After great success in the late 1990s and in 2000, many Bulldog fans expected 2001 to be a magical season. I know I did. My roommates and I bought tickets to every road game that season, and all we could do was shake our heads by the end of it.
To make a long story short, the Bulldogs finished the season with a 3-8 record, only knocking off Memphis, Kentucky, and Ole Miss. That same season, West Virginia, Kansas, and Baylor finished with a 3-8 record. Only a few BCS teams finished with worse records: Duke (0-11), Rutgers (2-9), California (1-10), Kentucky and Vanderbilt (2-9).
Over the next few days, I'm going to look at the three other BCS schools that finished with same record as the Bulldogs in 2001 and see how our ten seasons since compare to theirs.
As a quick bonus, here is a look at the recent success or lack there off of the schools that finished below Mississippi State that year.
Duke: The Blue Devils had a chance for bowl eligibility in 2009, but a season ending 45-34 loss to Wake Forest ended those hopes. In all, Duke has only registered 25 victories since 2001.
California: The Golden Bears hit a homerun hire in Joel Tedford in 2002. The quarterback guru helped lead the team back to respectability after their 1-10 season. In his time at California, the team has finished with nine winning seasons and two ten-win seasons. The team has also competed for the then-PAC-10 title on a few occasions.
Kentucky: The Wildcats have finished with five winning seasons since 2001, and picked up a notable victory over Florida State in the Music City Bowl following the 2007 season. Kentucky and Mississippi State have gone 5-5 against each other in the ten seasons following 2001.
Rutgers: In 2001, Greg Schiano took over a program that had not finished with a winning record since 1992. It took him until 2005, but he turned Rutgers into a consistent winning program in the Big East. Other than a hiccup in 2010, the Scarlet Knights finished with seven wins or more in every season since 2005, and they were in the running for a national championship birth until a late season 41-39 loss at West Virginia in 2006. That season was not a total loss for Rutgers. The squad won eleven games.
Vanderbilt: The Commadores may be the feel good program of the SEC having gone from laughing stock to respectability over the last decade. They qualified for two bowl games since 2008, winning the Music City Bowl over Boston College and dropping a decision to Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl. Outside of those two seasons, Vanderbilt has not had much reason for celebration, even though they did produce a first round quarterback.