Hoops and Helmets
2002 & 2003
schools had the best combination of the two major sports?
All-Time Greatest Hoops and
Helmets combosTearing down the goalposts and
cutting down the nets. Its
only the most fortunate college fan that gets a chance to see his
school do both in the same year.
From the period of November to January, the collegiate
football and basketball seasons overlap, sending some backers into a
state of euphoria and others into a state of depression.
Its quite uncommon for one
university to be home to national contenders in both sports in the
same season. By some
twist of fate, most of our traditional football powerhouses have had
only limited success over the years on the hardwood.
Sure, programs like Florida State, Notre Dame, Miami,
Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Penn State, Nebraska, Alabama and USC
have had their moments in March, but how many championships have
they won? Or Final 4
trips have they made? Try
zero and nine, respectively.
Likewise, many of the elite college
basketball programs that have gobbled up their share of top seeds
and titles over the years wont be contending for a New Years
Day bowl game anytime soon. Schools
like Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, Kansas and Louisville
fall into this category. Toss
in the fact that college basketball has 209 eligible teams that
dont even have a I-A football program and the hoops-helmets
equation gets muddled even further.
With the madness of March about to
grip a nation, its time to celebrate those schools that have
given their fans the most to cheer about since the dog days of
Hoops Since arriving
in Norman in 1994, Kelvin Sampson has built the Sooners into a
perennial power with his tireless work ethic.
Riding the momentum of their third consecutive Big 12
Tournament crown, Hollis Price-led OU earned the East regions No
1 seed as they begin their quest for a return engagement to the
For the second consecutive year, a late season upset
derailed the Sooners hopes for a national title.
In 2002, it was actually a pair of losses to Texas A&M
and Oklahoma State that had OU packing for Pasadena instead of
dissatisfied the school may have been, winning the Big 12
championship and the Rose Bowl is not a bad way to drown your
The inside-outside combo of T.J. Ford and James Thomas
helped make the Longhorns one of the most intimidating teams in the
nation this winter. In
Ford, coach Rick Barnes simply has simply one of the most dynamic
playmakers in the country. The
top seeded team from the South bracket finished 22-6, including a
pair of wins over rival Oklahoma.
Not unlike the past couple of seasons, UT started fast, lost
to Oklahoma and finished with a flurry.
For most any other school, an 11-2 record and an impressive
Cotton Bowl win over LSU would constitute a fine season.
Of course, Texas is not most any other school.
Hoops After getting
knocked off in the final the past two years, Pitt finally broke
through on Saturday and grabbed the schools first Big East
basketball championship. The 26-4 Panthers are a balanced, veteran bunch that could
make some serious noise as the No. 2 seed out of the Midwest.
The Panthers best season since the early eighties was
marked by wins over Boston College and Virginia Tech and a near
upset at then No. 1 Miami on national TV.
A convincing 38-13 win over Oregon State in the Insight Bowl
vaulted the team to No. 19 in the final AP poll.
Hoops Had it not been
for alleged improprieties by the Harricks, Georgia would have
settled in at no worse than No 3 in this ranking.
Even without the excitement of the SEC or NCAA tournament,
the Dawgs gave their fans plenty to bark about this season.
Fueled by Jarvis Hayes and Ezra Williams, Georgia was the
third best team in the stacked SEC.
It wasnt a perfect season, but it came darn close for the
third ranked Bulldogs and their faithful.
In one of the most memorable seasons in program history,
Georgia went 13-1, losing only to hated Florida in the Cocktail
Party. The schools
SEC championship title was its first in two decades.
Their 24-7 regular season was highlighted by an impressive
14-game winning streak that stretched from December 6 to February 4.
Had it not been for three close losses against Georgia,
Kentucky and LSU to end the year, the Gators would have had a valid
argument for a No. 1 seed. Instead,
theyll begin their quest for New Orleans out of the No. 2 hole.
In a role reversal, it was the Gator basketball team that
propped up the football squad this past season.
Under first-year head coach Ron Zook, Florida sputtered to an
8-5 record, their worst in more than a decade.
Wins over SEC East rivals Tennessee and Georgia were the two
bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season.
After losing Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter from 2002s National
Championship squad, a letdown was to be expected.
Still, the Terps battled hard in the always tough ACC and
finished tied with Duke behind Wake Forest in the regular season
standings. In an off
year, 11-5 in the ACC is not too shabby.
After stumbling out of the gate, Maryland caught fire,
winning eight consecutive games before getting spanked by Virginia.
A resounding 30-3 thumping of Tennessee in the Peach Bowl and
a No. 13 ranking in the final AP poll capped the Terps 11-3
Hoops The Irish are
limping into the tournament, but were good enough in December to
bounce Marquette, Texas and Maryland in a span of six days and
finish the regular season with 22 wins.
The fifth seed out of the West are led by their backcourt
tandem of Chris Thomas and Matt Carroll.
Viewed in its entirety, 2002 was a special season for the
Irish. With almost no
expectations and an average talent base, Tyrone Willingham led his
new team to an unthinkable 8-0 start out of the gate. Naturally, we all know that a 2-3 finish ended any
championship chatter, but, for a time, ND ascended to No. 4 in the
country and that was far more than anyone could have imagined.
Hoops The 21-9
Cowboys had plenty of moments this year, going 10-6 in the Big 12
and finishing only behind the Kansas-Texas-Oklahoma triumvirate in
the conference. OSU was near perfect at home, where they knocked off Fresno
State, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri.
A 4-8 finish kept Eddie Suttons kids from do better than a
No. 6 seed in the East.
Few teams were a more pleasant surprise than Les Miles 2002
squad. Behind the Josh
Fields to Rashaun Woods aerial connection, the Cowboys wrapped up an
8-5 season with wins over Nebraska, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and
Southern Miss in the inaugural Houston Bowl.
The Bedlam victory was a blowout that saw OSU leading OU 35-6
at one point in the third.
Hoops The favorite
heading into the tournament, UK is riding a 23-game winning streak. In running the conference table, the 29-3 Cats became just
the second team in SEC history to finish the regular season 16-0.
Keith Bogans is the undisputed leader of a team that can shut
down an opponents offense like no other defense in the country.
An NCAA probation ensured that UK would not be bowling in 2002,
yet all was not lost last season.
The Cats finished a surprising 7-5 and were a tough out in
nearly every contest. Had
it not been for a bizarre tip drill at the conclusion of the LSU
game, Kentucky would have had their first 8-win season since 1984.
Deacon standards, head coach Jim Grobe has got a thing going in
capped last years 7-6 campaign with a blowout of Oregon in the
Seattle Bowl. The team
also won at Purdue, had their way with in-state rivals Duke and
North Carolina and took heavily favored Florida State to the wire in
Hoops Picked by many
in the pre-season to finish in the lower tier of the conference,
Skip Prossers Deacons shocked the ACC by winning the regular
season title with a gaudy 13-3 mark.
Star forward Josh Howard led the Deacons in scoring,
rebounding, steals and blocks and is a legitimate candidate for
player of the year honors.
Won the regular season Big Ten hoops title and beat Colorado in
the Alamo Bowl.
12. North Carolina State
Julius Hodge got the Wolfpack to the ACC Championship game and a
No. 9 seed. The football team had won of its best seasons ever
complete with a bowl blowout over Notre Dame.
The Tigers got to the Cotton Bowl and earned a No. 8 seed in the
basketball tournament after a great SEC Tournament run.
The Ducks slipped a bit, but still got to a bowl game in
football and won the Pac 10 basketball tournament.
15. Ohio State
The basketball team didn't get in the NCAA tournament, but it
did get into the Big Ten Tournament title game. The success of the
football team gets the Buckeyes into the H&H top 25.
This was a disappointing year for the football team, but it did
get to a bowl game. Rick Pitino has UL basketball back winning the
Conference USA title.
This was a bit of a resurgent year for Gene Keady and the
basketball team, while Joe Tiller's gridiron squad finished the
season strong with a big win over Washington.
The Tigers died down the stretch in basketball, but at least
they got into the tournament as a No. 10 seed. The football team
beat Alabama. What more does the football team need? It also beat a
good Penn State team in the post-season.
Chris Brown helped carry the Buffs to the Big XII North title,
but they lost in the Alamo Bowl. The basketball team got into the
tournament with a No. 10 seed.
20. Colorado State
The Rams won the Mountain West title in both sports getting a
No. 14 seed in hoops.
Ron Turner and the football team came on at the end of the year,
but it was too little too late. The Illini won the Big Ten
basketball tournament and came .4 seconds away from winning the
regular season title.
21. Texas Tech
Bobby Knight's team was the bubble team that many of the experts
thought should've gotten into the Big Dance. Kliff Kingsbury capped
a magnificent football season with a blowout bowl win over Clemson.
Brad Smith has given the Mizzou football program a renewed
excitement. The basketball team made a great run in the Big XII
tournament and is peaking at the right time.
Husky football fans have to be ecstatic over the performances to
end the season including a road win over Iowa State. The basketball
team got to the Big East title game and earned a No. 5 seed in the
Probation and a loss to Auburn put a damper on a big football
season. The basketball team underachieved all year, but still got a
No. 10 seed.