Cavalcade of Whimsy - The BCS Games We Want
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson
LSU QB Jordan Jefferson
Posted Nov 23, 2010

No, LSU can't play for the national title. No, Ohio State can't go to the Rose Bowl if Wisconsin beats Northwestern. What are the unwritten rules the pollsters need to go by when voting over the next two weeks? The BCS games we'd like to see, the Wrigleyville Classic fiasco, and behind the scenes on the GameDay set, in this week's Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 23 - Week Twelve

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
- Oct. 12, Why the Brett Favre situation matters
- Oct. 19, Is Oklahoma REALLY No. 1?
- Oct. 26,  What if all the underclassmen come back?
- Nov. 2, The Notre Dame Tragedy
- Nov. 9, The Hosing of Boise State
- Nov. 16, Cleaning up college football

E-mail Pete Fiutak

- Week 12 Part 2 - Who deserves to win the individual awards? 

Sorry if this column sucks, it's not my fault … the whole thing is being written on one side of the field. Sorry, but half of you aren't going to be able to see much. That's okay; you won't miss anything since it'll take you 40 minutes to get a hot dog and another half an hour to wait in line for the can.

"Four inches from your chest, Pyle! Four inches!" … Leave it to a soon-to-be 12-team conference called the Big Ten to have math and measurement issues.

"I think you'll find these exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory." … Player doesn't quite know the NCAA rule book and makes a mistake: He's history's greatest monster and is all that's unholy and wrong with the American university system and intercollegiate athletics. He should be purged, he should be flogged, and he should be suspended for a period of 2-to-4 games to provide ample time to adequately feel the shame he has brought to his God, his family, his country, his team, his school, and his coach.

Conference doesn't quite know the NCAA rule book and makes a mistake despite two years of planning: Oops! No biggie! Let's just change around the entire configuration of a meaningful college football game and play it all on one side of the field. That's why pencils have erasers! Thanks, NCAA, for being so swell and understanding!

Of course, anyone who sits in the Wrigley bleachers knows the game is always secondary … Brian Peters' 59-yard interception return for a Northwestern touchdown in the first quarter of the loss to Illinois is the one play that ended up going the other way into the unused end zone, and that should all but end any of the silly notions flying around that the people in the right field bleachers might file a class action lawsuit because their tickets didn't turn out to be quite as sweet as originally expected. You don't pay the premium to go to a gimmick game in Wrigley Field because you want to see the action; you pay the premium to go to a gimmick game in Wrigley Field because you want to say you went to the gimmick game in Wrigley Field. That you got hosed with 90% of the play happening on the other side of the field gives you a desperately needed 2:17 of additional smalltalk time at holiday parties. That alone is worth the additional surcharge.

And there would've been parking for under $40 … The common line thrown around by the Big Ten, the coaches, the Cubs, and everyone else trying desperately not to get blamed in the Wrigley Field fiasco was that things had to be changed to a Losers Walk format in the interest of player safety. If the health of the players truly mattered (besides the attempt to avoid of any sort of a lawsuit that would've come from a player crashing into a slightly-padded brick wall six inches from the field, when NCAA rules mandated that it needed to be six feet away), the game would've been moved over to the perfectly fine Ryan Field or to an unused Soldier Field.

"O.K. from now on I want you to call me "Jerry the Great"." … Calling a one-and-done football game (because you can't do this again with the field configuration issues) the AllState Wrigleyville Classic is sort of like giving yourself a nickname and assuming it'll stick. In ten years this game might be a classic because of the controversy, and possibly because of Mikel Leshoure's 330 rushing yards, there needs to be several years of games under the bridge before it can be called a "Classic."

Big deal … try making that same type of play with a guided missile of a strong safety bearing down on you … As a college football purist and pretentious historian, I feel like I should be all self-righteous with fists furiously shaking after what happened in Wrigley. I know I should go all keeper-of-the-flame, Bob Costas-ey, but I won't. (Of course, to pull a Costas, I'd also have to go into vivid detail about how the air smelled and which way the wind was blowing when Willie Mays made his historic catch in the 1954 World Series, like a two-year old Costas was apparently able to recall.) The game was entertaining, everyone appeared to have a blast, there weren't any major complaints, and Wrigleyville was buzzing. For this one time, okay, it'll go down as a unique quirk in college football history.

"Okay, gentlemen, another scenario: Da Bears, they don't make it, the plane is delayed, and the only one who shows up is Ditka. Ditka vs. Da Giants. Okay, score, gentlemen." … The good people of GameDay let me hang behind the scenes at Wrigley to watch the show in action. My top five moments …

1. It's hard to be Erin Andrews. Yeah, if you don't like the heat, stay off Dancing With The Stars, but to get through a crowd to go anywhere she had to put her head down and barrel behind a wall of blockers. It's part of her deal now, but every single moment of everything she did was captured on someone's cell phone. She got about 14 seconds to take a quick break to fire down food behind the stage, and people were right there with cell phones trying to record it. She was on the stage at butt-to-my-eye level about three feet away as a stagehand was trying to attach a wireless mike to her backside, and it sounded like crickets chirping from all the pervy photos being snapped (no, not by me) by all the fans outside of the gate. I felt bad for her considering she's just trying to do her job, and then I remembered she's a hot chick working in TV. Life isn't really that bad.

2. Ernie Banks got knocked into me as he tried to get on stage. I apologized just to be polite (and because he's Ernie Banks), and he needlessly apologized right back, even though it was just a little bump and wasn't any big deal. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mike Ditka flat-out ran into me and grumbled as he blew on past, making it the most pleasant moment I've ever experienced with the guy.

3. Coaches are coaches are coaches, and they all have tunnel vision. I've talked to TCU head coach Gary Patterson a few times, including an extremely friendly 45-minute one-on-one phone discussion in the offseason. In my Wait'll Otis Sees Us moment ...

"Hi Coach, Pete Fiutak,, it's nice to meet you." (hand extended)
"Yeah, okay."
And off he went.

4. I know it might seem played out, but watching the process of the Lee Corso headgear prediction from the start, including the hiding of the Illinois helmet to keep it out of view, was wildly entertaining. The place was up for grabs as the crowd, the guys on the set, and the people backstage all went nuts.

5. The reason why the show works is because Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, and Lee Corso are deeply passionate about college football. It's not an act. They're not TV guys doing a job, and they're not ex-jocks making noise on some pregame show to hear themselves talk. They're geeked out fans who get to talk about college football, and there's nothing phony about any of it.

Herbstreit is legitimately fired up when he talks about the games, and he's even better when he's talking about the main issues. Thundering away on his BlackBerry whenever he's off camera, he's working more than it might seem for the few moments he's on screen.

Fowler is an absolute rock. Through 38-degree weather, screaming crowds, drunken hecklers, blaring sirens, and about 715,000 other distractions all happening at once, he's flawless as the emcee and the conductor. That it was all done without a hiccup on-screen was impressive.

College GameDay continues to be the gold standard, and it's even more impressive off-camera. It helps to have young, crazed fans to bring the energy, and it helps when the show is an event on top of the event itself. It also helps to have the talent on the stage. This doesn't work with just anyone.

"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads." … Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy wasn't chosen among the 12 semifinalists for one of the two Rhodes Scholarships. I didn't get it because I spelled it Rhoads, like the Iowa State head football coach whose name I consistently spell Rhodes. If you have to look up Rhodes Scholar to get it right, you had better nail the interview cold. Showing up in a Pobody's Nerfect t-shirt and flip-flops got things off to a bad start.

"ASO: Step over here, please.....raise your you have any artificial plates or limbs?
Derek: Not really, no....
ASO: Uh...would you umm...... "
… You're not allowed to complain about the humiliation of what happened during a TSA frisking if you choose to go into graphic detail about it on national television.

"The first rule of Project Mayhem is you do not ask questions." … It's often a waste of time to deal in speculation, but let's try to all agree on all the unwritten BCS pecking order rules right now before we start the two-week finishing kick to end the regular season. Voters in the human polls, depending on what happens, you need to take these items into account to make the national title fair and to keep the integrity of the 2010 regular season intact.

- Auburn, under any circumstances, can't play for the national title if it loses to South Carolina in the SEC Championship. If, theoretically, you're not the best team in your own conference, you can't play for a chance to be considered the best team in America. Call it the unwritten 2003 Oklahoma rule.

- LSU, under any circumstances, can't play for the national title. It doesn't matter if Auburn loses to Alabama and South Carolina, and if Oregon, Boise State, and TCU all lose. LSU didn't win the SEC West and doesn't win any sort of a tie-breaker, so it doesn't get to play for the SEC championship, so it doesn't deserve to play for the national championship. Call it the unwritten 2001 Nebraska rule.

- Unless Wisconsin plays in the BCS Championship or loses to Northwestern, Ohio State, under any other circumstances, cannot leapfrog the Badgers in the rankings and cannot play in the Rose Bowl. If Ohio State loses to Michigan, Wisconsin, unless Michigan State loses to Penn State, can't play for the national title because it will lose the Big Ten title tie-breaker.

"And the second rule about it is you're not supposed to talk about it." … BCS bowl officials, you're all about money and you'd take Utah State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette over Oregon vs. Auburn if it meant you'd make one extra dollar, but after stiffing us fans by sticking TCU and Boise State at the kiddie table last year in the Fiesta Bowl, we demand the most compelling matchups possible.

BCS, as a representative for the college football world (crap, I'm channeling my inner Costas), I'll make you a deal. We will all go 24 hours without saying how much the BCS sucks if you promise to give us a reason to watch your showcase exhibition games. Keeping within the confines of the rules and the at-large pecking order, here is what we demand.

1. Fiesta Bowl, you're going to have to take one for the team. Despite what the BCS computers might say, the Big 12 really isn't that big a deal. Because we need to have several questions answered, you're going to need to suck it up and take the Big East champion to face your automatic tie-in from the Big 12. On the plus side, if West Virginia wins the Big East, it's make it rain time for you with the Mountaineer nation storming Glendale. However, you might have to hold a bake sale to make up for the empty seats if it's Pitt or Connecticut.

2. Sugar Bowl, you'll get a second SEC team at worst and Auburn at best. In any event, the SEC will take one spot, and you'll also take Boise State. If the consistent beef is that the non-AQs don't play a real schedule, then give the Broncos a shot against the SEC and we'll take our chances that they'll play more like 2008 Utah than 2007 Hawaii. It's totally and completely unfair, but TCU, unless Boise State plays for the national title, you should probably be the one team left without a chair when the music stops because …

3. Rose Bowl. Give us Stanford. We know, we know, you want to get rid of that ridiculous requirement that forces you to take a non-AQ team at some point over the next four years, and we know you're going to take TCU or Boise State if Oregon plays for the national title, but you're the Rose Bowl and we want Big Ten vs. Pac 10. More importantly, we want Stanford vs. Wisconsin get so we can all have one brief but glorious respite from the tippy-tappy, wine-and-cheese spread world. Okay, I don't speak for the fans on that, but I'd like to see the Cardinal-Badger slugfest of a heavyweight fight. Also, there's no complaining whatsoever to see if the Oregon offense works against the Badger defensive front that'll get a month to prepare.

4. Orange, the Georgia Tech-Iowa game was sort of a dud, basically because the Hawkeyes had time to prepare for the option and they stopped it dead cold, but we'll take our chances with the Big Ten vs. the ACC again. This Hokie team is better than 2009 Georgia Tech, and an Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech matchup would be extremely entertaining.

5. Of course, all the matchups are set up by the BCS Championship. Oregon vs. Auburn is a no-brainer, but if Auburn wins out and Oregon loses, give us Auburn vs. Boise State. The Broncos started the season in the top five, and they did everything they were supposed to do. In fact, if Auburn loses once and Oregon wins out, give us the Ducks and Broncos. In the history of college football, find the team that started out the year in the preseason top five (fifth in the Coaches' Poll and third in the AP), was the only unbeaten team left standing in the top five, and didn't get a shot for the championship.

Thanks for your time, BCS. Now try to do your best to not suck.

"Well sir... You are a cowardly sonofabitch because you have just shot down an unarmed man." … Heisman voters, it comes down to this. What are you more comfortable with, and what will make it easier to sleep the night after you cast your ballot. Which sounds worse to you, voting for Cam Newton, only to find out later that this is another Reggie Bush situation, or not voting for him because you assume something will be uncovered, but nothing happens or he turns out to be innocent? For me, I'm voting for him. If it turns out he did something wrong, it's not my fault. Not voting for him just because of what I think might happen wouldn't be fair to the process.

"Ohhhhh, goooood for you. And how was it? I hope it was (bleep)ing good, because it's useless now, isn't it?" … Arkansas running back Knile Davis was an absolute bear in the win over Mississippi State. He ran with power, speed, and toughness, working inside and out in a nasty, hard-fought SEC battle, finishing up with 30 carries for 187 yards and two touchdowns and catching it two times for 12 yards and the game-winning score in the second overtime. However, trying to ice the game late in regulation, he was nailed and lost a fumble. As Davis was running off the field, a mortified Bobby Petrino yelled, "How could you do it?" Able to channel into Davis's brain, CFN has obtained the exclusive transcript of what the Arkansas running back was thinking when he passed by his exasperated coach.

"How could I do it? Oh, gee, I don't know, maybe it's because I've been pounding away for three hours and was desperately trying to get that one extra yard to win a game that I've just given my heart, soul, and guts to. I'm really, really sorry if I cost you a set of steak knives, but no one on the planet feels worse than I do about putting the ball on the ground in a key situation. How could I do it? Nice coaching. I'm sure you can put that in your teaching video right next to the chapter entitled Shelley Long Career Moves as you describe exactly how and why you quit on the Atlanta Falcons, who somehow recovered with you not there. How could I do it? You give that some thought while you're taking a treasure bath in the 700K worth of incentives I'm helping you get as a part of your $25 million dollar package. Now go get me a Gatorade while I go back to try to win you a football game."

Now that I've seen the fun first hand, I'm no longer pushing for GameDay to come broadcast from my breakfast nook. … It's Year Two, Week Twelve 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? Enough is enough. I'm the only man in America bold enough to declare Thanksgiving turkey to be ridiculously overrated, so I'm bucking over 200 years of tradition by making a bird for everyone else, and beef tenderloin for myself. Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Eat too much, watch too much football, and be a better person along the way. Because of the economy, many food banks are in crisis mode. Go to ... your Thanksgiving will taste better.

- Week 12 Part 2 - Who deserves to win the individual awards?