Top 'Should-be' Superpowers 

September, 27, 2010

Before we get started with this week's edition of Three Downs & Punt, a quick shout-out to the guy in the Jim Harbaugh Michigan jersey who stopped me in the concourse of Sunday's Bengals-Panthers game to say, "Hey, Bruce Feldman! Denard Robinson is going to come to your house and kick your butt for all that crap you wrote about him!"

No, I'm not Bruce Feldman. And no, Bruce hasn't written anything bad about Denard Robinson. But it was a nice change of pace from my usual out-in-public spontaneous chats with NASCAR fans who think I'm Marty Smith and accuse me of dating Jeff Gordon.

To the plays!

First Down: Should-be Superpowers That Aren't

Saturday's nail-biter between Rutgers and North Carolina brought together two programs that have long been a mystery to me. They are the flagship universities of two states that have always produced an assembly line of high school football talent. They have nice facilities, deep pockets and some genuine football history (the first intercollegiate football game, Charlie "Choo Choo" Justice) to use as building blocks for the future. But yet some mysterious force has always kept them from becoming tradition-rich, perennial football superpowers, a la Ohio State, Alabama, USC, etc.

That got me wondering: What are the biggest head-scratcher programs in college football? The schools that on paper should be slugging it out inside the Top 25 every season, but instead have long had to settle for yellowed newspaper clips of past glory or occasional flashes of greatness?

These are my top five. And the good news for fans of each program is that three of the five are off to very hot starts.

5. Arizona