ASK CFN (6/29) ... The USC Schedule
Posted Jun 29, 2007

The USC schedule, a what if had Wisconsin gone unbeaten, how to watch games in Spain, and more.

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 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.

Past ASK CFNs ...    
- The Big Ten Network
- The most underrated head coach
- The Top Ten NFL receiver prospects 

- Why did Brady Quinn slide?
- 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?

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.

Put USC (Southern Cal) head on against South Carolina's 2007 schedule. What 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 Clemson.

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 

A: 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 national title.

Finally, ask yourself this. Had the situation been reversed and Oregon got hosed, would Oklahoma have given the win to the Ducks? Exactly.



Related Stories
Video: 7-on-7 at Mater Dei
 -by  Jun 28, 2007
100 Greatest Finishes - No. 61 to 70
 -by  Jul 8, 2007
O/NSO: Grunts and Groans edition
 -by  Jun 29, 2007