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Friday, December 5, 2008

What Can Change in 10 Years...

As the muddled nature of securing a bowl bid continues to unwind itself, I thought I'd take you back 10 years to look at the bowl picture for the Pack a decade ago.

State entered the 1998 season on an optimistic note. Embattled head coach Mike O'Cain, after back-to-back 3-8 seasons, finished the 1997 season with three straight wins to save his job.

The team started strong and inconsistent, winning huge games against Florida St. and Syracuse with a baffling loss to Baylor wedged in between. A loss to Georgia Tech followed the win against the Orangemen, followed by a win against Duke, then another loss to Virginia.

Three straight wins against Clemson (in Death Valley) Wake Forest and Maryland had the Pack sitting at 7-3 and looking good heading into the first of two trips against the Tar Heels in Charlotte. The final game of the season, against a weakened Heels team, seemed to be setting up for a wonderful conclusion to the year. A win against the Heels -- which would've been O'Cain's first -- and the Pack would be looking at a pretty nice bowl, the team's first since the 1994 season.


But fate was always so unkind to O'Cain at the end of his tenure...a 37-34 loss to the Heels not only meant yet another loss to the Pack's bitter rivals, but it also downgraded the Pack's bowl prospects to the (then-titled) Micron PC Bowl.
The team they would face would be non other than the hometown team, The Miami Hurricanes, also experiencing a bit of a town year by their standards at 8-3 but featuring one of the nation's best tailbacks, Edgerrin James, who entered the game with six-straight 100-yard rushing performances.

It wasn't a fair fight, to be honest. James rushed for 156 yards and two scores. James Jackson also ran for two scores and some guy named Santana Moss caught a touchdown, as well. State didn't do itself any favors, as Jamie Barnette was intercepted five times and All-Everything Torry Holt was held to just 52 yards. The Hurricanes trounced the Pack 46-23.

Flash forward 10 years.

The Hurricanes left the Big East to join the ACC.

Its former coach, Butch Davis, left the team to coach the Cleveland Browns, only to return to the ACC to coach the very team that helped seal the fate of O'Cain.

An alum of the Pack came and went within those 10 years as its head coach, and State hired a guy who 10 years prior had been coaching against Davis in the Big East (whose team also left the Big East to join the ACC).

Micron PC no longer exists. It's gone through restructuring and re-missioning over the years, and now known as "MPC," on November 7th filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The bowl is now known as the Champs Sports Bowl. One can hope they fare better down the road than did Micron PC.

A lot can change in 10 years...

(For a game preview chart, head to the archived page at cnnsi.com/)

1 comment:

  1. I was at that game. It was very frustrating. I think we may have had some defensive players who were hurt. Nothing like hanging out with Miami fans when they are crushing your team.