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If Multiple Miami Players Are First Round Draft Picks, What Would be a Historically Bad Season?

Ranking the five worst CFB seasons this century despite multiple first round draft picks

Mario Cristobal and Alonzo Highsmith at Miami’s 2022 Pro Day
Al Diaz/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Several Miami upperclassmen could turn pro after this season, and there’s a darn good chance at least two players will be selected in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. All-American safety Kamren Kinchens is the closest thing Miami has to a sure-fire first rounder, but DT Leonard Taylor, S (sometimes LB) James Williams, DE Akheem Mesidor, and pre-season award-winning transfer interior lineman Matt Lee and Javion Cohen have at least the potential to earn first round grades. Plus, don’t forget, that QB Tyler Van Dyke and T Zion Nelson were generating first-round buzz before the injury bug bit them, and either could resurrect that high draft grade with a bounce back season.

Notwithstanding all this NFL talent, the Hurricanes are coming off an awful five-win season. So, I got to thinking: what would qualify as a historic underperformance for a team that had at least two players drafted the following year in the first round of the NFL Draft? Let’s take a look at the worst college football seasons this century (at least since the Browns expansion) despite the team having at least two players drafted with one of the first 32 picks in the following year’s NFL Draft...or first 31 picks in a year of New England scandal.

Here’s our 5 worst seasons this century for teams that had multiple first round picks after the season. plus another 5 dishonorable mentions. Hurricane Warning ahead: Miami makes multiple appearances on this list.

Dishonorable Mentions

NCAA Football: Iowa at Penn State
Penn State had a particularly bad, COVID-shortened 2020 season
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
  • 2020 Penn State (4-5) - No. 12 Micah Parsons, LB; No. 31 Odafe Oweh, DE
  • 2014 Florida (7-5) - No. 3 Dante Fowler, DE; No. 24 DJ Humphries, OT
  • 2005 NC State (7-5) - No. 1 Mario Williams, DE; No. 22 Manny Lawson, LB; No. 26 John McCargo, DT
  • 2014 Washington (8-6) - No. 12 Danny Shelton, DT; No. 18 Marcus Peters, CB; No. 25 Shaq Thompson, LB
  • 2022 Iowa (8-5) - No. 13 Lukas Van Ness, DE; No. 18 Jack Campbell, LB

Normally a Micah Parsons led team with a losing record would be a historic underperformance, but James Franklin gets a slight pass because 2020 was the weird, COVID-shortened season. It’s still noteworthy.

A pair of 2014 teams deserve a finger wag. The Florida Gators fired Will Muschamp after a fourth season of mediocrity despite the defense being anchored by elite pass rusher Dante Fowler. Meanwhile, Chris Petersen’s first year at Washington featured three first round draft picks on defense that nevertheless got lit up for 45 and 44 points against Oregon and UCLA, respectively.

2005 NC State is also noteworthy because their defense had the number one overall pick Mario Williams as well as successful NFL players Marcus Peters and Shaq Thompson, and yet the Wolfpack started the season 2-4 capped by a loss at Wake Forest (4-7).

Finally, last year’s Iowa team deserves a nod of disapproval. Sure the defense was solid, if not great, featuring Van Ness and Campbell, but the Hawkeye offense was so historically bad they couldn’t muster more than eight wins. And that’s setting aside the offseason betting scandals.

On to five seasons more disappointing than these...

2006 Miami Hurricanes (7-6)

No. 24 Brandon Meriweather (S); No. 25 Jon Beason (LB); and No. 31 Greg Olsen (TE)

NCAA Football: Miami at Maryland
2006 captains Brandon Meriweather (19), Anthony Wollschlager (78), Kyle Wright (3), and Jon Beason (2)
Pouya Dianat-USA TODAY Sports

2006 completed Larry Coker’s collapse of a championship program and resulted in his dismissal at the end of the season. Meriweather, Beason, and Olsen would all go on to have successful pro careers, and yet the Hurricanes only finished fourth in a historically weak ACC-Coastal Division won by a 9-5 Georgia Tech team.

The season began with a tough, three point loss to rival Florida State on Labor Day night. Two weeks later Miami was blown out by Louisville at Papa John’s Stadium. The Hurricanes rallied with four straight wins against Houston, North Carolina, FIU, and Duke only to drop four straight against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Virginia. A win over Nevada in the MPC Computers Bowl saved the Hurricanes from a losing record and falling further down this list of disappointments. The 2014 season was furthered marred by the infamous FIU brawl as well as the murder of defensive tackle Bryan Pata.

Current Hurricanes head coach Mario Cristobal should remember 2006 well - he served as Miami’s offensive line coach.

2017 UCLA Bruins (6-7)

No. 10 Josh Rosen, QB; No. 15 Kolton Miller, OT

NCAA Football: Cactus Bowl-Kansas State vs UCLA
Josh Rosen following a 2017 Cactus Bowl loss to Kansas State
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 UCLA Bruins offense was led by top 10 pick QB Josh Rosen, who operated behind an offensive line anchored by top 15 pick OT Kolton Miller. Notwithstanding, the Bruins failed to win a single road game in route to a 6-6 regular season capped by a Cactus Bowl loss to Kansas State. You read that right - UCLA was 6-0 at home and 0-6 on the road.

Rosen led a respectable offense that scored fewer than 20 points only once in a 17-48 blowout loss at Utah. The defense was different story, as the Bruins surrendered more than 40 points an astonishing six times. UCLA’s underperformance resulted in coach Jim Mora being dismissed after a 28-23 loss to rival USC. Offensive Coordinator Jedd Fisch led UCLA to a regular season finale win over rival Cal resulting in a Cactus Bowl invite. Yes, the same Jedd Fisch that five years prior was Miami’s offensive coordinator under Al Golden.

2014 Miami Hurricanes (6-7)

No. 9 Ereck Flowers, OT; No. 29 Phillip Dorsett, WR

NCAA Football: Miami at Georgia Tech
Nobody feared the tie
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

2014 was arguably the most disappointing season in Miami Hurricanes history. Flowers and Dorsett just scratched the surface of the talent on this team. Miami had a total of 7 players selected in the 2015 NFL Draft, which tied for fourth that year with SEC Champion Alabama. In addition to Flowers and Dorsett, pro-bowler Denzyl Perryman, eight year NFL starting RB Duke Johnson, starting-to-this-day NFL interior lineman Jon Feliciano, former Steeler defensive lineman Anthony Chickillo, and former Raiders TE Clive Walford were also selected in the 2015 draft. What a waste.

Lowlights from the 2014 season included: losing five conference games in a weak coastal division won by Georgia Tech; one of those division losses was 13-30 at a 5-7 Virginia team; and a fifth straight loss to FSU, thereby ensuring an entire recruiting class would never enjoy a victory over our biggest rival. How Al Golden was permitted a fifth season remains a mystery to this day.

Believe it or not, there are two teams who were bigger disappointments...

2019 TCU Horned Frogs (5-7)

No. 21 Jalen Reagor, WR; No. 31 Jeff Gladney, CB

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Oklahoma
Gary Patterson runs out with his 2019 team at Norman, OK
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

At least every other team on this list, with the exception of Penn State’s COVID season, made a bowl game. TCU failed to accomplish that despite first round playmakers leading both sides of the ball. Reagor was a regular starter for the Eagles and currently plays for the Vikings. Gladney’s career was sadly cut short after he and his girlfriend died in a fatal car crash last year in Dallas, TX.

2019 would prove to be the beginning of the end for long-time head coach Gary Patterson. Although Patterson is a TCU legend, from 2018-2021 his record was only 21-22 leading to TCU firing Patterson in the middle of his 21st season at the helm. That tough call proved to be the right call considering that TCU immediately bounced back and played for the 2022 national championship.

2009 Oklahoma Sooners (7-5)

No. 1 Sam Bradford, QB; No. 3 Gerald McCoy, DT; No. 4 Trent Williams, OT; No. 21 Jermaine Gresham, TE

NCAA Football: BYU at Oklahoma
Bradford in a sling after exiting the 2009 Red River rivalry game
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Although not the worst record on this list, the easily most disappointing season belongs to the 2009 Oklahoma Sooners. This team featured a Heisman trophy winner who was included in three of the first five picks in the 2010 NFL Draft plus a future pro-bowl tight end drafted 21st overall.

The Sooners opened the season 3rd in the polls after wining the 2008 Big XII Championship but dropped the BCS Championship Game to Tim Tebow’s 2009 Florida Gators. Problems arose immediately when OU lost the season opener to BYU at Cowboys Stadium. Miami played a role in the disappointment, handing the Sooners a primetime loss at Land Shark Stadium in one of the few decent victories of the Randy Shannon era. The low point for the Sooners was a 13-41 shellacking at Texas Tech.

The 2009 Sooners did have a lot of injury problems. Bradford was injured in the season opener, sat out for four games, and ultimately re-injured himself against Texas. Jermaine Gresham, Ryan Broyles, Brandon Caleb, Auston English, Quinton Carter, and DeMarco Murray also missed time throughout the season. Still, a five loss record is astonishing considering this was one of the most talented college football teams this century coming off a BCS National Championship Game appearance.