I know this is somewhat premature (not a word, J Tadpole), but I’ve taken a quick look at our first opponent: the Kent State Golden Flashes. I know that our more talented and accomplished authors will go much more in-depth and provide more insightful (and/or incisive) analysis closer to opening day, but it’s the long, cold offseason, and I wanted to write this, so here it is.
Most information comes from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kent_State_Golden_Flashes_football or http://static.psbin.com/l/2/zb1s55zebseak7/629104.pdf.
As should come as no surprise, Kent State has historically had a dreadful football team. Their all-time win-loss-tie record currently stands at 305–492–28 (.387). Despite being in a conference in football since 1920 (their first year playing football) they have only won a single conference championship, winning the MAC in 1972. They have been to two bowl games, losing the 1954 Refrigerator Bowl (I’m serious) 7-19 to the Delaware Blue Hens, and losing the 1972 Tangerine Bowl (now the Capital One Bowl) 18-21 to the University of Tampa. [Interesting fact: despite the fact that my beloved wikipedia says that Kent State lost the 1973 Tangerine Bowl, Miami (OH) actually beat the Florida Gators 16-7 in that game, and went on to beat the Georgia Bulldogs 21-10 in the 1974 Tangerine Bowl.]
The troubles started early for the Golden Flashes. Although Kent State technically won a game in their first season (ending the season 1-2 in 1920), that win was a 1-0 win over St. Ignatius by forfeit. In actual games, they didn’t score a point for their first 14 (0-13-1), being outscored 0-329 (including a 0-118 loss to Baldwin-Wallace) until losing 6-7 to West Liberty State College in 1923, followed by another eight-game scoreless streak (0-6-2) in which they were outscored 0-192 (including a 0-82 drubbing at the hands of Slippery Rock, also in 1923). They didn’t actually score more points than the other team until they beat West Liberty 7-6 on November 14th, 1925. Wikipedia indicates that Kent State’s first "winning season" was 1928, in which they went 4-2-2. The first year in which Kent State won more than half of their games was in 1938 (6-2).
As best as I can tell, Kent State has won more than half of their games in 21 of their 88 seasons (1920-2010, inclusive, with no games 1943-1945). The 1972 MAC Championship year was not one of those winning seasons – including the Tangerine Bowl, they went 6-5-1 (4-1) that year. (Interestingly, they were not selected for a bowl game in 1973, despite going 9-2 (4-1) that year; this appears to be their best ever season.) If my math is right (which it really might not be), in the past 30 years (beginning with the 1981 season), their record is 88-248-1 (67-179-1) for a 26.11% winning percentage. In that time, Kent State has had more winless seasons (Four - 1982, 1989, 1993, 1998) than they have had winning seasons (Two – 1987, 7-4(5-3); 2001, 6-5(5-3)).
On a positive note, Kent State has had many outstanding individual players who went on to do great things. Among these Jack Lambert stands out. Other football-successful Kent State alums include Lou Holtz (Kent State linebacker, 1956-1957), Gary Pinkel (current head coach of the Missouri Tigers; Kent State tight end, 1970-1973), James Harrison (4-time NFL Pro-Bowl linebacker, 2 Super Bowl Rings, all with the Steelers, undrafted in 2002), Antonio Gates (7-time Pro-Bowl tight end with the San Diego Chargers, actually played basketball, not football, at Kent State, undrafted in 2003), and, of course, our own Nick Saban (defensive back, 1970-1971).
In addition, Kent State is one of 17 FBS schools (five of whom are in the MAC) who have never been found guilty of a single major violation since 1953, when the NCAA started tracking major violations. Fascinatingly, the others include Boston College, Northwestern, Penn State, Stanford, Boise State (but for how much longer?), and UAB. Even more fascinating is that players at both Boston College and Northwestern have actually been sent to jail for shaving points, but no NCAA major violation. Perhaps coincidentally, BC, Northwestern, and Stanford are private schools, and are thereby not required to respond to FOIA requests from journalists. http://www.kentstatesports.com/general/2010-11/WSJ_Article