The Hamilton Tiger-Cats finished last season with a 10-game turnaround, going 6-4 after starting out 0-8.
But they still finished 6-12 and fans are looking for a significant reversal in the overall record in 2018. The good news, if it’s news, for them is that there’s a little historical karma leaning in their favour.
Depending upon the metrics you choose, the two greatest single-season turnarounds in NCAA Division 1 football history belonged to the 1999 University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and the 2017 Fresno State Bulldogs.
Ticat head coach June Jones was the head coach of those ’99 Rainbow Warriors and new Ticat assistant head coach Orlondo Steinauer was the defensive co-ordinator who strongly impacted the ’17 Bulldogs.
When Jones took over Hawaii for the 1999 season, they’d gone 0-12 under Fred Vonappen the previous year. They went 9-4, and won their first conference title and bowl game in seven years.
That 8.5 game turnaround (figure it out like baseball standings), is the largest in college history.
In 2016, Fresno State went 1-11 under two coaches. When Jeff Tedford, with Steinauer as his defensive co-ordinator, took over last season, they went 10-4, an 8.0 game improvement, and won, fittingly, the Hawaii Bowl, their first bowl victory in a decade.
They became just the second team in U.S. college history to leap from double-digit losses to double-digit wins in a single season.
The first was the Miami of Ohio Redhawks in 2010, who went 10-4 after a wretched 1-11 performance in 2009. But both the big-loss season and turnaround year were under the same coach, Michael Haywood.
Same when Lou Holtz transformed an 0-11 record at South Carolina in 1999 to 8-4 the next year. He was in charge of both Jekyll and Hyde, as was Elmer Burnham at Purdue when the Boilermakers made the first such graphic turnaround (1-8 to 9-0) in 1943.
Hawaii’s and Fresno’s stupendous single-season revivals took place under brand-new coaching staffs.
“It definitely is interesting that we’re both here now,” Jones said last week. “I think it’s kind of energized the locker-room, from what I hear from the players I’ve talked to.
“I followed Fresno and I realized they were on a quest to tie that record (of an 8.5 game improvement). I was kind of rooting for Orlondo, because Scott (Mitchell) and Kent (Austin) talked so strongly about him.
“I’ve been in this situation so many times I like where we’re at.”
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