In the SEC, even curses matter more: How cursed are these 5 programs?
Give credit to the ACC. Years after “Clemsoning” referred to the phenomenon of screwing things up royally in big games, the league has given us “StateS—t.” This is a reference to N.C. State’s ability to create amazing new ways to blow games. Need an example? How about this gem from last year’s Wake Forest loss:
Or maybe losing to South Carolina in a game where State outgained the Gamecocks by 258 yards. That also happened in 2017.
In any case, though, nobody does it like the SEC … which is why we take a look at five SEC teams that are sometimes perceived as “cursed.” What’s the curse and is it legit? We look at five “cursed” programs and determine who exactly is to blame.
Kentucky: “So Kentucky football”
Many have pinned “The Curse of the Bear” on the UK football program since the school let Bear Bryant get away in 1953, allegedly due to an ego battle with Adolph Rupp. That story doesn’t really hold up, but UK being cursed is certainly defensible. Losing to Tennessee and Florida for more than a quarter century at a span? Check. Blowing possibly the most embarrassing Hail Mary of all time against LSU in 2002? Yes. Heartbreaking 7-overtime loss to Arkansas in 2003? All there.
There is a saying for this stuff … a typically devastating screw-up is said to be “so Kentucky football.”
Bottom line: Many of Kentucky’s “cursed” moments look suspiciously like really bad coaching. How hard can it be to line up in a prevent defense and not get beat? Also, the basketball culture of the school doubtlessly has a negative effect on both fan expectations and player morale.
Georgia: Close but not quite Curse
Sure, 98 percent of the college football world would love to be “cursed” with a recent track record like Georgia. But since 1980, the Bulldogs have often found themselves close but just shy of ultimate success — especially a national title. It’s more than 2nd-and-26. The 2012 SEC title game loss to Alabama was another heartbreaker. And UGA has its share of just dumb losses.
Bottom line: Again, UGA’s relative success makes it hard for them to claim a curse. Certainly, they have been rather unlucky in big games … but that’s probably going to be solved by the massive recruiting hauls Kirby Smart is not bringing in, not by the banishment of bad mojo around the program.
LSU: The dreaded QB curse
Tiger football has done quite well in the past quarter century … well, all except at quarterback. LSU football has been cursed by some of the most ridiculously inept QB play imaginable. Considering the wealth of talent LSU has featured at skill positions, it boggles the mind to consider the truly offensive passing games recent Tiger teams have fielded. LSU’s list of starting QBs is like a Hall of Shame, and since NFL bust JaMarcus Russell, LSU has won a lot of football games essentially with one hand tied behind its back.
Bottom line: LSU’s QB problems don’t have one solution. Conservative, pounding offensive attacks probably didn’t help, but many of these players who struggled at Baton Rouge were supposed to be legitimate five-star passers. Things just haven’t turned out that way. Joe Burrow could go a long way toward changing this trend — or might prove that there really is a curse.
Ole Miss: Can’t catch a break
Once upon a time, Ole Miss football was a national powerhouse. Between 1947 and 1963, the Rebels won six SEC crowns and claimed at least partial shares of three national titles. Since then? Forget about it. Ole Miss tied for a West division title in 2003, but didn’t earn the SEC Championship Game berth, making the Rebels one of only three SEC programs not to play in that game, along with Kentucky and Vanderbilt (and newbie Texas A&M). Even when things look up in Oxford, say when you beat Alabama twice in a row, then you start dropping games in inexplicably bad ways, your coach gets fired, the NCAA hammers everybody, and you’re going 6-6 again.
Bottom line: Not unlike Kentucky, perpetual low expectations (substitute partying and Ole Miss for basketball and Kentucky in the above analysis of same) go a long way to hurt the program. That said, shooting yourself in the foot with the NCAA is both disastrous and difficult to do. We’re in the age where an alleged $200,000 to Cam Newton netted nothing to anyone … how bad at cheating is Ole Miss?
Tennessee: Curse of Fulmer
There are people who contend that UT is the victim of the Curse of Phil Fulmer. After firing their well-regarded veteran coach after the 2008 season, Tennessee football has been a shell of its former self. Actually, that’s not even good enough. Check out this video from 2015 — which thus is lacking the hellish 2017, statistically the worst season in UT’s SEC history. Kiffin, Dooley, Butch — it’s too bizarre to be made up.
And actually, the possibility that Fulmer might have relished those UT struggles a bit has to be accepted, since he parlayed their latest turmoil into the Athletic Director’s job.
Bottom line: This one should be easy enough to test. Presumably AD Fulmer can lift the curse. After years of employing head coaches who have the maturity or the coaching acumen of a 10th-grader, he returned and hired Jeremy Pruitt. That move alone can’t help but improve this program . So whether the Curse of Fulmer was incompetent coaches or bad administration, either or both may well be in the past.