14. Texas State Fightin’ Armadillos
Necessary Roughness (1991)
A once-great program that’s won a handful of national championships, the Armadillos are a wreck by the time we meet them. They’ve had to forfeit a bunch of wins because of NCAA shenanigans. The school has declared all but 17 players ineligible. It’s considered a raging success when TSU manages a 3-3 tie against Kansas. TSU finishes by beating the top-ranked Texas Colts, following a coach heart attack. A dean who’d cracked down on the team for its NCAA failings gets fired.
Texas State is now a real FBS school, after Southwest Texas State was renamed in the 2000s. The actual Texas State is like the movie Texas State without the past glory.
Sadly, the Armadillos would later lose out to UCLA for a hot coaching candidate:
13. Adams College Atoms
Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
A talented bunch that couldn’t stop feuding with a bunch of dorks and was probably too distracted by the dorks’ pranking.
12. Lancer Lions
Apparently got in some trouble for paying players. Unclear if the team ever won any games.
11. Texas Methodist
Friday Night Lights TV (2007)
We know little about how good TMU is. This is the school for which Coach Taylor leaves the small-town Dillon Panthers after winning a Texas state championship, before he leaves a couple games into the season to go back to a low-paying high school job where he has to take on athletic director duties just to make enough money to support his family.
TMU is considered a big Texas job, so let’s guess the team goes 8-5 every year.
10. University of Los Angeles Peacocks
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990s)
With this sex machine mascot:
9. ESU Timberwolves
The Program (1993)
A team goes into the season with a junior Heisman favorite and national title aspirations. It fails to come close but turns into a feel-good story, when it wins just enough for the head coach to keep his job.
Yep, ESU is 2015 LSU.
But the Timberwolves could be really good next season, every season.
It is easy to talk yourself into Eastern State. Prognosticators do it every year. With the recruiting rankings and star power, it seems like ESU should be great again this fall, just like it seemed they would in each of the last two years. But for them to live up to annual hype, they will have to uncover a couple of playmakers.
ESU’s just LSU every year, on second thought.
8. 1975 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
7. Heartland Comebacks
The Comebacks (2007)
You probably never saw this movie. I sure didn’t. But these guys won their fictional conference, which is more than can be said for a lot of these squads.
Bill Walsh College Football (1993 video game)
Video games about college sports have always used fake players, but in the old days, they even used fake schools. Definitely Not Florida State was the game’s best contemporary team, led by Definitely Not Charlie Ward.
5. Louisiana Tigers
Everybody’s All-American (1988)
QB Dennis Quaid leads the team to a Sugar Bowl victory before turning pro. This movie isn’t realistic. The team has LSU’s colors and plays its home games in Tiger Stadium, yet a QB makes All-America and turns pro? Not buying that.
4. Minnesota State Screaming Eagles
Coach (1990s sitcom)
Winners of 1993’s Pioneer Bowl, a fictional national title game. (There’s a real Pioneer Bowl, but it has nothing to do with this Pioneer Bowl.)
3. South Central Louisiana State Mud Dogs
The Waterboy (1998)
The Mud Dogs enter on a 40-game losing streak, and it runs to 41 when Adam Sandler — despite notching an NCAA-record 16 sacks in one game — runs in the wrong direction with the ball in Week 1. But Sandler’s Bobby Boucher leads SCLSU to a perfect season from there, capped with Sandler returning from NCAA exile and a weekend with his mama, Kathy Lee Bates, to lead the Mud Dogs over the superior Louisiana Cougars in the Bourbon Bowl.
This was the first year of the BCS, if you choose to think of The Waterboy as taking place in 1998, the year it came out. So while the Bourbon Bowl wasn’t a national title game, it was a huge rivalry win.
It’s hard not to wonder how much better SCLSU would’ve been if Louisiana’s coach hadn’t stolen Henry Winkler’s playbook.
2. Blue Mountain State Mountain Goats
Blue Mountain State (2010-11)
This team is a walking, talking NCAA violation, and probably also a federal crime. This team goes something like 9-3 one year, goes a perfect 12-0 another year, and the next year gets destroyed in a national championship game after a bunch of its players and coach get suspended. (The Goats do get a measure of vengeance in an unofficial title game in a cornfield after the real championship.)
More like the Blue Mountain State Mountain GOATs.
1. All the 1960s Alabama teams Forrest Gump played for
Forrest Gump (1994)
Forrest Gump was an All-American running back, joining Bear Bryant teams that, in the real world, went a combined 39-4 between 1963 and 1966. Those Bama teams were just a handful of points away from going undefeated over that entire span, but only had a couple RBs get any significant national praise during that span. Upgrading their backfield to include Gump would’ve been horrifying.