ASK CFN - Fox's BCS Broadcasts

Posted Jan 12, 2007

Fox BCS broadcasts, Michigan against the top teams, what Saban brings to Bama, and more in the latest Ask CFN.

Pete Fiutak

Fire over your questions to me at pete@collegefootballnews.com. 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 ...    
Is Brady really better than Russell?
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?

So is it just me, or were there way too many commercials during the national title game?  I thought that the NCAA wanted to shorten the length of the games, not extend them to close to four hours because of the ad time on the broadcasts.  As an OSU fan it was painful enough to watch the game, but having to wait through four or five ads just because a team called timeout was excruciating.  Just wanted to get your thoughts on this. – GS

A: I don’t know for sure if there were more ads than when ABC had the big games, but I didn’t think they were overly obnoxious. I talked to a few people about this, and the general theory was that the ads seemed more prevalent because the game sucked and dragged out so long. The ads didn’t seem as big a deal for the Fiesta Bowl. About five minutes into the third quarter, you probably just wanted the game to be over. Also, BCS games are always longer because the halftime shows go forever. You can always do what one of my friends does and start watching every sporting event at least 15 minutes after it starts to fast forward through the ads.

Do you work for Fox and even if you do, can you see why a college football viewer might long for ESPN or ABC coverage of a game like this? I couldn't wait to switch over to the Game Day guys after the basketball game was over on ESPN - the Fox guys just aren't credible, except for maybe Chris Meyers who's relegated to the sidelines, and Barry Alvarez, the requisite coach.  The trophy presentation was an absolute snoozer and shouldn't have been - I blame the Fox crew.  And you are SO right about their endless, shameless show promos - and those stupid robots started showing up on the NFL games last weekend. If we really have to endure three more years of Fox covering the BCS games, except thankfully for the Rose Bowl, I will just continue to bless the inventors of the DVR and mute buttons, and pray that the Game Day guys are always nearby. – SW

A: CFN does provide content for Fox, so anything positive I’ll say will sound like sucking up. With that said, I thought the Fiesta Bowl and BCS Championship games were done shockingly well because of the fabulous announcing team of Thom Brennaman, Barry Alvarez and Charles Davis. The Cotton Bowl was a disaster, while the Sugar Bowl worked for you if you like Terry and Howie, and was a nightmare if you don’t.

A lot of the good and bad with Fox had to do with the material. All broadcasts are going to struggle when the games are bad and you’re into banter time. It wouldn’t have mattered who was doing the games; the fourth quarter of the Sugar and BCS Championship were going to be rough.

The pregame stuff drove me nuts only because I wasn’t a fan of the forced banter between the representatives of the competing schools. I’d rather have heard Emmitt Smith and Eddie George (who I thought was solid) do more analysis and cut out the smack talk. As far as the trophy presentation, unless you’re a fan of the winning team, those things always stink no matter who’s doing it.

You watched the Sugar Bowl, and I know that you also work for Fox Sports. As far as the coverage was concerned, I was very refreshed with the coverage in comparison to "The Mouse" (ABC/ESPN) and NBC. Other than having them in a BCS game, the FOX announcers didn't have an agenda and weren’t shoving how great Weis and Notre Dame are down our throats a la Brent Musberger. It actually made watching Notre Dame play tolerable. Thoughts? - DAVE in ATL

A: It was different, and it wasn’t bad. I was fully prepared for the Fox coverage to be awful, but it appeared to be respectful to college football fans concerned about the change, and I liked that there weren’t any wacky bells and whistles. The number one college teams at ABC, ESPN and NBC are all terrific, and the Fox top guys held their own. With that said, I still love it when Brent does a huge game. 

Why has the NCAA not followed the NFL's example with regards to the horse collar tackle?  I cringe every time I see one of these kids dragged down from behind in this way.  If this tackle is considered too dangerous for the guys who get paid millions to play it should be considered too dangerous for the kids as well. – KS

A: I’m the wrong person to ask because I’ve always thought it was a bit of a wussy rule. I don’t remember anyone getting hurt this year because of the horse-collar tackle, and I’m more concerned about the helmet-to-helmet shots that bruise brains. How is the horse-collar more dangerous than bringing someone down by going at his knees? By the way, in the NFL you can tackle a player by grabbing the long hair coming out of the back of his helmet, so you can still drag someone down from behind even if it isn’t by the inside of the shoulder pads.

Is Michigan a paper tiger?  Is their style of play no longer viable against the national power house contenders?  I mention that because look at how Florida State destroyed them in the early 90's with speed and innovative offense. Same thing with the new "90's FSU" - USC in the 2000's.  I know they won the NC in 97 after winning the Big Ten (I think the rest of those bowl bound big ten teams were 0-5 in bowls that year) and beating a one lose WSU team (in a weak Pac 10 that year) but which teams have they really beaten in the past 20 years that were true national title contender type programs that weren’t in the big 10?  Am I wrong and am I buying into this argument too much. - KP.

A: Yeah, Michigan is way overdue for a big, splashy, non-conference, non-Notre Dame win. Wolverine fans always tag me with an anti-Wolverine bias, but I want to see this supposed program of Leaders and Best actually do something outside of its conference. The last really good win outside of the Big Ten and Notre Dame came against an above-average Florida team in the 2003 Outback Bowl.  I’d argue that you have to go back to the 2000 Orange Bowl win over Alabama for the last, real ooooooh win over a big-time conference team.

Michigan has speed, it has NFL talent, and it has enough five-star recruits to play with anyone in America, but it always seems like the defensive talent is overrated, the offensive play-calling is predictable, and the results when it comes to being in the national title chase just aren’t there for a program of this magnitude.

Look, 2006 and 2003 USC would’ve beaten just about everyone in the Rose Bowls in those years. 2004 Texas was sensational, and it took Vince Young to get by in a 38-37 tight win. In other words, Michigan has lost to some sensational teams and hasn't been that bad in some epic losses. When was the school’s last loss to a team that finished a season with a losing record? 1996. This team beats almost everyone it's supposed to, which doesn't get nearly as much credit or publicity as the big losses.

To answer your question, the last win over a true national title team outside of the Big Ten arguably came over Colorado in 1996. If you question that, then you have to go to the 1989 Rose Bowl win over USC for a killer win. But really, when was the last time Michigan ruined the season of a non-Big Ten team with an honest shot to win the national title? The best I could come up with was a 12-7 win over Iowa Pre-Flight in 1944 or a 1932 26-0 win over Michigan State.

Why do we not hear Frank Solich's name mentioned for open coaching jobs?  The man won nine games or more every year at Nebraska and now had Ohio in the MAC championship game, why is he not being pursued by major programs? – Scott

A: His name has been thrown out there for the Minnesota job. One big problem: the forward pass. Unless you’re Rich Rodriguez, if you don’t run an offense that can effectively throw in today’s day and age, you’re not going to be a hot coaching prospect. I think he needs to make smaller move first, like to a Conference USA or Mountain West program, before he gets a true shot at a big-time gig.

It looks like Alabama and Saban are a match made in heaven.  Both egos are starved for attention.  It reminds me of the Dallas Cowboys having Jerry Jones as owner and hiring Bill Parcells.  Is this good for college football that it is becoming so much like the NFL?  Do you think there will be a huge "Under the Microscope" national watch of the Alabama program in the next few years?  And how do you think this is going to play out?  There seems to be so much intense pressure on everyone, including the players to win a National Championship in 3 years or less.  - Ron in Nashville

A: First of all, pressure has always been there. There’s even more in college football than the NFL, where you can go 9-7 and be considered a solid coach. If the Chicago Bear head coach loses to Green Bay five times in a row, or if the Washington Redskin head coach loses to Dallas three straight years, they’re still around as long as they make the playoffs and/or come up with good records. Lose several games in a row to your rival in college football and you’re gone.  

Saban’s hiring has made Alabama football far more interesting on a national scale, and has upped the cache of the SEC that much more. How will it play out? Alabama will get its turn in the SEC rotation at some point under Saban and win a title. Will the Tide be a consistent SEC champion? No chance. Just because he was hired, that doesn’t mean Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Auburn and LSU now stink.

What’s up with the free pass you give to Weis? He hasn't beaten a good team yet. His team got worse this year and doesn't have a track record of winning as a head coach. His "adjustments" never seem to work vs. a team with a pulse.  He has a top QB, two NFL WR, a good RB and a O line with tons of games under their belts. They blew LSU off the line in the 1rst half. Walker had 100 yards early in the game and Weis got outcoached by Miles. – Ned in St. Pete

A: That free pass, as you called it, will certainly stop if next year’s team doesn’t rock. The talent level wasn’t there when he took over, but this will be his third recruiting class coming in meaning it’s time Notre Dame started proving it can beat the best of the best. At the end of the day, it’s hard to knock a coach who got his team to the BCS two seasons in a row, and I like his gutsiness when it comes to his play calls, but I didn’t like what he and his staff did in the second half of the Sugar Bowl and would love to see more from his defense. With all the hype and all the recognition, there’s no excuse anymore for not cranking out a D that can rock.