Cavalcade of Whimsy - The New Stars
Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray
Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray
Posted Sep 4, 2007

From the fallout after the Appalachian State win, to Notre Dame's problem, to all the hot new stars and teams, led by Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray, here's Fiu's take on the wild first weekend in his latest 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 | Preseason Part One, Part Two

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … I paid good money to get a cupcake D-IAA team to show up as a lamb for the slaughter, and they sent over an FCS team full of annoyingly fast offensive skill players who actually tried to win the game.

“Mama called him Clay; I’m a call him Clay” …
I’m not doing this. I’m not jumping through hoops in an attempt to remember which one is FBS and which one is FCS and if they have anything to do with FDS.

There's absolutely no need for political correctness when it comes to the classification of football programs. There are 119 teams at the upper level of college football, with Western Kentucky still behind the rope waiting for its hot friend to show up so the bouncer will let it in. That’s D-I. Everyone else isn’t D-I. Even Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore referred to his team as D-IAA (albeit mistakenly). I want my old classifications back, and I want them now.

Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray just scored again on North Texas.

Apparently, he spent the off-season scrimmaging against a bunch of Michigan Fatheads to prepare … One thing to remember about college football players is that most aren’t media savvy. NFL types have spent years in front of microphones and know exactly what to do and what to say at all times. College players, despite all the coaching from the sports information directors, aren’t nearly as polished, and that goes double for guys who’ve never been in the glare of the national spotlight, like Appalachian State QB Armanti Edwards.

Of course he deserves a break considering the enormity and excitement of the moment, but he had two priceless post-game comments. When asked to give one word to describe what he was feeling: “We beat Michigan. Plain and simple.”  Then, when asked about how his team handled the Michigan offense: “I haven’t really seen our defense, but I know they’re good.”

You only go for two in the final seven minutes of the game, or at Taco John’s on Softshell Saturday … As the line goes, you can’t spell Lloyd without two Ls.

The Michigan coaching staff put on a clinic of what not to do against an inferior opponent, with the biggest tactical error coming when it chose to unnecessarily go for two in the third quarter. Thanks to Lloyd Carr, welcome to the Fourth Annual Week One Two-Point Conversion Whine.

The Wolverines scored a touchdown midway through the third quarter to make it 31-26, and went for two to try to cut the margin down to a field goal (which turned out to be a moot point considering the Wolverine special teams line went bye-bye on field goal attempts). They missed, and the lead stayed at five. Had they kicked the extra point, instead of panicking, and had they realized there was still plenty of time and a million different combinations of things that could happen, they wouldn’t have had to go for two late in the game when a Mike Hart touchdown gave them a 32-31 lead. Kick the two extra points, and it ends up being 34-31. The last-gasp ASU field goal sends it into overtime instead of becoming the game-winner, and
Jason Gingell’s tackle of Corey Lynch on the blocked final field goal attempt has some real meaning.

You don't go for two unless you absolutely have to. You just don't. Too often it comes back to bite teams in the butt.

Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray just scored again on North Texas.

And an extra basket of mini-muffins will be included if they can stomp all over Oregon … There’s no truth to the rumor that Oklahoma sent pajamagrams to Michigan as a thank you for making the upset to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl seem like not that big a deal anymore.

The biggest upset would be if Lauren Caitlin Upton could find the State of Appalachia on a map. That is, if there wasn't such a map shortage in America ... No, Appalachian State didn't pull off the biggest upset in college football history. ASU, as a program, is a winner. We’re talking about a two-time defending national champion. You don’t do that on any level without having a special something. Of course, there might not be anyone on the ASU two-deep who cracks the Michigan starting lineup, but there have been far worse teams in the history of the sport that have pulled off shockers.

In 1998, Virginia Tech was 5-0 with wins over Clemson, Boston College (who weren’t nearly as good as they are now) and Miami on the road, along with wins over East Carolina and Pitt. Temple was 0-6 and coming off a loss to D-IAA William & Mary. Tech beat BC 17-0, while Temple lost to the Eagles 31-7. The Owls had won only one of its previous 11 games, and that came the year before against a Rutgers team that went winless. A 36.5 point underdog, Temple stunned the Hokies 24-22 in what’s still considered by “investors” as the biggest upset in recent college football history. Had there been a line, Michigan wouldn’t have been favored by more than 30 over ASU.

The key will be which one can do the “Blue Steel” first … There’s no truth to the rumor that new college football analyst Jesse Palmer has officially challenged Kirk Herbstreit to a pose-off for the right to be named ESPN’s Mr. Prettyman.

Week one ad problem, part one … 1) Why, in the countless ads for some razor, is Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Thierry Henry telling me that yesterday is history and today is all that matters while the spot pumps up their past accomplishments in the graphics? If today, this day, is all that matters, Phil Mickelson should be in the ad. 2) You know it took 59 takes to get Henry to say “think” correctly, and it still comes across as “fink.”

But if you gotta dance, you gotta dance … There's a twist to the new world of kickoffs coming from the 30. Now, an excessive celebration penalty, or an offsides call on the kickoff, moves the ball back so far that a bad boot might as well mean an automatic three points to the receiving team.

But I still took them way too early in my fantasy draft … Because Ronnie Brown went second overall and Cadillac Williams went fifth in the 2005 draft (to go along with QB Jason Campbell going 25th), many proclaimed the Auburn backfield the best of all-time. Upon further review, is that tandem better than Minnesota’s twosome of Marion Barber and Laurence Maroney, or the current twosomes of James Davis and C.J. Spiller at Clemson or Darren McFadden and Felix Jones at Arkansas? Right now, I'd guess that nine out of ten pro types would take their chances on the other tandems.

When I get that feeling that something is right that I can’t really describe, I also go to Florida … Even when national champions are in the discussion, as far as talent level, there’s USC, and there’s everyone else. Former Trojan RB Emmanuel Moody wasn’t even going to crack the USC two-deep, and might have even been as low as fifth in the rotation, but when he chose to transfer, he had 118 schools drooling to get him. He chose Florida. It's gotten to the point where other schools, even the top ones, brag when their recruits were courted by USC. Pete Carroll has created a monster.

Annoying announcer cliché of the week … Every time there’s a fumble and it takes a while for the official to make a call, the announcer always says something about how the guy who ends up with it probably wasn’t the guy who initially had it. Besides “meow, meow, meow, meow,” here’s what’s really going through the announcer’s head, and what he really should say. “Someone got the fumble, got his nuts yanked and twisted so hard that he started to sing like a Slumber Party Girl, gave up the ball, someone else got it, got his eye gouged Curly style, gave it up, and some periphery guy on the outside ended up with it.”

Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray just scored again on North Texas.

Week one ad problem, part two … If I’m actually watching the Big Ten Network, there’s no need for ads telling me what to do to get it.

Apparently, it is possible to oversaturate … I was all excited for the debut of the Big Ten Network, while still hoping for the other big conferences to soon follow suit, and then as soon as the opening shot came up of Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo, and Howard Griffith, I realized I hit pregame overload and had to step away from the TV.

From ESPN GameDay, to College Football Live, to the NFL Network’s College Football Now, to 25 straight hours of Rece Davis (who did a fantastic job), to CSTV, ESPNU, and all the regional Fox outlets, there can only be so much white noise a fan can take. Of course, the TV world comes to a standstill when I'm doing a guest appearance on these shows.

And somewhere, someone was breaking something tasteful because he couldn’t watch Penn State beat FIU 59-0 … Big Ten Network, it’s time to blink. Sorry BTN, but Comcast is right. No one wants to watch women’s volleyball or men’s wrestling, and the more you pretend that women’s sports and non-revenue activities matter, and are worthy of cable subscribers paying extra for it, the sillier you look. People will watch football, men's basketball, and classic football games. That's it.

It’s not like ol’ Jim Clausen can play defensive tackle … Fine, I’ll be the one to say it. If they're going to be fair and consistent, all those Notre Dame alumni who were in on the infamous letter that voiced their displeasure of the direction of the program under Ty Willingham have to be heard from again if this year's team is as bad as it looked this week. We’ve all given nothing but love to Charlie Weis for taking Willingham’s players to the BCS in each of the last two years, but now this is Chuck’s program. These are his guys. This is his team, and if it starts to suck, it’s his fault.

If Weis rights the ship and Notre Dame beats the good teams ahead on the schedule, then all is fine. Of course, it's not time to fold up shop based on one awful performance, but if the team keeps playing as poorly as it did against Georgia Tech, and if there isn’t at least a little bit of alumni rumbling, considering Willingham only got three years to operate, then the same types who went ballistic about the Don Imus situation are going to smell blood in the water. I'm not saying it's necessarily right or wrong; I'm saying it's going to start up. 

The Yellow Jackets are really, really, really good, and they exposed all the Irish flaws. The lines are awful, the receiving corps doesn’t have immediate replacements for the lost stars, the secondary isn’t any better, and there’s a shocking dearth of running back talent. Don’t blame Demetrius Jones, Evan Sharpley and Jimmy Clausen; they didn’t get any time to throw. If you remember, neither did Brady Quinn.

Notre Dame isn’t going to beat Penn State this week. It’s not going to beat Michigan. It’s going to struggle against Michigan State if the Spartan running game is working. It’s going to have a nightmare of a time with the Purdue offense, and will likely be underdogs against UCLA and Boston College before facing USC. Last Saturday could be just the beginning.

Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray just scored again on North Texas.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Ten interesting tidbits, players and teams from week one that bear watching over the next few weeks.

10. Nebraska RB Marlon Lucky
The star recruit of a few years ago ripped through a not-that-bad Nevada defense for 233 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries. Currently the nation’s leading rusher, if Lucky can be a workhorse for the attack, Nebraska, with its potential in the passing game, will be unstoppable. That's why if the Huskers can get by Wake Forest, it’s important to take a good, hard look at at the September 15th date against …

9. USC
Be very, very careful before you just hand the Trojans the national title. If the team that snoozed its way through the 38-10 win over Idaho shows up two weeks from now in Lincoln, it’s not only going to lose, it’s going to get flattened. Call it a sixth sense, women’s intuition, or the burrito I just ate, but I’m starting to think this is a potentially special Husker team, and I didn't see “it” in USC. Against the Vandals, that looked like a team that’s spent a few months reading about how good it is, and now it has two weeks off. That's not a positive.

8. Last year’s hot non-BCS teams, San Jose State and Central Michigan
CMU won the 2006 MAC Championship with shocking ease, while San Jose State had one of the great turnaround seasons ever going 9-4 with a New Mexico Bowl win. Both have experienced teams returning that are supposed to make noise in their respective conference races. Both were among the biggest week one disappointments. That’s why it’ll be interesting to watch …

7. Kansas
Every once in a while, we’re not just wrong, we’re really, really wrong. We picked Central Michigan to upset Kansas, but the Jayhawks were razor sharp in the 52-7 win. Everything worked. Todd Reesing threw four touchdown passes, the running combination of Jake Sharp and Brandon McAnderson made everyone forget about Jon Cornish, and the defense made almost every big play needed. With SE Louisiana, Toledo and FIU ahead, KU will be 4-0 before facing Kansas State. One of the few teams more impressive in week one was …

6. Arizona State
Sun Devil fans were desperate for some signs of a possible Pac 10 championship run under Dirk Koetter, and were disappointed time and again. Dennis Erickson, in his debut, not only had ASU playing its expected explosive brand of football, but it was also extremely tough and physical in the 45-3 win over San Jose State. Next up is Colorado. A blowout win over the Buffs, and it’ll be time for the rest of the Pac 10 to be worried.

5. The Big East
Outside of Syracuse getting flattened by Jake Locker and Washington, the Big East went 7-0 with frightening ease. Granted, other than SU’s battle, the only possible question mark was Connecticut’s trip to Duke, but everyone looked in midseason form on day one. Perception is everything in the polls, and right now, the league has built on the respect it started to earn by the end of last year. 

4. Washington QB Jake Locker
Washington hasn’t had a winning season since 2002, but hopes are high after Locker, the superstar recruit of a few years ago, looked like the real deal against Syracuse going 14 of 19 for 142 yards to go along with 83 rushing yards and two scores. Unfortunately for the Dawgs, they’re about to hit a buzzsaw of a six-game run playing Boise State, Ohio State, at UCLA, USC, at Arizona State and Oregon. All eyes will be on Locker if UW can win at least two of those.

3. The Texas offensive line
Two things come out of Texas; steers and big, beefy men who can push around other big beefy men. How is it that Texas, Texas, doesn’t have one of the premier offensive lines in America? The TCU defensive line is among the nation’s best, and Texas is going to be in for a battle this week after only paving the way for 117 rushing yards against Arkansas State.

2. Georgia Tech
Either Notre Dame is horrible or Georgia Tech is really good. It’s a little of both, and after the Yellow Jackets blow away Samford this week, we’ll know if they’re the real deal when they play Boston College and Clemson before September is over. The schedule is tough, but the Eagles and Tigers, along with Virginia Tech and Georgia, have to come to Atlanta, and Miami, the one nasty road game, isn’t the Miami of five years ago. If Taylor Bennett can recalibrate his arm and start hitting his open receivers, this could be a killer team as the season goes on.

1. Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray and QB Sam Bradford
Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was against North Texas, but Oklahoma started off the season first in the nation in total and scoring offense after cranking out 668 yards and 79 points. New starting quarterback Sam Bradford completed 21 of 23 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns, with one of the misses coming on a deep ball that just barely failed to click. DeMarco Murray, the star of the OU off-season, ran 17 times for 87 yards and five touchdowns, highlighted by a silky-smooth, bolt-of-lightning 44-yard dash. The receiving corps is among the nation’s fastest, the offense line and secondary are among the nation’s best, and the defensive line reloaded. Now the Sooners know they have two offensive stars to build around, even when running back Allen Patrick is back this week against Miami.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated:
California’s athletic department ... Underrated: California’s tree-hugging hippies
2) Overrated: Rick Trickett … Underrated: West Virginia’s offensive line
3) Overrated: George Mason  ... Underrated: Appalachian State
4) Overrated:
Blake Mitchell ... Underrated: Blake Mitchell (shame on you if you actually get this)
5) Overrated:
Les Miles ... Underrated: The Pac 10
My Heisman ballot this week would be … 1) Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii, 2) Darren McFadden, RB Arkansas, 3) Matt Ryan, QB Boston College, 4) Steve Slaton, QB West Virginia, 5) Pat White, QB West Virginia

Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray just scored again on North Texas.
You know I'm born to lose, and gambling's for fools/But that's the way I like it baby, I don't wanna live forever” … The three lines this week that appear to be a tad off. (Sorry I didn’t do this last week. Georgia Tech +2 over Notre Dame was my five-star lock of the century.) … 1) Bowling Green +15 over Michigan State, 2) Temple -2 over Buffalo, 3) Indiana +3 over Western Michigan
Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … I could’ve been the main man in the Notre Dame offense, but I chose to leave for the NFL early. Like Darius Walker, I also got cut by the Houston Texans.  



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