ASK CFN (6/29) ... The USC Schedule
The USC schedule, a what if had Wisconsin gone unbeaten, how to watch games in Spain, and more.
Fire over your questions to me at
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Wisconsin was able to beat Michigan last year, could the
National Championship have been for the Big Ten Title as well? If that
was a possibility, I'm assuming the Rose Bowl would have been deprived
of a Big Ten team. Would we have seen a Florida/USC match up (sending
Michigan to the Capital One Bowl verses Arkansas)? Would an undefeated
Wisconsin scenario have given Boise State a better shot at playing in
the game? – JG
A: No on Boise State, yes on Wisconsin. Remember, no one was all that
excited about putting Florida in the title game. It’s easy to forget,
but the Gators struggled at times throughout the regular season and
didn’t exactly have the “wow” factor that many were looking for.
Obviously, that changed after about a quarter in Glendale, but it was
almost like the voters were looking for anyone else to possibly put in
against Ohio State, and Boise State still wasn't even considered.
Everyone had booked USC’s ticket until UCLA’s defense changed all that,
and Michigan was this close to playing for the title until the
voters decided they just didn’t want a rematch. Had the Badgers gone
unbeaten, even though the schedule was awful and there would’ve been
just one really good win over Michigan, two unbeaten BCS conference
teams would’ve played each other in the title game with no one saying
boo about it. Boise State was going to be far down the pecking order no
matter what, since it was still just Boise State, and not the program
that has all the respect now after beating Oklahoma.
As far as the bowl matchups had the Badgers gone unbeaten, Wisconsin
would’ve played Ohio State in the BCS Championship, and everything else
would’ve been the same except Michigan would’ve been in the Capital One,
as you mentioned, Florida, as the SEC champion, would’ve played Notre
Dame in the Sugar, and LSU would’ve gone to the Rose to play USC.
You have referred to how overrated Notre Dame is due to
their being a "brand name," which I don't disagree with. However, do you
think the brand name ever works against them? My thinking is that most
people either love or hate Notre Dame because they are Notre Dame,
and supposedly unbiased pollsters tend to bump up/down teams they like
or dislike. You only have to look at how sports writers rank their local
teams or how college coaches rank teams in their conference to see
examples of this. Does not being in a conference hurt ND in the coaches’
poll? How about the general animosity one sees toward the team simply
for being Notre Dame? My feeling is that the '93 season's #2 ranking had
something to do with this. Your thoughts? – Rory M
A: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, everyone is watching, and that’s all that
matters. As I’ve mentioned before, pollsters go with what they know, and
if they can name a bunch of Notre Dame players, as opposed to being able
to name several Auburn Tigers or UCLA Bruins, guess who’s going to get
the benefit of the doubt? Not being in a conference does nothing but
help the Irish because of its TV deal, the special rules to get into the
BCS, and all the money it makes being kept in South Bend. As far the
1993 team, that was more of a case of the pollsters wanting to hand
Bobby Bowden a shot at the national title more than it was a hosing of
Notre Dame. At the time, Nebraska was unbeaten and ranked number one, so
the Irish and Noles couldn’t play a rematch of an earlier ND win.
(Southern Cal) head on against South Carolina's 2007 schedule.
happens? – CG
A: Realizing I’ll get blasted by the SEC world for this, but I think USC
goes 11-1 at worst. That's how good this Trojan team should be. UL
Lafayette, South Carolina State, Mississippi State, Kentucky, at North
Carolina, and Vanderbilt would all be certain wins for the Trojans. Of
the six nasty games, USC would likely win at Georgia, at Tennessee, at
Arkansas and at home against Clemson. I’m not saying they’d be layups,
but remember, we're talking about the likely number one team in the
country. I’d take the Trojans at home against Florida, and call it dead
even at LSU, with the likely line being Tigers -1.5. While the South
Carolina schedule is tougher, there are more weeks off than USC will
have. The Trojans will have no problems with Idaho or Stanford, and even
with a close call last year, should beat Washington in Seattle without
much of an issue. The rest of the games are against possible bowl
eligible teams with road trips to Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon,
California and Arizona State with home games against Washington State,
Arizona, Oregon State and UCLA. SECers won’t believe me, but this
schedule is tougher than it appears.
HELP! I am living in Spain for the rest of the 2007 year and was
wondering if there was any way I can catch some college football games
via an online computer package or something like that. Or am I just out
of luck and just hope to find a bar that shows college football games.
Soccer is great over here but I NEED to watch college football somehow.
– Matt G
A: SlingBox. I’m not a gadget guy (although I sort of want the iPhone),
but the SlingBox is one of the few that have made my life far better.
You hook it up to your TV and you can watch whatever’s you want (and you
can change channels just like you would if you were in your living room)
on your computer anywhere you get an internet connection. It also works
on your cell phone. It really does work, and it’s a godsend when you’re
traveling or staying in someone else's house. The key is being able to
hook it up here in the U.S. I know a few die-hard NFL fans living in
Europe, and another who travels overseas all the time, who’ve hooked up
a SlingBox to a TV with a satellite DVR here in the U.S., record all the
games on Sundays, and then watch them throughout the week.
Who would be the champion of a tournament between the last four
undefeated mid-major teams: Tulane '98, Marshall '99, Utah '04, Boise
State '06? - David G
A: I’d LOVE to see a showdown between that Urban Meyer-led Utah team of
2004 and last year’s Boise State juggernaut. I’d take the Utes over the
Broncos with the 1999 Marshall team third in that mix and the 1998
Tulane Green Wave fourth.
I’ve argued time and again that Alex Smith and those 2004 Utes were just
as hosed as Auburn in the national title discussion. No one seemed to
notice just how dominant Smith and that offense was. The 1999 Tulane
offense blew up the weak and sad, and was merely above average against
teams with a pulse. The best win was over a decent, but not elite, BYU
in the Liberty Bowl. I sort of liked that 1998 Marshall team, even
though I spent an entire year fighting with the entire city of
Huntington that the Herd didn’t belong in the national title discussion.
MU also beat BYU in its bowl game, but it also came up with a win at
Do you think that with Oregon State winning back-to-back baseball
national championships there will be a change in how much media
attention their sports programs, specifically football, will receive?
Being a traditionally middle tier Pac-10 football team the Beavers
usually receive very little press or mention on a national scale so I am
curious as to what this temporary blitzkrieg of media attention could
mean for OSU athletics as a whole. - Beaver Believer
A: Oregon State won the baseball national title? If you say so. I don’t
mean to be a snot about this, but 999 out of 1,000 registered sports
fans wouldn’t have known that. College baseball is very, very much a
niche sport, and I’m not dogging it, it just isn’t going to generate any
national buzz no matter who wins it. As a big fan of college hockey and
lacrosse, I know all too well that it’s college football, college
basketball, and that’s it.
Smack talk usually continues after a once fierce back and forth
rivalry flames out and one team becomes completely dominant. However,
instead of arguing about football, the losing team's fans argue about
which school offers the better education, or has the nicest parking
structure, or has the higher APR score for their respective women's
cross country team...where should the line be drawn? – KG, Idaho
Use whatever you need to get the job done and win your argument against
whoever you’re throwing down against. However, it all depends on what
you’re into and what your sport is. A die-hard Ohio State football fan
once put it best when someone brought up a national title won in one of
those unnecessary other sports. “With the exception of basketball, I’d
rather have one extra first down against Michigan than get national
titles in all the other sports combined.” Obviously, not everyone thinks
that way, but really, you can talk all you want about the campus, the
history department and the good crew team, but you need your football or
basketball team to win to have anything to really puff your chest out
about if you're in a smack-talking debate. One of my best friends went
to Harvard, and another went to Amherst. They might have the all-star
educations, but they have to latch on to other college for a sports fix.
(In response to my quip last week that I believe college athletes
should be able to take payments and incentives from boosters.) I
understand the disdain for the NCAA and their rules. They seem driven
by greed as much as anything. However, wouldn't a "free-for-all" system
where student-athletes could pocket anything anyone was willing to give
them make things even more unbalanced then they already are? Wouldn't
the schools with the alumni willing to contribute the most to their alma
mater's players have an unfair advantage? – Mrh
When you were asked the question about athletes accepting money
from like business perks. You answered that they should be allowed
to accept cars and cash. Would this create an unfair advantage for
most schools? If that were allowed to happen would the top schools
always remain at the top? - Ryan from Lincoln NE
A: Almost all the e-mail I received this week about my belief that
players should be allowed to get whatever they can from whoever wants to
give it to them said the same thing: the rich would get richer. It’s the
other way around; my way would give the little guy a shot.
If boosters were allowed to go after recruits in a bidding war, take a
guess who’d be good. USC, Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, Texas, Notre
Dame … all the big schools that already get all the top players. The
Boise States and Tulsas of the world would still get the same players
they get right now, but remember what SMU used to be able to do when it
was “dirty” and bought all the top talent back in the 1980s. The
boosters bought a good football team. Now, take Oklahoma State. In the
current system, OSU will never, ever win a national title, and if it
does, it’ll be a major shock. If T. Boone Pickens (the uber-booster who
donated over $100 million to the football program) threw some of his
money at recruits, the Cowboys would have a chance.
Everyone’s knee-jerk reaction to all this is always one of shock and
indignation, because you’ve all been brainwashed by the system that
college football is still played by amateurs. My plan is already
happening in many places, but it’s just under the table.
In the we-can’t-let-it-go department, my friends and I were
complaining about the Oklahoma loss to Oregon (I told you, we can’t let
it go). Reading your write-up in the 100 Greatest Finishes piece boiled
our blood yet again. So, where does that rank on the list of the 100
Biggest College Football Injustices? – OU Bob
A: I honestly gave several minutes of thought about answering this, only
because I know the ensuing backlash that’ll come from the Sooner nation
that has never gotten over this (trust me OU Bob; you’re not alone).
Here it goes … while it makes it high on the list of the 100 Worst Calls
of All-Time, it doesn’t make the list of the greatest injustices because
it wasn’t the last play of the game, and Oklahoma still had chances to
overcome. I’ve tried this argument with Raider fans after the bizarre
Tuck Rule playoff game against New England, and it didn’t work, either.
Try this. What if the exact same onside kick fiasco in the Oregon game
happened in the first quarter instead of the fourth? Oklahoma would’ve
had plenty of chances to overcome, just like it had after getting hosed
as things played out. Yeah, had OU been given the ball on the onside
kick, the game would've been over, but it didn't happen, and the Sooners
kept playing anyway.
No one’s arguing the missed call by the officials on the late fourth
quarter onside kick and subsequent replay wasn’t an all-timer, but even
if there was some sort of conspiracy against the Sooners by Oregon, the
officials, and the Pac 10, OU still had chances to win, and didn’t do
it. If it was the last play of the game, like the infamous 1990 Fifth
Down Colorado win over Missouri, then that’s a true screwing because the
Tigers didn’t have a shot to respond.
Bob Stoops preaches all the time about overcoming adversity, and OU did
it by winning the Big 12 title despite losing Rhett Bomar, missing
Adrian Peterson for a stretch, needing Texas to lose, and overcoming the
Oregon disaster. Against the Ducks, the defense didn’t come up with a
stop after the onside kick, and didn’t execute on the final field goal
attempt that would’ve pulled out the win. As far as letting it go, had
Oklahoma won that game, it would've ended up in the Fiesta Bowl and
would've lost to Boise State. No, OU wouldn't have played for the
Finally, ask yourself this. Had the situation been reversed and Oregon
got hosed, would Oklahoma have given the win to the Ducks? Exactly.