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February 20, 2008
Some programs find ways to overcome
Though hearing impaired, Ludwig van Beethoven composed symphonies that have endured for centuries.
Abe Lincoln was born in a one-room log cabin, had little formal education, failed in various business ventures, yet eventually won the White House.
Wilma Rudolph overcame polio to win three gold medals in the 1960 Olympics.
All faced great obstacles and limitations, all beat the odds and all overachieved. But none faced the daunting task that the Oregon State Beavers must overcome – convincing California football prospects to leave their home state and play college football in Corvallis.
Oregon State and several other schools around the country are located in areas that produce few high-caliber prospects, don't boast the greatest facilities and don't have unlimited budgets. However, some programs overachieve by consistently posting winning records, contending for championships and even beating conference rivals with far more advantages.
Using performances over the past five seasons as a guide, we looked at the college football programs that have won consistently despite facing opponents with seemingly more advantages.
Consider Boston College, which isn't located in a prime recruiting area, is in a colder climate than any of the other teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference and has high academic and admission standards. But it has at least eight victories in each of the past five seasons.
More than a dozen programs were considered for the list of most overachieving. Here are the half-dozen we chose:
Who will threaux for LSU?
When Perrilloux started the SEC Championship Game in place of injured Matt Flynn, Perrilloux's backup was Andrew Hatch, a transfer from Harvard who originally committed to BYU when LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton was coach there.
Last season, Hatch played against Middle Tennessee and completed one of two passes for 9 yards.
The most likely option is redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee, a former four-star prospect who was ranked the nation's No. 7 pro-style prospect in 2007.
Perrilloux, who has been suspended twice before, likely will be reinstated at some point, so the starting job doesn't figure to be an issue when the season starts.
Here's a sampling of reader response to a recent article on top-rated prospect Terrelle Pryor's decision to delay signing a national letter of intent ("Fans still waiting for Pryor's decision," Feb. 15).
In the recent article concerning Pryor not wanting to choose a team, you indicate, "But if a heralded prospect chooses to go over to the 'Dark Side,' it's like a punch in the gut and hurts almost as much as a four-game losing streak.' What if he should choose to play basketball? What if there may be other implications at this time we do not see?
I am so proud of him, including those who are willing to lead him to the light. To help him see by good counseling, not to be led by any … our side … force.
Never forget where you are from when choosing where you are going; you may forget the way.
– Stan, residence not included
If Pryor were smart, he would attend Northwestern.
Think about it; He could be a starter on both the football and basketball teams. He has the potential to be a legendary impact player at Northwestern – an all-time great. And Pat Fitzgerald just brought in a bunch of huge o-linemen and no quarterback. He could redshirt one year for football while the linemen mature – perhaps playing only basketball his freshman year.
Being a starter at Ohio State or Michigan would be special, but leading Northwestern to unprecedented greatness would set him apart forever in college football lore.
More important, he could major in the communications in the country's best journalism school and set himself up for a multi-decade career in sports broadcasting after his pro career. As Bo Jackson proved, football stars are just one hit away from career-ending injury. And playing at Northwestern, he is in the cradle of one of the largest media markets in the country.
Either way, he will be prepared to go to the next level of competition. And he will be able to showcase his talents on TV against the Ohio States and Michigans of the Big Ten.
I hope someone close talks some sense to him. Call Fitzgerald and take a trip to Evanston.
– Scott in San Diego
I read the Terrelle Pryor article in your mailbag with great interest. I know there are those, especially at OSU (Overrated State University) and UM (Unbelievably Moronic) who think Terrelle has only to choose between them, but I hope he stays at home at Penn State. (Yeah, I'm an alum).
JoePa is coming to the end of his career, and Terrelle has an opportunity to put an exclamation point on that career by winning a national championship for State and building his own legacy as a phenomenal college quarterback. At Ohio State and Michigan, he'd just be one of many.
I respect Terrelle for taking his time and deciding his future on his terms. It's his life and his future at stake, no matter where he goes. I think it shows he's a thoughtful, mature young man who is ignoring all the hype and trying to make a solid, sensible choice. I don't think ego has anything to do with it.
– Doug in Pennsylvania
For whatever reason he didn't sign, Pryor's decision likely is a bad sign. Choosing a school isn't that big a deal. No matter what school a highly talented player chooses, even if it's Lehigh Valley College, he'll be a star, the school will do well and the player will sign a high-dollar pro contract.
But Pryor didn't choose. In my opinion that's a red flag – a sign that the limelight has warped his personality in some way and he'll likely be another highly touted bust.
If I'm a coach and I see a star player act skittish when's he's the center of attention and under pressure, I'd want a face-to-face (meeting) with him to check him out mentally. And if I couldn't have that, I might pass on him. I sure wouldn't wait around for him to choose.
More and more, these so-called superstars turn out to be more trouble than they're worth. After all, this is just college ball. Colleges are schools. Rabid alumni and psychotic fans (like me) can think football is more important than academics and personal growth, but it's not. So I'd say forget about Pryor. He's probably damaged goods.
– Andy in Lake Worth, Fla.
The other seven teams to post at least 50 victories in the past five seasons are LSU (56-10), Texas (54-10), Oklahoma (54-13), Ohio State (52-11), Georgia (51-14), Auburn (50-14) and Virginia Tech (50-16).
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.