Cavalcade of Whimsy - What if ... ?
Posted Oct 16, 2006

What if everyone had come back for their senior years? How would the college football season have looked so far if Vince, LenDale, Santonio, and Reggie were playing? The greatest players to never win the Heisman, more on the FIU-Miami fiasco, and more in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.

By Pete Fiutak    What's your beef? ... E-mail with your thoughts  
Past Whimsys
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Week 6

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … I injured myself diving into the end zone and now I might be done for the season. Unlike Adrian Peterson, I won’t be a multimillionaire next year at this time.

Hopefully, someone will get injured doing one of those ridiculous looking jumping chest bump celebrations so they can go away … Peterson’s ill-fated dive into the end zone against Iowa State wasn’t unnecessary by any stretch, but it did show the potential dangers of doing some sort of flip or jump across the goal line. Those shouldn’t be flagged, but coaches should stomp all over players who do them.

Although, knowing Al Davis’s penchant for Heisman winners, this might be a big break for Peterson … Assuming Peterson is off to the land of mercenaries, he’ll rank among the greatest college players who never won the Heisman. Keeping this in the land of the real, and taking out offensive linemen, defensive players, and others who’d have a better chance of getting me to watch the NLCS than they would of winning the Heisman, the ten greatest Heisman-possible players to never win it (based on the college careers they had and not talent) since 1936 were: 1. Tommie Frazier, QB Nebraska, 2. Jim Brown, RB Syracuse, 3. Vince Young, QB Texas, 4. Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma, 5. Archie Manning, QB Ole Miss, 6. Peyton Manning, QB Tennessee, 7. Anthony Carter, WR Michigan, 8. Rocket Ismail, WR Notre Dame, 9. Leroy Keyes, RB Purdue, 10. Jim McMahon, QB BYU, (wanted to add one more) 11. Larry Fitzgerald, WR Pitt

I’m wearing one right now in protest of another lousy column … Yes, the paper bag on the head, as worn by some Michigan State fans during the loss to Ohio State, is always, always, always funny. Along with Gandhi’s hunger strike to stop the autocratic rule of a newly independent India, it’s the most sincere form of non-violent protest ever.  

And he’d look even better in those retro uniforms worn in the LSU game … To all the pretentious weenies out there trying to make Cal’s amazing DeSean Jackson out to be the next Reggie Bush (knowing that no one outside of the Pacific Time Zone will actually watch him play), wait until Florida’s true freshman Percy Harvin is 100% healthy and becomes a regular part of the offense. Did you see him blow past the fast Auburn defense on that 35-yard run? Yeeeeesh.

Now, all that preening and gloating looks tame … There’s no possible way to put a positive spin on the brawl between Miami and FIU. Just because Miami players showed attitude in the stomping, helmet bashing fight, and followed it up by doing a creepy all-for-one hopping thing, that doesn’t mean it’s a return to Miami Football, and it doesn’t mean the Cane players have restored any luster from the old days. If you’re a fan of the program, you should be appalled by everything surrounding the fight, and you must demand this to be an unfortunate last straw for Larry Coker and a time for the entire program to do some house cleaning. That includes being happy about Lamar Thomas being removed from the Comcast Sports SouthEast television booth following his idiotic “you should get your behind kicked” when “you come into our house” comments and suggesting the two teams go continue the fight later in the tunnel.

Free at last, out here on my own. Now control this. That’s right, career moves. I do what’s right for me. And me wants to groove. Is that ok?” … Simple rule: If you have to say you have control of your team, you don’t.

Hmmmmm, the Atlantic Ocean or Lake Mendota in mid-November … Try this one out: Barry Alvarez to Miami. Being the Grand Poobah of the Wisconsin athletic department might be fun for Alvarez, but don’t be shocked if University of Miami president Donna Shalala, the former Chancellor at Wisconsin who made a big push to improve the athletics at the school in the late 1980s, tries to woo Clemenza down to Coral Gables.

So that's how it is in their family” … This gem from Colorado’s Dan Hawkins after the win over Texas Tech: “Victory and defeat, they’re brothers and sisters. They dance together.”

“We all came into this world naked, the rest of it is all drag.” … I need this one to go to the replay booth. There’s a new ad from the United States Postal Service promoting its international service that was played ad nauseum over the college football weekend. In it, the package is trying to say
Konichiwa before getting into a discussion with a Japanese-speaking lamp. Is the package voice-over done by RuPaul? At the end of the ad, if the package had a hand, it would’ve asked the lamp to talk to it.

There’s nothing wrong with being Rod Smith … Nothing against the kid, but I’m desperately hoping Auburn WR Rodgeriqus Smith never gets good, because I can’t come close to getting his name right. I’ve tried to force myself to learn how to spell it, like Roethlisberger, Samardzija, and Fiutak, but I have to look it up every time. On the flip side, here’s praying for SE Missouri State WR Oge Oge to become a superstar.

But I don't know how I lived my life without it ... Is there a term for being so impatient when watching a TiVoed game that you do everything possible to hurry it up so you can see what’s happening live?

And it's even worse when you're getting everything right … What’s more depressing and sad, the look on your wife’s face when you play along outloud with Stump the Schwab, or Temple going for two in the fourth quarter against Clemson when down 63-9? Discuss.

And woe to those who want to watch their “investment” … Admittedly, I’m the wrong one to beef about this since I have all the games and all the feeds coming in on a college football Saturday, but networks shouldn’t leave blowout games for more interesting ones. My biggest problem is when the NFL does this when I’m tracking my fantasy guys, but I imagine that if you’re a die-hard fan of a team, and you’re settled in to watch a game, you’d rather sit through the blowout than catch the end of Vanderbilt-Georgia.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Welcome back to roughly 15 years ago, before the days of players being able to leave early for the NFL and back to when you had teams revolve around superstars who had four years to jell. Better yet, what if all the draft eligible juniors of last year had decided to pull a Matt Leinart/Roy Williams/Ricky Williams/Ron Dayne and stick around for a final season? How would the college football world look this year? I’m a huge believer that it’s always in the best interest of draftable players to leave early, but as a college fan, I wish all the stars were back. With that in mind, and remembering one pro-caliber player can be the difference between being a contender and an also-ran, here’s how the 2006 season likely would’ve been different so far if everyone had returned.

10. Laurence Maroney would’ve made Minnesota a bit of a player in the Big Ten race
Minnesota is careening towards a losing season with a young team and a lousy defense. However, QB Bryan Cupito is a veteran and the passing game isn’t all that bad. All that's missing is a star back to make the good running game great. Laurence Maroney would’ve been a threat for 2,000 yards and likely would’ve gotten the Gophers by Purdue and Penn State while making the Michigan game, even against that great run D, far tighter. Maroney would’ve been the difference between a likely 5-7 season and a possible 8-4 campaign.

9. UCLA would’ve been more of a factor in the Pac 10 race
Maurice Jones-Drew was far better than he ever got credit for. He’s a surprising power back who’d challenge Miami’s Devin Hester and USC’s Reggie Bush for the honor of being the nation’s most electrifying player. He would’ve been enough of factor to get UCLA by Washington and stay in the hunt for the Pac 10 title.

8. Wisconsin running game would’ve been unstoppable
Wisconsin is 17th in the nation in rushing thanks to the thunder of P.J. Hill and his 144 yards per game. Now imagine what the attack would’ve been like if Brian Calhoun was back. It’s a bit of a stretch to think he’d have gotten the Badgers past Michigan, who they lost to 27-13, but it would've been closer considering Calhoun would've been a much-missed safety valve receiver for John Stocco. Wisconsin, as is, will probably go 10-2, but it likely would’ve finished 11-1 with Calhoun.

7. Tyler Palko would be putting up unreal numbers, and …
… Pitt would be considered just as much of a favorite for the Big East title as West Virginia and Louisville. Palko currently leads the nation in passing efficiency, even though his receiving corps is average. If Greg Lee was back as Palko’s deep threat, he would’ve opened up everything else for an offense that’s getting better by the week, and likely would’ve helped the Panthers keep up in what was a shootout loss to Michigan State.  

6. Florida State’s defense would probably have been in the top five
Florida State might not be Florida State at the moment, but that’s because the offense stinks. The defense, outside of a few big plays, has been solid all season long. Now imagine what the D would’ve done if Ernie Sims, one of the NFL’s bright young linebackers, and Antonio Cromartie, who missed all of last season rehabbing an injured knee, had been back. Would these two NFL first rounders have been able to come up with a big late stop in the Clemson and NC State losses? Probably.

5. The South Carolina secondary would’ve been among the best in recent history
South Carolina’s pass defense is 13th in the nation, partially because it hasn’t played anyone who can throw, but the secondary would’ve been positively amazing if speedy corner Johnathan Joseph and ball-hawking safety Ko Simpson were back joining All-America caliber corner Fred Bennett.

4. The NC State defensive line would’ve been among the best ever
Imagine how unbelievable NC State’s line would’ve been with Tank Tyler in the middle along with John McCargo and with Mario Williams and Manny Lawson terrorizing on the outside. Williams gets a bad rap for not being Reggie Bush, but he was a monster of a college pass rusher who’d be a threat for 25 sacks with all the attention needing to be paid to the tackles. Don’t forget about tackling machine Stephen Tulloch, who'd be back at linebacker.

3. Texas would’ve beaten Ohio State … probably
And would probably have been the number one team in the nation. It’s not like Colt McCoy was bad against Ohio State, but he wasn’t Vince Young. All the pieces were in place for Texas with the return of Young making the defending national champions something truly special. Don’t assume Texas would’ve been a slam dunk to win the rematch of the 2005 classic because …

2. Ohio State would’ve been even better
Picture the current Ohio State offense with Santonio Holmes back as the number one target, and improved Ted Ginn as the number two, and the tremendous Anthony Gonzales as an unstoppable number three. Troy Smith would be drooling at all his options. The defense, which regrouped in a big hurry, would’ve still had safety Donte Whitner and corner Ashton Youboty. As good as OSU might have been, it still likely would’ve been the preseason number three because …

1. USC would’ve been an offensive juggernaut and would’ve been a near lock to play the Ohio State/Texas winner for the national title
John David Booty hasn’t been all that bad in place of Matt Leinart, and USC has stayed unbeaten despite a slew of injuries and little explosion from the running game. Things would’ve been just a wee bit different if Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Fred Matua and Winston Justice were back on offense, while Darnell Bing would’ve made a huge difference on an already solid D.

Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be with you (or vice versa).
- Kudos to Kirk Herbstreit for his rant against Virginia Tech and its punkish demeanor and attitude in the loss to Boston College. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s refreshing to hear any announcer fire out their opinions and expressing their passion without it being forced and manufactured (Tony Kornheiser) or sounding like schtick (Dick Vitale).
- The nation’s most interesting player: UL Monroe’s Kevin Payne. The Warhawk defensive back, and former starting running back, is second in the Sun Belt in tackling, and leads the league in punting.
- It’s finally here. I guarantee you the Hawaii – New Mexico State battle will be the most fun game you’ll watch all year long. NMSU’s Chase Holbrook is No. 1 in the nation averaging 403 passing yards per game, while Hawaii’s Colt Brennan is No. 2 averaging 378.5 per game. I’m demanding 1,000 yards of passing offense and over 100 points.
My Heisman ballot this week would be … 1. Adrian Peterson, RB Oklahoma (for at least two more weeks), 2. Troy Smith, QB Ohio State, 3. Mike Hart, RB Michigan, 4. Erik Ainge, QB Tennessee, 5. Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated:
Lou Piniella’s wallet ... Underrated: Steve Lyons
2) Overrated: The Money … Underrated: The Mob
3) Overrated: Texas Tech passing attack … Underrated: Baylor passing attack
4) Overrated: “This one time, at band camp …”   ... Underrated: The University of Wisconsin marching band
5) Overrated: The 1,420-calorie, 107-fat gram “Monster Thickburger” from Hardee’s with two 1/3 pound slabs of Angus beef, four strips of bacon, three slices of cheese and mayo on a buttered sesame seed bun ... Underrated: Bevo XIII
Sheer hubris run amok … The three lines this week that appear to be a tad off. Still dying going 1-1-1 last week and going 6-11-1 so far, here’s the official kiss of death for three teams … 1) Texas A&M +1.5 over Oklahoma State, 2) Texas Tech -2 over Iowa State, 3) Oregon -4 over Washington State

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … Tommy Tuberville yelled at me halfway through the column saying I was writing like I was scared. Obviously, the inspirational rant didn’t work.