C.O.W., Part 2 - Momentum & Bowl Wins
Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward
Ohio State DE Cameron Heyward
Posted Jan 6, 2011

What does winning a bowl game mean for the next year? It didn't translate into much for last year's winners. This and must more in Part Two of the January 6th Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

January 6, Part 2

By Pete Fiutak

 Jan. 6 - The Michigan Situation

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 Gatorade Bath.
What used to be a played out gimmick has now become a ritual that replaced the victory formation as the unofficial end of a big game: the Gatorade bath. The timing has to be right. Too early and it's seen as disrespectful to the other team and the game. Too late, and the moment is gone and it's no longer a quirky-fun moment. But however it happens, when it happens, coaches, be happy you're getting all wet, cold, and sticky.

It's a moment of release for the players in a defiance of authority that says, "you can't punish us now, we just did everything you asked of us and we accomplished our goal." Coaches, you need to take it that way and enjoy every icy drop. Your whole world is full of stress, strain, long hours, and general grouchiness. For those few seconds, take the bath for what it is and with the spirit it's being delivered. You can go back to being a miserable workaholic for the other 364 days, 23 hours, and 58 minutes, but enjoy that moment and smile about it. Don't pull a 2010 BCS Championship Nick Saban.

9. The Orange Bowl's Marriage to the ACC
Orange Bowl, you have GOT to get out of your tie-in with the ACC. It has become more oblivious than ever that ACC teams just don't move the needle and don't put butts in the seats. Of course it should've been UConn vs. Virginia Tech in the Orange and Stanford vs. Oklahoma in the Fiesta. Of course.

I'm not saying the ACC isn't worthy of an automatic invite into the BCS, it's just that the entire system should be more flexible so one bowl doesn't have to get stuck with the weird uncle. I'm fine with keeping the Big Ten vs. Pac 10 matchup in the Rose Bowl, but there's no traditional tie-in or reason to automatically put the Big 12 champion in the Fiesta and the ACC champion in the Orange. Remember, before all this fun started with the BCS, it was the Big 8 who went to the Orange every year.

Excluding national title games, there's hasn't been an ACC Orange Bowl game that has really and truly mattered since, well, ever. Since 2000, the non-national title Orange Bowls that made any sort of a difference on a national scale were USC's 2003 win over Iowa, and Michigan's classic overtime win over Alabama in 2000, and neither of those games involved the ACC.

8. Jim Harbaugh Going to the NFL
It isn't a lock that the Stanford head man is going off to the next level, and while he should obviously take the reported $7 million a year he's asking for if he can get it, the 49ers, Dolphins, or Broncos would be insane to pay him that. They might be insane to hire him at all.

Harbaugh is a special college head coach who could be legendary if he sticks around, but is he a better coach than Nick Saban? I don't think so. How about Bobby Petrino? I'm not ready to go there. Steve Spurrier? Right now, probably, but there's a long way to go to match the Ball Coach's résumé. Those three failed miserably in the NFL, as did Butch Davis, as did Mike Sherman, and as do most coaches in a league where coaching is now only a minor part of the equation.

Bill Belichick is the gold standard of head coaches right now, but New England is New England and Belichick is Belichick because he's a peerless player personnel evaluator who can see something in BenJarvus Green-Ellis-like prospects and can work in young draft picks like no one else. That's why all his disciples are complete and utter disasters once they leave the nest; it's not about the Xs and Os. Instead of dropping $6 million on a head coach, NFL teams are starting to wise up, especially with lockdown mode coming up, and they're saving their dough while hoping the scouts and talent evaluators come through. Better to have a $4 million head man and a stronger scouting system than divert funds to the $6 million hot coach of the moment.

College coaches earn their money because they are their respective programs. They get the players, they create the atmosphere, and they control everything about what happens on and off the field. In the NFL, either you have the players or you don't. Belichick is an aberration, and Harbaugh isn't Belichick.

7. The Salute … Next Year
Welcome to what will be my No. 1 whine during the 2011 college football season. If you have a problem with the unsportsmanlike penalty call on Kansas State's Adrian Hilburn for saluting the crowd after a score with just over a minute to play against Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl, making the two-point conversion attempt nearly impossible, then wait until you see what happens next season. Starting up in 2011, if Hilburn had started that act before going into the endzone, that penalty would've taken back the touchdown. I'm actually not joking; some head coach is going to get violent/physically ill over this. By the way, kudos to the official in the Outback Bowl who could be seen screaming, "no, no, no, no, don't do it," instead of automatically throwing the flag, as he was running behind a just-about-to-be-showboating Florida's Ahmad Black during his late pick six.

6. The Right "Fit"
One of my New Year's resolutions I've already broken is the use of the word fit when it comes to coaching situations. As in, Rich Rodriguez might not be the right fit for Michigan. You know who the right fit is? Anyone who wins. Woody Hayes' O hat would be the right fit in Ann Arbor if it could beat Ohio State and get the program in the national title chase. If Rodriguez started to win and win big, all of a sudden he'd have been a hand in the glove.

5. The 2005 Orange Bowl: Oklahoma vs. *
Wait a minute. That can't be right. Nissan aired a Heisman Moment commercial highlighting Matt Leinart's performance against Jason White in the 2005 Orange Bowl. But that didn't actually happen, did it? That game and that Trojan team were erased from the record books and everyone's memory bank because it had a naughty player in its backfield.

4. Nebraska
Give credit to Washington for playing out of its melon against Nebraska, treating the Holiday Bowl like it was the biggest game the program has played in ten years, because it was, but that was an unparalleled, unbridled clunker that Bo Pelini's squad came up with. This was great for the Huskies, who deserve some positive moments after the one-time superpower program hit the skids, but this was also on Nebraska who appeared to be done playing college football this season the second Bob Stoops was holding up the Big 12 Championship trophy. UW might have been inspired, but its defense isn't good enough to hold the Huskers to 189 yards and just seven points; this was on Nebraska. For the near future, this performance, complete with 12 penalties and two touchdowns, will be the textbook definition of not showing up for a bowl game.

3. TCU Deserving The National Title
The BCS Championship hasn't happened yet so there's still that part of the equation to fit in to the mix, but let's stop right here, right now with the idea that TCU deserves a piece of the national title in any way after going 13-0. If anything was proven in the Rose Bowl, it was that there's no way, no how the Horned Frogs would've gone unbeaten in the ACC, Big Ten, Pac 10, or SEC. They might've been 11-1, but it took everything in the bag to get by the Badgers, and it would be asking a lot to go unscathed through a real schedule with a steady diet of real offensive lines. The same arguments still apply. TCU got through a mediocre slate and was able to get up, really up, for the one be-all, end-all game of its existence. There's no question that they earned the victory, and it wasn't a fluke in any way, but it wasn't dominant enough, like Utah's 2009 Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, to diminish whatever the Ducks or Tigers do on Monday night.

2. The Momentum
Vin Scully once said that momentum was the next day's starting pitcher, but momentum is also the next year's bowl game.

I do think that winning bowl games does do wonders for a program in the offseason and when it comes to recruiting for down the road. It takes off the edge, it creates a little more of a buzz, and it makes coaches less cranky than they usually are. Lose your bowl game, and it's a long, long eight months before getting a shot to make up for the gaffe (have fun in Madison with Bret Bielema and in Lincoln with Bo Pelini). However, often times, a bowl win is just a bowl win, and people like me who want to think these exhibitions matter tend to look for a deeper meaning that isn't there.

How did winning a bowl game translate to the following season? From the 2009-2010 winners …

New Mexico – Wyoming. A disaster. Finished 3-9 and next-to-last in the Mountain West.
St. Petersburg – Rutgers. Awful. 4-8 and last in the Big East.
New Orleans – Middle Tennessee. Disappointing considering it was the Sun Belt favorite, but got back to a bowl.
Las Vegas – BYU. A disappointing 7-6.
Poinsettia – Utah. Great until the final quarter of the season. Lost to Boise State in the Liberty.
Hawaii – SMU. Not bad. Got to C-USA title game, but got spanked in the Armed Forces Bowl by Army.
Little Caesars – Marshall. Went 5-7.
Meineke – Pitt. Not bad, but disappointing enough to fire Dave Wannstedt. Going to the BBVA Compass Bowl the following year isn't a success.
Emerald - USC. On probation, but the team fell apart, especially on defense.
Music City – Clemson. A mega-flop finishing 6-7 with a Meineke loss to USF.
Independence – Georgia. A total failure going 6-7 with a Liberty loss to UCF.
EagleBank – UCLA. 4-8. Oops.
ChampsSports – Wisconsin. Fantastic, but finished with a Rose Bowl loss.
Humanitarian – Idaho – A not-that-bad 6-7, but didn't get back to a bowl.
Holiday – Nebraska. Nice season getting to the Big 12 championship, but the biggest flop of the 2010-2011 bowl season.
Armed Forces – Air Force. Great. Nice 9-4 season with an Independence win over Georgia Tech.
Sun – Oklahoma. Great. Won the Big 12 title with a Fiesta Bowl romp over UConn.
Texas – Navy. Went a solid 9-4, but got blasted by San Diego State in the Poinsettia.
Insight – Iowa State. 5-7 and missed out on a bowl.
Chick-fil-A – Virginia Tech. Great. Won the ACC title, but lost the Orange Bowl.
Outback – Auburn. Obviously outstanding.
Capital One – Penn State. A rebuilding year going 7-6 with an Outback Bowl loss to Florida.
Gator – Florida State. Great. Lost the ACC title game, but beat South Carolina in the Chick-fil-A.
Rose – Ohio State. Fantastic. 12-1 with a Sugar win over Arkansas.
Sugar – Florida. A stunning clunker. The Gators won the Outback over Penn State, but was a mega-disappointment.
Liberty – Arkansas. Fantastic. Got to the Sugar, but lost.
International – South Florida. Fine. Went 8-5 with Meineke win over Clemson.
Cotton – Ole Miss. Awful. 4-8, last in the SEC West.
PapaJohns – Connecticut. Terrific. Won the Big East title, but lost in the Fiesta.
Alamo – Texas Tech. Fine, but didn't make much noise finishing fifth in the Big 12 South. Won the TicketCity.
Fiesta - Boise State. Terrific. Won the Las Vegas over Utah without a problem.
Orange – Iowa. A disappointment going 8-5, but beat Missouri in the Insight.
GMAC – Central Michigan. Rebuilding. Went a disastrous 3-9.
BCS Championship – Alabama. A bit disappointing, but won ten games and waxed Michigan State.

So what does it all mean? Out of last year's bowl winners, ten won this year (Auburn, Pitt, and Middle Tennessee still to play as of this writing), nine didn't go bowling this year and 11 lost. No matter what happens over the rest of the bowls, that's roughly two-thirds of the teams that didn't fully capitalize on the momentum of the supposedly big bowl win.

1. Why Does Terrelle Cheat?

Everyone is so focused on the NCAA's ruling on the Ohio State situation, and the aftermath that ensued from letting the Tattoo 5 play in the Sugar Bowl, but no one's focusing on the root of the problem for a lot of these players: they have absolutely no money.

Just because a player is on scholarship-and-stipend, that doesn't mean he's taking treasure baths. On the contrary, they can't get a job like most students because there's no time whatsoever and the rules are so strict. And no, a lot of these players who are getting nailed for selling their items aren't the A.J. Green types who are guaranteed millions at the next level. This is it for most college players, even some who go to Ohio State. Players sell things, take loans, and do other things that the NCAA has a problem with, because a lot of their families are flat-broke. Make money selling a dopey trinket or a jersey? Really, why wouldn't you?

Whenever this topic comes up, fans turn out in droves to scream about the free education and the opportunities presented to the athletes. It's always pointed out that normal college students would jump at the deal the football players have, but the difference is that no one wants to but a jersey worn by a normal college student.

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.

- It's a fair question to ask after this year: What has Urban Meyer won at the highest level without Tim Tebow? Maybe going unbeaten with Alex Smith at Utah counts, but if there's always going to be a perception that Mack Brown only won a title because of Vince Young, it might be fair to do the same with Meyer's legacy.

- To me, it's still the most amazing part of the 2010-2011 bowl season. Alabama started to sit their starters in the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State with ten minutes to play in the third quarter.

- Fun stat: SMU ended the season with opposing kickers connecting on just 7-of-19 field goal attempts.

- Steve Spurrier has always had it right. If you want to leave the program, leave. If you want to transfer, transfer. Who wants a player who doesn't want to be around? Penn State, JoePa, let Robert Bolden go if Matt McGloin is going to be the main man going forward.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: UConn's inability to score offensive touchdowns … Underrated: Nebraska's lone score in the Holiday
2) Overrated: Mike Haywood … Underrated: Dave Wannstedt
3) Overrated: Tron ... Underrated: Daft Punk
4) Overrated: Saluting in the Pinstripe ... Underrated: The final seconds of regulation in the Music City
5) Overrated: The Big Ten on New Year's Day ... Underrated: The SEC pre-New Year's Day

"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 17 Results: 1) Utah +17.5 over Boise (L, BSU 26-3) State, 2) Tulsa +10.5 over Hawaii (W, Tulsa 62-35, 3) Toledo -1.5 over FIU (L, FIU 34-32) … Record So Far: 26-17-3

This week's picks: 1) Kentucky +3.5 over Pitt, 2) Boston College +7.5 over Nevada, 3) Auburn -2.5 over Oregon

Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … Jim Tressel let me write it only if I promised to come back next year.

 Jan. 6 - The Michigan Situation