ASK CFN (8/10) ... Is Miami Still a Power?
Posted Aug 9, 2007

Is Miami still a powerhouse? Who's better, the ACC or the Big East? The Big 12 South or SEC West? These questions and more in the latest ASK CFN.

By 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.)

How many bad years does a program have to endure to be considered a “Former” power, and how many good years does a doormat have to have to be considered a King of College football? I’m no Miami fan, but I’m so sick of hearing them called a “former powerhouse”. Yeah they’ve had a few bad years, but ’02 wasn’t that long ago, and they’re historically a dominant team with no reason to think they can’t right the ship soon enough. 5 years? Maybe if we get to 6… or 8… And look at USC – no one questions their elite status, but does no one remember how long they fell off the radar before Carroll came along?? I’m sick of the smaller and smaller what-have-you-done-for-me-lately window. Coaches get two years to win. Programs get 3 years to turn EVERYTHING around. It’s sickening. A few years of sliding or rising does not define a program. – GW

A: Open to your interpretation, my definition of a current powerhouse is a program that’s capable of winning a national title, or a BCS slot, right now, or at least able to be in the hunt with a little bit of tweaking. Miami, with a little bit more offense, could be a front runner for the national championship this year. Florida State would qualify as a powerhouse, even after a few down years. Washington, to me, would qualify as a former powerhouse. Nebraska and Alabama, again, to me, would qualify as a powerhouse, while Pitt and Syracuse would be former powers.

Past ASK CFNs ...    
- CFN's West Virginia ranking
- Is Booty Heisman-worthy?
- The USC Schedule
- 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?

On my comment that "we love college football more than (the fans) do” in the Experts Roundtable piece.

I find it ridiculous that in your years of football reporting you've become delusioned to the nature of the fans to the point that you think: "we love college football more than they do".   Countless fans would kill for your job and the opportunities it provides.  Perhaps this coming season you should sit down the computer or the pen and go tailgate and watch a game for real; spend some time with the folks who love this game with all the passion they can muster, and yet never see a paycheck for it.  You might develop a different understanding of the emails you receive as a result. - DS

What an arrogant, pretentious and incorrect statement. Am I less of a fan because I'm a reporter that didn't choose to be a sportswriter? That I deviated from that path because I didn't want to be worn down by being unbiased? That I wanted to tailgate, root on my teams and be a fan? You have just lost a reader with that preposterous statement. You criticize fans for e-mailing you with ridiculous e-mail, then you turn around and deliver, in an essence, a giant slap in their face. Just because it wasn't in e-mail form doesn't make it better. What a disgusting answer. - SOL

A: I didn’t mean to come across as arrogant and I certainly apologize if it offended you. That was obviously not my intention. The statement was meant to say that for as much as the superfans care, the writers in that piece have to be into college football far, far more than anyone else in order to do the best job they can. Are you into the 2007 Sun Belt race? How fired up are you about the MAC? We have to be fans of all 119 teams and all the leagues, while the fans, for the most part, are going to be experts on their specific teams far more than the national writers are able to be.

The guys writing in that piece, by choice, had to sacrifice a lot and go through a ton to be able to do this for a living. We know our jobs rule considering we get to eat, sleep and think about this sport 24/7, all year round. Of course the readers of CFN love college football as much as we do, but again, we have to know and be interested in every team and every issue (at least we do at CFN) in order to give the readers the most informed opinions possible, and it’s truly a labor of love.

Finally, DS, I totally understand all the e-mails I receive … every one of them. But when the jacked up uber-fan is ripping on something we write beyond just disagreeing with us, it’s usually coming from a place of blind loyalty that often lacks rationality, research or reasoning. Using profanity-laced personal insults, assuming we’re biased just because we’re not always positive, and being abusive (all of which we’re used to) doesn’t make someone a better fan.

Just wondering what details about the college game (both tangible and intangible) you think really separate it from professional football? I'm mainly talking about in regards to feel and spirit. – Brad

A: Pro fans never want to believe me on this, but the main difference in “feel,” if I can be so vague, is that the NFL is a billion dollar corporation and college football, while a multi-million dollar business often disguised as something else, has more ties to an ideal. If you’re a fan of the Miami Dolphins, you’re just a customer buying a product, just like you are if you’re a fan of Coca-Cola or Starbucks. While you’re doing a little of the same if you buy an Ohio State hat or a USC t-shirt, you’re also buying into the university, the academic institution, and the community that surrounds it.

On the field, the pro game is far, far more analytical and specialized. The difference in coaching staffs is night and day, mainly because the college staffs are limited in what they can do. NFL coaches can work with their players year round, work in mini-camps, get extra practice time in for fundamentals, put new wrinkles in the playbook, etc., while college coaches can’t even watch their players run, workout or practice for periods during the year. No one wants to believe me on this, either, but the best college team would get thumped 56-0 by the worst pro team. Even the top pro prospects on college teams aren’t quite ready yet by pro standards both mentally and physically. It’s a whole different ballgame.

Why won't you admit that the Big East is a two-team crap-fest of a conference.  Everyone went on and on and on and embraced the so-called inevitability of either Louisville or West Virginia playing in the title game, but at the end of the season both of those teams proved that 1) the Big Least is a 2 team conference and 2) that those two teams couldn't even win all of their games in their great big conference of garbage.  So why the bias towards the Big Easy?  Is it simply because they have a bunch of alums in broadcasting or is it some form of mind control? – TN

A: You echo the feelings of 75% of the college football world, but you’re wrong. Knowing I’m going to get tagged by more Mountaineer fans in desperate need affirmation, I’m still not 100% sold that West Virginia, this year, is the elite of the elite real deal, only because the defense just isn’t there. However, I still think this will end up being one of the top ten ranked teams in America by the end of the year, and will probably end up in the BCS, because of two all-timers in the backfield. Louisville and Rutgers will also be in the national title hunt, and South Florida has the type of defense that could upset Auburn early on, Pitt is better, Cincinnati is better, Syracuse is better, and Connecticut is better. Yeah, we’re not talking about the SEC here, and it’s still the sixth best BCS league, but it’s a LOT better and is hardly a “crap-fest.”

You’re such an ACC boy … the Big East is one of the best conferences around, and you know it. You’re so biased, why don’t you just admit that you hate West Virginia. ----ing ---hole. – FJ

A: Well, run it down and it’s not even close. As I mentioned before, the Big East top teams could certainly be in the ACC title chase, but the league isn’t nearly as deep. Take the projected best teams in each league, number two in each, and go right down the line. West Virginia, Louisville and Rutgers are all relatively even, and I really like the South Florida defense, so say those four Big Easters would probably split with Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Miami and Clemson. No. 5 Pitt vs. No. 5 Florida State, FSU. No. 6 Cincinnati vs. No. 6 Maryland, No. 7 Syracuse vs. No. 7 BC, and No. 8 Connecticut vs. No. 8 Wake Forest are all screamingly in the ACC’s favor. That’s not even counting Virginia and NC State, who could both beat the bottom three Big East teams. North Carolina and Duke could certainly compete with Syracuse and UConn.  

I am a huge fan of Notre Dame football. Who do you believe are the top 5 ND players of the past 25 years? My list would look like this. 1. Tim Brown, 2. Rocket Ismail, 3. Chris Zorich, 4. Todd Lyght, 5. Allen Pinkett. – DR

A: Pinkett is a bit of a stretch, even with the numbers. When ranking college players, I always go by what they did in their college careers and the impact they made, and not what they did in the pros, or their pro potential at the time. Therefore, my debatable top five would be … 1. Ismail, 2. Brady Quinn, 3. Brown, 4. Zorich, 5. Lyght.

I have to call you out on one prediction...Hawaii to the BCS?  No way. With their weak schedule, that obviously means they have to go unbeaten.  Remember, this is HAWAII.  I know I don't have to go down the laundry list of mediocre/flat out bad teams that Hawaii has lost to on the road over the years.  Now combine their traditional road woes/jetlag/etc. with the limelight and the pressure of being unbeaten that can easily get to a mid major.  Remember when TCU was unbeaten in 2003 and got featured in Sports Illustrated and talked about by everyone...and then they promptly got their face stomped at Southern Mississippi on a Thursday night? – Andy

A: This is a team that battled hard in road games against Alabama and Boise State last year, and almost beat Oregon State. Now the offense should be just as explosive and the schedule is easier. Hawaii would lose at least four games in one of the BCS leagues, but this is a killer, killer team at home with one of the best home-field advantages in college football. Once opponents make the long flight and see the beaches and bikinis, all thoughts of football tend to drift away. Where’s that crash and burn road loss going to come? Louisiana Tech? UNLV? San Jose State? Idaho? No, no, possibly, and no. The trip to Nevada might be the end to the BCS debate, but the Warriors will still be favored. The home games? Charleston Southern, Utah State, New Mexico State, and Fresno State before getting Boise State and Washington. If the Boise State or Washington games were on the other side of the water, Hawaii would likely lose. But they’re not.

Who is better, the SEC West or the Big XII South?  I need to settle a bet. – Mark

A: Gambling is illegal at Bushwood and I never slice. This year? Whoooo. Play it off. Projected No. 1 Texas vs. No. 1, LSU on a neutral field, I’d take LSU, but it’s a pick ‘em. I’d take No. 2 Oklahoma over No. 2 Auburn, No. 3 Texas A&M over No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Oklahoma State over No. 4 Arkansas, No. 5 Texas Tech over No. 5 Ole Miss, and No. 6 Miss State over No. 6 Baylor. I think it’d be 4-2 Big 12 North, but I won’t argue if you want to call it dead even.

What is the difference between "Beamer Ball" and "Tressell Ball"? They seem to be the same thing to me: great D with an emphasis on the kicking and running game. Who first claimed this type of playing style if they are the same? – BH

A: The media-created Tressel Ball term refers to when Ohio State runs the ball, uses a conservative passing game, and has an overall offensive gameplan designed to not make mistakes, while hoping for the defense to be solid and the special teams to be flawless, particularly when it comes to the kicking game. The negative connotation is that Tressel Ball often keeps the other team in the game because OSU doesn’t take many chances and doesn’t go for the jugular with any deep passes. It’s also a negative term, to a point, because it suggests Ohio State doesn’t always use its superior talent and athleticism to its fullest. The positive side is that it works. No one can argue with the results.

Beamer Ball refers to getting a game-changing home run from the special teams, primarily from a blocked kick. For years, Tech has gone through great pains and practice time to wreak havoc on the special teams, and has gotten so good at it that it’s almost a part of the gameplan.