Since Mark Mangino led Kansas to the Insight Bowl in 2008, the program’s second straight bowl and third in four years, the Jayhawks have yet to play beyond the regular season.
Beginning in 2009, Mangino’s final season at Lawrence, seven coaches in the past 13 seasons have failed to get Kansas to a bowling game. Mangino, Turner Gill, Charlie Weis, Clint Bowen (acting), David Beaty, Les Miles and Lance Leipold couldn’t make it to a bowl.
While it looks like the Jayhawks finally have a coach who can move things in the right direction, it’s unlikely Leipold can lead them to the required six wins in 2022, his second season at the helm. An improved performance from last season’s 2-10? Sure. A very young KU team finished strong and most of the starters are coming back. However, picking up four more wins doesn’t seem likely.
Led by the Jayhawks, here are the teams heading into 2022 with the longest bowl droughts in the nation, each lasting at least six years.
Kansas: 13 years
What is the Jayhawks’ build to become eligible for bowling for the first time since 2008, when they went to the Insight Bowl and defeated Minnesota, 42-21? Well, they haven’t won more than three games since 2009, the start of their drought and 13 consecutive losing seasons, also the longest such active streak in the FBS. They went 5-7 that season… after starting 5-0.
Since that 5-0 start in 2009, Kansas has gone an incredible 15-124 against opponents FBS. Not stacking, but KU’s Big 12 mark since losing Iowa State on Oct. 10, 2009 is an unthinkable, but real, 7-106. I repeat: 7-106! Remember, this program beat No. 5 Virginia Tech to win the Orange Bowl and cap a 12-1 season in 2007.
Louisiana-Monroe: 9 years
A 45-14 loss to Ohio in the 2012 Independence Bowl during Todd Berry’s tenure at Monroe marks the Warhawks’ only bowl game in program history. They were bowl eligible with 6-6 points in 2013 and 2018, but were passed both times.
After an 0-10 performance in Matt Viator’s final season of 2020, former Auburn and Akron coach Terry Bowden took over and had ULM in pretty good shape a year ago. year at 4-3, including a victory over the heavily favored Liberty. Alas, the Warhawks have lost their last five games, three by eight runs or less.
Breaking the bowl drought in 2022 will be a chore considering ULM has one of the most demanding non-conference schedules in the nation with games in Texas, Alabama and West Point. Bowden should make sure his Warhawks do well in the Sun Belt game, where they avoid Appalachia State debutant and Sun Belt Marshall – but they need to significantly improve on an offense that totaled 20.9 points per game on average to rank 110e nationally.
State of Texas: 9 years
The Bobcats moved to FBS in 2012, became playoff eligible in 2013, and have yet to make any playoff plans. The Sun Belt Conference program went 6-6 in 2013 and 7-5 in 2014 and did not receive a bowl invite. They have since won over three games once and that was 4-8 last season.
Coach Jake Spavital, entering his fourth season at San Marcos, has built depth and has many key players returning from both sides of the fray, especially on offense. Hopefully, in addition to turning a few single-digit losses into wins, this could be a historic season for the program.
UMasse: 9 years
The Minutemen have bowled in two games, although before Division I split into IA (FBS) and I-AA (FCS) in 1978. As a member of the Yankee Conference, they lost to the East Carolina in the 1964 Tangerine Bowl and beat UC-Davis in the 1972 Boardwalk Bowl.
UMass was elevated to the FBS in 2012 as a member of the MAC, became playoff eligible in 2013, and has been playing as an independent since 2016. 18) is as good as it gets in Amherst.
Massachusetts native Don Brown, who enjoyed great success as an assistant and head coach at UMass when the program was a member of FCS, has returned to guide a team that has won two of its last 30 games. He has quite a task to elevate the Minutemen to respectability, let alone bowl eligibility.
UNLV: 8 years
Not only are the Rebels suffering an eight-year drought through 2022, they’ve only appeared in two bowl games in the past 27 seasons. UNLV’s closest to bowl eligibility during its current drought is a 5-7 mark under Tony Sanchez 2017.
Marcus Arroyo enters his third season in Vegas with a 2-16 record with both wins coming last season. UNLV showed many positive signs a year ago losing six single-digit games. It might be asking too much to pick up four more wins and become bowl-eligible this season, though it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the Rebels flirted with that.
The Rebels’ last bowl was a 36-14 loss under Bobby Hauck in the 2013 Heart of Dallas Bowl.
* East Carolina: 7 years
This entry comes with an asterisk for good reason: The Pirates went 7-5 last year and their Military Bowl game with Boston College was canceled due to positive virus tests among players. of British Columbia. Expect Mike Houston’s team to continue moving in the right direction and finally play in a bowl game at the end of this season.
ECU was driven by Ruffin McNeill last play in a bowl, a 28-20 Birmingham Bowl loss to Florida after an 8-4 regular season in 2014.
Rice: 7 years
Rice opened last season losing to Arkansas, Houston and Texas by a combined 140-24, which left a tough hill to climb heading into the conference game. Mike Bloomgren’s Owls had a chance to be bowl eligible as they entered the final five weeks of the season, needing three wins to reach six. They lost four in a row, including two in a row in overtime, before closing the season with a victory over Louisiana Tech to finish 4-8.
This season’s non-conference slate is once again tough as it includes trips to USC, another intracity date with Houston and a game against Louisiana. Therefore, the Owls will likely have to overturn their 3-5 conference record in their final season as a member of CUSA.
Rice’s most recent bowl game was a 30-6 win over Fresno State in the 2014 Hawaii Bowl under David Bailiff, who preceded Bloomgren.
Bowling green: 6 years
After finishing last season’s non-conference roster by stunning Minnesota on the road to advance to 2-2, the Falcons needed to break even in the MAC to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2015 when they lost to Georgia Southern, 58. -27, in the GoDaddy Bowl. Alas, they lost their first four conference games and finished 2-6 in the MAC.
Another upset will likely be needed in non-conference play this season if there is much hope of going at least 6-6 in Scot Loeffler’s fourth season at Bowling Green. Trips to UCLA and Mississippi State plus a visit from Marshall make for a daunting opening month, so they’ll likely have to change things big in the conference game.
For the record, Brian Ward served as interim coach in the aforementioned bowl after Dino Babers left for Syracuse.
UConn: 6 years
A program that had a great run in the Big East (33-19 in 2007-10) under Randy Edsall and played Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl after the 2010 season, has fallen on hard times. In fact, since 2010, the Huskies have endured 11 straight losing seasons, the second-longest active FBS streak behind Kansas. They went 6-6 in the 2015 regular season under Bob Diaco before losing to Marshall in the St. Petersburg Bowl to finish under .500.
Since becoming independent in 2020, the Huskies’ schedule has been brutal. This season includes trips to Utah State, Michigan, North Carolina State and West Point. They are also home to Syracuse, Fresno State, Boston College, and Liberty. Therefore, expect the bowlless drought to continue in the first season under Jim Mora, Jr.