The 30 ‘Almost Great’ College Teams of the Last 30 Years

If you grew up in southeast Alabama like me, you were accustomed to living among a rich diversity of winning college football fans.  Only one problem though—some of the fans I grew up with rooted for Georgia.  Nothing is technically wrong with Georgia, but every Georgia fan in world is way way way too proud about their “almost great” seasons.  I don’t blame them though.  If my football team came up short every year, I’d probably relish in the “almost great” as well.

So to celebrate the Georgias of the world and to kick off my 30th birthday blog-a-thon, here is my list of the 30 “almost great” college football teams of the last 30 years.  (Spoiler: Georgia is listed a lot.)

No. 30 – The 2007 #2 Georgia Bulldogs (11-2)

It’s fitting that we start off with Georgia.  This 2007 team was actually really good, but it hit a string of bad luck.  First, it finished second in the division to Tennessee who was nowhere near as good as Georgia.  And second, it finished second in the country to an LSU team that stumbled into the BCS National Championship Game with two-losses.  Georgia had all the ability in the world to have done better, but it just didn’t work out.

No. 29 – The 2012 #4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-1)

Girlfriends weren’t the only thing fabricated by Notre Dame in the 2012 season.  Apparently, the 12 wins on their schedule were fabricated as well.  Unfortunately for the Fighting Irish, their one loss is still real.

No. 28 – The 1987 #2 Florida State Seminoles (11-1)

Florida State went through some brutal years in the 80s and 90s.  But does it get any worse than this season?  Florida State beat the brakes off everyone, but their one loss—a one-point loss at that—was to rival and eventual National Champion, Miami.

No. 27 – The 1993 #4 Auburn Tigers (11-0)

This won’t be Auburn’s last time on this list.  But like most Auburn fans, I won’t say much about this season.

No. 26 – The 2011 #5 Arkansas Razorbacks (11-2)

The Razorbacks’ only flaw is they had to play no. 1 Alabama and no. 2 LSU in this same season.  There is a chance they could’ve beaten every team in the country other than those two teams.

No. 25 – The 1999 #2 Virginia Tech Hokies (11-1)

Is there anything better than college-era Michael Vick?  Vick as a freshman was awarded an ESPY Award as the nation’s top college player, and he won the first-ever Archie Griffin Award as college football’s most valuable player.

No. 24 – The 2010 and 2014 Oregon Ducks

This team would be higher on the list if they ever really had a chance at greatness.

No. 22 – The 2004 #4 Utah Utes (12-0)

Same issue as the Oregon Ducks.  Lots of wins, but no real shots at getting rings.

No. 21 – The 2013 #2 Auburn Tigers (12-2)

Told you Auburn would be back.  I’ll talk more about this specific team later, but know this: Auburn had a chance to win the last-ever BCS National Championship, but it finally ran out of luck against an overrated Florida State Seminoles team.  Florida State’s coach, Coach Jimbo Fisher, even recently admitted his team wasn’t that good.

No. 20 – The 2005-07 West Virginia Mountaineers

These boys were absolute beasts, but they came up short way too often.  Shout out to Pat White.

No. 17 – The 1995-97 Tennessee Volunteers

Of all the Tennessee teams that could easily qualify, why this one with Peyton Manning at the helm? This is the only team that people always mistakenly think won a National Championship.  The Volunteers didn’t win a modern day National Championship until the 1998 season after Manning left for the NFL.

No. 14 – The 2013 #7 Alabama Crimson Tide (11-2)

My wife and I were in a crowded movie theater viewing of the Iron Bowl when the Kick Six happened.  Other than being in Jordan-Hare Stadium in-person, this theater located in Tuscaloosa was probably the next saddest place in the state for an Alabama fan.  But what makes matters worse is that this 2013 Alabama team still had a shot at a split National Championship, but it couldn’t show up to play in its BCS bowl game against Oklahoma.

No. 13 – The 2001 #8 Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-2)

While this team ended up losing its last two games of the season (including the National Championship Game), its existence helped fuel the end of the Bowl Championship Series system and usher in the College Football Playoff system.

No. 12 – The 2002 #2 Miami Hurricanes (12-1)

Some would argue that this is the greatest team to not win a ring.  I disagree.  This same team—more or less—won the National Championship the previous season.  For that, I can’t truthfully call them a second fiddle without putting several others ahead.

No. 11 – The 2012 #5 Georgia Bulldogs (12-2)

Would the 2012 Georgia Bulldogs have beaten the fabricated Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the BCS Championship Game?  It’s fairly likely, but the world will never know since Georgia fell a few yards short of beating Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

No. 10 – The 2004 #2 Auburn Tigers (13-0)

The “People’s Champions” may not have been recognized in 2004, but they will be recognized here.  This team was full of future NFL players, including Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Jason Campbell, and Carlos Rogers.  Too bad the 2004 USC Trojans were a bunch of cheaters.

No. 09 – The 2003, 2004, 2008 Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma is not a bad team, but they haven’t won anything of any meaning in almost 20 years.  It’s not like they haven’t had a chance.  Other than Ohio State, no one has choked harder in National Championship games than Oklahoma.

No. 06 – The 2006-09 Boise State Broncos

Pick a year.  Any year.  Results are the same.

No. 02 – The 2005 #2 USC Trojans (12-1)

In what is arguably the greatest football game of all-time, the USC Trojans came tumbling down due to a one-man wrecking crew by the name of Vince Young (QB of the Texas Longhorns).  All season long, the Trojans were a lock to win a National Championship for the third year in a row.  Vince Young apparently didn’t like that fate very much and decided to do something about it.

No. 01 – The 2011 #2 LSU Tigers (13-1)

If this LSU team could figure out how to cross the 50-yard line, it might have had a chance at becoming the greatest college football team of all-time.  It beat everyone in 2011, including Oregon when Oregon was actually really good and Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  Unfortunately, LSU fell short against Alabama when it really mattered.

All of this should have just ended up as an interesting footnote in sports history, but LSU had the audacity to create National Championship rings that touted a number 2 end-of-season ranking.  The other teams on this list may have finished second fiddle, but LSU is the only one that commemorated it in gold.  For that, the 2011 LSU Tigers are the greatest “almost great” team of all-time.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter or on AL.com here.

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Love-Robinson, Most Famous Black Doctor of All-Time?

I know it’s a stretch.  But is it possible that in just a few short days, Malachi Love-Robinson has become the most famous black doctor of all-time?

Right now, there are only a few famous black doctors.  One of them is Republican presidential hopeful, Dr. Ben Carson.  However, since he’s retired and doesn’t wear lab coats anymore, I think he should be disqualified from this discussion.

There is also west coast music mogul, Dr. Dre.  He’s been known to “go in the lab” quite often, but there’s no evidence that he meant a medical lab.  Also, his lack of a lab coat just doesn’t cut it.

This leaves herbal therapist, Doctor Malachi Love-Robinson.  While he is youthful, he makes up for this by being completely unapologetic.  Can you blame him? He’s more motivated to make an income than most adults, and yet, we want to shut his business down.

Live on, Malachi! Viva la, Malachi!

Follow @Ben_Baxter on Twitter. Or find him on AL.com and TouchdownAlabama.net.

Fake Doctor

Stop Blaming Churches for Your Financial Problems

With each passing day, another pastor (usually a mega-church pastor) gets vilified in the media.  Most of the time, it’s because the pastor in question is being ridiculed for showing signs of having too much wealth.  Since wealth is often misconstrued for salary, the smoking gun almost always points back to pastors making too high of a salary.  This negative sentiment rings true on a national stage and eventually makes its way down to the local level.  The hater-ation runs deep.

Unfortunately, this mud-slinging is unwarranted because pastors in general are not hoodwinking the public or robbing from the poor.  In fact, for the amount of talent and skill pastors have, they are living pretty meagerly and sometimes near the poverty line.  But let’s not take my word for it, let’s look at the research.

rich-wilkerson-jr

Rick Wikerson, Jr – Celebrity Pastor

According to the Barna Group, 60% of protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance while only 2% of protestant churches have more than 1000 adults in attendance.  In addition, according to Leadership Network’s 2014 Large Church Salary Report, per capita giving goes down as church size goes up.  I will get more into that later.

Within this same Leadership Network report, it is measured that for mega-churches (churches with attendances from 1,000 to over 30,000), senior pastor salaries tend to represent only 3.4% of a total church budget.  For example, if a church’s total budget is $2 million, then the senior pastor makes $68,000.  That salary may seem pedestrian at first, but when you consider that the average pastor works 50 hours per week and 35% of pastors work more than 60 hours per week, that salary is paltry.  In fact, many pastors regularly sell items on eBay and Craigslist to make ends meet.

Let’s go back to congregational giving though.  Remember how the media likes to paint a picture that poor people are being robbed to prop up silver-spooned pastors? Well, that’s a load of hogwash.  Look at these figures on giving:

  • American Christians give 1.5 – 3.1% to their church and other charitable organizations. That number has dropped more than a percentage point in the past 10 years.
  • 4 out of 10 church attendees give nothing to their local church.
  • Only 1 out of 10 regular church attendees give a consistent percentage of their income to their local church.
  • Currently only 4% of church-attending Christians tithe (give 10% of their income) to local church.

In summary of those statistics, we can’t get robbed if we are essentially keeping all of our income. So let’s stop perpetrating this robbery myth.  That’s just a smoke-screen to cover up the fact that many of us feel bad for not giving a cheerful amount.

Why can’t we give a cheerful amount? Mostly because we don’t read our Bibles very often.  Even a brief analysis of scripture would show us that financial matters are spelled out pretty bluntly.  If we adhere to scripture, we will financially be better off.

Pastors know this.  They read their Bibles daily like it is recommended.  Supernaturally and practically, pastors gain wealth even if they have horrible salaries because they live below their means and then some.  And in doing so, they can financially help all of the haters who think pastors are their enemies.

Follow me on Twitter @Ben_Baxter

Whether Caitlyn, Rachel, or Creflo, CONCEIT Shouldn’t Be Enabled

01 Lying is BadIt sure has been an amazingly absurd and hypocritical past few weeks, hasn’t it?  We’ve had a famous televangelist successfully convince us that he needs a $60M private jet to spread the Gospel.  We’ve had a former male Olympian (and current grandparent) lead us to believe that he is now a woman.  And just recently, we’ve uncovered that a prominent white NAACP leader has been living a lie as a black woman for that past several years.

While these three events may seem unrelated, they have a very pronounced common thread: all three people have friends, family, and internet strangers who enable their specific brand of deception.  Based on my knowledge and research, that is even worse than the original lies themselves.

Actually, let me rephrase that.  Creflo Dollar, Caitlyn Jenner, and Rachel Dolezal are all guilty of creating a narrative that simply isn’t true.  However, it is OUR willing participation in their conceit that has magnified their perception into delusions of grandeur.

That’s what happens when one starts telling lies and puffing oneself up.  Just like everyone’s mom used to say, “When you tell one lie, you gotta tell more lies to cover up the first.”  It produces a snowball effect.  As the snowball gets bigger, more and more people fall into its path.  Once rolled into the snowball, those bystanders begin lying too.

I plead that we as a nation begin to halt this enabling behavior.  Everyone’s actions and thoughts aren’t valid.  And it’s not wrong to admit that.  It’s never wrong to tell to truth.   It’s never wrong to put our selfish pride aside and accept what’s truly taking place within us and in the world around us.

_______________________

If you are of the Christian persuasion like myself, here are some supporting verses:

Proverbs 12:22 ESV

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.”

Luke 8:17 ESV

“For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”

Ephesians 4:25 ESV

“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”

Ben Baxter is an avid writer, engineer, financial advisor, and contributor to AL.com.

1st Annual B&F Rising Star Awards

Rising StarsEvery February while growing up, we all learned about inspirational African-Americans who made a mark in history.  But what about inspirational African-Americans who are making or will be making a mark in history?

Luckily, we don’t have to wonder any longer.  Below are seven fascinating individuals—each with unique stories and backgrounds.  They are Marc Childs Moore, Brandon Chalmers, Candice Hale, Marquis Heath, Trey Moe, Kevin Peterson, and Latrisa Pugh.  Each have been asked the following two questions:

(1) What do you currently do? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

(2) How does your heritage help or hurt you in the path toward reaching your goals?

Marc Childs Moore

“I work in Copyright for BMG Chrysalis, the music arm of Bertelsmann Media Conglomerate.  Specifically, I work in music publishing www.bmgchrysalis.com.  I also play violin with the Grammy-nominated blues legend, Phil Wiggins. We perform throughout the country.  In 5 years, I see myself running my own arts company and developing as an expert in artist rights.

Being from Marion, Alabama prepares you for hardwork.  You work hard not because you expect some magnificent reward, but because your work is your reputation.  The quality of your work is a reflection of your seriousness of purpose.  I was taught ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’ and I carry that philosophy with me in all of my work.  There is a serious lack of resources and opportunities in the Alabama Blackbelt.  As a result, when one receives a blessing, we try to make the most of it and hopefully share that blessing with others.”

Brandon Chalmers

“I work in Higher Education at The University of Alabama.  More specifically, I help coordinate one of the university’s graduate programs.  You can find me at http://brandonchalmers.net/.

In 5 years, I hope to still be working in higher education.  It’s a labor of love; I really enjoy working with college students of all levels.  I previously worked with incoming freshman and transfer students, and I now work with graduate students.  Ideally, I would like to work with undergraduates again as I feel like there is something a bit more unique when you capture college students the first time around.

I think that being an African American male certainly created barriers that I had to overcome to get where I am today.  But as for my future trajectory, I don’t feel like I could encounter any obstacle that I couldn’t overcome.  A person I consider a mentor and a role model at the university once told me that he had been passed over for promotions before when he had performed the brunt of the work that got someone else recognized.  He told me to me to keep working hard and add credentials to my body of work and the opportunities would present themselves. He said ‘get your credentials and no one can deny that.’ Good sound advice for anybody to live off of.”

Candice Hale

“I’m currently working on my PhD in English at LSU.  I am concurrently teaching English composition classes, literature classes, and WGS classes for freshman to senior students.  In five years, I see myself professionally in an academic setting at a community college or a small liberal arts college teaching English comp and literature courses.  I would hope to remain in the South and enjoy my family.  I would hope at this point, I would, too, be married and enjoying family and my career as a professor in its fullest capacity.

I sometimes believe that my identity as a biracial black woman has its advantages and disadvantages in the college setting.  At times, it affords me advantages as one of the only “token” students or instructors of color because there are no others to fill a quota.  Then, at times, to be the student/instructor of color in these academic settings can make me appear hyper-invisible as if I do not exist to anyone.  To be overlooked and to experience these covert experiences of institutionalized racism can be very damaging to a workspace and a community.  And while I’ve experienced these types of racist situations and micro-aggressions from colleagues (but not my students), I’ve still managed to succeed academically and professionally.  With my own determination and perseverance to help others in my communities, I know that my experiences are important to the literary world and my social world. I enjoy teaching and spreading the word to all lovers of literature and critical thinkers.”

Marquis Heath

“I am a General Dentist at Rural Health Medical Program, Inc, a non-profit medical clinic under the Health Resources and Services Administration umbrella. I am also an associate dentist at West Princeton Dental Clinic and Clinical Professor at Fortis Institute.

In five years, I plan on being in a very similar position, as I am on the early end of my career.  I do not foresee any major changes in that short period.  A major goal is to incorporate and obtain 501(3)(c) status for my non-profit, which will serve to increase the affordability of dental care and dental education for those who need it.

My heritage has helped me by instilling in me the humility that allows me to be more compassionate in my field.  An often overlooked component of our heritage is the affinity for looking out for others—sticking together.  Being a beneficiary of that mindset, I will always have the goal of helping others.”

Trey Moe

“I’m a comedian and an entrepreneur of a few online businesses.  In five years, I will be working on my third stand up special, owning a few apartment complexes, and more than likely living in LA, but I will also have a place in ATL.

I come from a tough neighborhood and growing up we didn’t have much financially.  But regardless of what was going on outside, there was a plethora of love inside of our house at all times.  Not having much as a kid made it easy for me to make the move to LA.  My up-bringing taught me how to survive in any city—no matter the situation or financial struggles.  Being successful in something that goes against the norm and takes perseverance. It is all about weathering the storm and how much punishment can you take before quitting.  But I’ve been taking punishment my whole life so this LA struggle feels painless.”

Facebook.com/TreyMoeShow

Kevin Peterson

“I make YouTube videos and maintain an active social media presence. I’ve establish a decently audience of “fans” and engage with them any way I can using the internet. Since the internet changes and evolves rapidly, I have no idea where I’ll be in 5 years.  Hopefully my success will increase to the point that I will be more financially independent and be able to do more ambitious projects.

I don’t consciously think about my ‘heritage’ that much, but I grew up poor and I am black and I think the perspective I have gained from those experiences informs what I create and my viewpoints which obviously come across in my videos.  There aren’t very many “mega successful” black YouTubers, but it’s not a thing I think about as being a hindrance.  I feel that I have as much of a chance to make it as anyone else.”

Famous People That Are My Age (YOUTUBE)

Latrisa Pugh

“I am an accountant and instructor at The University of Alabama for the Division of Student Affairs.  As an accountant, I act as a liaison for the various departments under this umbrella which is anything that has to do with student life (housing, recreations center, career center, student media, etc).  As an instructor through the UA Honors College, I teach a financial freedom seminar class each semester. I am also the founder of Educational Cash Flow Youth Program where we teach financial education to youth and adults.  Currently, I am partnered with the LIFT program through the UA School of Accountancy to teach adults and students in the community.

Five years from now, I should have passed exams to be licensed in financial planning and public accounting. I do plan on continuing to work in higher education and move up in my career track. I also hope that the nonprofit be working throughout the state of Alabama and many families lives have changed for the better financially.

My heritage is very important to my career path. It has really been a driving force.  It has helped me with my goals because I do understand the many sacrifices that have been made.  The career path I have chosen is to improve the current and next generations.  I have a responsibility to make sacrifices of my own.”

Cheers to the first annual Baxter & Friends’ Rising Stars!