Cavalcade of Whimsy - Why Favre Matters
Southern Miss QB Brett Favre
Southern Miss QB Brett Favre
Posted Oct 12, 2010

It might not seem like it, but the Brett Favre fiasco could turn out to matter to the college football world. The list of the greatest dynasties, the Big Ten's greatest icons, and, possibly, the worst college football game of all-time, in this week's Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Oct. 12 - Week Six

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
- Sept. 28,  Is Boise State the new Florida State or Miami?
- Oct 5, Oh, that wacky Les Miles

E-mail Pete Fiutak

- Week Six, Part 2 - 10 bold calls for the second half of the year, and more 

Sorry if this column sucks, it's not my fault … "It was wrong. Everybody in here knows it and everybody in college football knows it. It was wrong."

To kickoff a column revolving around the Cocks … Screw the Supreme Court. For this week, South Carolina, you're USC.

And they were still better informed than the voters in the Coaches' Poll … Chilean emergency crews have successfully tested a rescue hatch designed to retrieve 33 Harris Poll voters trapped underground since August 5th. Officials plan to begin lifting the men one-by-one to the surface early Wednesday. Officials say two college football experts and two paramedics will descend into the mine shaft to help the pollsters in the final rescue phase. The 32 pollsters and one Bolivian miner will be monitored for weeks to come to ensure their physical and mental health.

Alabama would still be ranked ahead of South Carolina … People, I'm asking you nicely. PLEASE, no more speculating on whether or not the poll system would be better if the rankings weren't released until now instead of before the season. It wouldn't. The Harris Poll comes out next week, and it's not going to be the slightest bit different where it matters.

"What's the matter with you? Don't you want to watch the World Series? Get your hands up. It can do you some good to get some exercise, putting your arms up in the air. That's it. Come on, let's … What is this crap? I watch the Series. I haven't missed the Series in years. Even in the cooler. When I'm in the cooler they run it there or they'll have a riot. What's the matter with you guys? Come on, be good Americans!" … After his Yankees swept the Twins, Mark Teixera was asked whether or not he'd be watching the Rays-Rangers series. He said, "It depends on what football games are on."

America was saying the same thing.

Baseball, the summer is all yours, and we do love you, but if you're going to put your showcase games up against the NFL or a college football Saturday, you will lose, and you will lose big. The final out of the seventh game of the World Series should be recorded at 11:59 p.m. on August 31st, because the second the calendar turns over to September, it's over and you don't really matter.

Even when the games don't necessarily matchup time-wise, people will watch other football games before they watch baseball. Case in point, in Philadelphia, the Eagles – 49ers game on Sunday night drew an 11.7 rating, while the Phillies' win over the Reds, played on an NFL Sunday afternoon, drew a 3.9. Playoff baseball on an October weeknight works, but not on the weekend.

Baseball and Fox caught a break with the Twins and Reds bowing out, but if the World Series is anything but Yankees – Phillies, the ratings will make Hello, Larry look like the final episode of M*A*S*H, and even then only about ten people outside of the eastern time zone will be watching. Nine of them will be Fox executives.

Because I've gone ten minutes without being called an idiot by some Trojan fan … I heard a few people this week refer to USC under Pete Carroll as a dynasty. A Pac 10 dynasty, of course, but taking the long and storied history of college football into account, one BCS Championship -- which is the only one that matters since 1998 -- doesn't automatically mean the era was one of the best of all time. Basically, USC, during the Carroll era, was the equivalent of the Atlanta Braves under Bobby Cox.

To very, very loosely define a college football dynasty, a program should've won at least three titles in a relatively short span (I'll go with around ten years), and be close several other times. There have only been seven true, unquestioned dynasties in the history of college football, but if you want to argue for Florida State under Bobby Bowden, USC under John McKay, Notre Dame in the 1920s, Michigan in the 1930s, Army in the 1940s, Nebraska in the mid-1990s, or what Florida will be if it wins another title under Urban Meyer, I won't put up any sort of a fight.

- Yeah, it was the 1890s, but according to the historians and the record books, Yale won 14 national titles from 1874 to 1894. (However, I'm not going to give it up to Princeton teams that were designated national champions with a 1-0 record.)

- Minnesota won three straight national titles from 1934 to 1936, and won back-to-back titles in 1940 and 1941.

- Notre Dame won a national title in 1938 and hit its stride in the mid-1940s with championships in 1946, 1947, and 1949, to go along with some near misses.

- Oklahoma in the 1950s won championships in 1950, 1955, and 1956.

- Alabama in the early 1960s won championships in 1961, 1964, and 1965 (with a few other debatable close calls).

- Alabama in the 1970s won titles in 1973, 1978, and 1979.

- Miami in the late 1980s. The run started with the 1983 national championship, but the true dynasty started to kick in with the 1986 season and the team that choked to Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Canes won it all in 1987, 1989, and 1991.

Speaking of Mike & Molly … Sometimes, when you see two really ugly people holding hands in a loving sort of way, it's nice to know that at least they found each other. In this mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, these two crazy kids fought through all the teasing and all the bullying to find joy and happiness in someone who they can relate to. That was Western Kentucky vs. FlU and New Mexico and New Mexico State this past weekend.

The Golden Panther 28-21 win over Western Kentucky was entertaining with a good ground game from FIU and solid defense on both sides with the Hilltoppers never giving up.

And then there was New Mexico vs. New Mexico State.

How ugly was this game? This was Otis Nixon and Ernest Borgnine sharing a latte. This was Sarah Jessica Parker's nose and Jennifer Gray's old nose bumping into each other. This was Michael Bolton singing When A Man Loves a Woman while doing the tango with The Hoff.

This was the Worst College Football Game Ever Played, and if you can find one that tops it (and I'm not talking about a Georgia Tech-Cumberland mismatch), please, give it a run.

You'd think that these two floundering programs would've been able to come up with some semblance of production since they're finally playing in an even game, but no. The Aggies beat the Lobos 16-14 with each team committing eight penalties and New Mexico turning it over six times (NMSU once) with one Aggie score coming off a fumble recovery to go along with three Tyler Stamper field goals.

NMSU QB Tanner Rust completed 5-of-10 passes for six yards and one interception against the worst defense in America … and won. That's a college passer efficiency rating of 35 and an NFL rating of 16.6 (which is Steve Young compared to the quarterbacking in the Chicago win over Carolina on Sunday). The Aggies threw for 38 yards and ran for 168, while New Mexico balanced things out with 114 rushing yards with the quarterbacks going 12-of-23 for 160 yards with a touchdown and an interception. New Mexico went the final 44 minutes without a point, while the NMSU offense never got into the end zone.

In case you were wondering, the Aggies go to Fresno State next week, while the Lobos, get two weeks off to prepare for San Diego State.

No. 51, and just missing the cut … Maurice Clarett! … Big Ten Network, if you're going to do a list of the greatest icons in Big Ten history, Steve Alford is top ten, not No. 16. Minnesota doesn't play hockey in the Big Ten (Neal Broten was named one of the WCHA's 50 Greatest Players). I'm sure Megan Hodge was great at volleyball, but she's going to be on a list that will have Magic Johnson's name on it. No. 38 Calbert Cheaney was a nice player, nothing more, Minnesota played football in the Western Conference (even though it was the Big Ten with a different name) before 1953 (no Bronko Nagurski for you), and LaVar Arrington shouldn't be within 72 miles of Chris Spielman, much less one spot higher. But at least Arrington played in the Big Ten.

John Cappelletti, No. 16 and ahead of the likes of Charles Woodson, Bubba Smith, and Scott May, is barely a college football icon, even with his 1973 Heisman and memorable speech. Of course, Penn State was an independent up until 1993 yet Curt Warner (No. 42) and Jack Ham (No. 22) are also on the list.

But if you're going to go by players who went to schools currently in the Big Ten, and you only have 15 spots left, leaving out the pretentious two or three "icons" who'll be on there from non-revenue sports that no one cares about, you still have to find room for Dick Butkus, Ron Dayne, Archie Griffin, Red Grange, Tom Harmon, Paul Giel, Eddie George, Troy Smith, Orlando Pace, John Hicks, Randy Gradishar, Leroy Keyes, Ted Kwalik, George Webster, Jim Parker, Bennie Oosterbaan, and Nike Kinnick, who all make any list of the 150 greatest college football players of all-time. And that's just football.

"Now I am tired of this s***. I'm sick and f***ing tired of an 8-10 record. I'm f***ing tired of losing to Purdue. I'm not here to f*** around this week. Now you may be, but I'm not. Now I am gonna f***ing guarantee you, that if we don't play up there Monday night, you aren't gonna believe the next four f***ing days. … Bobby Knight had a great bit about being worried that things were slipping away in a tight game with Illinois, and then he looked down at the other bench, remembered that Lou Henson was coaching, and knew everything was going to be okay. I get the feeling that Urban Meyer and Nick Saban feel the same way about Les Miles.

"Brett never said anything bad about Warren. He loves Warren...and from what he just told me on the phone, he loves you, too." … Yes, Brett Favre allegedly texting pictures of his penis and being caught trying to hook up with a woman other than his wife -- and a Jets employee -- matters beyond the Access Hollywood, sordid side, and it matters to the world of college football.

It's a story. It's a real, live, important story. If this really was Favre on the recording and in the pictures, and considering the lack of denials from the Favre camp, it seems like it was, then the NFL has to investigate and it has to render a Conduct Detrimental To The League sort of punishment. While what Favre did isn't in the Ben Roethlisberger category, it's certainly up there with Pacman Jones making it rain, and considering Roethlisberger was punished despite never being charged with anything, Favre deserves at least a two game slap on the wrist otherwise future players who get nailed for embarrassing things will rightfully scream about a double standard. This had to be covered and acknowledged, even if it was to say that it might not be true and the NFL was looking into it.

And when this broke, it was a tumbleweed in the ESPN journalistic desert.

The network that had its head fully stuck in the sand when it came to baseball and steroids, partly because of Bonds on Bonds, and it didn't cover or make mention of the Roethlisberger scandal until days after it happened. Last week, there wasn't one word on the sexts and voicemails, partly because ESPN's mortal enemy, Deadspin, broke the story, and partly because the story is lewd, ugly, and it involves a golden goose of a player who was going to bring in huge ratings on Monday night. The day the pictures were published and the story came out, all ESPN did was cover the Randy Moss angle and the Vikings' big game against the Jets, making the silence deafening.

And this is the network that's the most influential factor in who plays for college football's national championship, the Heisman, the rankings, and the way millions of millions of bowl dollars will be distributed.

If you're a gatekeeper of news and information, and, in some ways, the gatekeeper, how you deliver the message matters. Not doing anything with the Favre fiasco forces everyone to trust the source even less, and now that ESPN has so much to do with the opinions of those voting in the Coaches' and Harris polls, everything it does has to be questioned and scrutinized. There's no margin for error, or there could be a perception that the BCS Champion isn't legitimate and that a lack of media coverage contributes to some teams being left out of the debate. College football fans are a suspicious lot anyway, and with the way the Favre scandal was swept under the rug for 24 hours, there's yet another reason to question how the system works.

Considering the billion dollars the network paid to cover the SEC, why is anyone supposed to believe for a single solitary second that there won't be a disproportionate level of coverage and praise heaped on the leagues and the teams that'll bring ESPN the highest ratings? What are we supposed to think when the No. 2 SEC game of the day gets three minutes of highlights, analysis, and coverage, while the great Pac 10 or Mountain West matchup gets 20 seconds? You don't think the network would want Oklahoma playing Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl instead of TCU? You don't think it would cringe at the idea of Nevada or Boise State playing Miami in the Orange Bowl instead of Iowa?

Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Rece Davis and Mark May will always shoot the college football fan straight, but it's not up to them. If the man in the tower sends down the edict that they can't talk about a subject, like the literal radio silence regarding Favre, or if SportsCenter can't touch a story, or needs to pump up a certain aspect of another story, league, or team, then that's it.

"Richard? Who's your favorite little rascal? Alfalfa or is it Spanky?" … Could Favre give a tearful apology to the world, and not just the Vikings, for being a distraction?

"Time to rap about a controversy / Gonna take a stand, won't show no mercy / Lotta folks says jocks shouldn't be / Doing the sports news on TV / I don't wanna hear the latest scores / From a bunch broadcast school boys / So get your scores from a guy like me / Who knows what it's like to have a groin injury. G-g-groin, g-g-groin injury." … Who did more crotch grabbing this week, Favre or Jacory Harris? (in Krusty voice) … Hey HAY (bicycle horn honk) … Hooo-hooo ha ha!

"No, we weren't just good friends. We were lifelong friends." … Note to the Favre spin doctors. Learn from the steroid era, politicians getting caught cheating/being gay/both, and Clear & Present Danger. Take the scandal to the media, don't deny, and don't give anyone any room to let the story get out of control. The bell has been rung; let it finish, and like the Marv Albert fiasco, people will slowly forget. You bring in a few beat reporters you trust – you do NOT call a press conference – and you air it out.

Q: "Would you care to comment on the scandal and controversy?"
Favre: "Yeah, that was me. I did it. I'm an idiot. It wasn't that bad, huh?"
Q: "Well, um, do you have any other comment about the impact this might have?"
Favre: "I mean, I'm no Visanthe Shiancoe, and I guess I could've used a little manscaping, but I think I caught my good side. Look, it was a dumb mistake that I wish I didn't make. I regret it. I'm sorry, and this will never happen again. Now I want to just concentrate on getting a win."
Q: "Okay, but what about your family, your fans, and your legacy to the game?"
Favre: "Obviously I'm in deep doo at home, but that's between me and my family and I won't discuss it further. I'm sorry if I disappointed my fans. It was a stupid thing to do, and I know it. And as far as my legacy, if this erases 502 career touchdown passes and over 70,000 career yards in anyone's mind, then there's nothing I can do about that. I'm still going to go out there and play."

"I gotta tell you … nothing beats Wrangler." … You've got to admire Wrangler for going full steam ahead with the Favre ad campaign, even though the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ads are popping up more and more. There's nothing more American than blue jeans, a legendary NFL quarterback, the flag, ZZ Top, a dog, a pickup truck, and teein' one high and lettin' it fly. Sweet land of liiiiiberty …

And I'm still pushing for GameDay to come broadcast from my breakfast nook, but Madison is far, far more fun … It's Year Two, Week Six 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? I was Kenjon Barner and a tree was Anthony Carpenter as I flew off a bike path trying to avoid a pack of slow walking high school girls. Playing hurt, my brain stopped pounding … what's with the screaming lambs? … just in time to get rolling on Saturday, but … seriously, Clarice, the lambs! … I was able to fight through the 19-hour day on a mere 14 Advil, and now everything should be back to normal. Back to normal. Back to normal. Back to norrrrrrrrrrr.

- Week Six, Part 2 - 10 bold calls for the second half of the year, and more