Ask CFN - Is Brady Really the No. 1 Pick?
Posted Jan 4, 2007

Is LSU that good or is Notre Dame that bad? Is Brady Quinn better than JaMarcus Russell? Before diving into the national title game on Monday, here's the latest Ask CFN.

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.)

Past ASK CFNs ...    
Hot & Cold Bowl Programs
- How ineffective was Reggie Ball?
- A 2007 Top 10 Mock Draft
Can Michigan win a national title?
- BCS possibilities for several teams
- West Virginia schedule, BCS rules
- Toughest coaching jobs
- Hidden Heisman 5

- Is Temple worst ever?
- Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco
- Has Bob Stoops lost it?
- Is Colorado done?

As an Auburn fan I’m well aware of your thoughts that we underachieved this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball.  I definitely agree with those statements, but I think that Texas and Notre Dame were bigger underachievers than us this year. Considering their preseason ranking and where they will likely finish, probably around 15th and Auburn who started 6th will probably finish 9th do you think that Auburn is the biggest underachiever this season? – BH

A: Hold up. I don’t think I ever said Auburn was an underachiever (and if I did, I was wrong). If you go 11-2 and win the Cotton Bowl, you did something right. With that said, yes, the offense was a disappointment considering Kenny Irons was a preseason Heisman favorite and Brandon Cox was going into his second season as the starter. Getting points was like pulling teeth at times, and there was no consistency. As far as talent level, Notre Dame didn’t underachieve at all; the overall talent wasn’t there to be a champion in the first place. Texas definitely didn’t play up to its all-around skill, especially in the secondary, but no one underachieved more than Miami and Florida State. Those two were loaded with NFL prospects and stunk all year long.

At what point do people start to realize that Notre Dame may just be overrated almost every year. It seems like the media is so quick to jump all over this team every year when the truth of the matter is that they tend to lose the games to the only good teams they play, and then have an extremely weak schedule for the rest of the time. If they would simply join a conference, they would lose the automatic bid they get for being in the top 12 and it could go to a more deserving team that wouldn’t get blown out by LSU and not lose 9 straight bowl games. – MB

A: Well, we did our part and endured the endless streams of hate mail from the Irish nation to show it. We always make mistakes in this inexact business (Miami preseason No. 4 … but that was on talent, not production), but we got the Notre Dame call right at No. 18 going into the year, and never wavered along the way, while others were saying it was smooth sailing to the national championship. As I’ve said all along, enjoy the Irish bashing now, because things are about to turn in a real hurry under Charlie Weis. As far as the “weak” schedule, yeah, the SEC was tough, but it wasn’t like the Big Ten was anything special this year, the ACC was awful, and the Pac 10 and Big 12 were average. Notre Dame likely would’ve gone 10-2, or close to it, in most leagues.

Maybe I read your (Sugar Bowl Stream of Consciousness article) wrong, but the way I interpreted it was that you believe Brady Quinn to be a better QB than Jamarcus Russell.  Do you still feel that way after last night?  I know you can't base decisions off of one game, but I don't get it.  What does everyone see in Quinn....he is going to be flat out awful in the NFL....I feel bad for one of those top 3 downtrodden teams that are going to be forced to take him in the the painful woes will continue.  Me, I take 6-6, 260, Mobile, Rocket Arm, Accuracy over this guy any day!! (I know, I know, he may not come out). – AJ

I read your “stream of consciousness notes” pre-game…Why in the world would Quinn be #1?  He couldn’t handle LSU’s defense.  Russell sure looked like the better QB.  Quinn is the product of media hype and a weaker schedule… - SC

A: Put Russell on Notre Dame facing the LSU secondary and put Quinn on LSU against the Irish secondary and see what kind of results you get. I still think Louisville’s Brian Brohm is the best pro quarterback prospect, but Quinn will go number one overall because of his arm, his toughness, and his training under Weis. He has all the throws in the arsenal, good mobility, and the ability to quickly grasp an offense. While he’s a sure thing to not be a total bust, there’s more upside to Russell and his oh-dear-lord arm. Remember, Russell didn’t light up too many good secondaries this year and threw three picks against both Florida and Tennessee. You could throw for 300 on Notre Dame, so don’t just go by what you saw in the Sugar Bowl.

You have to remember that there’s a mile-wide difference between playing quarterback in college and in the NFL. In college, the good quarterbacks usually get time to operate and mainly have to work on hitting the open receiver consistently. In the NFL, the good quarterbacks are throwing to a spot to covered receivers while having far less time to throw. Quinn, at the moment, is better at that than Russell, but that’s not to say things can’t change in a hurry.

Is Notre Dame that bad of a team or is LSU that good of a team? – TB

A: A little of both. Good passing teams with fast defenses pose mega-matchup problems for this Irish team. The defense needs far more playmakers and the offensive line, which I thought did a relatively decent job in the Sugar Bowl, has to keep improving. LSU’s receivers would blow past just about anyone, and that fast defense gives everyone problems. You don’t hang around the top three in the major defensive categories all year long without being that good.

I’ve been telling people that if Boise State is rated and is undefeated they should be in the championship game. Have a nice day. - Cornhusker Fan Jon

A: Let’s not go overboard. I don’t like the idea that any team, not just Boise State, has to be in the championship just because it’s unbeaten.  There’s more to it than that, and you really do have to look at the schedule. Do you really think Boise State deserves to be in the national title more than Florida or Ohio State? If the Broncos had blown out OU, and if the Sooners didn’t make every mental mistake imaginable, I might be more adamant about it, but I’m comfortable with how things have shaken out.

There is a lot of talk about how hard it is for college coaches to make it in the pros (EX. Spurrier and Saban), but what about how hard it is for pro coaches to make in the college football world.  I think it would test a different set of coaching skills.  I know Pete Carroll has flourished, but he seems to be the exception to the rule.  So who are some coaches--that are thought of as pro coaches--who have done well, haven't done well, or average in the college world? – TD

A: It’s a different set of skills for each gig. In the pros, a coach has to have the players to come win, and he can’t go get them. You could give the 2006 Browns to a hybrid of Vince Lombardi, John Wooden, and Scotty Bowman and he still wouldn’t do much better than 8-8. A pro coach has to massage egos, act in a business-like, cut-throat fashion when it comes to personnel evaluation and tweaking of the player’s talents, but rarely does a coach take a player and make him ten times better. There’s just not time, and at the NFL level, the players, for the most part, are already supposed to know what they’re doing.

In college, a coach needs to be a bit more personal, more of a motivator, and better at exploiting mismatches. Every NFL team is just about even, you know, any given Sunday. In college, there’s a great disparity in talent along with strengths and weaknesses from team to team, so on an X an O basis, a coach has more room to work. An NFL coach has to deal more with execution, since there’s far more time devoted to film study and practice, while the college coach mainly has to get his guys to make the plays that are there. I know that might sound like splitting hairs, but there’s a difference.

Of course, the major difference is in the recruiting. You can be the best coach in the world, but if you can’t convince the kids to come to your house, there’s a ceiling on what you can do. To make a short question long, a pro coach has to be more of a manager, while a college coach has a better chance at using his personality to make the program his.

Of the pro coaches who’d be great college coaches, because of the intensity, enthusiasm, and personality, Tampa Bay’s Jon Gruden would be terrific, Tennessee’s Jeff Fisher would be special, and Jacksonville’s Jack Del Rio would be a star.  On the flip side, outside of the obvious guys like Charlie Weis, Urban Meyer, Mark Richt, and Kirk Ferentz would be my top three coaches who could translate quickly to the big league.

I'm not brave enough to try to name the top ten bowl games of all-time, but I can't help but comment on your embarrassing attempt (in the article about the top ten bowl games of all-time). Only five of your top ten games were played before 1994, only one was played before 1979, and that one was played way back there in 1970 (right after the ice sheet retreated).  That's absurd. C'mon Pete, you can do better than that. – BM

A: Yes, the world did start when I was born in 1970. Everything before that was completely insignificant. Actually, there’s a more tangible reason for why the list of top best bowls mostly had recent games: national championships. With the main emphasis being on significant bowls that decided national titles, pre-1970 games were all but cancelled out since the national champion was usually crowned before the bowls. Plus, there wasn’t nearly the scrutiny or significance of the bowl games back in the day as there is now.

I’m disgusted with never seeing the half time shows.  I watched the Cotton Bowl for the reason that my niece from her high school and co-dancers from 29 other area High School worked they butts off to go to Texas to dance at half time and pre game show but didn’t get to watch any of it. Was all this hard work even acknowledged … NO! These kids work hard to pay their way and this is how national coverage shows their appreciation … I think it sucks not only for them but all their families and friends who help in the efforts to get them there. Life doesn’t always need to revolve around commercials all the time. And we wonder why teenagers cause so much trouble in this society  those who choose to work hard to accomplish something as important as dancing in the cotton bowl and other national coverage for their efforts need to be shown it was worth the effort and that’s what makes them become good students and great adults in this world. The cotton bowl game network coverage owes these kids and future ones more. – BS

A: I always get in trouble with these types of questions, especially when band members fire off a similar complaint. First, let me put on my flaming jerkweed hat before I respond … just because someone works hard at something, that doesn’t mean anyone actually has to care. Did your niece and her friends go into dancing because they thought they’d be on TV, or did they do it because they thought it’d be a fun activity? How about the experience of being able to perform at the Cotton Bowl, no matter what TV coverage there was? And to set the dial to grouchy, don’t blame the networks for the problems of teenage America just because some prancing chicks didn’t get a national showcase to shake their booties to yet another rendition of Hot Stuff.

Glen Mason makes it to a bowl game but ends up with a losing record and getting fired. Does this demonstrate that there should be higher requirements for getting into a bowl game? Apparently Minnesota felt it was a bad season however they were "rewarded" with a bowl. Doesn't make sense. - Tim

A: No one agrees with me, but I go the other way on this … there should be no requirements for getting a bowl bid. They’re exhibitions, not playoffs; let the bowls take whoever they want to make the best matchup, sell the most tickets, and generate the most fan interest. Who’d rather see Kansas or Arizona over Middle Tennessee or Ohio? I’m not saying its fair to the smaller programs, but find the average sports fan out there that’ll make the International Bowl appointment television. Minnesota might have collapsed to Texas Tech, but it sure looked like a world beater for three quarters. The problem with upping the requirement, like saying a team needs seven wins to get a bid, is that you’re rewarding some teams who play lousy schedules and encouraging teams to schedule more cupcakes to get to the mark you’re setting. Instead, I’d vote for all games against D-IAA to not count to a bowl total. At least that would provide some incentive for teams to play other D-I teams at all costs.