Preview 2007 Cavalcade of Whimsy - Part Two
Posted Aug 16, 2007

Looking at the season ahead, highlighted by wacky calls, like a huge start for Ohio State and James Laurinaitis, the Big Ten Network's schedule, ten things that need to change, and much more in Part Two of the Preview 2007 version of Fiu's Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Fiu's Cavalcade of Whimsy

a.k.a. Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances

By Pete Fiutak   
What's your beef? ... E-mail with your thoughts  
Past Whimsies
2006 Season

Here’s part two of the 2007 Season Premiere of the Cavalcade, dealing with actual college football related issues and the season ahead. Part One was about the icky side of sports and how it relates to college football.

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … according to Steve Spurrier, I write good enough to play football for him. Unfortunately, to be admitted to the University of South Carolina, I needed to write well.

Unfortunately, I had to turn in my Guy Card since I think the stuff tastes like panther whiz …. By now, you’ve seen the Gatorade ad with Keith Jackson narrating about the invention of a beverage in the same reverential tones normally reserved for describing a heroic battle on the History Channel. Next time it comes on, see if you notice something interesting about those mid-1960s Florida teams that weren’t adequately hydrated, necessitating the invention of the sugary sports drink that’s now helping to make America’s kids fat and lazy.

Like most college football teams at the time, they were more than adequately white.

Baseball has done a terrific job of keeping the legacy of Jackie Robinson alive, and now it’s time for college football, which arguably has done far more for race relations all across America, to start honoring its pioneers, like Leonard George and Willie B. Jackson, the first black football players at the University of Florida. They came on the scene in 1969, three years after the Orange Bowl winning team featured in the ad.

But it’s not OK to call them Va Tech … It’s been a rough year for Virginia Tech fans. Here’s hoping everyone can just allow the Hokie die-hards to be able to simply enjoy themselves this football season and not be reminded at every turn of the pain and suffering they’ve had to go through.

However, we’ll all be blitzed by various articles and pieces trying to tug at our heartstrings in an attempt to find a human angle to a tragedy that’s about a university, not Virginia Tech football. Be prepared for the plinky, poignant music and somber questions with ultra-serious looks on the interviewers’ faces, and also be prepared for everyone to force Hokie football on you, while trying to make you feel bad for even thinking about rooting for the opponent.

It’s OK to cheer for anyone you want no matter what. Just because you want East Carolina to win on September 1st, that doesn’t mean you’re being disrespectful. As I’ve been alerted to before, there are always human stories on the other side, too. Somewhere, some kid is in the hospital for some cruel disease, and his days will be made or broken by what his beloved Pirates do.

Because CSTV and ESPNU aren’t adequately doing their jobs …
Yeah, yeah, there have been several failed attempts to pull off the bit I’m about to try, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. I apologize in advance. I watch way too much VH1 and E!.

The first day of programming on the Big Ten Network has just been announced …
- 11 am: The symbolic launch time was going to be 10 am, but like the misnamed league itself, it starts at 11.
- 11 am to 11:01 am: Great Ohio State Performances vs. the SEC
- 11:01 am to 11:05 am: Ads for the Big Ten Network
- 11:05 am to 11:30 am: Dr. Phil: Helping Michigan State cope with living in Michigan’s shadow
- 11:30 am to 12:30 pm: The Jim Tressel Variety Hour. Along with his always edgy monologue, watch as the Buckeye coach performs magic, does a little soft-shoe, and joins Sanjaya to bring down the house with a rendition of “Besame Mucho.”
- 12:30 to 12:31: Great Moments in Non-Revenue Sports History
- 12:31 to 12:40: Ads for the Big Ten Network
- 12:40 to 12:42: Michigan Running Backs and the NFL
- 12:42 to 1: Ads for the Big Ten Network
- 1 to 2: Flavor of Zook
- 2 to 3: The BTN True Hollywood Story: Iowa and the 1986 Rose Bowl
- 3 to 4: The Joe Paterno Party Machine. The legendary head coach welcomes Common, Hot Dollar, and Maroon 5
- 4 to 5: Pat Fitzgerald is 35 … and Coaching 
- 5 to 6: Battle of the Mediocre Former Head Coaches. Watch as John Gutekunst, John Mackovic, Jim Colletto, Bobby Williams and Don Morton compete in media relations, film study, booster kissing and maintaining institutional control.
- 6 to 7: What Not To Wear: Stacy and Clinton raid Joe Tiller’s wardrobe and subject him to the 360-degree mirror in an attempt to makeover the Purdue head coach
- 7 to 7:30: Ads for the Big Ten Network
- 7:30 to 8: Top Chef: Trying to recreate the Wisconsin experience with brats, La Bamba burritos and Parthenon gyros
- 8 pm to 11 am: A loop of the Total Gym infomercial, hosted by Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley 

The 2007 Wacky Big Calls … Five seemingly ridiculous predictions that aren’t all that far-fetched.
5) Nebraska will beat USC.
I’ll wuss out when the time comes and pick the Trojans, but at the moment, I have this gnawing feeling that they’ll run into a buzzsaw when they hit Lincoln. The Huskers have been building for this moment for about five years and will come out roaring.
4) Notre Dame will start out 1-7.
There seems to be a quiet optimism around the program, and Charlie Weis and his staff can certainly coach, but the Irish should be the underdog against Georgia Tech, at Penn State, at Michigan, at UCLA, Boston College and USC. The trip to Purdue will be close to a pick ‘em considering what the Boilermaker offense should do to the Irish secondary, and the Michigan State game is always nasty.
3) Michigan will start out 10-0, Wisconsin will start out 9-0, and Ohio State will start out 11-0.
I really like this year’s Penn State team, and it could be a fly in the ointment for Ohio State on October 27th and Wisconsin on October 15th, but I’m making the call that the Buckeyes and Badgers will both be unbeaten when they meet in Columbus on November 3rd. Ohio State will win, will beat Illinois, and will be ranked No. 2 in the nation before losing to Michigan.
2) Rutgers will be 11-0 going into the regular season finale at Louisville.
The schedule: Buffalo, Navy, Norfolk State, Maryland, Cincinnati, at Syracuse, South Florida, West Virginia, at Connecticut, at Army. While the Terps, Bulls and Mountaineers are all tremendous, Rutgers gets them all in Piscataway.
1) The SEC is going to lose at least three big non-conference games.
Tennessee losing at Cal is the one everyone seems to have, but it won’t stop there. Watch out for Oklahoma State pulling off the upset at Georgia, while Alabama will lose to Florida State. I’m not quite ready to call South Florida over Auburn, but I’m close. Also watch out for the Georgia game at Georgia Tech and Florida’s battle with Florida State.

2007 hopes, dreams, prayers and predictions …

The nation’s statistical leaders …
Rusher: Ian Johnson, Boise State … Passer: Colt Brennan, Hawaii … Receiver: Chris Williams, New Mexico State

The award winners will be … Heisman: Colt Brennan, Hawaii … Doak Walker: Steve Slaton, West Virginia … Davey O'Brien: Brennan ... Johnny Unitas: Brennan... Outland: Glenn Dorsey, LSU … Lombardi: Glenn Dorsey, LSU … Biletnikoff: Mario Manningham, Michigan … Butkus: James Laurinaitis, Ohio State … Thorpe: Antoine Cason, Arizona … Ray Guy: Chris Miller, Ball State … Mackey: Travis Beckum, Wisconsin … Rimington: Steve Justice, Wake Forest … Bednarik: Glenn Dorsey, LSU ... Groza: Sam Swank, Wake Forest

The five Heisman finalists will be … John David Booty, USC; Colt Brennan, Hawaii; Brian Brohm, Louisville; Ian Johnson, Boise State; Steve Slaton, West Virginia.

Since I’m always wrong on picking the five Heisman finalists in the preseason, these five are the better bet … Mike Hart, Michigan; P.J. Hill, Wisconsin; DeSean Jackson, California; Colt McCoy, Texas; Darren McFadden, Arkansas

The first ten picks in the 2008 NFL Draft will be … 1) DE Calais Campbell, DE Miami, 2) Brian Brohm, QB Louisville; 3) Darren McFadden, RB Arkansas, 4) Sam Baker, OT USC, 5) Jake Long, OT Michigan, 6) Tyson Jackson, DE LSU, 7) Kenny Phillips, S Miami, 8) Derrick Harvey, DE Florida, 9) Chris Long, DE Virginia, 10) Glenn Dorsey, DT LSU

Five “Wake Forests” … No, these teams aren’t going to win a conference title like Wake Forest did, but they won’t be taken seriously and will be far better than anyone thinks. 1) Vanderbilt, 2) Cincinnati, 3) Northwestern, 4) Kansas, 5) Wake Forest

Five “Miamis/Florida States” … These five teams will be considered among the favorites for their respective conference titles, but will come up short with a relatively disappointing season: 1) Auburn, 2) Texas A&M, 3) UCLA, 4) BYU, 5) Florida

Think Ball State vs. Michigan or Army vs. Texas A&M … Five total mismatches that won’t be upsets, but will be closer than expected because the favorite won’t be paying attention. 1) New Mexico State vs. Auburn, Sept. 22. 2) Wisconsin at UNLV, Sept. 8; 3) Western Michigan vs. Iowa, Nov. 17; 4) Ohio vs. Virginia Tech, Sept. 15, 5) Georgia Tech vs. Duke, Nov. 10
The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Ten things I’m already grouchy about, and the season hasn’t even started.
10. No more chest bumps
It doesn’t matter if it’s George Clooney and Michael Jordan doing it; the jump up chest bump makes everyone look like a dork. It’s awkward, it’s weird, and there’s no need for it.
9. Feeling the need to honor all tragedies
I heard someone suggest Minnesota should wear some sort of patch to honor the victims of the fallen bridge. I’ve had a few people e-mail me with their ideas to honor the trapped Utah miners by having Utah wear a helmet decal of some sort. Virginia Tech honoring slain classmates and professors is one thing, the football team is part of the university, and Indiana honoring Terry Hoeppner’s memory this season is a must, but if a tragedy doesn’t have anything to do with the football team, it doesn’t need to be acknowledged for a full season.

I’m originally from Minneapolis and know that highway and crashed bridge way too well (having almost been a statistic thanks to an icy spin out). Nine people have been pronounced dead so far in the collapse. Not to diminish the loss of life in any way, but unfortunately, nine people dying in a day isn't uncommon on the highways of any major city, and those victims don't get honored by college football teams.

12 people died in a pile up on the highway near my house two nights ago. 200 people were blown up by suicide bombers in Iraq yesterday. Over a dozen people died due to the oppressive heat in the south over the last few days. It’s time for a harsh reality; death happens, and it shouldn't always up to sports to help some people grieve.

Whether it’s when you’re ridiculously old and your heart can’t handle the Jennifer Love Hewitt Hanes ad, or if it’s when your parachute doesn’t open, you get caught in a combine, or have your nuts bit off by a Laplander, it’s going to happen to all of us, and it’s going to suck whenever it does. Meanwhile, we have to stop forcing sports to carry the burden of honoring everything.  The solution is simple after a tragic event that doesn’t involve the school or football team. You have one moment of silence and remembrance at the beginning of a home game, and then you move on. 

8. “Largest Crowd Ever”
Inevitably, there will be some big game this year at a place like Ohio State, Michigan or Tennessee, and somehow they will cram in a few extra bodies to officially make it the largest crowd ever at the school. That doesn’t mean as much as you might think. All it means is that they counted the people a little bit better, and probably upped it enough to make the moment seem more important. You could’ve sold 300,000 tickets to last year’s Michigan – Ohio State game if you had a big enough building.
 7. No more cutesy position names.  
As the Ladies said, it’s all been done. Whether or not you use two tight ends, put a running back in the backfield, or line up five receivers at once, they’re all the same positions they’ve had before no matter where they’re moved to. Don’t make up new names to make the position seem more unique or important than it really is.
No crowning a champion before it’s done
Have we all learned our lesson yet? From 1983 Nebraska to 1986 Miami to 1992 Miami to 2000 Florida State to 2002 Miami to 2005 USC to 2006 Ohio State, we’ve seen more than enough evidence of how dangerous it can be to assume the national championship is over with before it’s even played. Did the underdogs win those games because of the extra motivation? Of course not; they simply played better. Crowning a champion before the season is done usually means everyone has gotten lazy with the analysis and misses the obvious, like how good 2005 Texas was, and how athletic 2002 Ohio State happened to be. There’s no truth to the rumor that ESPN has already started a series comparing 2007 USC to the Ming Dynasty in yet another fan poll thingy.
 5. “Disrespect”
You know who’s disrespected? Temple. Buffalo. Utah State. While there are several other teams on that list, your team probably isn’t one of them. Don’t confuse disrespect with a lack of attention. Just win, baby, and don’t worry so much about being dissed. Win a conference title, get to the BCS and/or win your bowl, and then bask in the glory. Until then, let it go.  
 4. Putting the shoe on the other foot
Would Oklahoma have graciously handed Oregon the win had the Ducks been screwed over in last year’s debacle? Yeah, right. How many USC and Oklahoma fans wrote in suggesting that Auburn should be in the Orange Bowl over their team in 2004? How many Michigan fans took an honest look at the BCS situation and declared that the fairest matchup should be Ohio State vs. Florida? When it’s happening to you, it’s the biggest injustice ever. This season, try looking at things from the other side, and then scream your head off.
 3. Look at what happens on the field
I’ve had an ongoing debate with several Florida fans about respect and the way last year played out. They seem to believe it should've been obvious to everyone that the team was national-title good all season long, and they keep forgetting how many close calls there were along the way. Sorry, but the world had a right to be a bit skeptical after the Gators beat Tennessee by one, lost to Auburn, beat an average Georgia team by seven, Vanderbilt by six, South Carolina by one, and Florida State by seven. The Gators simply weren't dominant until it got a fat and lazy Buckeye team to eat alive. Meanwhile, considering Colt McCoy of Texas wasn’t quite ready for primetime yet on September 9th, the Buckeyes didn’t face a living, breathing offense until it dealt with Michigan. This year, we all need to take a harder look at the schedules and what the teams are doing with them, and we can’t assume that a blowout win is as meaningful as it appears at the time.

 2. No more playoff ideas.
I love hearing from the fans all the time, and I really do try to do my best to read and respond to as many e-mails as possible (as long as they’re not more than three lines long). But I’m sorry; I can’t do any more playoff ideas. Everyone has one, and it goes to show that while everyone wants some sort of new post-season format, no one will ever be happy with the final solution. A plus one? A 16-team playoff? Eight teams? Only conference champions? All the conference winners? No non-BCS teams? Again, I’ve read and seen every idea under the sun, and the simplest and most fair solution, according to most, would be an eight team playoff of the six BCS league champions and two at-large spots for champions from other conferences to give the little guy a shot. Meanwhile …
 1. No whining about the lack of a playoff
This goes out to the media more than the fans. You’re not getting a playoff this year, so instead of grousing about not having one, or how nice it would be to have one, do your homework and analyze who the best teams really are and who the most deserving national title participants should be. I’m for a plus one system (No. 1 vs. No. 4, No. 2 vs. No. 3 and play the two winners), but until then, we all have to find the next Florida and the next Texas, and we have to do what we can to get it right. After all, unlike any other sport, the college football media is way too much a part of the system, considering the polls mean everything in the BCS race.

Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa).
- I rip on ESPN for accelerating the general decline of sports by shooting for the sensational more than the accurate, but they get college football right. The addition of the College Football Live show is a very, very good thing. It’s a must-watch just to get a good daily fix. Just turn the channel before the obnoxious fan video comes on. I’m really interested in seeing what the NFL Network is going to do with its college football show, but I’m thinking it’s going to be College Football For Dummies for a few weeks (at least until they get me on).
- Sports Illustrated called this The Year of the Running Back. So far, it’s the year of the injured wide receiver. Oklahoma’s Malcolm Kelly is coming off a knee injury, Marcus Monk of Arkansas is out for a few games, Florida’s Percy Harvin is banged up, Pitt’s No. 1 target Derek Kinder is out for the year with a knee injury, and Indiana’s James Hardy suffered a broken finger.
- To all the Michigan fans still complaining about getting left out of the national title last year, watch the Rose Bowl again and then make your case.
- We’re going to have a new BCS Championship crisis when one obvious team, like USC or Michigan, goes unbeaten, and one non-obvious BCS team, like Rutgers, also goes unbeaten and the SEC champion, think LSU, finishes with one loss but appears to be dominant at the end of the year. SEC fans are going blow a gasket when it comes to comparing schedules, and after what Florida did to Ohio State last year.
- It’s not your money. Why do you care how much Nick Saban makes? He could be making 57 cents and there’d still be the exact same pressure to beat Auburn.
- Teams that will be far, far better than you think: Oregon State, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Boston College, Maryland
- Teams that will get by in the early rankings on name recognition: Auburn (until its O line comes around), West Virginia (until its D line comes around), Arkansas (until Casey Dick can throw the forward pass).
- Prove it teams: USC (For all the fanfare and attention, Pete Carroll only has one BCS national title. This might be his best team yet.), Wisconsin (won one really good game last year beating Arkansas, and looked horrible doing it), Tennessee (2006 was a nice bounce-back year, but now the program has to be Tennessee again), Nebraska (blowing up the offensive philosophy that made Nebraska a superpower had better start paying dividends), Florida State (if the new coaching hires didn’t work, it’ll be time to officially declare FSU as just above-average), Miami (now we’ll find out if Larry Coker was really the problem).


C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated:
Darren McFadden ... Underrated: Felix Jones
2) Overrated: NFL Preseason … Underrated: Watching every awful preseason game twice on NFL Network
3) Overrated: Barry Bonds suing those who make “false statements”  ... Underrated: Poking a bear who hasn’t eaten in three days with a stick while wearing a suit made entirely of meat
4) Overrated:
Tim Tebow ... Underrated: Winning a Mike Ness of Social Distortion look-alike contest
5) Overrated:
Kia Vaughn’s alleged defamation of character and reputation ... Underrated: The Geico Caveman’s, “What?”
Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … I got a few hundred dollars off a new car last year. Now the NCAA has forced me to vacate all my columns written in 2006.


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