Ask CFN - Sept. 8
Posted Sep 7, 2006

Pete Fiutak makes the attempt to answer your questions each Friday.

Pete Fiutak

Fire over your questions to me at I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read. Any e-mails sent to this address may be published or edited unless requested otherwise. (Please put ASK CFN in the subject line, and PLEASE keep the questions short ... it makes my life easier.)

What are your thoughts about the new clock rules implemented this year?  More to the point, what are the chances the NCAA will re-consider the rule about starting the play clock on 1st & 10 after every change of possession?  I feel this is the NCAA's version of "new Coke" & I'm sure the coaches aren't too happy with the rule changes either.  If Coke can admit their mistake & go back to Coca Cola Classic, can the NCAA wise up and scrap this system for the 2007 season?  Or at least severely modify it?  Your thoughts please. – JB, Dallas

A: I don’t like the time changes, but I think this thing is getting way, way, way overblown. I equate it to golfers who whine about a course being too hard. Everyone is playing on the same field with the same rules, and it’s not like the game has changed from four quarters to three. Understand that no one likes change less than coaches, and they really, really, really don’t like being told what to do. They said they didn’t want these changes, they were made anyway, and now they’re ticked. If this helps anyone, it helps the little guy. If you shorten the game by 10-15 plays, it’s a little bit harder for the behemoth BCS school to wear down the smaller, undersized team. In the end, this won’t matter as much as you think unless a coach like, Nevada’s Chris Ault against Fresno State last week, don’t realize how quick the final three minutes are going to fly by.

After the first weekend with Montana State beating Colorado, Duke losing to Richmond, and other D-IAA teams playing tough, why are they considered to be minor league ball? Really, what’s the difference between D-I and D-IAA? –Austin S.

A: Depth. The starters of some D-IAA teams can certainly hang with the lesser D-I squads, but they have no backups to count on because of scholarship limitations. D-I programs can have 85 players on full grant-in-aid scholarships, while D-IAA teams can only have a maximum of 63. Recruiting is a contact sport; the more contacts you make, the better you can do, so it you can get 22 extra prospects, you’re going to have more chances to find some top players. There’s also a big difference in overall funding on sports at each school.

As a die hard Auburn fan, I fear that the nightmare could happen again. I hope and pray that OSU beats Texas simply for the fact that they actually have to play a decent schedule with potential landmines.  If Texas wins, they have smooth sailing to another perfect season along with USC who plays absolutely nobody the entire year.  Surely they will split up the National Championship and dismantle the BCS if this not so far fetched scenario occurs.  Could they actually shut out a team who went 12-0 in the brutally difficult SEC in two of three years?  I'm afraid it could happen.  - Will, Auburn

A: There’s no such thing as a split national title. Either you win the BCS title, or you don’t. You’re dead on right in that USC, Notre Dame, Texas, and Ohio State control their own destinies, so if, say, Ohio State and Notre Dame go unbeaten, everyone else will be on the outside looking in. Since there’s a feeling that Auburn got hosed a few years ago (which it really didn’t since someone had to be left out of the mix), I think Auburn would get the benefit of the doubt if almost everything else is equal. Forget about the Tigers if, say, Texas and Notre Dame are in the mix. The public would clamor for the Longhorns to be able to defend their title (which isn’t really fair since it’s a new year with new teams), and Notre Dame is Notre Dame.

Short and sweet – are the Colorado Buffaloes finished?  I guess I can always start going to home-town favorite Temple Owl games – NA

A: Shorter and sweeter: no. The Buffs just need to get the quarterback situation in order. James Cox isn’t the answer. Dan Hawkins is too good a coach to let things slide any further.

What do you think the chance are that the BCS Championship game is a rematch of this weekend's Texas/Ohio State tilt? (Or a rematch of any regular season game (USC/ND for example.) Do you think the BCS would try to avoid a rematch of a regular season game? Do you think something like this would be good/bad for college football in general? Bad for the BCS (we can hope)? Do you think a rematch would favor the winner or the loser? What if they were to split the series? – KC

A: I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate rematches. Hate them. I hate them in the conference title games, and I hate them even more in the bowls. Remember that 1996 Florida national title team under Spurrier? It got a rematch against Florida State in the Sugar Bowl, and all of a sudden the 24-21 regular season loss to the Noles was meaningless. Yes, if OSU and Texas play a close game and that’s the only loss of the year for the loser, it’s very possible. It’s bad for college football because it renders the regular season a little less meaningful. I don’t think it would happen in the case of Notre Dame and USC since it’s so late in the year. The Florida-Florida State example happened before the new BCS system.

One of the things that I like about the Notre Dame offense is their willingness to throw the bomb.  It seems to me in college that this is a higher percentage pass than in the pros because the safeties are slower and a poorly thrown pass can still be effective due to the receivers being better able to adjust to the ball.  Granted it helps when you have a cannon armed QB and a freakishly tall WR like Notre Dame but I think all college teams should try the deep ball more. – Alex

A: God bless Notre Dame for throwing the ball more than six yards down the field. It’s nice to have a quarterback like Brady Quinn who can chuck it, but if I have to watch one more spread attack with its dinky, dunky, three-yard passes, I’m going to scream. I agree with you. If you can properly teach your quarterback to not stare down his main target, then the safety will almost always be too slow to react and you should be able to make some big plays. I always think a team should push it deep at least once every third drive just to keep the safeties from cheating up. If you factor in the unfair pass interference rule in the NFL, it’s not necessarily a higher percentage play in college.

With regard to the first weekend of college football, season-ending injuries to several key players has already occurred. What would you consider to be the TOP 10 college players who would cause the biggest impact to their teams' success if lost for the season?  If this question sucks, it's not my fault. – JS

A: Put together based on a combination of what the player means to the team with what the depth is like (Troy Smith isn’t on here because Justin Zwick isn’t all that bad), my ten unaffordable losses would be ...
1. Brady Quinn, QB Notre Dame
2. Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma
3. Pat White, QB West Virginia
4. Rudy Carpenter, QB Arizona State
5. Chad Henne, QB Michigan
6. Drew Tate, QB Iowa
7. Zac Taylor, QB Nebraska
8. Darius Walker, RB Notre Dame
9. Kenny Irons, RB Auburn
10. Erik Ainge, QB Tennessee (who’d have thought that a few weeks ago?)