Cavalcade of Whimsy - Bowl Week Musings
Posted Dec 26, 2006

He's what everyone's talking about. Hawaii's Colt Brennan put on an amazing show against Arizona State to finish with numbers that were beyond belief. Who would be an interesting coach for the Alabama job, and is Nick Saban going to take the gig? These and more thoughts during week one of the bowls 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
Week 13 | Week 1
4 | Week 15 | Week 16

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … But really, I’m not going to be the Alabama coach. I don't know how many times I've got to respond to rumor and innuendo. I have no control over that. I've stated what my intentions are and they really haven't changed, so I don't know what the issue is. And I don't know why people keep asking about it. What they talk about over there is their business. But what's happening with this column is my business and our business, and that's what we're focused on.

But he might be the one coach they can get with better hair than Shula … Six bucks and Daunte Culpepper’s right knee says that Nick Saban is in a crimson red blazer two weeks from now. Remember, he loved LSU and was full steam ahead on recruiting.

In 2009, just after Bill Cowher takes the open NC State job … The dude hasn’t even left Miami yet, and is still adamantly denying he's going to Alabama, but I’ll be the first to set the over/under at 2.5 for the number of years Saban stays at Bama before leaving for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Well, that Alabama job is still open … I know Mike Price did a wonderful job turning UTEP around taking one of the worst programs in the nation, with six wins in three years, to two straight bowl games and 21 wins in three seasons, but if you consider yourself a big-time program and you’re considering him for your job opening, you’ve run out of ideas. UTEP lost five out of its final six games this season, including gaffes to Marshall and Memphis to close things out, lost the final three games in 2005 while blowing the Conference USA title, and lost the last two games in 2004. Basically, UTEP was as unclutch (I’ve created a new word) as they come after it should've been in two straight championship games.

He’s horrible. How could you hire him? What’s his name? … It’s a phenomenon most commonly seen during the NFL draft; if fans have never heard of a player, he must stink. The same logic often applies to new coaching hires who might not have name recognition, but might just turn out to be excellent. Remember, you probably never heard of Bob Stoops before he became a god at Oklahoma. Jim Tressel came to Ohio State from Youngstown State, and Ron Prince wasn’t exactly a household name before going to Kansas State. Give the new unknowns like Jeff Jagodzinski, Troy Calhoun, and Robb Akey a chance.

The thong watching on South Beach costs nothing … Louisville associate athletic director was recently saying the school will likely break even, at best, from the Orange bowl experience. I totally understand when athletic departments want to use bowl games as a reward and a chance for some yee-ha time, but how hard can it be if they want to pocket some of the coin?

For example, Louisville’s cut of the BCS money, after its split with the rest of the Big East, is around $1.8 million. For winning the Big East title, it also gets an additional $600,000. Work with me here.

Remembering the goal is to make money as well as to have fun, five days and four nights in Miami should be plenty. Louisville can practice at home, get to Miami December 29th, play the game January 1st, and leave late on the second. According to, air fare and a four-night stay at a three-star hotel runs roughly $1500 a person, and that’s booking the trip four days in advance, not four weeks, and I’d probably get a great deal by getting hotel rooms in bulk. Let’s budget in $100 a day per person to eat, even though some of the meals will be Orange Bowl sponsored. At this point, we’re up to roughly $2000 per person.

We have to move the equipment, medical supplies, band stuff, and other assorted knick-knacks from Louisville to Miami and back again. According to, you can get a 26-foot moving truck big enough to handle five bedrooms to go round trip for around $1200 (and that's being generously high). Of course, we have to throw gas and munchies into the mix, we’ll probably need a few trucks, and we'll have to pay a little something to a few hungry U of L students to drive, so budget in around $6000 to move everything down and back.

Just to make sure we’ve thought of everything, let’s throw in an extra $250,000 for miscellaneous expenses. Suntan lotion, bail, room service, cabs, transportation from the airport and to the game, etc. With all of this, if Louisville caps it at 300 people, and that includes all the players, the coaches, training staff, the athletic department big-wigs, selected boosters, the sports information department,
some of the band, and a few others, I firmly believe I can do this whole thing for well under a mill. I've just saved the University of Louisville about $1.5 million.

With any story starting out, “I was out drinking …” coming in a close fourth … How could Drew Brees, Michel Vick, Reggie Wayne, Ahman Green, Chester Taylor and Deion Branch all go in the tank for me in the championship? Oh, wait. I’m sorry, I forgot that the only things more want-to-stab-yourself-in-the-eye boring than listening to someone talk about their fantasy football team is 1) hearing about a day on the golf course and 2) enduring a beaming parent gush about little Timmy's performance as the third tooth from the left in the school play, or some other cutesy thing done by some dopey kid.

"It’s a coffee table book about coffee tables" … If you’re going to get a home bowl game that’s basically named after you, you must win it. Hawaii did its job in the Hawaii Bowl against Arizona State, but New Mexico was lousy in a 20-12 loss to San Jose State in the New Mexico Bowl. No, no one was fooled by the away jerseys the Warriors and Lobos wore.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Ten random thoughts and polite musings from week one of the bowl season.

10. Bob Toledo to Tulane … whoopee!
Toledo, the former UCLA head man, was the offensive coordinator at New Mexico for one year. In that time, the Lobos finished 84th in the nation in total offense, averaged just 21.85 yards per game (75th in the country), was 94th in rushing and averaged 205.85 passing yards per game. Tulane’s attack stunk, but it finished this year 62nd in the nation in total offense.

9. Why the rules for bowl eligibility aren't that bad
I was in a discussion with a college football type about how the bowls would’ve been better if teams like Arizona, Washington State or Kansas, who all went 6-6, were in over some of the lesser name teams getting the spotlight. The argument for the BCS league teams was that they played tougher schedules and would’ve been in a bowl had they played a slate like Middle Tennessee’s or Western Michigan’s. Yeah, but what about San Jose State? Any bowl worth its salt would’ve wanted the Jayhawks or the Wildcats over the Spartans, but Dick Tomey’s club showed the sports world it could play. To me, part of the fun of the bowl season is getting teams like Troy, Rice, and Northern Illinois on a national stage. Remember, these aren’t playoffs; they’re exhibitions.  

8. There's something scary about the sure thing, part one
I’m not changing my pick, but as the grand marshal of the “Florida could win this thing” parade, I’m wavering more than ever. From the goofiness of Antonio Pittman and Chris Wells potentially getting in trouble for a fund raiser to get their families to Glendale to see the game, to the time off, to everyone picking OSU, there’s just something about this that doesn’t seem kosher. The national title game will be a dogfight, and will be better than anyone seems to believe. I’m also wavering on ....

7. There's something scary about the sure thing, part two
Not only is no one picking Notre Dame to beat LSU in the Sugar Bowl, it doesn’t seem like the Irish have any reason to even show up to New Orleans. I’m in agreement when you look at the matchup on paper, but these are still 18-to-22-year-old college kids and weird things do happen in bowl games. Look at the 2006 Sugar Bowl when Georgia thought it could just show up and beat West Virginia. This is an Irish passing game full of top NFL prospects; it’s going to get its licks in.

6. Philosophically, playoffs don’t make sense
The point of sports leagues is to make money. They make money by generating interest, and if you’re the NFL, you do that through fantasy football, gambling (of course, according to the NFL, wagering has nothing to do with the sport’s popularity), and playoffs. As you wonder like I do why college football can’t have a plus one, or some sort of small playoff to compare the conference champions who likely haven’t played during the regular season, ask yourself what the playoffs prove in the NFL.

If your goal is to find out who the best team is, then everyone should be in. Play off all 32 teams and the one left standing, theoretically, is the best. If you want what's most fair, you take the top team from the AFC and the top team in the NFC after the regular season and send them to the Super Bowl. That would reward the regular season, right? Baseball used to have it right, but then it realized it could make a bundle by creating league championships and could make even more by adding wildcards. College football might have the post-season messed up, but if the point is to figure out who the best and most deserving team is, it’s not as far off as you might think.
5. Oh those wacky bowls
How the heck did Troy do that to Rice? The Troy offense was next to non-existent all season long, the defense, while decent, wasn’t nearly as special as some of the team’s recent ones, and Rice was coming in as one of the tightest, most confident non-BCS bowl teams of the bunch. All of a sudden, Troy QB Omar Haugabook decided he was going to be Peyton Manning and Michael Vick rolled into one, the D was going to hit like harder and better than it had all season long, and the game was going to be over after a the first quarter. To all “investors,” you always stay away from the first and last college football games of the year; they’re too unpredictable. Part of the problem was ...

4. Early coaching goof ups
Since he's still learning the ropes, I’ll give a pass to Rice’s Todd Graham for not going for two late in the New Orleans Bowl loss, when a successful conversion would’ve made it a two-score, 16-point Troy lead, but there’s no reasonable explanation for Arizona State’s Dirk Koetter punting the ball when down two scores with fewer than four minutes remaining in the loss to Hawaii.

3. The Pac 10 had better show up in a big hurry
Pac 10ers are always desperate to prove on a national scale that it’s more than just USC and nine teams going through the motions. Oregon’s performance against BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl loss and Arizona State’s loss to Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl weren’t exactly confidence inspiring. UCLA plays Florida State, Cal plays Texas A&M, and Oregon State play Missouri before January 1st. The Pac 10 had better win two out of the three, and with a little bit of pizzazz.

2. Not sure about Colt Brennan as an NFL prospect, but … 
He’s one heck of a college passer. Are you truly grasping his numbers? He averaged 399.2 yards and 4.1 touchdown passes per game. Even more amazing was his completion percentage; go in the backyard with some friends and try to complete 73% of your throws. These weren’t cheap shots with most of the yards and points coming in the heat of games. Fine, so run ‘n’ shoot style quarterbacks haven’t exactly shown up in the NFL, but if Brennan returns, Hawaii will be the story of the off-season with the college version of the Greatest Show on Turf the weekly must-see in 2007.

1. June Jones to Alabama? Why not?
It’s time to get Jones and his staff off the island. True, the run ‘n’ shoot, chuck ‘n’ duck, whatever you want to call it would get as much respect around Tuscaloosa as Dennis Franchione skipping with Mike Price while wearing Auburn sweaters, but why not give it a shot? Offensive numbers are offensive numbers, while Jerry Glanville has proven to be a heck of a defensive coordinator with the average talent he has to work with. Sure, Bama can be just like everyone else and find someone to run yet another version of the spread, or it can throw a wicked scare into the SEC and bring over Jones, Mouse Davis and lots and lots of yards and points. What quarterback wouldn’t want to play in the SEC in this offense?

More provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa)
- The NFL Network pregame show/three-hour Brett Favre tribute before the Minnesota-Green Bay game has to be ranked among the top five biggest wastes of time in sports programming history. Now that it has the responsibility of showing the games, the NFL Network has to be under more scrutiny and more criticism until it proves it can be more than a shill for the league, and I firmly believe it’s taking all the great strides made in sports television in recent years and throwing them in the dumper. Steve Mariucci bawling at the mere sight of Favre wasn’t touching or poignant; it was an embarrassment. Deion Sanders and Marshall Faulk use every second of air time to relate every topic to themselves and their playing days, and Rich Eisen is, well, Rich Eisen. He's about as edgy as a Christmas special hosted by Amy Grant and Darrell Waltrip.
- After getting Kentucky to a bowl game, head coach Rich Brooks signed an extension. When will these schools learn that you give coaches fat bonuses for a job well done, but you don’t extend a contract unless it's an absolute, you're-about-to-lose-him must?

- Bowl season is a time for casual fans to watch teams they haven’t seen, and also to experience announcers they haven’t heard. To those e-mailing me asking what the heck that was during the Hawaii Bowl, welcome to the Mark Jones experience. Either you’re into it or you’re not. If you're not a fan, it helps to form a drinking/betting game revolving around when he says the word auspicious.
- A note to Oregon: being known for how wacky and bizarre the uniforms can get used to be cute, but in blowouts, they make the team look like a joke. When you’re in the national title hunt year in and year out, you can do whatever you want. Until then, tone it down. The Las Vegas Bowl uniforms crossed yet another line into silly.
- Rice, Tulsa and East Carolina did a whole lot of nothing in their bowl games. Conference USA is closer to battling with the MAC and WAC for respect than it is with the Mountain West.
- I spent the last ten days defending the bowls and how much fun they are. After the first seven games, it’s been a tough fight. The college football gods are paying us back after all of last year’s great ones.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated:
Ryan Ohliger ... Underrated: Steve Aponavicius
2) Overrated: Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis … Underrated: Atlanta Falcon head coach Charlie Weis
3) Overrated:
Christmas Day after 10 a.m. ... Underrated: Christmas Eve day
4) Overrated: Candy canes  ... Underrated: Hershey’s peanut butter kisses
5) Overrated:
Drinking, dancing, being weird, and hitting on girls on the one shooting-fish-in-a-barrel night of the year ... Underrated: A sensible meal, a warm tea, a kiss on the wife’s head, and going to bed at 10 on December 31st to be ready for an 18-hour work day on January 1st
Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … I’m in hot water after having showing up in Akron to have a plate of spaghetti so my family could travel Arizona to see Ohio State play.