View Full Version : Atlanta Journal Constitution article

09-27-2004, 03:26 PM
Not sure if any of you saw this and it is pretty much a rehash of what has been said, but it is nice to know the media in a city like Atlanta are finally noticing. And this is not an AP story written by someone in Alabama. This is an AJC staff writier. Exposure like this cannot hurt recruiting either. The pay day numbers are staggering.


GAME DAY NATION: Division I-A Trojan horse
Troy making noise after move up to the big time
Tony Barnhart - Staff
Saturday, September 25, 2004

When Troy University announced in 2000 that it would move from college football's Division I-AA to the much-tougher Division I-A, coach Larry Blakeney heard the snickers.

Why do it? Troy had been a successful Division II program, winning a national championship under coach Chan Gailey (now at Georgia Tech) in 1984. The Trojans made a smooth transition to I-AA in 1991 and made five trips to the playoffs.

But going to Division I-A in a state competing against SEC powers Alabama and Auburn? From the outside looking in, it made no sense.

"People said we were crazy to go I-A," said Blakeney, who has been the Trojans' coach since 1991. "But we looked around the college football landscape and decided that we'd be crazy if we didn't go."

It didn't take long for Blakeney to prove his point. For Troy, the move to Division I-A wasn't about ego or status. It was about money.

Troy didn't ease into its new life as a Division I-A member, opening the 2001 season at Nebraska, a team that eventually would play in the Rose Bowl for the BCS national championship. Nebraska won the game 42-14, but Troy picked up a check for $475,000.

That was $130,000 more than the football program had generated during the entire 2000 season.

By the end of 2001 Troy had lost on the road to Nebraska, Miami, Mississippi State and Maryland. But the football team had earned $2.3 million. The year before the program had earned $345,000.

"My athletic director [Johnny Williams] and I have a deal," said Blakeney, a former player and assistant coach at Auburn. "I told him I wouldn't cry and moan to the press about the schedule if he would throw me a bone or two in the future. It was something we had to go through in order to pay the bills. I didn't mind taking my lumps for a while."

It appears that Troy's days of taking its lumps are coming to an end. The school, located just south of Montgomery, is one of a host of emerging Division I-A teams that the big boys in the BCS conferences simply do not want to play.

Why? Just ask Missouri.

The Tigers from the Big 12 were ranked No. 19 in the nation on Sept. 9 when they traveled to Troy for the biggest home game in the history of the school. After Missouri jumped to a quick 14-0 lead, Troy stunned the Tigers by rallying to win 24-14. Troy had to guarantee to play at Missouri twice in order to get the Tigers to come to Troy once. Nobody in Troy expects Missouri to return in the future.

"When we started [in Div. I-A], our goal was to gain credibility and respect at the least, and shock some people at the most," said Blakeney, whose team beat Marshall 17-15 in its opener. "I think we shocked Missouri."

"What they've done at Troy is just incredible," said Gailey, who will attend the 20-year reunion of Troy's national championship team later this fall. "When I was there we just wanted to get to Division I-AA. There is no way you could buy all of the national recognition they have received."

The celebration of the Missouri victory probably lasted a little too long. On Saturday the Trojans went on the road to play New Mexico State in their first game as a member of the Sun Belt Conference. Troy took an 18-15 lead with 6:58 to play, but New Mexico State scored with 2:05 left to win 22-18.

But the fact that Troy has suffered its first loss doesn't mean South Carolina's Lou Holtz is sleeping easier this week. His Gamecocks (2-1) will be hosting the Trojans tonight at Williams Brice Stadium.

"I'm greatly concerned about this football game," said Holtz, whose only loss was to No. 3 Georgia (21-16) on Sept. 11. "When you put in the film and watch them play Missouri, that says it all. They've been able to dominate the line of scrimmage against everybody they play."

09-27-2004, 03:37 PM
That is not just a staff writer..that is Tony Barnhart--Mr. College Football. The entire front page of the special saturday section 3 big pictures. Boise, Fresno and Troy with the headline..."Troublemakers-How the Troy's, Boise's and Fresno's are causing problems for BCS teams."

09-28-2004, 08:22 AM
Can someone post the other story, about the little guys against the big boys?

09-28-2004, 09:33 AM
GAME DAY NATION: A handful of mid-majors have set their sights
on running the table and becoming known as . . . The little teams that could
Tony Barnhart - Staff
Saturday, September 25, 2004

For more than a generation there has been a clearly defined relationship between the big schools from the six BCS conferences and the members of the non-BCS, or Coalition, conferences.

The big guys would schedule the little guys in order to get a home game they would not have to return. They also expected a relatively easy victory that would get their team ready for the conference schedule. In exchange for taking its lumps on the road, the little guy would get a handsome check that would help to keep its relatively small athletics budget afloat.

"For most schools our size, there is no option. We have to schedule these types of games," Troy head coach Larry Blakeney said. "It's the only way that you can survive financially."

That relationship, however, is beginning to change. Some of the little guys are starting to get a bit frisky. Some have simply scared their hosts. Others have had the audacity to refuse to play the sacrificial lamb and actually win. Four are currently ranked in the Top 25, and several others are pounding on the door wanting to get in. Teams such as:

> Fresno State (3-0) which went to Kansas State on Sept. 11 and beat the No. 13 Wildcats 45-21. It was the ninth time the Bulldogs have beaten a BCS team since 2000.

"I don't even think it was an upset," coach Pat Hill said after the game. "I do think we're better than they were."

The opposing coach agreed.

"I've been here for 16 years," Kansas State's Bill Snyder said after the game. "We never had a football team that just got beat up as badly as we did today."

When Hill took over at Fresno in 1997, he modeled his building program after Bobby Bowden at Florida State. In order to make money and gain recognition Fresno would play anybody, anywhere, anytime. It is beginning to pay off. Fresno opened the season by beating Washington 35-16, followed by the victory at Kansas State. The Bulldogs are No. 17 and are idle today.

> Utah (3-0) hasn't beaten a ranked team, but it has trounced a couple of BCS teams --- Texas A&M (41-21) and Arizona (23-6). The Utes of the Mountain West Conference will be favored in each of their remaining games. Utah is already No. 14 in the Associated Press poll and if it wins out, should crack the top 12, which is necessary to earn an at-large bid in the BCS. The Utes host Air Force today.

> Boise State (3-0) took a No. 21 ranking into last night's non-conference game with BYU at home. If the Broncos won, they would be undefeated going into a huge game with Fresno State on Oct. 23, which will probably decide the WAC championship. If both are unbeaten, the winner is still alive in the BCS race. Boise State, which is scheduled to open the 2005 season at Georgia, is 52-11 in the past five seasons.

> Louisville (2-0), which plays at North Carolina today, could be 4-0 when the Cardinals get their ultimate chance to play BCS giant-killer with a Thursday night trip to Miami on Oct. 14. Win that one and voters will sit up and take notice, and Bobby Petrino's team would vault into the BCS picture.

> Memphis (3-0) was ranked No. 25 last week but dropped out of the poll after a 47-35 victory against Arkansas State. Tommy West's team already has beaten Ole Miss (20-13) and Chattanooga (52-21), a Division I-AA team. If the Tigers win today at UAB, they have a decent shot of being 7-0 when they host Louisville on Thursday, Nov. 4. ESPN's Lee Corso has predicted that Memphis will go unbeaten.

"If we do that, I think [the BCS] will have to look at us," said West.

> Southern Mississippi (1-0) beat Nebraska on the road and was scheduled to face No. 10 California last Thursday night in Hattiesburg. But Hurricane Ivan postponed that game until Dec. 4. For the Golden Eagles to go undefeated they will have to beat California at home and Alabama and Memphis on the road. Southern Miss opens its Conference USA schedule today at Tulane.

With the change in the formula that determines the BCS standings (which places a greater emphasis on the polls) these little guys know they are at the mercy of the writers and the coaches who vote. They may never get enough votes to play in the national championship game, even if they go undefeated.

But all they want right now is a chance to show they belong when the postseason rolls around. If one of them goes undefeated, it will be hard to keep them out.

"I think mid-majors are starting to come up and good things are happening," said Garrett McIntyre, a defensive tackle from Fresno State. "These teams like us want BCS bids and we think we can get them, but we have to go undefeated in order to do it. So I think it's our time."

Team (Record)...... AP rank..BCS wins
Utah (3-0)..........14...... Texas A&M (41-21), Arizona (23-6)
Possible stumbling blocks: vs. BYU (Nov. 20)
Fresno State (3-0)..17...... Washington (35-16), Kansas State (45-21)
Possible stumbling blocks: at Boise State (Oct. 23)
Boise State (3-0).. 21...... Oregon State (53-34)
Possible stumbling blocks: vs. Fresno State (Oct. 23)
Louisville (2-0)....24...... Kentucky (28-0)
Possible stumbling blocks: at Miami (Oct. 14), at Memphis (Nov. 4)
Memphis (3-0)...... NR...... Ole Miss (20-13)
Possible stumbling blocks: Louisville (Nov. 4), S. Miss (Nov. 12)
Southern Miss (1-0) NR...... Nebraska (21-17)
Possible stumbling blocks: at Alabama (Oct. 16), vs. California (Dec. 4)
Note: Coalition teams must be ranked in the top 12 in the final BCS standings on Dec. 5 to be eligible for an at-large spot in one of the four BCS bowls.