Anytime one program takes a step forward, another has to take a step back since there are a finite number of wins to be divvied up each season. Certainly some of the give and take from one year to the next can be attributed to the dynamics of each roster, especially these days with players opting for early-entry into the NFL, along with the big payday that comes with that decision.
Another factor is a change in coaching, a big reason behind our recent analysis of a few teams that should be on the rise. And often, it's highly-rated prep recruits simply not able to cut the mustard at the collegiate level. All of those aspects come into play for the four programs we think could be on the decline, even if it's a short-lived downturn.
Out With The New And In With The Old For Cardinals
What was a gain for the Texas Longhorns should turn into a loss for the Louisville Cardinals who watched Charlie Strong leave for Austin earlier this offseason. Not only did the Cards lose a proven winner in Strong, they decided to head to the recycled coaches bin for Bobby Petrino.
There's no question that he has the credentials to be a head coach and is among the best offensive minds in the game, but Petrino's character alone is enough reason not to have done it. I'm not talking about the whole mistress scandal while he was at Arkansas; he's simply a poor gamble to follow through with almost any decision he makes. Did The Ville forget that he lasted less than six months into a 10-year contract extension in 2006 before bolting to the NFL, where he couldn't even commit to a full season with the Atlanta Falcons who gave him a 5-year deal?
The Cardinals are also making the move to the ACC after one year in the AAC, and with that they'll have a tougher slate in Petrino's first season back on the job. Louisville does get Miami and Florida State at home, but there are road trips to Clemson and Notre Dame.
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'Huskers Slide To Worsen Before It Gets Better
You know times are tough in Lincoln when the Nebraska Cornhuskers get out-recruited by the likes of Kentucky, Baylor, North Carolina and Texas Tech. Not to mention, the sour end to last season between head coach Bo Pelini and some of the alumni isn't exactly a harbinger of smooth sailing for either.
It's tough to say that a team which has won at least nine games a season since Pelini's arrival is on the decline, but that's the case with the 'Huskers. They're coming off a 9-4 campaign that included a Gator Bowl win over Georgia, stopping a 3-bowl losing streak, and netted 10 four-star recruits in February. Still, Nebraska should slide to no better than an 8-win season in 2014, and Pelini's days are numbered.
Petersen's Exit Bad News For Broncos
Just as Strong's decision to leave Louisville hurt the Cardinals, Chris Petersen's move from Boise State to Washington will do the same for the Broncos. At least Boise made a better hire in Bryan Harsin to replace Petersen than Louisville did.
The Broncos stumbled back a bit last year, so it's not like Harsin is walking into a team expected to immediately contend. And it would be unfair to expect Harsin to do as well as Petersen did in Idaho. In his 13 years as either the head coach or offensive coordinator, the Broncos were 145-24 (.858).
Harsin at least knows the school after working as an understudy to Petersen from 2006-10. He'll have a rather thin recruiting class to build off, and it could be 2-3 seasons before the Broncos return to national prominence.
Aggies A Mystery Following Johnny Football Era
Last but not least, a visit to my old stompin' grounds in College Station where Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M are just beginning their first spring practices in two years without Johnny Manziel. The uncertainty surrounding Johnny Football's heir is just one of the reasons why the Aggies could slide back a bit in 2014 after their rather meteoric arrival in the SEC.
A new quarterback could actually end up being the least of Sumlin's worries. As mentioned in our earlier 2014 preview for the Aggies, they have three solid contenders for the job in Matt Joeckel and Kenny Smith, each of whom saw some action last season, plus the country's top pocket-passer recruit in Kyle Allen. But Sumlin is going to have to get the defense turned around if the Aggies are going to challenge Alabama and LSU in the SEC West, and that has already been made more difficult by indefinite suspensions to starting DB Darian Claiborne and Isaiah Golden, a second weed bust in the case of Claiborne.
The upcoming schedule isn't going to help matters, either. Texas A&M opens the season on the SEC highway at South Carolina, plus has trips to Auburn and Alabama. This might be a one-year thing for the Aggies, but they're definitely dropping a notch or two this season.
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