Cavalcade of Whimsy - Miami, FSU ... Boise?!
Posted Sep 28, 2010

Is Boise State on the same track that Miami and Florida State were 30 years ago? Why is everyone so afraid of Boise State being good? Why a playoff would be so cool this year, Michigan quarterbacks, cooperating with agents, and more in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Sept. 28 - Week Four

Past Cavalcades
- 2008 Season | 2009 Season 
- Jan 19, Part 1 - Oh those wacky coaches 
- Jan 19, Part 2 - The sucky 2009 season 
- Sept. 7,  The Marcell Dareus Issue
- Sept. 14, The Boise State Issue
- Sept. 21,  MSU's Wild Weekend

E-mail Pete Fiutak

- Week Four, Part 2 - Heisman talk in September?! 

Sorry if this column sucks, it's not my fault … In order to prepare, I painted my practice column blue. It still ended up sucking.

"The world will soon be blown up; Halley's comet doesn't matter. The poor don't have $100 bills; which President is on a bill is a moot question, too." … Why are you so afraid of Boise State? Is it that the Broncos might get in the national title game, or is that they might actually win?

The anti-Boise State theme seems to be building across the land now that the two supposedly big tests (Virginia Tech and Oregon State) are over, and it's not fair, it's lazy, and it's getting extremely tired.

Of course the schedule stinks, and I'm 100% totally on board; I practically invented the "it's not you, it's the schedule" speech. We're all aware that Boise State doesn't play in the SEC West, and it doesn't need to be brought up in every single discussion. It's a thing, it's part of the equation, and it's an anchor that's going to be acknowledged all season long. However, it's okay to appreciate just how good this team is while also celebrating its ruthless ability to win game after game after game. And, depending how the season plays out, it's also more than okay to believe Boise State won't deserve to play for the national championship.

There's no reason to root against Boise State. If the SEC and Big Ten champions (at least other than Michigan State or Northwestern, who don't play Ohio State) go unbeaten, that's your national championship. Trust me; if there isn't an unbeaten SEC or Big Ten champion, the Big 12 champion will play for the national title if it finishes 13-0, and the same goes for Oregon, Stanford, or Arizona, if any of those three go 12-0.

The Big East is out of the picture and NC State won't go without a blemish, so there won't be a sticky Cincinnati-TCU debate like we almost had last year. There's no way the Broncos will ever get in over an unbeaten SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac 10 school, but the debate will be if they deserve a spot over a one-loss champion from any of those conferences. That's for down the road.

For now, though, try to enjoy Boise State for the dominant team that it is and understand that the whole national title question is moot if two BCS teams go unbeaten. Think of the next several weeks like a highlight compilation of a young Mike Tyson beating up the tomato cans on the way to a title shot. It'll be a devastating ride.

"Too bad, she said she doesn't want you here when she gets back because you've been ruining everybody's lives and eating all our steak." … The problem is that Boise State offends our sensibility of what's normal. Ohio State, Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and USC, are more than just college football names; they're college football powerhouses with more than a century of history. They're sports institutions.

Your great-great-grandpa opened up the sports pages and read about Michigan and Notre Dame and Texas and even TCU, while Boise State has been around for roughly ten minutes in the college football timeline. It's hard to grasp the concept that a school from Idaho, and not someone steeped in decades of tradition, might just have the best team in America. But this is nothing new.

The last time college football had two relative newcomers rise from obscurity into annual superpowers was roughly thirty years ago when Florida State and Miami invaded the old boys' club and changed college sports forever. It's possible that Boise State is on the same ascension (considering its No. 3 ranking and move to the Mountain West next season), and this could be the year, like 1987 was for both Florida State and Miami, when everything changes.

Florida State wasn't on the radar until Bobby Bowden took over and made the program rock in the late 1970s, and Miami was mediocre (to be kind) until Howard Schnellenberger created his fence around the "State of Miami" in the 1980s. But it took a little while for those two to become truly special, and they had issues, too.

It's not like the Seminoles and Hurricanes played schedules (at least early on) that were appreciably better than what Boise State is dealing with now. That whole aura of Miami blowing into South Bend, Norman, and Ann Arbor, and leaving with a W and the opponent's respect, didn't come until later. It took a miserable 1983 schedule to give the Canes a shot at the title, and they came through when given a chance with a win over a special Nebraska team. Boise State is looking for that same shot.

It took six years (from 1980 to 1985) for Miami to make the leap from being really good to becoming a perennial national title contender going 54-17 (76%) with a 2-2 bowl record with the one national championship during that span. The Canes won 25 games against teams that finished with winning records, averaging 4.2 per year.

Florida State didn't start taking home pieces of turf at places like Clemson, LSU, and Michigan until after all the parts were in place. Bowden's Noles played a lot of mediocre teams before the special seasons and the national attention started to come, but the program turned a corner in 1977 and took ten years before the season that sparked a run of teams that were national title-great on a yearly basis. From '77 to '86 the Noles went a tremendous 95-32-3 (73%) with five bowl wins and a tie. During that span, FSU beat 36 teams that finished with winning records for an average of 3.6 per year.

Boise State's ascension to this point has taken 11 years. The program has gone 122-20 winning an astonishing 86% of its games from 1998 until 2009. During this run, the Broncos have won six bowl games, two Fiesta Bowls, and 40 games over teams that finished with a winning record for an average of 3.64 per year. Now, there are a TON of cheap wins over bad, bad teams on the books, but the consistent excellence has earned more chances and more shots against the bigger boys and in bigger bowl games. However, the lack of public acceptance shows how far the program still has to go. This year is a push forward, even if there's resistance.

Beside the schedule, Boise's biggest problem, compared to what Miami and Florida State did, is the excitement and talent gap. The Noles and Canes loaded up with some of the most dynamic NFL athletes college football had ever seen ... after 1986. From 1977 to 1986, Florida State had just five players taken in the first two rounds of the draft. From 1980 to 1986, Miami had five players go in the first two rounds. Boise State has only had four players taken in the first two rounds over the last 11 years, and while FSU and Miami became NFL talent factories, Boise State doesn't appear to have anywhere near the same next-level stars waiting in the wings. The program's consistent excellence on the field might look good on paper and it might get the job done, but that's nothing compared to the swagger, attitude, flash, dash, and a whole lot of brash the Florida teams brought. Boise State is more one game at a time, and that doesn't always play as well as it should in Peoria.

Miami was Miami Vice, and Dan Marino, and Miami. Florida State was (and still is) sunshine, and parties, and prototype, next-level coeds. When "dancers" say they're working their way through college, that's the school. Idaho is Napoleon Dynamite.

Florida State had Primetime. Miami had Michael Irvin. Boise State has a blue turf and a marriage proposal. 

But that doesn't mean that Boise State can't make that next step and be special, national title contenders on a regular basis. It means it'll have to do things a bit differently than the Noles and Canes did, while hoping the wins can keep on flowing with the upcoming changes. Moving to the Mountain West will be a huge help, because Boise State needs a better slate, and a rival, to take its profile to another level.

Florida State and Miami had each other. The two played games that became legendary and beloved rivalry wars, kicking off on a national scale with the 1987 classic, while Boise State has had Fresno State. However, it could be TCU next year, and all of a sudden, Broncos vs. Horned Frogs could be the next big thing that becomes a must on every college football fan's calendar. 

So while Boise State is trying to knock on the door to be included among the giants, and it's trying to be the next Florida State and Miami record-wise, there's nothing it can do but keep on winning and hope the respect, and the chances, start to come. But the precedent is there for it to happen. Now.

I will not Google Christina Hendricks … I will not Google Christina Hendricks … I will not … wooooh … I'm sorry to be repetitive and I'm sorry to do this so early in the season, and I know this is the equivalent of seeing a beautiful woman you'll never share a scone and a Tazo with, but it would be just so, so, so cool if the CFN Playoff Plan was in place.

Imagine, the six BCS champions (we have to be practical and concede that we can't leave out the Big East and ACC), the top non-BCS league school, and one wild-card, the highest ranked team left on the board, in a playoff with the first round played on December 22nd, the Final Four ten days later on New Year's Day, and the national championship on January 10th. No one misses school, the other bowls can still go on like normal, and all of Bill Hancock's other BS excuses would be exposed as corporate nonsensical babble.

Alabama vs. West Virginia, Ohio State vs. Miami (on a neutral field), Boise State vs. Nebraska, Oregon vs. TCU.

(Heavy sigh.)

Sorry about that.

The last time it happened? Washington State went to the Rose Bowl … Pac 10, this is it. This is your chance. UCLA just applied an atomic wedgie to Texas, Oregon went medieval on Tennessee's butt, and Arizona sat on Iowa's head. Stanford looks terrific, USC (who isn't eligible) is unbeaten, and Arizona State was great at Wisconsin. Sure, Washington is miserable, Cal just gave up another first down to Colin Kaepernick, Oregon State can't beat a non-BCS team on the road (Too soon! Too soon!), and Washington State wouldn't be able to make the FCS playoffs, but there's no excuse to not get two teams into the BCS for the first time since the 2002 season.

And they didn't even get to keep up with a Kardashian … If the political action committee ("Playoff PAC") is right and the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange Bowls violated their tax-exempt status with perks, excessive gifts, and loans to their CEOs and employees, then shouldn't they be ruled ineligible by the NCAA? How about a USC-like probation and making them unable to play their games and not allow them to be a part of the national title hunt for a few years? I know, it sounds crazy, but it's not any more absurd than to punish USC for what Reggie Bush did. The difference, of course, is that Bush didn't do anything illegal.

"You know those photos where the new player holds up the team jersey and poses with the owner? That's me on the left." … CFN has obtained a copy of the carefully-crafted, well-articulated, e-mailed response crafted by the NFLPA and the agents, who received a letter from the NCAA looking for an "environment of cooperation" after the Reggie Bush controversy and all the recent scandals.

Cc: Nick Saban; Urban Meyer; Pat Haden
Bcc: All college football players with a glimmer of pro potential
Subject: Your Letter Seeking Agent Cooperation



George Rekers on line one. Something about his luggage? … This week's submission in the Tysson Poots Name I Wish Was Mine Award: New Mexico State LB Boyblue Aoelua. He made 16 tackles against San Diego State to start the season and leads the Aggies in tackles for loss.

And under RichRod, they all worked very, very hard … For being down over the last few years, Michigan has been absolutely loaded with quarterback talent. It's Denard Robinson's Heisman to lose, Tate Forcier is a veteran playmaker who could make the current Wolverine offense fly, and when all is said and done, Devin Gardner might be the best all-around talent of the three. Ryan Mallett, a Michigan transfer and one-time starter, could be the top pick in the draft, and Arizona State's Steven Threet, who didn't fit the Rich Rodriguez system and bolted, is currently No. 1 in the Pac 10 in total offense ahead of Andrew Luck, Jake Locker, and Nick Foles. The nation's leader? Mallett. No. 2? Robinson.

"Hello handsome. You're a good looking fellow, do you know that? People laugh at you, people hate you, but why do they hate you? Because... they are jealous. Look at that boyish face. Look at that sweet smile. Do you wanna talk about physical strength? Do you want to talk about sheer muscle? Do you want to talk about the Olympian ideal? You are a God. And listen to me, you are not evil. You... are... good." … It's absolutely astounding how much anger and vitriol there is when it comes to steroids in baseball, yet no one seems to care two licks when it comes to performance enhancing drugs in football. If some baseball player roids up, he hits a home run 450 feet instead of 400, or he adds another four miles per hour on his fastball. If a Lance Armstrong is a chemical factory, he's able to ride his bike a little further and a little faster. If a football player juices up, he could kill someone, or at least increase the concussion (paging Kevin Kolb) and injury factors. That's why I wish more investigation would be done on what happened in USC's weight room during the Brian Cushing years instead of all the legwork done on the Reggie Bush shenanigans.

Is anyone, anywhere wondering how Clay Matthews went from being a walk-on that no one wanted to the NFL sack leader? Of course an 18-year-old kid's wispy body can change into a freak of a pro prospect with time and effort in a college weight room under the supervision of a next-level strength and conditioning coach, and Matthews really might be legit considering his ridiculous work ethic and drive, but considering Cushing's suspension because of his "overtrained athlete syndrome," and that the gene factor doesn't wash because any NFL offensive lineman who played in the 1980s is under suspicion, Matthews' ascension into one of the greats has to undergo far more scrutiny. I hope Matthews is bona fide, I love the way he plays, but I'd like for those in power to at least start asking the necessary questions just to do their due diligence. NCAA, is time to put your power, resources, and iron fist to good and do more to look into performance enhancing drugs throughout college football.

"What the hell is going on? Hey, put that back on. Hey, ***hole, what do I look like to you?"
"A sitting duck."
… I dogged ESPN, presented by the SEC (or vice versa), for unnecessarily sending GameDay to SEC locations to do their infomercial for the product they spent a billion dollars to cover. What's fair is fair. Broadcasting from Tuscaloosa again (after going there for the Penn State game a few weeks ago) would've been more than acceptable with Florida coming to town, and even going to Dallas for the Red River Rivalry, despite the Texas loss, would've been understandable, but instead the show will go to Eugene for the Stanford – Oregon showdown. Considering the Gators and Tide will probably play again for the SEC Championship, the Cardinal – Duck game might be more meaningful.

"First rule of politics, kiddo. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story." … Herbstreit, Nucky Thompson called. He needs Saturday's suit back.

And I'm still pushing for GameDay to come broadcast from my breakfast nook, but my neighbor, Albert, would be the celebrity guest picker, and it's a coin flip on whether or not he wears a shirt … It's Year Two, Week Four of my open lobbying of the ESPN College Football Final show guys to give me a helmet sticker and the signed T-shirt, suitable for framing. Why do I deserve one this week? As I was walking into the store, I gave a dollar to the old dude collecting for the Kiwanis Club. He gave me a little bag of peanuts. I was in the store for just a few minutes, and when I came out the guy didn't recognize me and he asked again if I wanted to contribute. Instead of giving the standard, "I got you on the way in" line that the dingy house frau in front of me threw out, I gave him another buck. Fine, so I wanted more peanuts, but I saved countless lives with that extra dollar.

- Week Four, Part 2 - Heisman talk in September?!