you�re an alum or an ardent supporter of a particular school�s
football program, the odds are reallygood that you closely monitor the hoops team as well.Especially this time of year.If that program happens to be Oklahoma State, Texas or
Maryland, the odds are even better that you�ll be needing cosmetic
surgery to remove the smile from your mug.As a fan, you�ve had plenty of reasons to cheer over the
past six months.
like USC, Ohio State and Miami have had little to crow about since
the bowl season ended.Countless others like Duke, Stanford and Mississippi State
couldn�t wait until the football season was over and Midnight
the truly fortunate have feasted their eyes and their emotions on
quality products in both major sports.
focus of this unorthodox Sweet 16 is on those fans who have had
their cake and dunked it too.They
bowled in the winter and now they�re preparing to dance on into
the schools that have been home to the best combination of football
and basketball programs for the 2003-2004 season.
- 2004 Hoops & Helmets Teams 9
have yet to win a title of any kind this winter, but they have
been the only program in the country to boast two teams that have
consistently flirted with the top 10.Consistency has been their calling card.Rick Barnes has this once football-only school thinking hoops
again in March.Texas
rode a 23-7 record to a No. 3 seed in the Atlanta bracket.
Helmets � Ten wins, a non-BCS bowl game and one highly
publicized loss in Dallas.Just
your typical Texas football season.�Horns had their moments, beating Kansas State and
finishing the regular season on a tear, but the loss to the Sooners
and weak Holiday Bowl effort left the faithful unfulfilled.
Nothin� But Net � It was a small ounce of redemption for
four straight football defeats, but �Horn fans will take it.On a night when T.J. Ford became the first Texas basketball
player to have his jersey retired, UT suffocated Oklahoma 66-37,
holding the Sooners to their lowest point total in nearly half a
Layin� a Brick � Red River
losses have become old news around Austin, but the 65-13 drubbing at
the hands of the hated Sooners was a collapse of historical
proportions for Mack Brown�s kids.
Winter MVP � When Texas
was pillaging its Big XII opponents in the second half of the year,
it was running back Cedric Benson
who led the brigade.In
his final five regular season games, Benson ran amok for 919 yards
and 13 touchdowns.
2. Oklahoma State Hoops
� Picked fifth
in the Big XII preseason media and coaches' polls, Cowboys took the league
by surprise by winning both the regular season and conference
this Oklahoma State team to 27-3 and 17-2 in league play has been
one of the best coaching jobs in Eddie Sutton�s long and
Helmets � Cowboys weren�t able to break into the
upper echelon of the Big XII,
but still managed nine wins and a New Year�s Day bowl game for the
first time in more than half a century.The trio of Josh Fields, Tatum Bell and Rashaun Woods was
worth the price of a ticket most weekends.
Nothin� But Net � There have been plenty of great moments
at Gallagher-Iba Arena this year, but maybe none sweeter than the
mid-January dismantling of Oklahoma in front of a electrified
77-56 win over then No. 11 Sooners started an 11-game winning streak
for the Cowboys.
a Brick �
Nov. 1 was payback time for rival Oklahoma, losers of two straight
in the Bedlam Series.With
much of the nation watching and Big XII South supremacy at stake,
the Cowboys were helpless spectators in the 52-9 loss to the Sooners.State followed that gem up with an equally ugly 55-16 loss to
Texas a week later.
MVP � Woods
and Bell were sensational most Saturdays, but no individual has
meant more to his team than point guard John
Lucas III.The Baylor transfer was the heart, soul and engine of the
Pokes� meteoric rise to the top of the Big XII standings.
Maryland Hoops �
In just two short weeks, Terps went from a likely host of an NIT
game to ACC champs and a No. 4 seed.Maryland caught fire at a most opportune time, shaking off a
pedestrian 7-9 league mark to win its last five games, including the
three necessary to receive an automatic NCAA bid.
Helmets � The football resurgence under Ralph Friedgen showed
no signs of letting up in College Park.For the second straight year, Terps shook off a slow start to
finish with 10 wins and a flawless blowout victory in a bowl game.
Nothin� But Net � It�s been two decades since Maryland
won an ACC Tournament title, so Sunday�s unlikely upset of Duke in
overtime ranks as much more than the highlight of the past six
months.It was a memorable, one-for-the-ages moment for the
a Brick �
The low point of the football season came in an ugly 7-3 loss at
Georgia Tech.The offense performed as if it was an earlypreseason scrimmage, coughing up the ball five times,
throwing a pair of interceptions and generating a mere 253 yards of
Sophomore John Gilchrist has done a magnificent job of
replacing four-year starter Steve Blake at the point.In his first year as a starter, he�s stepped up to lead the
Terps in scoring and assists and is fresh off being named ACC
� Head coach
Ben Howland left for UCLA.The
recent winning tradition at Pittsburgh remained a constant.Without any major stars, first-year coach Jamie Dixon has
done a terrific job of leading the defensive-minded Panthers to a
29-4 record and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Helmets � Larry Fitzgerald made the Panthers a must-see
attraction, but the season was a disappointment.Hopes for the school�s first-ever league title in football
were displaced by surprising early losses to Toledo and Notre Dame
and a 1-3 mark to finish the season.At 8-5, they finished outside the Top 25.
Nothin� But Net � Six days removed from their first
conference loss of the year, Pitt rebounded on Feb. 15 with a
hard-fought 75-68 win over then-No. 5 UConn, which avenged a loss to
the Huskies a month earlier.
a Brick � The
second half of a tight Backyard Brawl with West Virginia
deteriorated into a one-sided beat down.The Mountaineers physically mauled their rival to the tune of
307 yards rushing and a rousing 52-31 victory.Pitt was never the same after that loss.
MVP � No
one in any sport�pro or college�had a better year in the Steel
City than Fitzgerald.The
sophomore�s 92 catches, 1,672 yards, 22 touchdowns and NCAA record
streak of 18 games with a touchdown catch resulted in a
one-for-the-ages type season.
persevered through a brutal schedule and the disruptive mid-year
defection of forward Christian Drejer to a European pro team to win
20 games and earn an NCAA bid for the sixth straight year.Florida is just 9-8 over its last 17 games, including three
losses to top-ranked Kentucky.
Helmets � Florida endured a schizophrenic season, marked by no
shortage of huge wins, heartbreaking losses and frenetic finishes.Save for the Outback Bowl loss to Iowa, the young Gators were
competitive every Saturday, however, back-to-back 8-5 finishes
won�t be tolerated in Gainesville much longer.
Nothin� But Net � Behind quarterback Chris Leak and the
play of its defense, Florida was the only team to solve LSU in 2003,
beating the Tigers 19-7 in a game that triggered an impressive and
unexpected five-game winning streak.
a Brick �
With a chance to snap Miami�s 22-game home winning streak, the
two-touchdown underdog Gators blew a 33-10 third quarter lead and
lost 38-33 in one of the most thrilling games of the year.It was the kind of inconsistent, up-and-down performance that
typified their season.
MVP � Sophomore
Anthony Roberson struggled early with the transition to point
guard before getting real comfortable in February.Gators� mad bomber leads the team in scoring, assists and
three pointers, en route to being named first team All-SEC.
to land somewhere in the middle of a tight ACC before the year
began, the Pack were regular season runner-ups to Duke, their
highest finish in 15 years.Behind the stellar play of junior guard Julius Hodge and
senior center Marcus Melvin, State surprised everyone by becoming a
Top 25 fixture.
Helmets � Pack
had their sights set on an ACC title, but wound up with a
disappointing fourth place tie with Virginia and Georgia Tech and a
Tangerine Bowl invite.While
the program continues making strides under Chuck Amato, so much more
was anticipated in Philip Rivers� final year.Overtimes losses to Ohio State and Florida State were
Nothin� But Net � Beating Duke on the hardwood doesn�t
happen frequently, so when it does, it�s often the high point of
every ACC team�s season.NC
State got the best of the Blue Devils last month, ending their
18-game winning streak and knocking them from the top of the polls.
a Brick � With
the much-anticipated showdown with the Buckeyes in the on-deck
circle, the entire tone of the season changed when State was shocked
by Wake Forest in week two.Deacons
toyed with their in-state rival in a game that was more one-sided
than the 38-24 final score indicated.
� How in the world
do you choose between Hodge, a candidate for national player
of the year, and Rivers, the best quarterback to ever play at
don�t.You cop out
and name them co-MVPs. 7.
Calhoun has the Huskies back in familiar territory as one of the
favorites heading into the NCAA tournament.The No. 2 seed out of the Phoenix bracket stands at 27-6 with
plenty of momentum, courtesy of their recent three-game sweep of the
Big East tournament.
Helmets � Huskies�
postseason absence was a product of conference independence, not
were good enough to play in December, yet never received one of the
few precious at-large bids.2003
was a breakout year for the program, one that saw them win nine
games and debut a brand new stadium.
Nothin� But Net � Saturday�s come-from-behind win over
Pittsburgh did more than give the Huskies the Big East championship.It gave them confidence they could beat top teams when star
center Emeka Okafor was at less than 100%.
a Brick � Driving
for what might have been the biggest football win in school history,
NC State linebacker Freddie Aughtry-Lindsay returned a Dan Orlovsky
pass 56 yards for the game-winning touchdown with five seconds left
in the game.The
interception negated a gutsy fourth quarter rally by Orlovsky and
MVP � In
Okafor, UConn has a big man, who can dominate on both ends of
suffering with back spasms throughout the season, the junior center
leads the Huskies in scoring and rebounding and the nation in
Utah Hoops � With a Big
Dance berth still an uncertainty, Nick Jacobson drained a
last-second three-pointer Saturday night to win the Mountain West
championship.In an emotional season that saw popular coach Rick Majerus
step down for health reasons, the Utes� 24th victory
gave the school a league crown in both football and basketball, a
feat no other program in the nation has duplicated.
Helmets � It did not take new head coach Urban Meyer very long
to make an impact in Salt Lake City.The Bowling Green transplant guided the Utes to ten wins, a
Top 25 finish, a shutout in the Liberty Bowl and the school�s
first outright league title in almost half a century.
Nothin� But Net � The back-and-forth slugfest with Air
Force in early November was an instant Mountain West classic.Utes blew a 16-point advantage in the fourth quarter before
finally putting the Falcons away in the third overtime.The 45-43 win gave Utah sole possession of first place, a
spot they�d never relinquish.
Layin� a Brick � Utes�
onlyflop last fall came
in a 47-35 home loss to New Mexico.Lobos made the Utah defense look helpless, accumulating a
whopping 623 total yards, more than 400 of which came on the ground.
Winter MVP � Jacobson�s shot to beat UNLV last weekend was a
microcosm of the clutch senior leadership he displayed throughout a
trying season.He leads
the Utes in scoring and earned All-MWC first team honors.