Archive for the ‘San Diego State low points’ Category

San Diego State clinched the Mountain West regular-season title on Wednesday and it prompted me to dissect the squad.

It seemed a little surreal that the Aztecs were 14-1 in the conference – doesn’t matter if the league is down, 14-1 is hard to do – but I quickly realized the following:

We still have no idea if San Diego State is really any good or not.

I’m thinking we might have moved closer to the answer on Saturday when the Aztecs collapsed against Boise State by allowing the final 12 points to drop a 66-63 decision.

There was no clutch free-throw shooting, there were sloppy defensive breakdowns and … worse … there was no killer instinct against a team missing its top player in James Webb III.

And because of all that, a nine-point lead with 1:04 to play evaporated.

Oh yeah, the 164-game winning streak when leading with five minutes to play also disappeared.

But it wasn’t the worst meltdown of San Diego State’s Mountain West era. I covered the worst collapse back in 2005 when the Aztecs led UNLV by 10 points with 20 seconds to play and managed to choke the game way.

San Diego State thought the game was in the victory column but somebody forgot to tell the Rebels.

UNLV tallied 23 points over the final 1 minute, 45 seconds of regulation and forced overtime on Curtis Terry’s 3-pointer with no time remaining and then won the game in overtime.

Here was the beginning of my story from that Saturday afternoon game:

There were 62 seconds left in regulation when Marcus Slaughter began acknowledging the crowd, waving his arms to encourage the Cox Arena fans to salute an apparent San Diego State basketball victory.

With 28.5 seconds left, Matt Thomas hit two free throws to give the Aztecs a 10-point lead.

What followed was an abrupt collapse reminiscent of the stock market’s steep fall in 1929.

The Aztecs plunged to a new low by disintegrating over the rest of regulation to help Nevada-Las Vegas score an improbable 93-91 overtime victory before 5,897 stunned fans on Saturday.

Kind of funny to recall that the Aztecs were still only getting crowds that filled up half the arena 11 years ago.

But what people also forget is that San Diego State team fell apart after the loss to the Rebels. The defeat was the beginning of a six-game losing skid as the Aztecs lost seven of their final eight games.

That 11-18 season marks the last time San Diego State has compiled a losing record.

So now we get to see how this version bounces back.

Will there be a confidence hit and a hangover that stretches over to future games? Or will there be a much better brand of resiliency than what the 2004-05 squad led by Brandon Heath and Slaughter displayed?

What I do know is the Aztecs (21-8 overall) are now 14-2 in the Mountain West and that is no longer going to be good enough when it comes to the NCAA tournament selection committee.

When thinking it out the other night, I concluded a 17-1 conference mark and two Mountain West tourney wins would sew up an NCAA berth despite the shaky resume that doesn’t have many quality victories.

But that isn’t happening now. San Diego State now needs to play its way into the NCAA field.

Fail to win that tournament and the Aztecs can await on either the NIT or CBI to come calling.

That’s the position the Aztecs put themselves in with Saturday’s collapse.

San Diego State missed seven consecutive free throws during the meltdown. Seven.

That’s no way to win a game.

“If you have seven free throws, you have to be able to make a couple of them,” coach Steve Fisher said afterward. “It’s easy for anybody to say, but sometimes that rim gets tighter and tighter when you miss a couple.”

You have to figure Fisher never thought he’d never see another UNLV-type collapse.

Of course, there also is the infamous NCAA tournament collapse when the Aztecs had Indiana beat in 2006 with less than a half-minute to play and fell apart and lost the game.

The writer who covered the team for the San Diego Union-Tribune at the time came running toward me in the media room in Salt Lake City and he was screaming: “They choked. They f—ing choked.”

And for one of the few times ever, that guy was right.

Now the Boise State game gets added into the category of infamous San Diego State meltdowns. And something Fisher said after the UNLV loss could have been uttered again after the collapse against the Broncos.

“This was a game that you could replay a thousand times and you can’t lose that game, but we did,” Fisher said back then. “Unfortunately, it happened to us.”

And somehow it happened to them again.



Rocky Long once had a female kicker on his team at New Mexico. It is time for him to try the girl kicker route at San Diego State.

The Aztecs’ kicking situation has been a mess – continuing the longstanding school tradition of wilting when staring at uprights – and it led to a 35-28 overtime loss to No. 15 Fresno State on Saturday.

Long once allowed Katie Hnida to be part of his Lobos’ squad. In 2003, she became the first female to score points in a major-college game.

Something tells me it is time for Long to spend time observing San Diego State women’s soccer practices. There has to be somebody on campus with a strong leg who doesn’t become fearful when the job calls for kicking a football.

The kicking game has been a constant problem during Long’s three seasons as coach – so much that his decision-making has often been affected by the issue. Shouldn’t be this hard to find one kid – repeat, ONE – who can kick at the major-college level.

Since it has been such a hard task for Long, I expect to hear of campus-wide open tryouts this week. Complete with ponytails hanging out the back of the helmets.

Let them wear skirts if they are uncomfortable wearing football gear. Who cares – just find one person who can kick the ball.

Guys like Andy Trakas, Peter Holt and Tommy Kirovski received some company in the San Diego State kicker Hall of Shame on Saturday when Seamus McMorrow had a 37-yard field-goal attempt blocked on the final play of regulation.

But this isn’t all on Saturday’s kicker. Long deserves part of the blame.

The Aztecs had plenty of time to score a touchdown and Fresno State’s defense looked gassed. Yet even though Long has little confidence in his kicking game, he and offensive coordinator Bob Toledo went conservative to set up for the kick.

The decision was made at a time where you could picture every San Diego State fan yelling the same thing: “Nooooo, try to score a touchdown.”

If there was ever a time for former cheerleader Chet Carney III – the chunky guy who wore the white hard hat – to yell “point to the end zone,” this was it.

McMorrow had never made a collegiate field goal – he badly missed a 40-yarder earlier in the game – so it really wasn’t much of a stunner when Fresno State’s Marcel Jensen blocked the last-second kick.

Remember, McMorrow only ascended to starting kicker because the previous guy (Wes Feer) had digressed so badly.

You may recall McMorrow drilling one of his own linemen in the helmet with an extra-point attempt in the previous game against Air Force. Doink!

So add this latest kicking fiasco to the San Diego State lore, a dubious list that includes Trakas’ game-winning attempt against USC that landed near Tierrasanta in 1992, Holt’s 35-yard shank that allowed 0-10 UNLV to stomp out San Diego State’s bowl hopes in 1996 and Kirovski’s chip-shot 31-yarder being blocked by Fresno State for a loss in Tom Craft’s first game as coach in 2002.

So a rare victory over a nationally ranked team was missed on Saturday because the Aztecs don’t possess a bona fide college kicker.

It’s time to try something different. Long needs to let history repeat itself.

Invite a female kicker to join the football team. The results can’t be any worse.

On one hand, I am surprised that I needed to update this list after the opening game of the San Diego State football season.

On the other hand, I’m not. These are the Aztecs we’re talking about.

If you know your San Diego State history, there is nothing shocking about the Aztecs laying an egg on an athletic field or court. This is the school that went to one measly bowl game – a now-defunct one at that – with Marshall Faulk on the roster and finally won an NCAA tournament game for the first time in 2011.

If you can’t take advantage of having a once-in-a-generation player like Faulk in your program, then it stuns nobody when you do what the Aztecs did in their 2013 football season opener.

San Diego State lost to an FCS school named Eastern Illinois. Check that, they got CLOBBERED by the lower-level school. At home.

Adding to insult is they paid the Panthers $325,000 to make the trip West because they were supposed to be an easy season-opening victory.

You know, I thought Rocky Long was coaching the Aztecs now. Who let Chuck Long back on the sidelines?

Chuck Long will be forever known for losing to Cal Poly twice in three seasons and now Rocky takes his well-deserved spot on the list after the embarrassing 40-19 beat down suffered against Eastern Illinois.

Back in 2001, I was covering the program when the Aztecs pounded Eastern Illinois 40-7 during a three-win season that ended with coach Ted Tollner being fired.

The quarterback at Eastern Illinois was then an unknown chap named Tony Romo. I suppose you know who he is now but it felt a little odd back then when a rival reporter and I both wrote stories about Romo leading up to the game.

There weren’t any signs that night at Qualcomm Stadium that Romo was on his way to being a starting NFL quarterback and owner of a $108 million contract. Romo had very little chance to do anything offensively against San Diego State because he had lower-level talent all around him while going up against a Mountain West-caliber defense.

Aztecs running back Larry Ned rolled up 285 yards in three quarters of action and I realized why he looked like a modern-day Gale Sayers after the game when I was walking on the field.

The Eastern Illinois defensive backs were all practically the same size as me. And in case you’re not sure of my dimensions, let’s just say the chances of me tackling a college running back are on par with the odds that the Chargers will go undefeated this season.

Slimski and Nonesky.

So the “Dirty Dozen” I put together in 2009 is now growing to the “Unlucky 13” due to the Eastern Illinois debacle.

Some quarterback named Jimmy Garoppolo carved up the Aztecs – could he also take the Romo undrafted free agent route to NFL riches? – as Eastern Illinois rolled up 533 yards of total offense.

The Aztecs committed five turnovers – quarterback Adam Dingwell threw four interceptions – in a horrific effort that is well-deserving of cracking the list.

And in case you figure things can’t worse for the Aztecs, check out who they play this Saturday:

The powerful Ohio State Buckeyes. Coached by Urban Meyer. Owners of the nation’s longest current winning streak of 13 games. And featuring Braxton Miller (fifth in 2012 Heisman Trophy balloting) at quarterback. (see stellar preview here –

And as all longtime San Diego State fans know, ties count.

Here they are – the Unlucky 13:

1. Steve Fisher’s basketball team losing to Indiana in 2006 NCAA tournament despite having the lead and possessing the ball in the final half-minute.

2. Al Luginbill’s 1991 football team tying BYU 52-52 after leading by 28 points late third quarter with Holiday Bowl berth on the line.

3. Ted Tollner’s 1996 team losing to winless UNLV when Peter Holt’s field-goal attempt landed closer to the Las Vegas Strip than the uprights.

4. Chuck Long’s 2006 football team losing to FCS school Cal Poly.

5. Rocky Long’s 2013 squad getting steamrolled at home by FCS school Eastern Illinois.

6. Tom Craft’s 2002 team losing to Idaho, which had like one win in two seasons entering the game.

7. Steve Fisher’s basketball team leading UNLV by 10 points with less than 30 seconds left and losing game in OT.

8. BYU 63, San Diego State 14 in 1979 on ABC regional TV when Marc Wilson carved up the Aztecs and the outcome led to Claude Gilbert’s eventual firing.

9. The 31-31 tie with USC in 1992 when Marshall Faulk ran wild but Andy Trakas’ short field-goal attempt landed near Tierrasanta.

10. Chuck Long’s 2008 football team losing to Cal Poly – again.

11. Brady Hoke’s 2009 football team blowing 21-point fourth-quarter lead against Wyoming.

12. Al Luginbill’s 1992 football team losing shootout to Fresno State with Holiday Bowl berth on the line when Trent Dilfer throws TD pass with 14 seconds left.

13. Jim Dietz’s 2002 baseball team losing two games on final day of Mountain West tournament to BYU with NCAA berth on the line.

You can see why San Diego State looked so befuddled while being outplayed and outworked by America’s newest favorite college basketball team.

This is how Aztecs coach Steve Fisher began his postgame press conference after being throttled by Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday.

“Florida State is a very, very good basketball team,” Fisher said.

If the head coach can’t get the name of the opponent right after being whipped soundly, then you can see why the other team looked a million times more prepared for the contest than his own group of kids.

Those dumbfounded expressions on Fisher’s face were probably due to the fact he was having trouble figuring out why Florida State was wearing blue.

None of us may have known anything about Florida Gulf Coast prior to the school’s rout of Georgetown on Friday but there was one thing very much clear on Sunday when the Eagles posted an 81-71 victory over the Aztecs.

Florida Gulf Coast is a better basketball team than San Diego State.

The Eagles are heading to the Sweet 16 to play in-state bully Florida and the Aztecs are headed back home to watch the most famous team in the nation play on television.

This was anybody’s game with 10 minutes to play – the time when an upstart group like Florida Gulf Coast is supposed to wilt against a team from a superior league.

It surely isn’t the time somebody named Andy Enfield outcoaches Steve Fisher. Or that a school from a one-bid league conducts a dunk-a-thon and exposes the Aztecs as pretenders.

But check that – where is the proof that the Mountain West is a superior league? Once again, the conference folded up like an accordion when March Madness arrived.

The league was the best it has ever been in its history and got five teams into the NCAA tournament. Not a single one is left. Again.

The conference regularly underachieves this time of year – no Mountain West team has ever advanced past the Sweet 16 – and this season’s atrocious postseason performance will certainly be remembered next season by the college basketball experts and pundits.

You may have heard about New Mexico’s Steve Alford throwing a tantrum over only one Mountain West team being nationally ranked in late February. Alford was right – one was an inaccurate number.

Should have been none based on his team’s postseason showing.

The third-seeded Lobos once again were a complete failure in the NCAA tournament. One-and-done and falling to Harvard, an Ivy League school that had never before won an NCAA tournament game.

Nevada-Las Vegas was also one-and-done as a fifth seed. No. 13 seed Boise State lost in the First Four. Eighth-seeded Colorado State won one game before being trampled by Louisville.

That left the Aztecs with the opportunity they would have begged for prior to the tournament – Georgetown losing to Florida Gulf Coast to make San Diego State’s path much, much easier.

But if you know your Aztecs’ sports history, you know not to be surprised.

This is the program in which Brandon Heath dribbled the ball off his own calf and turned the ball over to set up Indiana for its game-winning shot in the 2006 NCAA tournament.

The school’s football program once had a four-touchdown lead late in the third quarter against Brigham Young with a Holiday Bowl bid on the line – and the game ended in a tie, sending BYU to the bowl. This collapse came despite Marshall Faulk being on the roster.

Marshall Faulk!

The basketball team’s victory over Oklahoma in the round of 64 was just the third NCAA tournament win in school history so you can see why Sunday’s debacle is another missed opportunity.

A school like San Diego State only gets so many chances to make an impact on the national stage. And the Aztecs excel at missing them.

And here is what will happen next – San Diego State fans will now root for Florida Gulf Coast to be smashed, mauled and beaten to shreds by Florida.

Sadly, they won’t be able to enjoy what a terrific story the Eagles are. Or cheer for Sherwood Brown and company to record another huge upset. Nope, that’s just not the San Diego State way.

Meanwhile, we know what Steve Fisher will be doing – preparing for Florida State.

Or trying to figure out who those guys are in the blue uniforms playing against Florida.

Who was that silly sports dude that picked San Diego State to beat Brigham Young on Saturday? Can you believe there was actually someone who predicted that the Aztecs would leave Provo victorious?

Is there somebody unaware that the Aztecs haven’t won an important football game since 1986?

Oh wait – am I that somebody?


You would think a life-long San Diegan and San Diego State alumnus would know better. But, um, yeah, um, this wasn’t my first bad Aztecs prediction in 2010 either.

I predicted that San Diego State would beat Tennessee in the NCAA basketball tournament last March. Do you need me to remind you that the Aztecs didn’t win that game either? (

Twice I went to bat for the alma mater in 2010. Twice I swung and miss.

Final score: Brigham Young 24, San Diego State 21.

And the contest was nowhere near as close as the final margin.

Shame on me. And I’ll share some shame with the Aztecs.

San Diego State had two weeks to prepare for BYU and the Cougars spent most of their one week leading up to the game focusing on finding a scapegoat for their embarrassing 1-4 start. Defensive coordinator Jaime Hill was declared to be the problem – what, did Hill drink a Diet Coke on the job? – and was unceremoniously fired.

Really can’t say whether BYU’s defense was improved with head coach Bronco Mendenhall calling the shots because San Diego State’s offense wasn’t on the field long enough for anyone to cast judgment.

The Cougars controlled the ball for three-fourths of the game – 45 minutes and one second of possession time compared to San Diego State’s measly 14:59. BYU ran 85 plays to the Aztecs’ 48. The Cougars ran the ball 62 times for 293 yards.

Repeat – BYU ran the ball 62 times. What in the name of Steve Young, Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon and Ty Detmer is going on with that?

Whatever the reasoning, it was a highly disappointing result for the Aztecs since this is the worst BYU team since 2000, a season in which San Diego State actually did defeat the Cougars in Provo.

The Aztecs are now 2-16 in Provo with the other win coming when Marshall Faulk ran wild in 1992. There’s no telling when the next one will occur with the Cougars waving good-bye to the Mountain West Conference.

Hmmmm, wonder if the “Curse of Marshall Faulk” was the reason for Saturday’s loss. Um, don’t think so. (

What we do know is San Diego State (3-2) missed a major opportunity to start conference play on a winning note. The Aztecs next play No. 23 Air Force at home in a very pivotal contest.

So how about I make a prediction on what occurs against Air Force?

On second thought, how about not?

I’ve learned my lesson. Picking the Aztecs to win is a losing proposition.

Oh no, that infamous phrase regarding San Diego State athletics has been uttered again by a new hire.

You know the expression – the one that reminds you of the football program’s underachieving nature and all the untapped potential that supposedly exists when you are a major college entity amid the sunshine in Southern California.

Yeah, that reference to San Diego State being “a sleeping giant.”

Jim Sterk was hired away from Washington State to become San Diego State’s athletic director and Sterk didn’t waste much time digging out that long-used phrase that never seems to come to fruition.

“My peers in the Pac-10, Mountain West and around the country have always referred to San Diego State as a sleeping giant, with just a huge upside,” Sterk was quoted as saying in this Associated Press story:

Of course, no matter how often San Diego State changes up the administration or switches football coaching staffs, the Aztecs continue to be more like a snoozing midget in terms of athletics prowess. The football program last had a winning season in 1998 and the men’s basketball program has never won an NCAA tournament game.

That is a bad one-two combo, one even football player turned MMA fighter Herschel Walker could easily slap away.

So the tradition of the “sleeping giant” has arisen again with the hiring of Sterk, who had been at Washington State since 2000. A cynic might say Sterk will fit in just fine with the Aztecs since the Cougars have gone 3-22 in two seasons since Sterk hired Paul Wulff as football coach.

Even Chuck (not for) Long topped that performance. Long was 9-27 in three seasons before the Aztecs fired him after a 2-10 mark in 2008.

Dropping down from the Pacific-10 to a Mountain West school isn’t usually the direction an athletic director’s job path heads, though it should be noted he’s the second Pac-10 AD to make a similar move in recent months – Jim Livengood went from Arizona to UNLV.

Perhaps Sterk needed an escape route out of Pullman and has done a good job studying climates because he surely hit the location jackpot in moving from the cold, dreary area of the Palouse — yes, I spent a month there one weekend — for the sunshine and beaches of San Diego.

But will his decision-making be so good when it comes to improving the school’s athletic department?

You had to cringe to hear university president Stephen Weber talk about Sterk’s integrity since Weber’s previous athletic director hire, Jeff Schemmel, was forced out due to a lack of integrity (allegedly attempting to be reimbursed for travel while carrying on an extramarital affair).

Schemmel was the second San Diego State AD to exit under scandal in six years — Rick Bay in 2003 was the other. Mike Bohn was the athletic director in between Bay and Schemmel but left for Colorado after 18 months on the job before anyone could fully determine whether he was doing a good or bad job with the program (call that exceptional timing on Bohn’s part).

Only time will tell whether Sterk will get the job done and awake the “sleeping giant.” Football coach Brady Hoke is in his second year on the job and basketball coach Steve Fisher should at least have a chance at scoring an NCAA tournament win as long as freshman phenom Kawhi Leonard remains on campus.

But for now, the term remains the signature reminder of just how underachieving the San Diego State program has traditionally been.

After San Diego State gagged and blew a 21-point fourth-quarter lead to Wyoming on Nov. 14, I figured we’d learn a lot about these Aztecs the following Saturday against Utah.

And we did — San Diego State still is willing to roll over when the going gets tough.

Needing to upset No. 23 Utah to have any chance of an undeserved bowl bid — we at MrSportsBlog don’t think ANY 6-6 teams should ever play in a bowl game — the Aztecs sure didn’t act like it was a must-win game as they watched Utah build a 38-point halftime lead.

The Utes (9-2, 6-1 Mountain West Conference) called off the dogs and the Aztecs did eventually score during a 38-7 trouncing that showed San Diego State (4-7, 2-5) is still a long ways away from respectability.

Factor in Wyoming’s 24 unanswered points the week before, the Aztecs allowed an embarrassing 62 consecutive points between their own scores. Of course, by San Diego State’s standards, that’s not all that horrendous.

You might recall the 2006 season when Chuck Long’s first season sprung late-season leaks too. His squad allowed 93 straight points — 52 to TCU and 41 to New Mexico — between scores.

You have to question the preparation anytime a team gets worked in such a manner — San Diego State was playing another Mountain West Conference team, not an SEC or Pac-10 team — and that subject never sits well with a head coach.

Aztecs coach Brady Hoke was quizzed about the subject afterwards, according to quotes posted on Utah’s athletics Web site (

“I don’t think the team was unprepared,” said Hoke, presumably with a straight face. “Our guys were ready to play, but we played a tremendous football team. Utah is an awfully good team. They have been cultivating that for a couple of years. They are well coached and play hard.”

They certainly played harder than the Aztecs. The Utes needed just two offensive plays to score their first touchdown and blew the game open with a 24-point second quarter.

At that point, it appeared that Utah might score 60-plus points on the Aztecs but Utes offensive coordinator Dave Schramm (a former San Diego State assistant) showed some mercy.

Utah true freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn passed for 198 yards and a touchdown. The Oceanside High alumnus originally committed to Colorado while in high school but avoided the Dan Hawkins train wreck in Boulder by changing his mind and signing with the Utes.

San Diego State quarterback Ryan Lindley was miserable in the first half, completing just 4-of-18 passes with Utah’s Joe Dale picking off one and returning it 30 yards for a score. Overall, Lindley was 17-of-37 for 207 yards and two interceptions. He threw a fourth-quarter touchdown to Dominique Sandifer.

The Aztecs close their season against UNLV next Saturday. The Rebels have fired coach Mike Sanford and there’s no telling what type of effort they’ll bring to Sam Boyd Stadium.

Let’s hope San Diego State is better prepared and puts forth a better effort. It’s hard to tell how much progress the Aztecs have made this season when the victories have come against Southern Utah, New Mexico State, Colorado State and New Mexico. Lose to UNLV and the answer becomes pretty clear: Not much.

Of course, there are worse things than being Brady Hoke and coaching a team missing out on a bowl for the 11th straight season. Or did you miss athletic director Jeff Schemmel’s resignation, tied to cheating on his wife and hitting up the school for travel reimbursement for the affair?

Compared to that mess, the football program isn’t in that much disarray. But it still can’t spot the top of the Mountain West without a high-powered telescope.

New coach in that big old comfortable second-floor office, but same old San Diego State.

Jeff Schemmel resigned as San Diego State’s athletic director on Thursday amid scandal and I couldn’t help but recall how I figured something of the sort would eventually happen.

Of course, I never figured it would occur because of allegations that he cheated on his wife and submitted expense reports to be reimbursed for the fling.

Stealing from the university during an economic climate where students are building up major debt to attend college is beyond dumb. Being the leader of an athletic department and doing something like that is irreprehensible.

Cheating on your wife shows a major lack of integrity. If you’re willing to cheat on the spouse that has backed your career so faithfully and mothered your children, you’re certainly capable of fudging expense reports.

Personally, I don’t think Schemmel is a bad guy. But like a lot of athletic department officials around this country, he’s not afraid to lie a little. Or lie big.

I’ll never forget the hiring of football coach Chuck Long — now paid $700,000 a year to run campus errands — and how Schemmel said he wouldn’t be making any comments until the process was complete. On the day it became known Long was going to be hired, Schemmel was quoted by a reporter in Oklahoma (Long was the Sooners’ offensive coordinator) and San Diego media members were rightfully irate.

After the press conference to introduce Long, Schemmel told the assembled reporters that he didn’t know the person who approached him in Norman, Okla., was a reporter. Well, a few weeks later, Oklahoma was playing in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego and the same reporter who had comments from Schemmel was at San Diego State’s football field attending an Oklahoma practice.

Two reporters, including myself, told the Oklahoma reporter what Schemmel said and the guy shook his head and said that wasn’t true. Said Schemmel approached him and asked him if he was a reporter. Then he gave the reporter the comments that were published.

The message: If Schemmel would lie over an innoncous little thing like that, you just know he’d tell a fib over something big.

Another thing that always sticks about Schemmel is a follow-up meeting I had in his office shortly after he became athletic director at San Diego State in 2005.

I had done an hour-long interview with Schemmel for one of those new-guy-in-town type feature packages that newspapers tend to do whenever a new athletic director, football coach or men’s basketball coach is hired. After the initial interview, I discovered some discrepancies regarding his role in the infamous Minnesota basketball cheating scandal.

So I had some questions for Schemmel to clear up the contradictions over what he told me and what documents and published newspaper stories displayed. After a few questions, Schemmel was clearly dismayed. He leaned forward and admonished me in a very agitated tone of voice. 

When I told him I was trying to double-check facts and get the story accurate, he glared at me like I was totally out-of-line. Later on that day, all I could wonder about was what he had to hide.

The exchange was a good thing for my package of stories. I placed a call to NCAA vice president of enforcement services David Price knowing full well that NCAA enforcement officials seldom return a reporter’s call. Amazingly, Price returned my call to give me comment and began the conversation this way.

“Mike, you must be a very important person because I’m returning your call.”

I was left with the impression that Schemmel had called Price with a heads-up that I might be calling. So I went to get Schemmel’s resume — leaked to me during San Diego State’s athletic director search in the summer of 2005 — and sure enough, Price was listed as one of Schemmel’s references.

Nothing spoke louder about college athletics’ good-ol-boy network than receiving that phone call.

As for Schemmel’s San Diego State tenure, it won’t be remembered for much. The football team still hasn’t won a major-college bowl game and the men’s basketball program still hasn’t won an NCAA tournament game. The women’s basketball program is rolling but it was Mike Bohn who hired Beth Burns, not Schemmel. And the underachieving baseball program under Tony Gwynn needed a once-in-a-generation pitcher (Stephen Strasburg) to finally end that embarrassingly long streak of missing the NCAA baseball tournament.

But Schemmel definitely will be remembered for one thing — the athletic director who was dumb enough to risk his job and cause problems in his own marriage by using university funds to shack up with another married woman. Pretty sorry move for a former lawyer.

Some schools are known for national titles and others are known for producing professional talent.

And some colleges are infamous for their shortfalls.

Take San Diego State for instance. Talk to somebody from outside of San Diego and they chuckle when you tell them you graduated from San Diego State.

And if they are a college sports fan, it doesn’t take long for this question to emerge: “How come San Diego State can’t win?”

Happens all the time and all an SDSU alumnus can do is shake his or her head.

The worst part was when an Idaho alumnus once reminded me that his school has won both a major-college bowl game and an NCAA basketball tournament game and that San Diego State hasn’t done either.

I was trying to steer the conversation elsewhere when he brought up Idaho beating the Aztecs in 2002 — yeah, one of the most embarrassing football losses in San Diego State’s history.

Ouch. The scar is just wearing off now.

Anyway, San Diego State’s latest foray into the land of embarrassing losses occurred Saturday. The Aztecs led Wyoming — a team just as mediocre as them — 27-6 after three quarters.

Then as quickly as Brandon Heath can dribble a ball off his calf and cost the Aztecs an NCAA tournament victory over Indiana, the Aztecs disintegrated and Wyoming scored 24 unanswered points for a 30-27 victory.

That had me scouring the brain to find that way too big storage shed of sports knowledge for the following list — the 12 worst losses in San Diego State athletic history. And yeah, if you know your Aztecs’ history, you know that ties count in this category.

So here they are the dirty dozen:

1. Steve Fisher’s basketball team losing to Indiana in 2006 NCAA tournament despite having the lead and possessing the ball in the final half-minute.

2. Al Luginbill’s 1991 football team tying BYU 52-52 after leading by 28 points late third quarter with Holiday Bowl berth on the line.

3. Ted Tollner’s 1996 team losing to winless UNLV when Peter Holt’s field-goal attempt landed closer to the Las Vegas Strip than the uprights.

4. Chuck Long’s 2006 football team losing to I-AA Cal Poly.

5. Tom Craft’s 2002 team losing to Idaho, which had like one win in two seasons entering the game.

6. Steve Fisher’s basketball team leading UNLV by 10 points with less than 30 seconds left and losing game in OT.

7. BYU 63, San Diego State 14 in 1979 on ABC regional TV when Marc Wilson carved up the Aztecs and the outcome led to Claude Gilbert’s eventual firing. 

8. The 31-31 tie with USC in 1992 when Marshall Faulk ran wild but Andy Trakas’ short field-goal attempt landed near Tierrasanta.

9. Chuck Long’s 2008 football team losing to Cal Poly – again.

10. Brady Hoke’s 2009 football team blows 21-point fourth-quarter lead against Wyoming.

11. Al Luginbill’s 1992 football team loses shootout to Fresno State with Holiday Bowl berth on the line when Trent Dilfer throws TD pass with 14 seconds left.

12. Jim Dietz’s 2002 baseball team losing two games on final day of Mountain West tournament to BYU with NCAA berth on the line.