CFN Conversation With ...
Doug is touring on behalf of the Capital One Cup, awarded annually to each of the best men’s and women’s Division I college athletics programs in the country. Capital One will award a combined $400,000 in student-athlete scholarships and the Capital One Cup trophy to the winning schools in July.
For more information, fans can go to
www.facebook.com/capitalonecup or follow them on Twitter
@CapitalOneCup.. The BCS plays a very important part of who wins the Capital One Cup.
Two years ago, Auburn, who won the football national championship, held on to the No. 1 overall Cup ranking for five months, until the College World Series, where the Florida Gators finished second and won the inaugural Cup, the premier trophy in college sports.
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CFN: Describe what Heisman weekend is like for you.
Doug Flutie: I look forward to Sunday night. We all get together – all the former winners – after the announcement on Saturday. There’s no media, there’s usually a band there, it’s a casual atmosphere and it’s one big happy family. Some of us have been around each other for years, and we all have the same bond that we all know what it’s like to have the excitement of winning a Heisman. There are things we all do during the year that are nice, but this weekend it’s like we’re all rolling around on a party bus and we get to go from event to event, while the new guy gets to be run ragged, sign autographs and take pictures with everyone.
CFN: There’s a certain quarterback up for the Heisman this year who’s an undersized, scrappy baller with an innate ability to pull rabbits out of hats … like you’re voting for anyone but Manziel.
DF: You know what, I love watching him play. From the moment I first saw him to start the season and Hines Ward and I are sitting at the desk seeing his mannerisms, the way he moved, the things he did, jump passes, scrambling around, hanging the ball at his hip, it was like, “my god, this is like a mirror image of things I used to do.” However, this kid can just take off and run. I used to make people miss and have a lot of 20-to-30-yard runs, but this guy can hit the crease and he’s gone for a touchdown. He’s got that straight-line speed that I never had.
CFN: Can you imagine the numbers you’d put up with today’s style of offense? Have you thought about what you would’ve been able to do with your style in a zone-read or spread attack?
DF: That’s me in Canada. When I was in Canada I got to run my own offense, out of the gun, spread everyone out with an empty backfield and use the quarterback as a runner – we where wheeling and dealing. I don’t want to take credit for any of this, but Chip Kelly when he came up to Toronto, he used and watched all of the stuff we were doing and took it to New Hampshire. He did his own thing with it, but we ran a bunch of shovel passes and did a lot of innovative things, and a lot of it filtered down now to the college game.
CFN: Yeah, but there’s a huge difference between doing a lot of what you did and what Chip Kelly is doing. With all the rumors swirling around about him going to the NFL, how does he run that attack at the next level without getting his quarterback killed?
DF: These kids are running the offense in the NFL now in a lot of ways and they’re making it work. RG3 is doing amazing things and Cam Newton is running around making big things happen and putting up big numbers. That style of offense works to a degree, but RG3 got dinged a bit and you realize that no, your quarterback can’t take all these big shots and last. And now he’s realizing that yeah, I can move and I can run around and I can make big plays, but I’ve got to get down. I have to get out of bounds.
From an ownership standpoint there’s a lot at stake at that position and there’s so much that rides on the quarterback. There’s so much invested that you can’t let the quarterback take too many shots. To a degree, this all works, and more than anything else I really like the tempo of Chip’s offense. That’s something I see in the Patriots. Bill (Belichick) has incorporated a lot of that in what he does. In the middle of the drive, to be able to line up quickly and hand the ball off under center gets five or six yards easily because defenses aren’t ready for it.
CFN: The obvious difference now is the size of these guys. RG3 isn’t that small at 6-2, but some of these dudes like Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck are around 6-5 and 240 while still doing a lot of the things that made you, you.
DF: I marvel at the athleticism. I know I was quick and I had a certain amount of athleticism, but boy, to have that in a 6-5 package and with their size, to be able to run a 4.5 40 and do all the things that they do is phenomenal. It’s just a whole different era. It is absolutely amazing.
CFN: Let me see if I can get this right. When you compare yourself to the new wave of star quarterbacks, when it comes to size, moxie, improvisational skills, on-field leadership, accuracy … Russell Wilson?
DF: No doubt about it. In the NFL it’s Wilson. I remember talking to Dana Bible about him – he was the offensive coordinator down in NC State – and he said he was undersized, but he’s legit. He can read coverages, deliver the ball on time, has a big arm, and the athleticism is a bonus. And that’s where you have to be. You can’t just be a guy who runs around and makes plays. You have to be able to read, deliver from the pocket, and then the athleticism is a part of the mix. That’s how I viewed myself coming out. Tom Coughlin was my offensive coordinator in college, and we threw the ball out of the pocket. Everyone remembers the plays where I’m running around, because those made the highlight reels, but if you can’t stand in the pocket and make throws, you can’t play at that level.
CFN: Speaking of making throws – and please forgive me for being an unabashed geek here - the Miami classic was one of the games that got me into college football. No one seems to remember that you and Bernie Kosar combined to throw for 1,000 yards (note: it was actually 923) and Melvin Bratton ran for four scores. Yeah, the Hail Mary was the signature, but that was one of the greatest games of all-time even without it.
DF: I think the first five possessions of the game were touchdown drives. We were just going back and forth making play after play after play. Miami had amazing receivers with Eddie Brown, Stanley Shakespeare and all their talented tight ends and phenomenal players – and Bratton was a third-stringer; I think others, including Alonzo Highsmith, were hurt. They had SO much NFL talent it was ridiculous. We had an elite passing game, but we were more like Boise State, or at that time it was BYU, where we were able to out-finesse teams, but we were full of blue-collar guys who made plays.
CFN: Hail Mary, Schmail Mary – the coolest part of that game was that the two star quarterbacks wore the numbers 20 and 22.
DF: You need the flashy numbers and they don’t let you do it in the NFL! You know what a problem is in college that drives me nuts? Duplicate numbers ...
CFN: And it’s not even some third-team stiff anymore, either, with the duplicate of the all-star. Everett Golson and Manti Te’o are wearing No. 5 – that’s not even trying.
DF: Exactly! When John David Booty was at USC, the best linebacker (Brian Cushing) and the starting quarterback wore No. 10! The starting quarterback at Notre Dame and the Heisman-caliber linebacker are No. 5?! It almost cost Notre Dame against Pitt. Pitt missed the field goal and Notre Dame went on to win the game, but there were two No. 2s on the field at the same time.
CFN: What do you think of new head coach Steve Addazio, and what has to happen to make Boston College great again?
DF: I’m excited about Steve – I had a chance to sit down and talk to him yesterday, as a matter of fact. He’s going to bring a different mindset. We all loved Coach Spaz (Frank Spaziani), and I love him to death and always will, but this is a change of direction. This is a great hire and there is a different attitude. He’s going to really challenge these kids this offseason to see who wants to be there and who really wants to play and be a part of the program. It starts with discipline, and we’re fortunate to have him. The board of directors allocated a little more money to elevate the program, and it’s going to be a great hire.
CFN: Do you like the idea of a playoff?
DF: It’s going to create the same situation with people worrying about who’s No. 5 and who gets to be in, but it’s going to be better than the way it was. I like a four-team playoff as opposed to just a national championship game – but I think eight would be great and 16 would be awesome, too.
CFN: What would you most like to see? What is the best situation?
DF: I think eight, because everyone pretty much knows the top eight with an Oregon or even a Texas A&M or an Oklahoma slipping in. All of those teams that match up well and could potentially beat each other, like Georgia-Florida or Alabama-Notre Dame-Oregon-Stanford – all of a sudden all of these teams are in the mix and they all have a shot.
CFN: And that’s the problem with all of these models right now for four that have Oregon and Florida in. Yeah, Notre Dame and Alabama are no-brainers, but the Ducks and Gators didn’t even with their own divisions while Kansas State and Stanford would be able to say, “Wait a minute, we actually won our conferences.”
DF: Yeah, you can actually look at up to ten teams that could potentially beat each other, and that’s when a playoff would be awesome. I know we’re probably going in this direction now, but the SEC is going to want to claim at least two of those four spots …
DF: Always, and they’re going to claim that they’re always beating each other up. If you win the SEC, then you absolutely deserve to be in, but if you don’t, well, then you’re talking about an at-large type of thing and then the debates should begin. Maybe you deserve to be there and maybe you don’t, but if you don’t win your conference title, you don’t really have a claim or a right to anything.
CFN: Again, it’s not just the conference titles, it’s the divisions. I know Alabama was the best team in the country by the end of last year, but it still didn’t win the West.
DF: Maybe it gets to four major conferences at some point and it’s just up to the four winners who get in. If you can’t win your conference, you don’t have a right to complain.
CFN: It has almost been 30 years since you won. What has been the coolest thing about being Doug Flutie, Heisman Winner?
DF: I remember thinking when I won it that even if I never played another down of football, here’s something no one can never take away. (Fiu Note: I’m kicking myself for not asking him about Reggie Bush here.)
By winning this, you’re now one of the elite. To me, though, to select one guy is ridiculous because it’s such a team award. It’s a reflection of how your team played during the year, and while you were the focal point to make that happen, it’s your team that got it done. But for me, the Heisman is a fraternity of guys who get together every year after sharing a common path, and it’s like family getting together telling stories. I love it.