Cavalcade of Whimsy Kicks Off
Posted Sep 5, 2006

How did all the new announcing teams do? Did there really need to be total coverage of Buster Davis and Florida State's win over Miami? These items along with a simple plan to make games shorter in the season debut of the Cavalcade of Whimsy.

By Pete Fiutak    What's your beef? ... E-mail with your thoughts  

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … the clock started as soon as I started writing it. Being early in the season, I can’t get everything quite in sync yet and I burned all my time outs.

So those “student athletes” can get back to their studies a little bit faster … Why doesn’t the NCAA just cut out the game entirely and have the teams play a field goal kicking contest so we can get the drudgery and boredom of a college football Saturday over with as quickly as possible?

Really, do you need to hear another rendition of Hot Stuff? … Who complained about the games being too long? It’s not like anyone will cure cancer in the extra six minutes saved by the new rule changes. Drop halftime from 20 to an NFL-sized 12 minutes. Problem solved. The band can come out and play before and after the game. If you think the game is too long, leave or turn it off. No one’s putting a pea shooter to your head and forcing you to watch.  

Is it pronounced Poin-sett-a or Poin-sett-ia? … The Poinsettia Bowl announcing that Army has been granted an invite, if bowl eligible, is the equivalent of camping out for three weeks to get tickets for Snakes on a Plane.

Hopefully, the afterlife has a Mustard’s Last Stand like the one outside of Ryan Field … If the late Randy Walker really is somewhere looking down on the Northwestern football program, and hopefully he’s doing something far more interesting, he’s probably really, really annoyed at the plinky, trying-to-send-a-somber-mood music playing in the background on every piece done about him.

And win that Holiday Bowl thing while you’re at … O.K. non-USC Pac 10 teams, you have one last shot to be taken somewhat seriously by a skeptical college football world after the Cal-Tennessee debacle. Oklahoma vs. Oregon. September 16th. That’ll be as must win as must wins get for national respect.

And there also has to be a generic view of students looking like they’re doing something vitally important in a lab … To save all the marketing people at the various universities a bunch of time and effort, I’ve come up with five innocuous slogans that could apply to any of the school promos that pop up during commercial breaks during college football games. The University of XYZ …
1. … Reaching higher
2. … Daring to be great
3. … Creating leaders
4. … Moving forward
5. ….Making a difference

And five realistic ones that could also apply to every school. The University of XYZ …
1. … Your parents pay, you play, we don’t tell
2. … Preparing great minds to be cogs in the system
3. … Delaying the inevitable
4. … Sex! Now that we got your attention, come to XYZ U.
5. … Now with over four practical majors

With more clichés than an ad for Gridiron Gang, the C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
The new announcing teams, media coverage and the broadcasts of the games.

While the new quarterbacks and the top teams got all the attention this first weekend, many were more interested in how the new announcing teams were going to do. These are the guys (and Pam Ward) who shape our college football memories and play a vital role in the experience. The announcers and the media took center stage this first week.

10. This crew should’ve also done the Florida State – Miami game.
While some kinks need to be worked out of the team of Brent Musburger, Bob Davie and Kirk Herbstreit, they were fantastic doing the Notre Dame – Georgia Tech game. No one calls a big game like Brent, and he was kept from flying off into his hyperbolic hysteria by Davie and Herbstreit, mostly because all needed time to talk. Herbstreit sounded like he was being careful not to step on any toes, and he’s far more fun doing the throwaway Thursday night games with Chris Fowler, but he was rock-solid. They added to the game, which is all you can ask for, and they have the potential to be the best three-man booth since the college basketball days of Dick Enberg, Billy Packer and the late Al McGuire.

9. Subtraction by addition … the three-man booth isn’t always necessary.
Brad Nessler, Bob Griese and Paul Maguire were fine, but nothing special doing the Cal –Tennessee game. Considering Maguire was worse at announcing Sunday Night Football than every other human being is at doing anything else, he wasn’t all that bad in his debut. He was more understated than normal and was relatively informed, but he was an unnecessary addition to the Nessler-Greise team. Nessler deserves as much room as possible to work.

8. The David Lee Roth of sports announcers.
Mike Patrick announced the USC – Arkansas game like a guy who just lost a high profile gig (you might call it the Sean McDonough syndrome), and he was all over the place doing Florida State - Miami. Miami passed up a long field goal for a pooch punt, but Patrick ignored it by going on and on with a bizarre rant about how Edge James doesn’t really care about money.

Something’s missing from the Patrick – Todd Blackledge team … energy. Blackledge is great at pointing out subtleties here and there, but he’s the Al Gore of color commentators; he's technically sound, but there’s just nothing there. Listening to them makes me want to curl up on the couch with a warm glass of milk, a blankey and a copy of Goodnight Moon.  Mike “eight-head” (someone who’s showing twice as much forehead as normal) Tirico and the new Monday night crew should’ve been flown in to handle such a big game. Otherwise, give Ron Frankin a higher profile.

7. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and sounds like an Oregon Duck …
We all have limitations. We can’t all run 4.4 40s, look like a supermodel, keep a contract with Paramount Pictures, eat at Chipolte without gaining weight, or have the pipes of a Joel Myers. The world needs ditchdiggers, too. Dan Fouts, unfortunately, won’t be able to overcome his voice. He was a fantastic analyst considering he was weighed down by Gatorade’s version of Keith Jackson, a.k.a. GIDS, but his voice is too tinny and too distracting as a play-by-play man. He’s too strong not to be moved back to his old role.

6. How many ways can you describe a Brett Favre interception?
It’s a shame Wayne Larrivee, who did the Wisconsin – Bowling Green game, is so firmly entrenched as the Green Bay Packer radio voice. He’s fantastic at doing college football and should be doing more than the lower-profile Big Ten games. He’d be a superstar on a national scale if he got bigger games to do.

5. Lose one Trev to the abyss known as CSTV, gain another.
Is Trevor Matich trying to be weird? I have the same problem with Matich and Rod Gilmore as dual analysts as I do with the PTI guys. When they aren’t totally informed on something or are trying to banter, they make up an off-the-wall opinion to have a forced, fake argument. The PTIers are at least entertaining about it while Matich and Gilmore appear to be playing it straight. It’s fine once in a while, but Matich went overboard time and again during the Kentucky – Louisville and Nevada - Fresno State games and is consistently wrong more than any game analyst.

Case in point, Nevada was down 28-19 with less than five minutes to play and Matich and Gilmore were still debating where or not Nevada should’ve gone for two earlier in the half. Refusing to admit he was wrong, and saying why being down nine was better than being down eight, Matich said, “I’d rather fail on that two-point conversion early and know that you need two scores.” The response from Gilmore and anyone watching the game: “Huh?!”

4. First I kick, and then I kiss.
I always dog sideline reporters because of the goofy nature of their job, so it’s only fair to highlight when one does something right. Holly Rowe, who is the best in the business and would be doing NFL games if she had the breasts of Erin Andrews, was right on top of it late in the USC – Arkansas game when she described how now-backup Hog quarterbacks Robert Johnson and Casey Dick snubbed super-frosh Mitch Mustain by failing to congratulate him after a touchdown or console him after an interception. Kudos to the ESPN director who then cut over to the USC sideline to show quarterbacks John David Booty and Mark Sanchez, who were involved in a battle all off-season for the starting job, laughing and exchanging hi-fives.

3. You just know a “please Hammer, don’t hurt ‘em” will come flying out soon
Mark Jones after a big play by Ted Ginn: “Too much Ginn and juice and you start to walk crooked.” (Heavy sigh) It’s not a question of if, but when Jones says something bizarre. It takes away from his talents as a more-than-competent play-by-play man. 

2. Wife Swap, followed by Wife Swap, followed by Supernanny …
… that was Monday night’s ABC lineup. You can put Florida State – Miami on 39 ESPN networks, but if a game isn’t on one of the big four in prime time, it’s not really that important. That goes for Monday Night Football, which was moved to make way for the ABC craptacular lineup of reality shows.

1. It’s still surprising the family of networks took a break from televising yet another card game.
In an attempt to combat ESPN’s Full Circle coverage of the Florida State – Miami game, next week’s Cavalcade will be televised on every major network, and the WB, with 137 different cameras to get reader reaction shots, shots of me writing the column, and shots of me, reacting to you, reacting to me writing the column. There will be 364 cameras focused on every angle of me as I write it including the “microcam” to be put on a tube down my esophagus so you can actually see the bile stirring as I’m writing something I’m particularly grumpy about. You can have one computer monitor set up to read the column, one set up to read one of the numerous live chats about the column, one earbud in to listen to one analysis and an earbud in the other to hear the analysis of the analysis. Of course, you can do this all while watching several TVs with picture in picture to be certain you’re not missing the slightest subtle nuance. To be translated in 178 different languages, as well as televised on CFN Deportes, CFN International, and CFNjazeera, the column will bring the world and the universe together as it’ll be beamed out into space so that intelligent life over 10 million light years away may someday be a little wiser. Ehhh, (bleep) it.

It’s one thing to cover a game “Full Circle”, but the bells and whistles have to be interesting. How many closeups do you need of Bobby Bowden blowing his nose? Do you really need to see reaction shots of the quarterbacks? How many ways can a defensive slugfest be shown? ESPN basically showed it could turn the amp to 11 without wondering if ten might just be loud enough.

And no, coverage of anything involving the JonBenet case doesn’t count … The world would be a better place if the major news stories and events had the same sort of coverage as Florida State – Miami.

Upon further review, Paul Maguire really doesn’t need to be doing college football … College football got the instant replay rule as good as it can possibly be with one glaring exception. Why does a team only get one challenge if the coach turns out to be right? If the coach is doing the referee’s job for him, there’s no need to be penalized for it. The whole goal of this thing is to get the correct call, every time. If something’s right, it’s right. A team should have unlimited challenges as long as they don't miss. Also, and I’ve harped on this before, replay cameras have to be set up on both goal lines since so many disputed plays happened there. There’s no reason there couldn’t have been a definitive shot of the diving catch by Florida State’s Chris Davis that was called down inside the one against the Canes.
It would only be better if Buffalo starting quarterback Drew Willy was involved … It’s unfortunate that Eastern Illinois didn’t have its head coach, who had undergone surgery before it’s game with Illinois, otherwise you’d have had the greatest last name coaching matchup in sports history. I defy anyone out there to find one better than Ron Zook vs. Bob Spoo.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Week one of the college football season ... Underrated: Week two
2) Overrated: John Mark Karr … Underrated: Anyone over 30 who doesn’t have a kid or didn’t have a participating friend, family member or rooting interest in the Little League World Series yet watched every pitch
3) Overrated: Quinn and Peterson… Underrated: Legumes and zucchini
4) Overrated: Colorado PK Mason Crosby  ... Underrated: Montana State PK Jeff Hasting
5) Overrated: The two “gellin” guys talking to each other at the McMillan wedding ... Underrated: The guy who’s “so not gellin” but is dancing with a hot chick instead of standing around grooving off some dopey insoles
Sheer hubris run amok, week seven … The three lines this week that appear to be a tad off: 1) Louisville -39 over at Tempe, 2) Penn State +9 over at Notre Dame, 3) Indiana -4.5 over at Ball State.

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … I chose to come back for my senior year instead of leaving early to make millions in the NFL, but I broke my leg and got carted off before I could finish it. Simple rule: it’s a game for everyone else, it’s a business for the top players. Good luck, Michael. You'll still be a multi-millionaire next year at this time.