How other programs fared after losing a BCS Championship

How other programs fared after losing a BCS Championship
August 1, 2013, 3:30 pm
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With all the drama, departures and controversy of Notre Dame's offseason, Jan. 7 seems like eons ago.

But when Notre Dame begins practice for the 2013 season Monday in Marion, Ind., they'll do so as the 15th team in the BCS era to come off a loss in a title game. It's a fate a handful of college football powerhouses have suffered, but not all went on continue growing the program.

[Kelly, Notre Dame working on plan for Golson's return]

On the flip side, only once has a team lost a national championship game and come back to win it the next year.

We'll take a look at how each team fared in the year after losing a championship game in the BCS era and how the program fared in the five years following the loss -- it's a clean number, and more importantly it factors in the recruiting bump seen by such a successful season.

On to the list:

1998: Florida State (Lost Fiesta Bowl, 23-16, to Tennessee)
Next year: 12-0, won BCS Championship
Next five years: 12-0, 11-2, 8-4, 9-5, 10-3

What happened: Florida State returned its three key offensive playmakers from 1998: Quarterback Chris Weinke, running back Travis Minor and wide receiver Peter Warrick. The Seminoles were a wire-to-wire No. 1 team, and topped Virginia Tech 46-29 in the Sugar Bowl to win Bobby Bowden's final championship in Tallahassee.

Florida State played for another championship the next year, despite a No. 3 AP ranking, and lost 13-2 to Oklahoma. Since the 2000 season, FSU has only had three seasons with double-digit victories and hasn't challenged for a BCS title.

Notre Dame comparison: There's not one here. Bowden was a legendary, tenured coach who had a successful program in place long before the BCS era began. There's no comparing Brian Kelly in his fourth year to Bowden in his 24th.

[Notre Dame ranks 11th in preseason coaches' poll]

1999: Virginia Tech (Lost Sugar Bowl, 46-29, to Florida State)
Next year: 11-1, won Gator Bowl
Next five years: 11-1, 8-4, 10-4, 8-5, 10-3

What happened: Riding a dynamic quarterback in Michael Vick, Frank Beamer's Hokies enjoyed their best season in program history in 1999, only to have it derailed by Florida State. Vick returned for the following season, but a 41-21 loss at No. 3 Miami -- the only ranked on Tech's regular season schedule -- doomed their hopes of having another shot at a title.

After Vick left, Virginia Tech settled into a consistently-good ACC team, winning 10 or more games in nine of the last 12 seasons. There's nothing wrong with that, although they haven't sniffed a BCS Championship since.

Notre Dame comparison: Beamer took over a downtrodden program in 1987 and slowly built it into a winner, and having a generational player at quarterback doesn't translate over to Notre Dame, especially when its BCS quarterback won't play for the school in 2013.

[Brian Kelly contract extension appears imminent]

2000: Florida State (lost Orange Bowl, 13-2, to Oklahoma)
Next year: 8-4, won Gator Bowl
Next five years: 8-4, 9-5, 10-3, 9-3, 8-5

What happened: Weinke and Minor were gone, as were Warrick (after the 1999 season), Anquan Boldin and Snoop Minnis. Both the offense and defense regressed, and a 41-9 loss at unranked North Carolina in Week 3 set the tone for Bowden's 2001 squad to be the first since 1986 to not win double-digit games.

Notre Dame comparison: Lost a lot of key talent, but more than the Irish lost heading into 2013. And again, comparing Bowden to Kelly won't get us very far.

2001: Nebraska (Lost Rose Bowl, 37-14, to Miami)
Next year: 7-7, lost Independence Bowl
Next five years: 7-7, 10-3, 5-6, 8-4, 9-5

What happened: No Eric Crouch meant a big problem for Frank Solich, who was fired after the 2003 regular season ended. Nebraska went from 451.2 yards of total offense per game in 2001 to 373.1 in 2002 with Jammal Lord at quarterback. Ex-Raiders coach Bill Callahan took over the program in 2004 and couldn't bring Nebraska back to the prominence it enjoyed under Tom Osborne, and was canned after a 5-7 season in 2007.

More notable than the offensive dip, though, was a defense that didn't live up to the "Blackshirts" moniker, going from 287.2 yards allowed in 2001 to 361.9 in 2002.

Notre Dame comparison: Another dynamic, game-changing quarterback, and another program that couldn't rebound after he left. It's tough to see things falling apart for Kelly as quickly as they did for Solich, especially given the defense Notre Dame returns in 2013.

[Competition in Notre Dame secondary a 180 from 2012]

2002: Miami (Lost Fiesta Bowl, 31-24, to Ohio State)
Next year: 11-2, won Orange Bowl
Next five years: 11-2, 9-3, 9-3, 7-6, 5-7

What happened: Lost three of its four big weapons (quarterback Ken Dorsey, running back Willis McGahee and wide receiver Andre Johnson) and saw its total offense go from 465.8 to 394.9 yards per game. The defense was just as good if not better in 2003, although a lackluster offense cost Larry Coker's Hurricanes in a 10-6 loss to No. 18 Tennessee at home.

The 2003 season still stands as the last 10-win campaign for Miami. Coker inherited a talented group of players from Butch Davis and built on it for a few years, but saw everything crumble fairly quickly after winning a title in 2001.

Notre Dame comparison: The Irish lost some of their best offensive weapons from last year (Tyler Eifert, Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood and Everett Golson) and return an excellent defense. If you're a pessimist, there are some very rough -- emphasis on very -- similarities here. But Kelly didn't ride the coattails of a successful coach, so again, any similarities are incredibly rough.

[Kelly disagrees with ruling Vanderdoes can play at UCLA in 2013]

2003: Oklahoma (Lost Sugar Bowl, 21-14, to LSU)
Next year: 12-1, lost BCS Championship
Next five years: 12-1, 8-4, 11-3, 11-3, 12-2

What happened: Bob Stoops followed up a seven-point loss to Nick Saban and LSU by getting throttled, 55-19, by USC. Reigning Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jason White was back, as was running back Adrian Peterson. The Sooners returned an excellent defense, too, one that managed to shut out Vince Young, Cedric Benson and Texas in the Red River Shootout. Peterson and White finished second and third, respectively, behind Matt Leinart for the Heisman Trophy.

Despite that, Oklahoma was run out of the Orange Bowl by USC (which later vacated its win). The Trojans' 36-point margin of victory stands as the largest in a championship game in the BCS era.

2004: Oklahoma (Lost Orange Bowl, 55-19, to USC)
Next year: 8-4, won Holiday Bowl
Next five years: 8-4, 11-3, 11-3, 12-2, 8-5

What happened: White was replaced by Rhett Bomar, while receivers Mark Clayton and Mark Bradley moved on to the NFL. Peterson was hampered by a sprained ankle, limiting his effectiveness for an offense that averaged just 355.1 yards per game.

The 8-4 year was an anomaly for Stoops, though, who's guided the Sooners to 11 double-digit win seasons in his 14-year tenure in Norman.

Notre Dame comparison: Bomar threw for 2,018 yards with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, which would be well on the negative end of the spectrum even for those pessimistic about Tommy Rees. Stoops' program was strong long before the 8-4 dropoff, and rebounded quickly after it.

[Notre Dame confident it'll be fine without Manti Te'o]

2005: USC (Lost Rose Bowl, 41-38, to Texas)
Next year: 11-2, won Rose Bowl
Next five years: 11-2, 11-2, 12-1, 9-4, 8-5

What happened: Like every year in 2000s under Pete Carroll, USC was loaded with talent. Quarterback John David Booty teamed with 70-catch wide receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith, while Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, Sedrick Ellis and the lesser-known Dallas Sartz (seven sacks) led another good defensive unit.

But seven consecutive BCS berths -- including four straight appearances in the Rose Bowl -- eventually sputtered into a 9-4 season in 2009, and Carroll bolted for the NFL before sanctions hit.

Notre Dame comparison: USC was arguably the best program in college football in the 2000s, although its loss to Texas was as close as it came to winning a second BCS title. Notre Dame, obviously, has a ways to go before achieving the kind of long-term success USC enjoyed under Carroll.

2006: Ohio State (Lost BCS Championship, 41-14, to Florida)
Next year: 11-2, BCS Championship loss
Next five years: 11-2, 10-3, 11-2, 12-1, 6-7

What happened: For all those concerned Rees can't lead Notre Dame back to a BCS Championship, remember that Ohio State's quarterback in 2007 was Todd Boeckman. The formula was simple for Jim Tressel's Buckeyes: A great defense (led by James Laurinaitis and Vernon Gholston) plus an effective running back (led by Beanie Wells) was enough to go 11-1 in the regular season -- although Boeckman's three interceptions on Nov. 10 against Illinois cost them an undefeated campaign.

It's worth noting, too, that Ohio State -- and LSU, too -- were the beneficiaries of a ridiculous rate of attrition atop the BCS standings. The Buckeyes' loss to Illinois began it, and LSU snuck in despite a last-week loss to Arkansas. Heading into the final week of the regular season, West Virginia and Mizzou were a win away from facing each other in the BCS Championship. Both lost, allowing Ohio State to sneak in for a chance at a BCS title.

Notre Dame comparison: If the Irish are going to make it back to the BCS Championship, the formula will likely be similar to that of Ohio State: Great defense, good running, and a quarterback who general won't cost his team a game.

2007: Ohio State (Lost BCS Championship, 38-24, to LSU)
Next year: 10-3, Fiesta Bowl loss
Next five years: 10-3, 11-2, 12-1, 6-7, 12-0

What happened: Following the loss to LSU, Ohio State stayed strong for a few years before Tressel's program was hit with major sanctions. The lesson: Don't get hit with major sanctions.

Notre Dame comparison: Wells and Laurinaitis were still in Columbus in 2008, and Terrelle Pryor made his collegiate debut that fall. The sanctions hurt for a few years, but Ohio State looks strong -- and able to appear in a bowl game -- under Urban Meyer in 2013.

[Strength up front buoys Notre Dame defense]

2008: Oklahoma (Lost BCS Championship, 24-14, to Florida)
Next year: 8-5, Sun Bowl champs
Next four years: 8-5, 12-2, 10-3, 10-3

What happened: A shoulder injury kept reigning Heisman winner Sam Bradford on the sidelines, and freshman Landry Jones struggled in close road losses to Miami and Nebraska and in a three-point loss to eventual BCS runner-up Texas. A year after hardly playing in any close games -- OU scored 61 or more points in five straight games in 2008 -- the Sooners lost four games decided by a touchdown or less.

But as OU did earlier in the decade, it rebounded quickly and returned to double-digit win form.

Notre Dame comparison: Winning -- or losing -- close games rarely is a sustainable thing year-to-year. The takeaway from Oklahoma in 2009 is just that: inexperienced quarterback aside, getting into nail-biting contests can swing both ways -- in 2010, OU won all six of its games decided by eight points or less.

2009: Texas (Lost BCS Championship, 37-14, to Alabama)
Next year: 5-7, no bowl game
Next three years: 5-7, 8-5, 9-4

What happened: After nine straight years of double-digit wins, Texas fell on its face in 2010. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert threw 17 interceptions to 10 touchdowns, and the Longhorns became the first -- and, so far, only -- team to go from a BCS Championship berth to missing a bowl game. Texas still hasn't recovered, either, although on paper they should build on last year's 9-4 record. Maybe they should've recruited in-state Heisman winners Robert Griffin and Johnny Manziel as quarterbacks instead of defensive backs.

Notre Dame comparison: This is the worst-case scenario, one that saw not just an offense regress but a defense as well. It's a reminder of how quickly things can go bad for a program, going from another star quarterback (Colt McCoy) to an unproven group of younger players.

[Offensive line depth a huge plus for Notre Dame]

2010: Oregon (Lost BCS Championship, 17-16, to Auburn)
Next year: 12-2, Rose Bowl champs
Next two years: 12-2, 12-1

What happened: Oregon kept building its program under Chip Kelly, who departed for the Philadelphia Eagles this winter. In 2011, Oregon lost its opener to eventual BCS runner-up LSU, and a botched field goal cost them another game in mid-November. LaMichael James and Darron Thomas left for the NFL after 2011, but the next wave of talent was plugged in and Oregon, by a number of measures and polls, was the second-best team in college football in 2012 (better than Notre Dame).

Notre Dame comparison: Alabama's the pie-in-the-sky model, but in terms of building a consistent winning program, Oregon provides an excellent blueprint. Kelly flooded the depth chart with talent and was able to plug in younger guys when upperclassmen departed with little dropoff. While Oregon hasn't made a BCS Championship since losing to Auburn, they've consistently been in the conversation.

2011: LSU (Lost BCS Championship, 21-14, to Alabama)
Next year: 10-3, Chick-fil-A Bowl loss

What happened: Here lies the only SEC team to lose a BCS title game, although the conference still won a championship. Les Miles' Tigers lost two games in the SEC -- a 14-6 slugfest at Florida, and a 21-17 loss on T.J. Yeldon's late touchdown in Baton Rouge. For its efforts, LSU missed a BCS Bowl and lost by one to Clemson its bowl game.

Notre Dame comparison: LSU's schedule ultimately ate them alive last year -- its defense remained strong while its offense struggled a bit. Fortunately for Notre Dame, it doesn't have to sustain the body blows of an SEC slate, so even if the offensive and defensive numbers are similar, it means they'll have a good shot at making at least a BCS bowl.