All-time Top 100 Teams?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A site called Football Outsiders has put forth a list of 100 all-time great teams. Obviously, comparison across distant eras is impossible, so it is wise to view these ratings as a rough estimate of how these teams would place in a fictional top 100.

Army placed two teams in the first two installments (100-81 & 80-61). The 1958 Army team earned mention at #96 and the 1950 Cadets clocked in at #70.

96. 1958 Army

Record: 8-0-1
Conference: Independent
Best Wins: def. Penn State (6-3-1) 26-0, def. Navy (6-3) 22-6
Blemishes: tied Pittsburgh (5-4-1) 14-14
Point Differential: +215 (264-49)

They were solid throughout portions of the 1960s and 1980s, but the Cadets of Army were last truly great in 1958. (Not coincidentally, it was also the final season for coach Earl "Red" Blaik.) Led by Heisman winner and Rhodes Scholar Pete Dawkins, who accomplished far more in one life than any reasonable person should, the Army offense averaged nearly 30 points per game. They took on seven teams who would finish .500 or better, and they were only truly challenged twice. They were tied at Pittsburgh and only won at Rice by a touchdown.

The Cadets' season started with a startlingly easy 45-8 win over what would be a 7-3 South Carolina team, followed by a 14-2 win at Notre Dame a couple of weeks later. Utilizing the "lonely end" formation and throwing often to a split end to loosen up defenses, Army whipped poor Virginia and Colgate teams by a combined 103-12, then took down Navy, 22-6, in the season finale. Blaik's final team was explosive on offense and as stingy as almost any defense in the country. They finished third in the country behind LSU and Iowa, one of whom will be featured later in this countdown.

. . .

70. 1950 Army

Record: 8-1
Conference: Independent
Best Wins: def. Michigan (6-3-1) 27-6, def. Penn State (5-3-1) 41-7
Blemishes: def. by Navy (3-6) 14-2
Point Differential: +227 (267-40)

Our second 1950 team of the day, Army also had to deal with tragedy. The cadets absolutely rolled through the first eight games of their schedule. Red Blaik's squad outscored opponents 265-26 along the way, with help from a young assistant named Vince Lombardi. They played five opponents with winning records (Colgate, Penn State, Michigan, Penn, Stanford) and defeated them by an average score of 26-5.

The final AP Poll of the season was released on November 27, before the annual Army-Navy game. Army had risen to No. 1 in mid-October, but they were passed, first by SMU, then Ohio State, and finally Oklahoma. They finished No. 2. As frustrating as this may have been, their emotions were tried much more heavily by late-November news that 1949 team captain Johnny Trent had been killed in action in Korea. This came after 1944 captain Tom Lombardo had died in action in September. The Cadets, wracked with emotion, understandably laid an egg in the Army-Navy game, losing 14-2, their first loss to the Midshipmen since 1943.

There are some great teams mentioned, and additional West Point teams are sure to appear in the upcoming installments.

I love this kind of list mainly because most of my favorite teams had tremendous success in seasons that have been long forgotten. It's a nice bullet list of some very interesting college football history, and of course it is a recommended read for all Unbalanced Line readers.

Yearbook - North Texas

The University of North Texas has their yearbooks online and it's another good set of scans.

Much like the school itself, the North Texas yearbooks have gone through a few name changes - the yearbook started in 1906 as the Cotton-tail, from 1907-1943 it was called the Yucca, 1945-1974 it was reincarnated as Wings and from 1975-the present the yearbook has been called the Aerie.

These UNT online yearbooks are complete from 1906 through 2007, and it's a great look at the North Texas football team since its start in 1913.

I'm glad I came across the Texas portal, because there are a few more very interesting yearbooks hosted there. I look forward to getting those out, but right now check out the UNT yearbooks and their easily searchable football history.


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Army Preview Blue Ribbon

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

ESPN and Blue Ribbon college football yearbook team up to bring us this 2010 preview.

There's an overview of the team, offensive and defensive breakdowns, notes on special teams and impact newcomers and a 2010 season analysis. Let's cut to the chase:


Last year's 5-7 record proved Ellerson is making progress. The question, however, is if it's enough to make Army eligible for a bowl game. Offensively, the Black Knights should be better with a more experienced quarterback in Trent Steelman and a running game bolstered by the arrival of Jared Hassin. Although they'd like to have an improved passing game, it might be inconsequential.

Defensively, it will be difficult to repeat last year's performance, especially now that opponents are more accustomed to Ellerson's scheme. If the defense plays similar to the way it did last year, look for Army to earn its six wins and appear in a bowl game.

With games against Notre Dame, Rutgers and Temple, I agree the margin for error in 2010 will be slim, but I think Army is ahead of the curve considering the bulk of their schedule. I think the tendency is to look at the Black Knights as the "same old Army" team, which is a perception that will change as soon as Army jumps on an opponent for the first time in 2010.
DT Mike Gann's thoughts?..

"I know everybody says that this year is going to be different," Gann said. "But it [the atmosphere around the team] already feels more right. It feels like a good team's should feel.

"Obviously, we won't know [if it's more than a feeling] until we start stacking up the Ws."

Happy Independence Day

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Among the recurring themes that make up this website you will find history-heavy stuff like yearbooks, college football year-by-year reviews and library book entries. Rarely do I have cause to post here anything along the lines of patriotism, individualism or consumerism.

Today I have the chance to counter that - not by adding google ads or a personal bio to the site- but with a poem that, in my eyes, soundly describes modern America.

You don't have to purchase the whole book, but I suggest you do.
You don't have to like the poem, either.

The one thing I am counting on today is that my readers do everything they can to make their own brand of American noise. That is, to me, the best sound in the world.

Happy Independence Day.

American Noise by Campbell McGrath


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