C.O.W. Part 2 - Why Stanford Will Be Left Out
Stanford QB Andrew Luck
Stanford QB Andrew Luck
Posted Nov 16, 2010

Why Stanford will be left out of the BCS fun, in Part 2 of the Week 11 Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 16 - Week 11, Part 2

By Pete Fiutak

 Nov. 16, Cavalcade of Whimsy, Part One. Cleaning up college football

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
The ten things about the world I'm grouchy about …

10. The Biletnikoff
You can only pick one. Out of the ten Biletnikoff Award semifinalists, Hawaii's Greg Salas, Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller, SMU's Aldrick Robinson, Western Michigan's Jordan White, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery, and Alabama's Julio Jones leave the island after the first cut. That leaves Kentucky's Randall Cobb, who's the best all-around college player in the group, and the most valuable, leading the nation in all-purpose yards averaging a whopping 186 per game. Georgia's A.J. Green has saved the Georgia season, and the early part of Aaron Murray's career, with 41 catches for 674 yards and nine touchdowns after missing the first four games. But his stats don't show his real worth. Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles leads the nation in receptions per game and has been consistently unstoppable, with two three-score games in his last three outings. Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon leads in yards per game, averaging a ridiculous 159 yards per game with 16 scores, getting into the end zone in every game. Blackmon will win, but Broyles is No. 1A, Cobb is the most valuable, and Green is the most talented.

9. Michigan State and the Big Ten tie-breaker
If Iowa beats Ohio State and there ends up being a tie at the top of the Big Ten between 7-1 Michigan State and 7-1 Wisconsin, then the Spartans go to the Rose Bowl because they beat the Badgers. Done. So logically, shouldn't the Spartans win the tie-breaker between them, the Badgers, and Ohio State if the Buckeyes beat the Hawkeyes and there are three teams at the top at 7-1?

MSU and OSU don't play and Wisconsin beat OSU. Therefore, Wisconsin wins the tie-breaker over the Buckeyes, and MSU wins the tie-breaker over Wisconsin, so Sparty is off to Pasadena, right? Of course not. Instead, down the tie-breaker line in case of a three-way tie, the Big Ten has the moronic rule to send the top-ranked team according to the BCS rankings to the Rose Bowl. That's almost certainly going to be Wisconsin, and then Ohio State, because it's Ohio State, will likely get an at-large BCS bid. That means that Michigan State, who actually would win the tie-breaker on the field and should go to the Rose Bowl, will almost certainly get left out of the BCS entirely.

8. Texas and Mack Brown
Even if the team did quit, and even if the coaching staff hasn't been able to properly teach this squad, and even if the Longhorns end up losing to both Florida Atlantic and Texas A&M in brutal fashion to drop the final six games of the year, and eight of the last nine (Nebraska isn't getting punished enough for that gaffe), no, Mack Brown shouldn't be on any hot seat. This doesn't seem like a case of Florida State losing its fastball, or Michigan hitting the skids, or Nebraska trying to revamp a few years ago. This is an aberration, and even if it's not, Brown gets next year, at the bare minimum, before Texas should even begin to think of firing him. You don't win ten-plus wins in a row for nine straight years, and you don't get in the thick of the national title hunt as often as Texas has, without being special. Brown is an all-timer of a coach, and to any Texas fan who might think otherwise, John Mackovic is available.

7. Bo knows Old Country Buffet
It's impossible for anyone under the age of 30 to fully comprehend what Bo Jackson meant to the world of pop culture 20 years ago. He was an athletic god with the dream blend of linebacker size, Olympic-level speed, and Madison Avenue panache, able to hit a steroid-free 500-foot home run and tear off a 91-yard flash-of-light touchdown run with breathtaking ease. That's why it's so startling to see how, arguably, the greatest all-around athlete of the second half of the 20th century could end up with such a huge gut. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's certainly not uncommon for a 47-year-old ex-athlete to not be in great physical condition, but still … a spare tire? On Bo Jackson?

6. The Sports Illustrated 16-team playoff
I would rather have no playoff than a bad playoff, and what Sports Illustrated and others are trying to push is a bad playoff. To not understand that the regular season means everything to college football is to not understand college football. To not get why Michigan vs. Ohio State actually matters in the grand scheme of the game compared to Duke vs. North Carolina in basketball, Yankees vs. Red Sox in baseball, and Bears vs. Packers in the NFL is to not get college football. While the idea of including all the conference champions in a playoff might be noble, and it's an idea CFN pushed for a long time, there's no need for Northern Illinois, UCF, and Troy to all have a shot at the national championship. More importantly, there's absolutely no need for LSU, Alabama, and the Big 12 title game loser to have a chance. 16 teams are way too many, but on the right day, I might buy the idea of 11 conference champions and one wild-card, with the top four teams getting a bye, but eight is the right number. Eight keeps the integrity of the regular season and provides a manageable playoff. Eight keeps out the riff-raff. I don't like the cliché that every week is a playoff, but every week should determine how one is shaped. A 16-team format isn't bliss; it's mediocrity being given a second chance.

5. Changing coaches
Once and for all, the misguided old adage that college football teams can't and shouldn't dump bad coaches in the middle of the season needs to be blown out of the water. North Texas was awful, didn't improve under Todd Dodge, who went 6-37, and made a change midway through this year. Even with Dodge's son, Riley, remaining as the starting quarterback, the Mean Green got better instantly under interim head man Mike Canales. In the last three games, UNT has gone 2-1, after starting the year 1-6, and scored 91 points after scoring 118 in the previous seven. Colorado had the same situation with Dan Hawkins getting canned after an epic fourth-quarter collapse against a miserable Kansas team. With his son, Cody, under center, the team rebounded instantly under interim head man Brian Cabral, blowing away Iowa State 34-14 in one of the team's most complete performances in years. Minnesota could've easily quit with yet another season going in the tank and after the overmatched Tim Brewster was fired, but interim head coach Jeff Horton has taken the pressure off and the team played like it in a stunning 38-34 win over Illinois. It's never nice to play around with a man's job status, but college football coaches are just college football coaches. They're replaceable at any time, especially if the job isn't getting done.

4. Jeremiah Masoli
After all the controversy and after all the string-pulling to get the troubled former Oregon Duck to Oxford, Masoli's one-shot season has been a big dud. It's hardly his fault with a defense that can't stop any offense with a slight pulse killing the season, but the offense isn't exactly humming. Masoli, who was so tough and so special at Oregon, should've been made to run the ball for Houston Nutt, but instead the sizzle isn't there. Masoli has rushed for just 468 yards and four touchdowns on the year with 104 yards and a touchdown coming in a loss to Vanderbilt. Most importantly, the passing hasn't come around, bottoming out last week completing just 7-of-18 passes for 80 yards and three picks in the loss to Tennessee. He can still turn things around in the final two weeks if he goes nuts against LSU and Mississippi State, but it's asking a lot for the light to suddenly go on in such a rough year.

3. Heisman voting
It's my annual beef. Heisman ballots have been mailed out and the voting will be open, even though we're early in the fourth quarter of the race. Of course Cam Newton is the only possible No. 1 choice right now based on what's happening on the field, but that's not the point. Heisman voting should only be done online and after the conference title games are over. If you don't have the ability to vote online, you probably don't have enough access to be informed enough to cast a reasonable vote. Hold on to those ballots until the last possible nanosecond, and after the games have been played (not counting the Army-Navy game), then vote.

2. Pac 10 Bowl Bids
Tell me if any of this sounds improbable, much less impossible. Oregon State, who just lost to Washington State and UCLA, loses two of its final three games against USC, at Stanford, and Oregon.

UCLA, who's 2-4 in Pac 10 play, loses two of its last three games at Washington (with two weeks off to prepare), at Arizona State, and against USC.

Arizona State, whose two wins in the last eight games came against Washington and Washington State, beats UCLA at home but loses at Arizona.

Washington, who has lost three straight, loses one of its final three games against UCLA, at Cal, or at Washington State.

Does any of that seem the slightest bit far-fetched, or does it all seem likely? A little less believable is Cal losing at home to both Stanford and Washington to close things out, but even that's not too crazy.

If all of that happens, because USC is ineligible to go bowling, the Pac 10 would have exactly three teams eligible for bowl games: Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona. Every other conference, including the Sun Belt, will almost certainly have more, and they're prepared to pounce if the Pac 10 can't fill its slots. Most likely, Cal will be added to that mix to give the conference four bowl teams, but considering this is supposed to be the big stepping-stone year for the league before Colorado and Utah join next season, and considering we're all supposed to buy into Oregon as the No. 1 team in America, this appears to be a completely and totally mediocre collection of teams. When a dying Arizona, or a USC without a D, is your third best team, there's a problem.

1. Stanford
I might rail a bit too much about Oregon and the Pac 10 lately, and I do believe the conference is a bit light and doesn't play any defense, but it's not about what I believe, it's about what I can prove. Facts are facts, and the fact is that Stanford, through no fault of its own, is probably about to get screwed.

The Cardinal strength of schedule isn't great, ranking 66th in the nation, one spot behind Boise State, but the computers don't care, checking in with a No. 5 overall ranking in the BCS standings. The humans are less interested, with both polls that matter putting Stanford eighth. Overall, though, the Cardinal is sixth with a comfortable lead over Wisconsin and as the second-best one-loss team behind LSU.

Alright, fine, so the schedule is awful, beating Sacramento State, UCLA, Wake Forest, Notre Dame, USC, Washington State, Washington, Arizona, an Arizona State, with an honest chance that Arizona is the only bowl bound team in the bunch, but the one loss is to No. 1 Oregon on the road. No, this isn't a résumé to suggest that Stanford deserves to be in the national title discussion, but it should at least get a BCS game, and it probably won't because it doesn't have a huge fan base.

The BCS wants butts in the seats, and if it has to take a Pitt or a Virginia Tech, it's going to want a Wisconsin or a Nebraska in the mix. Of the ten BCS slots, as it stands right now, the BCS conference champions will take up six of the openings, and TCU or Boise State is guaranteed a seventh. That leaves three spots open, and the Big Ten and SEC will each get a second team in without question, and it'll be a nearly impossible sell to the college football world to leave out an unbeaten TCU or Boise State. And there's your ten, and there's Stanford probably going off to the Alamo Bowl. Even if the BCS types choose to leave out the loser in the TCU/Boise State debate, they'll almost certainly go for the Big 12 title game loser, Nebraska, Oklahoma, or Oklahoma State, over the Cardinal because of the sheer numbers.

Theoretically, if Oregon is the No. 1 team in the country, Stanford might be No. 2. But it's not going to matter. The Cardinal will likely get squeezed.

Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn't feel like writing bigger blurbs for.

- Considering how much money programs lose by going to a bowl game, as detailed by the latest piece in Sports Illustrated, wouldn't it have been a bigger punishment to make USC go to a bowl?

- Nobody will go for it, but a case could be made that Lane Kiffin deserves Coach of the Year consideration going 7-3 with a down team with nothing waiting at the end of the rainbow. His team is playing hard.

- Pitt's Greg Romeus is out for the year with a torn ACL. Reason No. 381 why to turn pro when you're able.

- From e-mailer, Walt Mussell, who put it perfectly, "The ultimate irony in the media's zeal in steamrolling Auburn and the Newtons is that the media is trying to prevent a repeat of what happened to Auburn."

- On the flip side, Terrelle Pryor has already said he's coming back for his senior year. And the other option was … ?

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world

1) Overrated: Marcus Dupree … Underrated: Al Bundy
2) Overrated: Oregon's Quack Attack … Underrated: Massive Attack's Heligoland
3) Overrated: Bucky No. 1 doing pushups for the first 69 points ... Underrated: The alleged Bucky No. 2 doing pushups from for the final 14 points
4) Overrated: .8966 ... Underrated: .8634
5) Overrated: Auburn vs. South Carolina, Dec. 4 ... Underrated: Auburn 35, South Carolina 27

"Tracy did mention we shouldn't let him gamble. Or drink too much."… If you're a regular reader of this column and you're an investor, then you know exactly what to do with this can't miss, five-star, Master Lock picks of the millennium. … Week 10 Results: 1) Ohio State -17.5 over Penn State (W, OSU 38-14), 2) Utah -5.5 over Notre Dame (L, ND 28-3), 3) Utah State -4 over San Jose State (T, USU 38-34) … Record So Far ATS: 17-11-2

This week's picks: 1) Clemson -13 over Wake Forest, 2) Oklahoma State -23.5 over Kansas, 3) Illinois -7 over Northwestern

If the college football season ended right now, this would be my Heisman ballot cast for the Most Outstanding College Football Player in the United States for 2010. … 1) Cam Newton, QB Auburn, 2) Kellen Moore, QB Boise State, 3) RB LaMichael James, RB Oregon

Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … I showed tremendous heart and guts leading the Wildcats to a thrilling late drive and a win over Iowa before blowing out my Achilles with a little hop following the game-winning scoring pass. Get healthy soon, Dan Persa.

 Nov. 16, Cavalcade of Whimsy, Part One. Cleaning up college football