Cavalcade of Whimsy - The Anti-Rematch Beef
Posted Nov 21, 2006

The Heisman race is over with Troy Smith a slam-dunk, but others, like West Virginia QB Pat White, are having equally strong seasons. Ten reasons why there shouldn't be a Michigan vs. Ohio State rematch, three teams you should be watching, and more in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.

By Pete Fiutak    What's your beef? ... E-mail with your thoughts  
Past Whimsys
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5
Week 6 |
Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … I'm grumpy because my dad isn't securing me a $537,000 buyout despite being as lousy at my job as former Florida State offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden was at his.

It kinda sucks that he missed the game … Bo Schembechler’s famous 1983 “the team, the team, the team” speech would’ve carried far more dramatic impact if he wasn't wearing glasses purchased at the local Kum & Go off a rack next to the Slim Jims and the discount tapes featuring The Best of Eddie Rabbitt and America’s Greatest Hits. By the way, nice job everyone to honor the distinguished legend's memory by putting the clumsy, throw-the-clipboard-down fall in every retrospective package.

Three things that don’t last long: dogs that chase after cars, pro golfers who putt for pars, and Alabama coaches who lose four straight to Auburn … It’s amazing how short the memories of fans and college administrators can be. Remember where Alabama was at before Mike Shula? Dennis Franchione bailed, Mike Price had, well, issues, and the program was still trying to fight its way out of probation issues. The Tide went 10-2 last year and won the Cotton Bowl, is going to a bowl game despite losing to heavyweights Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, LSU and Auburn (O.K., and Miss State), and now Shula is in a bit of hot water. Two words when it comes to putting a productive, talented head coach on a hot seat too early: Lloyd ... Carr.

And while you're at it, check out those Rose Bowl records … For anyone grumbling about Carr’s third straight loss to the Buckeyes, remember, the national championship count is still Carr 1, Schembechler 0.

“Weight. 105. Yeah, in your bra” … For the pro scouts, Troy Smith is listed at 6-1. Height is ridiculously overrated when it comes to analyzing quarterbacks and it shouldn't matter one iota for Smith at the next level. However, I’m 6-2 on the nose, and I easily could’ve slapped the top of Smith’s head Benny Hill/old man style. Even so, explain to me why he'd be better at 6-0 than he will be at 5-10 and some change.

“Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.” … The military trying to cover up a controversy? Noooooo. According to the Baltimore Sun, U.S. Naval Academy officials waited two months, allegedly to allow time for clean samples, before testing five football players who had used steroids earlier in their careers. I’m against steroids and human growth hormones, you’re against them, we’re all against them. However, we should probably let them slide for the people in charge of defending the country and needing to be the strongest, toughest, baddest human beings possible.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
From Rocky Balboa to Bush 2004-2008 to Bowe-Holyfield, Ali-Frazier fights to the daily deluge of Friends, Seinfeld and Everyone’s Loves Raymond repeats, we’re a nation crazy for sequels, reruns and do-overs. Some good (Empire Strikes Back, Cool Ranch Doritos, Superman II), some awful (Matrix Revolutions, Blues Brothers 2000, Batman & Robin), with all trying to recapture the magic that made everyone so enamored with the first go-round. That’s why so many are clamoring for Michigan vs. Ohio State: The Quest for Peace.

As a firm believer that college football matters because of its regular season, I despise the idea of rematches in bowl games or conference championships, and I especially hate the idea when you’re messing with my national championship. Considering all out there, mostly non-college football fans in the media, looking for round two between the Big Ten heavyweights, here are ten reasons why someone, anyone other than Michigan should be playing Ohio State in Glendale on January 8th. I promise, knowing you'll be sick of rematch talk over the next few weeks, I'll promise to try to let it go after this. (By the way, I'm not "hating" on Michigan. The stance would be the same for any team.)

10. Is Michigan the number one team in the country?
No. How do we know this? It lost to the number one team in America, Ohio State in its last game of the regular season. If these two had played the exact same 42-39 battle in the opening week of the year, you could make a case that Michigan improved over the course of the season, or Ohio State might have gotten a little bit worse, but they just played. If you’re asking for a rematch, then you’re suggesting that Ohio State might not be the number one team in the country and that Michigan might be. You can’t have it both ways.

9. Be smarter
I’m going to break something tasteful if some media type who watches three college games a year talks down to the rest of the world with their cut-and-dry analysis that BCS 1 vs. BCS 2 should be the matchup no matter what because that’s the system. It goes deeper than that, and it’s too simplistic to just chalk it up to the way the BCS is set up. These are the same people that screamed when USC, ranked number one in the human polls at the end of 2003, got left out of the BCS championship game. Where was the blind belief in the system then?

Look, if Michigan is ranked second in the final BCS, then it’s in. That's the deal, but that can be changed by the pollsters over the next two weeks no matter what happens to USC. The system isn’t all-knowing and all-powerful; it can be manipulated. If the humans don't want a rematch, they can make it so by putting Michigan three. Is that right? Maybe not, but it goes to show that human thought can be brought into the discussion. In other words, you don't have to have a rematch if you don't want one.

8. If you don’t win your conference championship, you can’t win the national title
Sorry for harping on this over and over again, but my brain continues to melt whenever people don’t understand this simple, basic concept. The world has been brainwashed into believing a playoff is the fairest way to decide everything, and it is if it's done correctly. We have wild-cards in pro sports, also-rans getting into the NCAA basketball tournament, and second chances being given all across the board. If the point is to find out who the best team is, then why have a regular season in any sport? Play one big tournament, and end it. College football is the best sport going because the regular season means something. If you’re not going to go by what happened on the field, then don’t even bother. A rule has to be created and applied, at least mentally for the pollsters, that only allows conference winners to play for the championship or else it devalues the meaning of winning the title game.

7. Come on, you really want to see the “Rose Bowl”
Nothing says bowl season like a Big Ten – Pac 10 Rose Bowl. If USC wins its final two games, be happy that tradition stays alive with the Buckeyes and Trojans playing, even if it’s down the road from Pasadena.

6. The home field advantage was overrated
I’ll concede right off the bat; I’ve never even come close to winning this argument. While the numbers probably don’t help me out here, I’m under the belief that at the highest of the high levels, like Michigan vs. Ohio State, the home field advantage isn’t nearly as big a deal as everyone makes it out to be. Home field advantage makes a difference when a lesser team hosts a better one, and not when two elite teams face each other. Mike Hart wouldn’t have run harder in the Big House. Troy Smith wouldn’t have been any less sharp. Chad Henne still would’ve gotten off all the same plays. Any top player will tell you that he’s so focused in key moments that he doesn’t even hear the crowd, and most feed off the energy good and bad. Both sides were jacked up by the Buckeye fans. So are we just supposed to blow off all close games won by home teams from now on? Ball State would've beaten Michigan on a neutral field, right? Of course, Wisconsin deserves a rematch against the Wolverines since it lost in Ann Arbor.

The potential is there for a more unsatisfying finish to the season
Let’s say Michigan and Ohio State rematch and the Buckeyes win convincingly 31-17. Ohio State is better than Michigan … we already knew that based on the first game. What if, and we’re going theoretical here, Boise State blasts Texas in the Fiesta Bowl by 23. If Kansas State can beat the Longhorns, then so could the Broncos. What if West Virginia destroys some team by 45, USC wins in a walk in its bowl game, and/or the SEC Champion blows up Notre Dame in the Sugar? Everyone would be whining about wanting a playoff, which still won’t happen, and everyone will be wondering what would’ve happened if the Broncos/Trojans/Gators/Mountaineers/etc. got their chance at the Buckeyes. You won't be happy after a rematch, which is why I ask ...

4. What are you looking for?
Here’s what would happen in a rematch. 1) Ohio State wins. We’ve done that. 2) Ohio State wins in a blowout. Great. We’ve reestablished that the Buckeyes are better than Michigan. 3) Michigan wins in a close game. Whoopee. Now what? We can’t play a third game. 4) Michigan wins in a blowout. Do we then just blow off the latest Game of the Century just played in Columbus? You'll be entertained, but the issue still likely won't truly be settled.

3. Isn’t it just the slightest bit, teensy-weensy, possible that the two top Big Teners are a bit overrated?
Once the Ohio State and Michigan defenses faced living, breathing offenses, each other's, for the first time in weeks, the results were disastrous for both sides. Are you really sure West Virginia wouldn’t run wild on these two? Couldn’t USC’s receiving corps go nuts on the two secondaries? Couldn’t Darren McFadden and Arkansas run amok? Isn’t the point to compare conference champions to truly see who’s best? Which leads me to …

2. Florida
If Arkansas beats LSU, Florida will most likely finish the season having played the nation’s toughest schedule. When all is said and done, Florida, if it wins the title, will have beaten Southern Miss (who’s a near lock to play for the Conference USA title), Tennessee, a bowl-bound, but shaky, Kentucky, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, bowl-bound South Carolina, bowl-bound Florida State, and Arkansas. Michigan’s good wins will have been over Central Michigan (who’s playing for the MAC title), Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Penn State, and bowl bound, but shaky Minnesota and Iowa teams. Florida will have earned its trip to the plate if it wins out and USC loses. You want to tell the SEC fans that their champion doesn't deserve to be in after what happened in 2004?

1. Ohio State 42 … Michigan 39
Thank you very much, good night.

(Cut to a shot of Troy Smith making a mock-scared face like Bill Murray as Big Ern in Kingpin during the big final bowling shootout) … When all is said and done, if Ohio State is the number one team in America, it shouldn’t care if it plays Michigan, USC, or Middle Tennessee. It still has to play the game no matter what. A champion is happy to play anyone, anywhere, any time.

But it would be interesting to see them play the 1930 Notre Dame Fighting Irish … So where does this Ohio State season (based on teams played, point differential, and other factors) rank next to some of the greatest years of all-time? As a bit of a preview for our CFN All-Time Season Ranking update coming out in a few weeks, if the Buckeyes win the national title, according to our objective formula, the 2006 Buckeye campaign will probably rank around tenth. Last year, the 2002 Ohio State season ranked 13th all-time.

I have the maturity level of a five-year old, but the name of the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche makes me giggle like a little girl … The Heisman ballots were sent out this week, and while I’m going to vote for Troy Smith, and he will win it, I’m going to hold off until the last second to turn it in. Last year I voted for Reggie Bush because I honestly felt he was “the most outstanding college football player in the United States for 2005,” but I had a pecking in the back of my head that told me I should’ve voted for Vince Young. Like I said, I’m voting for Smith, but …

The case for my top five picks.
Troy Smith, QB Ohio State
199 of 297 (67%), for 2,507 yards and 30 touchdowns with five interceptions, 233 rushing yards, one touchdown … Brilliant in the two biggest games of the year in wins over Texas and Michigan … The unflappable leader of the nation’s unquestioned number one team.

Mike Hart, RB Michigan
301 carries, 1,515 yards, 14 touchdowns … The steady, consistent workhorse of the offense all season long. Worst game was a 91-yard day against Wisconsin. … In the biggest game of the year, he ripped up Ohio State for 142 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries.

Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii
303 of 419 (72%) for 4,155 yards and 48 touchdowns with eight interceptions, 281 rushing yards and four touchdowns … The numbers are ridiculous. He’s on pace to throw 58 touchdown passes. The WAC competition might not be great, but he threw for 350 yards and two scores against Alabama and 388 yards and five touchdown passes against Boise State. … Nine straight games with four touchdown passes or more, seven games with five scoring passes or more.

Pat White, QB West Virginia
95 of 142 (67%) for 1,346 yards and nine touchdowns with five interceptions. 128 carries, 1,057 yards (8.25 yards per carry), 17 touchdowns … The rushing numbers have gone off the charts in Big East play while the passing accuracy is solid.

Brady Quinn, QB Notre Dame
252 of 387 (65%) for 3,004 yards, 32 touchdowns, five interceptions, two rushing touchdowns …So good and so steady that he’s been overlooked. …. Two classic comebacks over Michigan State and UCLA, but the big moment is up next against USC.

Still on my radar for the top three spots on the ballot …
John Beck RB BYU, Darren McFadden RB Arkansas, Steve Slaton RB West Virginia

Three good teams you haven’t seen …
1. BYU. The winners of the Mountain West lost two games this year in the opener at Arizona on a last-second bomb of a kick and in double-overtime against Boston College. Since then, the Cougars have won their last games by an average score of 40.25 to 10.25.
2. Kansas. After beating Kansas State, and going into the Missouri game, the Jayhawks are now 6-5. In the five losses, one was in double overtime to Toledo, one was in overtime against Nebraska, one was by three in the final moments against Texas A&M, one was in an epic fourth quarter comeback by Oklahoma State, one was by one vs. Baylor.
3. Arizona. On a three game winning streak whacking Washington State, California and Oregon, the Wildcats have turned things around thanks to a defense that’s making every big play and getting every bounce go its way.

Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa)
- Imagine what Maurice Clarett could’ve become if he went to the Troy Smith school of image and attitude adjustment. He would’ve finished his career with a national title, possibly the Heisman, and the adoration and god-like status around Columbus that Smith will enjoy for the rest of his life.
- Part of the deal of playing in a big-time, tough conference is having to play the big boys. Considering the Big Ten flat-out stinks this year, it would've been nice if Ohio State and Wisconsin had played.
- Two problems with the latest Coke ad where the guy wakes up at 3 am to go watch USC play Notre Dame. Even in Hong Kong, when guys get together to watch a game, no one’s drinking Coke unless it has a little “helper” in it.
- For everyone nervous about Les Miles taking over LSU, a win over Arkansas or in the bowl game will make it two straight ten-win seasons for the first time in school history. Remembering he had to keep the team’s head on straight last year through the Katrina nightmare, the 20 wins he has so far in two years is impressive by any measure.
- My wife's birthday: January 8th. The BCS Championship game: January 8th. The coin it's going to cost me to get out of this jam: incalculable.
- Cal clammed up and lost a meaningful game with the spotlight on. The hell you say.
- After Devin Hester's brilliant return of a missed field goal for a touchdown in the Sunday night game a few weeks ago, coaches are going to want to experiment with this. USC tried it against Cal. At some point, this is going to be disastrous with someone getting tackled on the five rather than getting the ball in fantastic field position.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated:
Run DMC ... Underrated: Run DMC a.k.a. Darren McFadden
2) Overrated: Mitch Albom’s take on anything involving the greater Detroit area … Underrated: Taking a cheese grater and slowly, methodically, shaving a bit off the back of your leg right behind the kneecap
3) Overrated: Wherever Bo hopefully is right now … Underrated: York Dark Chocolate Vanilla Mint Patties (trust me on this)
4) Overrated: Saving the world ... Underrated: Saving the cheerleader
5) Overrated:
Thanksgiving dinner ... Underrated: Pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie, pie
Sheer hubris run amok … The three lines this week that appear to be a tad off. .500! Stupid Central Michigan losing to NIU cost me a perfect week, but I’ve rallied to be up to 15-15 so far. Here’s the official kiss of death for three teams … 1) San Jose State -7 over Idaho, 2) Georgia Tech +2 over Georgia, 3) Cincinnati -4 at Connecticut

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … 
I copied the gameplans from the Ohio State and Michigan defensive coaches, tried to make adjustments halfway through, and the column still got ripped to shreds.