrew Luck, we had Bobby Pesavento.
I find it humorous and telling that Embree envisions CU becoming akin to the Stanford of today. Ultimately it's just another way of saying that we want to be like us again. I'm all for it.
If this Hist-O-Graph seems abbreviated, it is! I was kind-of busy this weekend.