C.O.W., Part 2 - There Really Is A Playoff?
South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffrey
South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffrey
Posted Nov 30, 2010

College football really has a playoff? This and more in part two of the Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 30 - Week 13, Part 2

By Pete Fiutak

 Nov. 30 The BCS Championship ground rules

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 Bowl Entourage
Look, you cash-strapped athletic departments, you don't have to accept the bowl bid. Going to a bowl game is a cash sinkhole for most programs, especially the mid-level ones who have to buy a certain allotment of tickets to a crappy away game that none of their fans can afford to go to. School presidents, it's time to be the adults. If you're worried about losing money you don't have, don't let your team go to the bowl. It's okay; we get it. The bowl representatives are snake oil salesmen and they're coming to take your money to make you stay in their hotels, pay for dinners, fill their stadiums, and basically give their businesses a reason to exist. However, if you want to go, then strip it down. You don't have to take the band, the secretaries, the wives, the girlfriends, the boyfriends, and all the periphery people who take the head count to an unmanageable level. Treat the bowl like just another road game and actually try to make some money for the show you're going to put on.

9. "Bricka bracka, firecracka, sis boom ba! Bugs Bunny, Bugs Bunny, rah rah rah."
During the Texas A&M-Texas game, with under ten minutes to play in the third and with Longhorns down ten, Jesse Palmer (who's getting good at explaining the raw X and O stuff) said that what the offense needed was for Garrett Gilbert to go in the huddle and yell, "Guys, let's go, it's game time. Let's get this thing going."

Tim Tebow wasn't a legendary player because he went Tony Robbins on the Gators; he was a legendary player because he played well. Of course emotion is part of the game, but if a quarterback is sucking the life out of a team by playing poorly, no offensive lineman is going to think, "Yeah, he's right, let's go. I'm going to block harder now." Teams get fired up by quarterbacks who move the chains and come through in the clutch, not when they're firing out empty motivational ploys.

8. Northwestern Possibly Playing at U.S. Cellular Field
There's nothing wrong with Ryan Field. Evanston is fantastic in the fall, the stadium has great sight lines, and Northwestern games are on a beautiful college campus. But the fan base just isn't there to fill the joint on a regular basis, so athletic director Jim Phillips has gotten quirky to try to pump up the product. Playing the Illinois game in Wrigley Field should be a one-and-done event. It was interesting because of the novelty, but the stadium is awful for football and there's no reason to ever play another game there again. Now there's talk of playing a Wildcat game in U.S. Cellular Field, where the White Sox play. There's playing a game for the spectacle and the history of the moment, like at Wrigley, and then there's just being silly. There's no reason to play football games in baseball stadiums, and to keep searching for the stadium to overshadow the team makes Northwestern football look cheap and desperate.

7. 1974 Ohio State 12, Michigan 10
Speaking of Kyle Brotzman … I had read about it, but I had never actually seen the classic 1974 Ohio State – Michigan showdown until last weekend.

A little background. Back in the day, the Big Ten would only send one team to a bowl game, the Rose Bowl, meaning a team could have a monster year, lose one game, and that was it. In 1973, the Wolverines and Buckeyes played to an infamous 10-10 tie with Michigan finishing the regular season 10-0-1 and Ohio State 9-0-1. It came down to a vote by the Big Ten athletic directors who voted for Ohio State, reasoning that a broken collarbone suffered by Wolverine quarterback Dennis Franklin would give the Buckeyes a better shot to beat USC. Michigan stayed home and the Buckeyes throttled the Trojans 42-21. (By the way, Michigan went 30-2-1 from 1972 to 1974 and didn't go to a bowl.)

With the controversy still swirling going into the 1974 showdown, Michigan was 10-0 and had given up seven points or fewer in eight of its first ten games, while Ohio State was 9-1 with the one loss coming to Michigan State on a miracle finish. The winner was going to the Rose Bowl and with a shot at the national title, while the loser's season would be over.

Ohio State was up 12-10 as the game came down to a 33-yard attempt by Michigan kicker Mike Lantry with 18 seconds to play. He was 4-for-13 on the year and missed two long kicks earlier in the game, and his kick went … wide left. Maybe.

Before 1991, the goal posts were a massive 23 feet, four inches wide before they were moved in to their current 18 feet, 6 inch width. From 33 yards away and on the right hash mark, he had to have really whiffed to push it wide left that quickly … and I'm not sold that he did. Look for yourself, but if he didn't make it, it was really, really close. Ohio State went on to lose to USC in a 17-16 classic. Michigan watched it on TV.

6. My Pac 10 Bias
To all the Pac 10 fans who think I don't like your league, you're absolutely wrong. All I'm doing is pointing out that 7/10th of your conference is bad at playing college football this season, and that Oregon and Stanford are in prime, national title positions because of it.

I don't care what the non-conference schedule is, I don't care who got injured, and I don't care what funny bounces went the wrong way, if a team can't win six games, it had a bad year, and if a team goes 6-6, it had a mediocre year. This season, if Oregon beats Oregon State and Arizona beats Arizona State, the Pac 10 will have five teams with sub-.500 records. And if Washington State wins the Apple Cup over Washington, 60% OF THE PAC 10 WILL FINISH WITH LOSING RECORDS. Don't confuse mediocrity with parity.

Yes, absolutely, there's no question about it; the Pac 10, especially compared to the Big Ten, plays amazing out of conference schedules. Sure, there were a few Arizona State vs. Portland State games, but for the most part, the league played real teams and isn't afraid to travel. However, you can't lose a slew of those non-conference games and then demand respect because you tried hard. 

Five Pac 10 teams played at least one non-conference game against a team currently ranked in the BCS Top 25, and the league went 0-6 in those games. USC and UCLA are two that didn't face any currently ranked teams, and while beating Iowa deserves credit, take a wild guess at the other three teams that didn't face a BCS ranked team.

5. Gamecock Droppings
On November 14th, South Carolina was ranked 17th in the BCS standings after throttling Florida in Gainesville 36-14. On November 20th, South Carolina dropped to 18th after hanging 69 points on Troy in a blowout win. Last week, South Carolina thumped Clemson 29-7 on the road. The ranking? 19th. That means that the Gamecocks managed to drop two spots over the last two weeks despite beating bowl bound teams by a combined score of 98 to 31.

4. Butkus Award
If Boston College tackling machine Luke Kuechly wins the Butkus Award, all will be fine and this will be much ado about nothing. Based on talent and pro potential, there's no questioning the five finalists, but based on the 2010 college football season, this isn't even close.

Georgia's Justin Houston and Texas A&M's Von Miller are defensive ends. They're technically linebackers, and they're 3-4 outside stars at the next level, but really, they're extremely productive hybrids. If there was a Lawrence Taylor Award, they'd be front and center for that. UCLA's Akeem Ayers is also a pass rusher, and while he had a good year, he was hardly Butkus worthy. He'll be a top 50 draft pick, though. And then there's North Carolina's Bruce Carter, who had a totally average year but will go in the top 20 in next year's draft.

Basically, it's Kuechly, who has made 171 tackles on the year, close to 30 more than anyone else, and a bunch of NFL pass rushing millionaires. Washington's Mason Foster has to be on any list of the top three linebackers in college football this year, as does Kentucky's Danny Trevathan.

3. Dopey Bowl Names
In today's world, if anyone wants to give you money, you take it. However, the bowl types have to know that the more obscure the sponsor, and the crazier the name, the less respect the bowl will get. Give a listen to the snark and the sarcasm the next time someone talks about how Boise State might go from being in the mix for the BCS Championship to the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl. This year, we have the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, The TicketCity Bowl, the GoDaddy.com Bowl, the BBVA Compass Bowl, and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Granted, it's not like calling it the Motor City Bowl instead of the Little Caesars Bowl will bring in any more viewers, but it just sounds so disposable and it feeds into the idea that there are too many bowl games to begin with. We were supposed to care about the EagleBank Bowl, but now it's gone. Actually, it's now the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman. Again, disposable.

2. Michael Vick
Vick served his jail time and is doing his community service, but he's still being hammered and questioned for his cruel and inhumane treatment of dogs, while the world continues to voice its mock concern over whether or not he's going to "make it." Meanwhile, it's supposedly okay for Sarah Palin to go Al Capone teamwork speech on a halibut in the name of sport, and the falconers, as profiled on Real Sports, can train birds of prey to satisfy their own bloodlust while getting off on the thrill of the kill. I'm still digesting three pounds of Thanksgiving beef tenderloin that was so beautiful that I wasn't sure whether or not to put it in the oven or make sweet, sweet love to it, so I'm not exactly Mr. ASPCA, but if you're going continue to scrutinize Vick and continue hold his past sins over his head, at least be consistent across the board with your animal rights indignation.

1. Yeah, A Playoff
It's with a heavy sigh and tinge of sadness that I unveil my Fourth Annual Me Wantee A Playoff Whine.

The FCS just had the first round of a real, live, college football playoff last Saturday, and the sun came up on Sunday morning. The Earth was still spinning, life continued to somehow march on, and people went about their daily lives with the vim, vigor, and a certain quiet dignity as if nothing had happened.

Oh, sure, we'll all remember where we were when the Leathernecks of Western Illinois beat Coastal Carolina 17-10, and a candlelight vigil will be held for Robert Morris after its 43-17 loss to North Dakota State. November 27th, 2010 – a date which will live in infamy after South Carolina State lost 41-16 to Georgia Southern. And time marches on after Lehigh's 14-7 win over Northern Iowa.

But think of all the lost class time these poor students are being deprived of? Has anyone considered all the hurt feelings and bruised egos of the four teams that didn't get to end their season with a bowl victory? And what about their health? Surely the extra football games can't be good for their bodies over the next three weeks of playoff Saturdays?

Just imagine if three weeks from now, while we're all enjoying a regular smorgasbord of bowl games, we also got to analyze the first round matchups of a tournament played after all the finals are over and everyone is done with school for the holidays. No. 1 seed Oregon vs. No. 8 seed Connecticut/West Virginia. No. 2 seed Auburn vs. No. 7 seed Virginia Tech/Florida State. No. 3 seed TCU vs. No. 5 seed Oklahoma/Nebraska. No. 4 seed Stanford vs. No. 5 seed Wisconsin. The six BCS conference champions, the top ranked non-AQ, and the top ranked wild-card, all playing a simple, lucrative, beautiful playoff.

You may now resume your life, already in progress.

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.

- Northern Illinois has won nine in a row and has obliterated the MAC. Against Eastern Michigan, a game the Huskies didn't need to try in, four players ran for 88 yards or more as the ground game ripped off 544 yards and eight touchdowns in a 71-3 win.

- The best head coach not at a major program: San Diego State's Brady Hoke. In two years, he turned the Aztecs into a power, and the hard-luck team of 2010. They lost four games to Missouri (on a miracle late pass play), BYU, TCU, and Utah by a grand total of 15 points. The 40-35 loss to TCU was the biggest margin of defeat this season.

- In a beautiful "up yours" to the killjoy NCAA rulemakers, a huge thumbs up to the Arizona Juron Criner/Wisconsin Montee Ball end zone celebration-not-a-celebration of trying to hand the ball to the official before crossing the goal line.

- The best performance this year that you didn't notice: Toledo's Eric Page vs. Central Michigan. The sophomore wide receiver caught 12 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns in the 42-31 win. He also threw a 28-yard touchdown pass and returned three kickoffs for a total of 215 yards with touchdowns from 99 and 95 yards out.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Tuesdays with Morrie … Underrated: Tuesdays with Temple
2) Overrated: 2008 Texas Tech … Underrated: 2010 Michigan State
3) Overrated: Nick Saban ... Underrated: Gus Malzahn
4) Overrated: Colin Kaepernick/Vai Taua ... Underrated: Eric Dickerson/Craig James
5) Overrated: Luther Campbell ... Underrated: Randy Shannon

"Tracy did mention we shouldn't let him gamble. Or drink too much."… Oh, no, no, no. Don't act like you didn't know this was coming. After years of my picks being a colossal suckfest, you had to know the cool front would sweep in at some point. … Week 13 Results: 1) Tulane +9 over Marshall (L, Herd 38-23), 2) Connecticut -1.5 over Cincinnati (W, Conn. 38-17, 3) Iowa -15.5 over Minnesota (L, Min. 27-24) … Record So Far: ATS 21-12-2

This week's picks: 1) Connecticut +1.5 over South Florida, 2) Hawaii -35 over UNLV, 3) Northern Illinois -17 over Miami University

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) Andrew Luck, QB Stanford, 3) Justin Blackmon, WR Oklahoma State

Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … it was cruising along with a 24-0 first half lead, and then it all went terribly, terribly wrong.

 Nov. 30 The BCS Championship ground rules