I've often been curious about that same thing - about the lack of big-time playing experience. Its interesting that coaches teach players to play within themselves in big games and to focus on fundamentals when they never experienced playing in monster games. Then again, maybe they've been in equivalent situations at a lower level. Also, maybe coaches don't need that kind of experience to truly be great coaches. This is a very interesting topic.
P.S. I'm a Class of '97 guy too and I remember those four 4-loss seasons fondly. The records do not reflect the excitement of those seasons!