Mike Farrell of MikeFarrellSports.com, refers to himself as the godfather of recruiting.
He may or may not be in a position to make you an offer you can’t refuse, but he is a respected commentator on all things college sports.
So, when he recently came out with his list of 15 college football teams that aren’t scary anymore, the opinion carried some weight.
Auburn fans should brace themselves. The Tigers found their way onto the list at No. 10, right between Washington and Florida.
The Tigers are coming off a 6-7 season that included a loss to Houston in Birmingham.
The interesting part about including Auburn on this list is how quickly the Tigers tumbled to this position. Just seven months ago, Auburn was 6-2 and celebrating its first win over LSU in Baton Rouge since 1999, and consecutive SEC victories over Arkansas and Ole Miss.
The only losses in Bryan Harsin’s debut season to that point were a thrilling Saturday night at Penn State in which the Tigers squandered a great chance to win but eventually fell 28-20, and a 34-10 setback to eventual national champion Georgia. Still, spirits were high.
Then came the collapse.
The Tigers finished the regular season with losses to Texas A&M, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Alabama.
Suddenly, the Tigers were in the midst of a five-game losing streak that put Harsin’s job in danger and landed the Tigers on the same list as the other college football programs that aren’t what they used to be.
Here’s a look at Farrell’s list, accompanied by my comments about each declining program:
- Nebraska. The Cornhuskers still have a great fan base and commitment to win. But there simply aren’t many good recruits in that part of the country to maintain a championship program. Leaving the conference that gave Nebraska a presence in Texas for a spot in the Big Ten was a mistake the Cornhuskers are paying for to this day.
- Texas. Texas is back! Not really. The Longhorns are in for an awakening of what it’s going to be like in the SEC when Alabama visits Austin in Week 2 this season.
- FSU. How can the Seminoles be this bad for this long? It could be that Deion Sanders is the answer to return FSU to prominence.
- West Virginia. The Mountaineers were great when Daphne’s Pat White was playing quarterback, but not so much since.
- Southern Cal. The Trojans aren’t going to be on this list for long. Lincoln Riley is already recruiting at an elite level. There probably aren’t enough quality linemen to turn things around in one year, but it’s coming.
- Tennessee. It’s hard to remember what a big deal it used to be when Tennessee and Alabama would play on the third Saturday in October every fall. It’s gotten so bad that the Volunteers are celebrating their 2021 season that included a 7-6 record and bowl loss to Purdue.
- Miami. Recruiting can be done in a car when you live in South Florida. The Hurricanes are my pick to make the ACC Championship Game in their first year under Mario Cristobal.
- Penn State. It’s still pretty scary to visit for a night game when the whiteout is in effect.
- Washington. When was anyone scared of a trip to beautiful Seattle?
- Auburn. The Tigers open the season with five straight winnable home games, which could turn the tables for Harsin.
- Florida. The Gators were in the SEC Championship Game less than two years ago. There’s no reason to think Florida will belong on this list for long.
- Stanford. Every student at Stanford is a standout in their field. But football has never been and will never be the focus of life on The Farm.
- Virginia Tech. It’s definitely still scary when the Hokies enter the field to “Enter Sandman.”
- Syracuse. It’s always been hard to maintain interest in any college sport in a state where pro sports are king.
- Louisville. Citronelle native Lance Taylor is now the offensive coordinator in charge of getting the Cardinals back to the level of excitement last seen when Lamar Jackson was leading the offense.
Randy Kennedy, who has been a leading voice on the Gulf Coast sports scene for 20 years, writes a weekly column for Lagniappe. His sports talk show airs weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on Sports Talk 99.5 and the free iHeartRadio app.
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