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ASK CFN ... Why Did Quinn Slide?
Posted May 4, 2007

Why did Brady Quinn slide? How should the Big Ten unbalanced schedule change? Who was drafted too high and who was an early steal? What's the best place to sit if you're an opposing fan in an enemy stadium? This and much 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.)

If you could go back to the beginning of college football time, what 5 things would you retroactively change about the game? Would you have instituted a playoff from day one? – CR

A: I know you asked about changing the game, but you hinted at changing up the BCS, so let’s just go back to the mid-1990s when the whole weird, wild system kicked in and there was a chance to set things right from the start. First, I would’ve made the BCS formula with three components using the human polls, the computers, and the strength of schedule all equally. Next, I’d take the top four conference winners according to the final BCS formula, and play them off No. 1 vs. No. 4 and No. 2 vs. No. 3 with everyone else going to the regular bowls. I wouldn’t have any distinction between BCS leagues and non-BCS leagues, if you’re in the top four among the conference winners, you’re in. Third, I’d make sure the playoff would be played on New Year’s Day, and the national title a week later so it wouldn't get too drawn out. Fourth, I’d make the voters accountable from vote one. All votes would be published, and each pollster would be given a weekly test to make sure they know what they’re talking about. Finally, I’d make Notre Dame join a conference if they wanted to be a part of the whole show and eliminate the special BCS treatment. You want in the big dance, earn it by winning a league.

Past ASK CFNs ...     
The Virginia Tech situation
- Creating a MWest-WAC super-league
Mid-majors who should be in the bigs
The potential new superpower
The 5 best coaching jobs
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?

Like Purdue the last two years, Iowa now doesn't play both Michigan and Ohio State.  The Big Ten schedule is a mess.  I know the Big Ten has 2 protected rivals (MSU and OSU for UM), but why not create a system where no team can miss both Michigan and Ohio State.  Although Purdue didn't take advantage, it gives a team a much easier road to the Big Ten title. But even more, doesn't Iowa feel cheated by having two seasons without the marquee teams on their schedule? In an expanded discussion of the mess, I’m against a Title Game or a 9 game schedule because it seems very unfair to the 4 Home Game teams.  I'd like to see a 10 game schedule leaving 1 game for a in-state and 1 for a big name. Thoughts? – RS

A: It’s not a fair system and it has to be changed soon. I’d make every Big Ten team play a ten-game season to determine a true champion and eliminate two of the non-conference games. I’d also do everything possible to keep the league from adding a team and going to two divisions. The extra TV revenue alone from a full conference slate would more than make up for the lost dollars from possibly losing the extra non-conference home game.

It would be easier than you’d think for each team to eliminate games make this happen. Just take away the D-IAA (or whatever you want to call it) layups and the unnecessary non-conference games. Some might complain that you couldn’t get a Big Ten team to go on the road, but you have to make a sacrifice somewhere.
- Illinois could eliminate Western Illinois and Ball State
- Indiana – Indiana State, at Western Michigan
- Iowa – Northern Illinois, Western Michigan
- Michigan – Appalachian State, Eastern Michigan
- Michigan State – UAB, Bowling Green
- Minnesota – at Florida Atlantic, North Dakota State
- Northwestern – Northeastern, Eastern Michigan
- Ohio State – Youngstown State, Akron
- Penn State – FIU, at Temple
- Purdue – at Toledo, Eastern Illinois
- Wisconsin – at UNLV, The Citadel

All of this spring game attendance talk got me thinking...who has the most loyal fans in college football?  Now I know there are many teams out there that have filled their stadium every week for years and years but those are the teams that are winning 9-10 games a year.  To me, a loyal fan is one who goes to games even when their team is not consistently good.  What would you say, are each conferences’ most loyal fans?  P.S.  I know you will get ripped for any answer you give, but I'd like to hear your opinion. – SF

A: You mean, which team’s fans have spirit, yes they do, which team’s fans have spirit, how ‘bout you? This is one of the most often asked questions, and I always have the same answer. The most loyal fans in college football are the ones who showed up to the Buffalo spring game. The ones who attended every Utah State or Temple game over the last few years. The ones who’ll sit through a Kent State – Eastern Michigan game when it’s 39-degrees and raining. It’s easy to be a fan of a top team through thick and thin, and it’s also impossible to rank Ohio State’s fan love vs. Alabama’s vs. USC’s vs. Oklahoma’s and so on and so on.  However, South Carolina’s fan base deserves a special mention for selling out week after week over the years despite not exactly being an SEC power. All fans are loyal, but from top to bottom, the SEC fans are the most nuts.

How much longer before everyone realizes Mel Kiper Jr. has quit giving unconventional opinions on players in the draft? A man with no hands could count on his fingers the number of times Mel said something legitimately outside of the norm about the top players. Draft analysis is one of the most boring and misguided things to read in sports, "Yup, quarterback, he's good. Yup, yup, yup." Take JaMarcus Russell for example, why did no one bring up a) he stared the season in competition for the starting position, b) he makes really poor decisions on the field, c) his team had the most talent in the country and ended the season with two losses, in each of which he did not play well d) his "statement" game was against Notre Dame's pass defense, e) he through to two first round draft pick wide receivers. Every year the top quarterback that comes out is the "no brainer" no matter how lousy (See, Smith, Alex). So, anyway is Kiper just playing it safe now? – CE

A: Mel gets a little bit of a bad rap (I’ll take his analysis any day of the week over this new wave of Scouts, Incers who’ve been getting so much play). He’s in a tough spot on draft day because he only gets a few seconds on each prospect, all while he’s trying to have a conversation with guys like Chris Berman and Keyshawn Johnson who know absolutely nothing about the nuts and bolts of the prospects. Setting the dial to pretentious, I can instantly tell who’s been watching college football and who’s been going off one or two games, and Mel does his homework. You are sort of right in that you’re not going to hear him get outlandish anymore only because he’s now a system guy; he’s in too tight with the NFL bigwigs. You’re also dead-on right in that draft stuff has gotten out of hand and is way boring. I like the basics (can run, not strong, quick feet, etc.) and don’t get into all the other fluff.

So why do you think everyone passed on Chris Leak? – MR

A: He’s not an NFL quarterback and doesn’t do anything at an NFL level outside of his drive and work ethic. He’s not big, doesn’t have the best arm, he’s not a great runner (at least not enough of one to call it a major plus), and he despite all his success at Florida, he didn’t necessarily have to make a whole bunch of NFL-type throws. He mainly found the mismatches and hit the open man as opposed to having the arm and the accuracy to throw the tight, timing plays you have to do at the next level. The other big thing is a perception of a leadership problem. While I like his even keel, NFL teams seemed to have have a problem with him not being a vocal, take-the-team-by-the-horns type. Even so, he'll be a good number three for the Bears and fantastic for the scout team.

What was the real problem with Brady Quinn? Really, why did he slide? – JF

A: It was a combination of bad luck and timing. Remember, Cleveland won a coin flip with Tampa Bay and got the third pick. Had the Bucs won and if they had taken Joe Thomas at three, the Browns, as rumor has it, would’ve taken Quinn at four and no one would’ve said boo. What went completely unnoticed by the boo-ya types was how few needed a quarterback after the Vikings passed at seven. Tampa Bay wasn’t going to take him at the four and Arizona and Washington didn’t need him. Minnesota can’t be faulted for taking Adrian Peterson, the best running back in the draft by far. and Atlanta wasn’t going to take him, so after Miami passed, the one extremely questionable call, it wasn’t going to happen for Quinn until later in the first round. Houston, San Francisco, Buffalo (although J.P. Losman isn’t the answer), St. Louis, NY Jets, Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Denver, Cincinnati, Tennessee, and the NY Giants are all set at quarterback. Jacksonville should’ve thought harder about taking Quinn at 21 instead of Reggie Nelson, and Quinn went at 22. In the end, many teams thought …

Say there was a bet for who ends up with the best player 10 years from now looking back... do you like your chances with Russell and Quinn, or Beck, Stanton, Kolb, and Edwards? I'd take the latter 4 – RN

A: If you’re talking about overall risk-reward value, then yeah, you go with the latter four, but I’m a bigger fan of going with the player, like Russell or Quinn, who has a shot at being once-in-a-decade special. Beck is solid, I’m a huge fan of Stanton, Philadelphia made a great move getting Kolb, and Edwards, well, he’s a possible upgrade for Buffalo than J.P. Losman, for what that’s worth. All four have the potential to be nice starters, but are they possible Pro Bowlers? Ehhhhhh, not sure.

Going back to an early question about why Quinn dropped,  some teams liked your latter four almost as much as the Notre Dame star and knew they could get them at a much better price. Also, in the new, out-of-whack world of NFL drafting, with the money you have to crank out for a top 15 pick, it’s not always worth it to take a quarterback since he’s then your guy for the next several years. Call it the Alex Smith/David Carr factor.

Would San Francisco rather have Smith, Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler? They couldn’t take Leinart or Cutler at the six last year because they already had Smith. Houston passed on Vince Young because it already had Carr even though Young was the far, far better prospect. Let’s say Brian Brohn turns into a can’t-miss prospect going into the 2008 Draft, and let’s say Miami has the number one pick. It doesn’t have to pass on the Louisville star since there's only (and I say this in relative terms) a second round pick, and the money that goes with it, invested in Beck. If Cleveland has the number one pick and likes Brohm more than Quinn, it still won’t make the upgrade. That’s the chance you take by taking a quarterback so high, and it’s not like that with any other position.

Who do you think was the one guy that was drafted way too high in the draft?  And conversely, who do you think fell way too far in the draft and should have been drafted earlier? – EH

A: I’ve never been a Ted Ginn fan for the top ten, but everyone’s ragging on Miami’s pick at the nine. I think Marshawn Lynch went way too high at the 12 as Buffalo had to take him out of need in a mediocre running back draft. Overall, I think San Diego messed up early. They’ll be disappointed with Craig Davis at the 30 and paid too much trading up to get Eric Weddle early in the second round. Arkansas CB Chris Houston, who was taken 41st overall by Atlanta, should’ve gone in the top 20; I like him more than Leon Hall and Darrelle Revis. The Jets got a steal in Michigan LB David Harris at the 47th pick. USC center Ryan Kalil will be more productive for Carolina than most of the 57 picks who went before him.

On one extreme you hear people saying that wideouts cannot turns teams around in the NFL.  On the other hand, you hear people saying that Calvin Johnson is the best prospect in the past several drafts, and shouldn't have been passed by the Raiders.  What kind of an impact will he really have?  Is he good enough to break the WR mold and turn the Lions around?  -Casey in Atlanta

A: That high in the draft, you take the best player. Period. In the first round, you take the player you’re most certain will be a Pro Bowl star, and you fill needs throughout the rest of the draft. Oakland believes Russell will eventually be a superstar, but apparently it had Johnson number one on its board of prospects. And let’s dismiss this misguided belief that Detroit screwed up by taking the other three first round receivers over the previous four years. Everyone, everyone, had Charles Rogers as a can’t-miss future Hall of Famer. Mike Williams was a questionable pick, but correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the Lions hit a home-run with Roy Williams? So you have a not-their-fault, a miss, and a Pro Bowl receiver. That's not that bad. I hope Calvin Johnson is great. He’s a good guy and the type of player you should root for. He’s everything you want a football player to be.

Is it just me, or is the BCS committee completely oblivious to what is going on in their sport?  I 100% agree with you that college football gets their champion right far more than the other sports do, but there's no denying that something needs to be done.  I really liked your idea of the Final Four (#1 conference champion vs #4; #2 vs #3), with the champions meeting a week later.  But this last week at the BCS meetings, the committee decided that no changes needed to be made to the system.  How can these commissioners, who are so involved and so close to the action, be so far off on this?  What is it going to take for them to open their (bleeping) eyes?!?! --- RF

A: More chaos that would come with a few straight years with three or four big-time teams going unbeaten at the end of the year. My big problem is that they refuse to limit the national championship to only conference winners. They talked about it, and then thought against it for reasons beyond reasonable comprehension. Here’s the overall problem that fans don't seem to get; what would a playoff system be? I like the idea of a four-team battle, but others would want eight, while others would scream for 16. I’m not any more sold that BCS types would get the playoff idea right than I am that they’ll tweak the formula the right way.

Here's an offseason question for you.  In your opinion, what's the best seating choice for the fan of the visiting team?  Assuming the home team's stadium is not sold out, would you rather have good seats among opposing fans, or lousy seats in the visitor's section with fans of your school?  I ask because I want to fly down from Alaska to watch my beloved Sooners play at Husky Stadium in '08.  I haven't seen OU in person since '93, so would like the best possible gameday experience. – Eric

A: Live the full experience. You’ll never feel more alive than when you're a relatively obnoxious, but polite, fan of OU sitting in a section of all purple. As long as you’re not a jerk about it, you’ll have far more fun razzing the Dawg fans around you, and taking your lumps when things aren’t going your way. If OU is pounding the Huskies, get up and cheer, and then console the saddened fans around you by buying a round of hot dogs. Hang out with the Sooner types before and after, and have a blast during the game.