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Three-Point Stance: Biggest rebuilds, hardest places to win, more

Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with his thoughts on the biggest rebuilding jobs in college football, the five hardest places to win in the Power Five and 10 more unappreciated college football players.


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Mike Norvell
Mike Norvell (USA Today Sports Images)

Which prominent programs are the furthest away from competing for championships? Here are my top-five biggest rebuilding jobs.

1. Florida State — The last time the Seminoles had a 10-win season was back in 2016 and since then they have gone 21-26. That’s downright embarrassing. Mike Norvell still has a big job ahead of him. Recruiting is going well finally and the ACC is weak but Florida State is still around six touchdowns away from challenging Clemson in their own division.

2. Tennessee — Remember when Butch Jones was the issue? Well he won nine games in two seasons which is the most wins for the Vols since a 10-4 season in 2007 under Philip Fulmer. Jeremy Pruitt went 16-19 (10-16 in conference) and left behind a slew of recruiting violations for Josh Heupel.

3. Virginia Tech Frank Beamer was a legend. Justin Fuente not so much. Things started off nicely in Blacksburg as he went 19-8 over his first two seasons but since then he’s 19-18 and there has been internal strife and many leaving through the transfer portal. Things are very close to falling off a cliff.

4. MichiganJim Harbaugh has won every season at Michigan until 2020 and has a 49-22 record overall in Ann Arbor. But this feels like a long climb uphill after last season when the Wolverines lost to a bad Michigan State team, got pummeled by Indiana and Wisconsin and took three overtimes to survive Rutgers. Oh yeah, he’s 0-5 against Ohio State, 1-4 in bowl games and 1-8 against top-10 teams. They are far from competing with the Buckeyes in their own division.

5. Texas — There is hope with Steve Sarkisian in charge but the same could have been said with Charlie Strong and Tom Herman. The last time Texas had a one-loss season was in 2009 under Mack Brown when it played for the national title. To be so average in the Big 12 makes zero sense.



David Cutcliffe
David Cutcliffe (USA Today Sports Images)

While there is no way some of the programs above should ever struggle, some programs are seemingly always going to have a hard time finding success. Here are the five toughest jobs in the Power Five.

1. Vanderbilt — What James Franklin did at Vanderbilt was short of a miracle as he was somehow 24-15 overall in his three seasons. But he still went 11-13 in conference. Franklin was the last coach to have a winning record in conference at Vanderbilt when he was 5-3 in 2012. Before that? It was in 1982 under George MacIntyre. The SEC is a predator and Vandy is prey.

2. Oregon State — It could just as easily be Washington State but I’ll go with the Beavers here because of how big Oregon has become. The Beavers' last winning season was 2013 and the last time they won 10 games was back in 2006. They haven’t been relevant since the Fiesta Bowl in 2000 under Dennis Erickson and recruiting is as difficult as it gets there.

3. Duke — Academics and basketball hold Duke back a bit as the Blue Devils can’t recruit the same athletes as some programs even in their own state and they have always been considered a basketball school. David Cutcliffe somehow won 10 games at Duke in 2013 but since then the Blue Devils are 43-44 and he’s 78-88 overall — and he’s a damn good coach.

4. Wake Forest Jim Grobe is an amazing coach. He went 77-82 at Wake Forest. Dave Clawson is an amazing coach. He’s 40-45 at Wake so far. The lack of facilities and small school feel hurt recruiting compared with the big boys.

5. Kansas — Kansas has the same issue as Duke when it comes to hoops but honestly this is about horrific football tradition. Mark Mangino somehow got the Jayhawks to 12-1 and the Orange Bowl in 2007. Since then they are 34-122 overall. That’s horrendous and it simply leads to more losing.



Gaines Adams
Gaines Adams (USA Today Sports Images)

Here are 10 more underappreciated college football stars since 2000.

QB Brad Banks, Iowa — The runner-up for the 2002 Heisman Trophy, Banks had one of the greatest seasons in Hawkeyes' history, scoring more than 30 touchdowns on the way to winning the Davey O'Brien Trophy and being named the AP Player of the Year. Carson Palmer won the Heisman that year in a close battle.

CB Terence Newman, Kansas State — A unanimous All-American and Jim Thorpe Award winner as a senior, you can make the case that he's the greatest defensive player in school history. A true lockdown corner who wasn't afraid to play on an island.

WR Mike Hass, Oregon State — The first player with three 1,000-yard receiving seasons in the history of the Pac-12, Hass owns nearly every school receiving record for the Beavers. In just three seasons, he amassed nearly 4,000 yards and 20 receiving TD's, and his 293 yards against Boise State as a junior are still a conference record.

LB Teddy Lehman, Oklahoma — Lehman was a two-time consensus All-American, and as a senior won the Bednarik, Butkus, and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year while leading the Sooners to top-five finishes in both 2002 and 2003.

DE Gaines Adams, Clemson — Adams was the first great defensive lineman for the Tigers of the 21st century, and graduated holding a share of the school record in sacks with 28. The unanimous All-American was a menace off the edge and a great special teams player as well, but tragically died at only 26 of a heart complication.

CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska — A two-time All-Big 12 selection and unanimous All-American as a senior, Amukamara was a relatively lightly recruited prospect who developed a ton in school. In his final two seasons as a starter, he had five picks, 123 tackles and 13 passes defended.

S Gerod Holliman, Louisville — Holliman's junior campaign in 2014 is one of the great seasons for a defensive back in college football history. He tied the NCAA single season record with 14 picks and added 61 tackles while being a unanimous All-American and Jim Thorpe Award winner.

S Shane Walton, Notre Dame — Walton actually started out as a soccer player at Notre Dame, winning Big East freshman of the year before turning to football as a sophomore. By the time he was a senior, he was a unanimous All-American. An absolutely remarkable story.

S Mike Doss, Ohio State — A do-it-all safety for the Buckeyes, Doss was a three-time first-team All-American, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Fiesta Bowl MVP when Ohio State took down a stacked Miami team, picking off Ken Dorsey to seal the game.

OL Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin — While Joe Thomas and Ryan Ramczyk get most of the buzz for great Badgers OT's (and rightfully so), Carimi was an under-the-radar stalwart for Wisconsin. A four-year starter at LT for the Badgers (replacing Thomas), he was freshman All-American, and would go on to be a unanimous All-American and Outland Trophy winner by the time he graduated.