ASK CFN - What if the Juniors Had Returned?
Posted Mar 22, 2007

What would the Heisman and BCS races have looked like if Vince Young and all the juniors came back last season? What would the projections be this year if everyone returned? What are the five best football and basketball coaching jobs? How big is an NFL football compared to the college version? These questions and more in 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 ...     
March Madness for football?
Potential Bowl Shockers
Tim Brewster?
Fox's BCS broadcasts
- 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?

My friends and I have had an e-mail discussion for a few weeks about this and wondered what your take would be. If all the coaching jobs were open in college basketball and college football, which would be the five most prestigious ones? Not the best programs, the best coaching jobs, or, the ones that everyone would want to take over? –Ben B.

A: Ah, the Tonight Show argument. Several years ago when Johnny Carson announced he was retiring, there was a battle between David Letterman and Jay Leno and their camps for who’d take over the coveted job. Despite being offered a totally garbage deal, Letterman still desperately wanted the gig for the prestige value. It’s the one job every comedian grew up dreaming about having.

I also call this the “destination job” argument. These are coaching jobs you never, ever leave from unless you’re going off to the pros.

While this is totally debatable, I think basketball is more clear-cut than football. The number one college basketball coaching gig, without question, seems to be North Carolina. My remaining four would be Kentucky number two, Kansas three, UCLA four, and Duke five.

I had a harder time with the top five for football. The Notre Dame job is the obvious number one. Remember that we’re talking about the jobs and not the programs or the teams, I’d put Michigan two, Ohio State three, Texas four, and USC five. The first two were no-brainers, and because all coaches seem to come from Ohio, the Buckeye opening has to be in there somewhere. For the fourth and fifth slots, I wouldn’t argue if you wanted to put in Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, Nebraska, Oklahoma or Penn State.

Do you think that Ohio State will have a very bad year this coming season? The reason I ask is that in your last Ask CFN article you didn't have a BCS placement for Ohio State. With their quarterback situation being cloudy, I know it's hard to put a lot of stock in the Buckeyes, but I'm wondering if you think they will be so bad to miss out on a BCS Bowl Game? - The ByrdMan

A: A “very bad year” is totally relative. I’ve talked to a few Buckeye fans who consider 2006 a “very bad year” after the way things ended, and in a warped way, they’re sort of right. Of course, there are a scattered few who’d say 1-11 would make for a brilliant year as long as that one win was over Michigan.

When you’ve been spoiled by the success that tOSU fans have enjoyed under the Jim Tressel era, it’s BCS or bust. With that said, I don’t care if it’s Ohio State, USC, Florida or UL Monroe, if you go 10-2, even if you don’t go to the BCS, I find it hard to call it a bad season.

The Buckeye defense alone should be enough to keep the team in the hunt for the Big Ten title. The uniforms can show up and beat Youngstown State, Akron, Northwestern, Kent State and even after how close last year’s game was, Illinois. If the offense is even the slightest bit competent, OSU should win road games at Washington and Minnesota and handle Michigan State at home. That’s eight wins right there, or at least eight games where OSU will be favored. I think Purdue, with that offense, is going to be dangerous, so let’s say OSU splits in the four tough games at Purdue, at Penn State, Wisconsin and at Michigan. That’s 10-2, not all that far-fetched, and in the BCS discussion.

I know that’s way too simplistic, but the defense really will be fantastic, the running game should be solid, and remember, this is Ohio State we’re talking about; they replace NFL players with other NFL players.

A friend of mine and I were discussing the size of the football used in college and in the pros.  He thinks the college ball is shorter and "plumper", in addition to having white stripes around each end.  I think the only difference is the white stripe.  I have been unable to locate regulations describing the actual football (,,, etc). – DO

A: It’s actually easier to figure out on the Internet how to build a nuclear bomb than it is to find the official dimensions of a football. According to the good people at Wilson, the length of an NFL ball is anywhere between 10 7/8" and 11 7/18" and the width is anywhere between 20 3/4" and 21 1/4". The NCAA football is the same length, but the width is anywhere between 19 3/4" to 20 3/4". I don’t believe them.

I’m holding one of each in my hands right now, and the NCAA ball feels wider, or as you’d say, plumper.  The NFL, looking for more passing, seems to have a sleeker ball that’s easier to grip. Basically, if you can chuck a college football, you’ll have an easier time throwing “The Duke,” but I could be wrong if the official dimensions provided really are correct.

What is the reasoning behind the Pac-10 schools scheduling 9 conference games and such tough non-conference opponents?  While I love the competitive spirit of the league, the cold hard realist in me can't help but wonder if the conference wouldn't be better off scheduling an additional home cream puff rather than a 9th conference game or an away game at a place like BYU or Utah.  As it stands I don't think the conference is going to ever see an at large BCS berth in the next 10 years and, unless USC can maintain its ridiculous level of quality, they won't see a national title game, either. – Alex

A: First of all, everyone should applaud the Pac 10 and give its teams more respect for the way they’ve set up their schedules. Not only did it make the right move in joining the Big East as the only leagues to crown a true champion with everyone playing everyone else (keep those gimmicky conference championship games to yourself), but they also aren’t afraid to play some of the bigger boys. I have a different take than you; if you beat the good teams, you’ll get more respect. I do see what you’re saying and as an AD, I’d always fatten up on easy non-conference games to prepare my program for the tough conference slate. As a fan, I say go Pac 10.

Every year I like find a team (especially if they've hired a new "name" coach) that can go from mediocre to possibly very good in one season.  This year I'm following Alabama.  Can Saban take the decent talent there and, with some luck, find a way to compete for the SEC title? – TR

A: Very good, yes, SEC title, probably not. I sort of touched on this last week in regards to how well the schedule works out. As a team, Bama wasn’t all that bad last year, and if there can be a little more pop to the running game, better pressure from the defensive front, and more close wins, a bounceback year should be expected. However, don’t expect the Tide to be in the SEC title hunt. Second place in the West is remotely possible, but it’ll be asking a lot of this year’s team to only lose one game against Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU and Auburn.

Nothing makes me madder than when personal fouls by each team cancel each other out. What do you think of charging each team a time out as a penalty in such a situation? – Mike

A: Nothing makes you madder? The situation in Darfur? People driving 47 m.p.h. in the right hand land while talking on a cell phone? How truly awful the talent is on American Idol this season?

Unfortunately, there’s no other way to handle offsetting penalties. What if one team doesn’t have any time outs left? What if one team has all three and one team has one? It would be in the best interest of the team with all three to instigate some sort of a fight to burn the other team’s time out. The other theory thrown around was to punish each offense 15 yards. When the team on defense got the ball back, it would lose 15 yards and start first and 25. That wouldn’t work since the defensive team would take that deal every time. Kill the current drive, take your chances when your offense gets the ball back. The only other solution would be to force each of the offending players to sit out for the rest of that drive, but if you do that, you’d see teams trying to instigate the star players to get them out of the game.

If all the juniors that left for the draft would have stayed for one more year, who would have been your pick for the Heisman?  How about the National Championship? – Jacob L.

A: Heisman-wise this year, your front runners would be Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, JaMarcus Russell, and maybe Michael Bush and Dwayne Jarrett. Colt Brennan, Darren McFadden, Steve Slaton, Pat White, Mike Hart and Brian Brohm, who are each back this year, would also be in the race.

For the national title projections, not too much would change if all the juniors had come back. USC would still likely be number one with Jarrett coming back, LSU would either by one or 1A with Russell returning, and Florida would be somewhere in the top three with Jarvis Moss, Reggie Nelson, Brandon Siler and Ryan Smith back on defense. The biggest change would be Ohio State, who’d likely be a preseason top five, instead of ranked around 10-15, with Antonio Pittman, Ted Ginn, and Anthony Gonzalez back.

If you’re talking about last year and your question is who would’ve been the Heisman pick, Vince Young would’ve likely run away with the award, Reggie Bush would’ve been second, Troy Smith third. Wisconsin’s Brian Calhoun would’ve put up huge numbers and Minnesota’s Laurence Maroney would’ve been in the hunt.

Texas and USC would’ve likely squared off in a national championship rematch. Young probably would’ve gotten the Longhorns past Ohio State in Austin, but it would’ve been an epic battle. Remember, Texas basically lost to Kansas State and Texas A&M because Colt McCoy was hurting. Replace McCoy with Young, and you’d have a different outcome. USC with Bush and LenDale White in the backfield, Darnell Bing in the secondary, and Fred Matua and Winston Justice back on the O line, would’ve been unstoppable. Ohio State would’ve been interesting with Santonio Holmes as a number one receiver and Donte Whitner and Ashton Youboty in the secondary. Florida would’ve had Chad Jackson as a top target and Dee Webb back at corner. Wisconsin would’ve been an interesting player in the national title mix if Calhoun was back. The Michigan game, when the Badgers couldn’t run and needed a speed back to get to the outside, might have had a different outcome.

The BCS last year would've likely ended up being ...
- BCS Championship: USC vs. Texas
- Rose Bowl: Ohio State vs. LSU
- Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. Notre Dame
- Orange Bowl: Louisville vs. Wake Forest
- Fiesta Bowl: Boise State vs. Michigan