5 Thoughts - Heisman Hypocrisy?
Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell
Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell
Posted Sep 17, 2007

Considering all the love for Hawaii's Colt Brennan, why isn't Texas Tech's Graham Harrell in the Heisman race? Why USC will have to earn its way into the national title game, Rutgers running it up, the greatness of Boston College, and a scheduling idea to make life better, in the latest 5 Thoughts.

Five Thoughts: Week 1 | Week 2

Yeah, But USC Is Still Good No Matter What

By Pete Fiutak   

1.  No one has ever denied that USC hasn't been unbelievably good under Pete Carroll. In the recent years when the Men of Troy didn’t have the best team in America, it wasn’t far behind and was probably number two. However, many fans, especially in the SEC, have had a bit of a gripe over recent years.

“Yeah, USC might be amazing, but it gets to play in the Pac 10.”

That's nothing to beef about anymore.

The performances of Arizona and UCLA this last weekend notwithstanding, the Pac 10 is stronger, by a long shot, than it’s been since USC started its run of recent greatness, and while it still might not be better than the SEC, this year, it’s not all that far off.

If you’re going to gush over Florida for whomping Tennessee, then you have to give California the same love. Michigan might not be Michigan at the moment, but Oregon was still unbelievable in The Big House, and rolled this week over the same Fresno State team that took Texas A&M to three overtimes. Arizona State has played at a ridiculously high level early on, while Oregon State, UCLA, Washington and Washington State, despite recent setbacks, all appear to be just nasty enough to give the Trojans a push if everything breaks the right way.

Remember, the argument SEC fans like to make is that the long season is a weekly grind. Sure, Florida might have been the league’s best team last year, but it’s hard to get through unscathed when you have to play Tennessee, then Kentucky, then Alabama, then LSU, then Auburn, and then Georgia. That’s part of the reason why the Gators only beat Vanderbilt 25-19 after coming off that stretch. Now the same can possibly be said for USC. The Trojans are better than everyone in the Pac 10, but it’s not going to be easy when they’ll have to play at Oregon, then Oregon State, then at California, then at Arizona State, and then UCLA. Can they maintain their focus? They couldn't do it last year, and now the league is far better. If USC gets through it without a loss, it'll have truly earned its way to New Orleans.

A Little Love For Lubbock

By Richard Cirminiello

. Two words to describe the Heisman hypocrisy: Graham Harrell. When Hawaii gunslinger Colt Brennan is considered in many circles to be one of this year's front-runners for Old Stiff Arm, how is it that Harrell, an equally prolific passer in an equally pass-happy offense, isn't even on the radar? Both entered the season with résumés, throw about 50 times a game, and play for unbeaten programs that'll likely be bowling later this year. In fact, Harrell has faced a slightly tougher schedule so far, plays in the Big 12, and has more yards and touchdown passes than Brennan, despite breaking in an almost entirely new receiving corps. So why is he an afterthought to the same people that are so quick to anoint Brennan? The harsh reality is that too many voters and opinion-makers are lazy in these matters, taking the obvious road rather than digging a little deeper for the truth. I've got no beef with the people that want to champion Brennan for individual honors. He's a statistical monster and much more than just a system quarterback. However, if he's on your early short list for the Heisman, be sure to at least mention Harrell, or be prepared to get labeled inconsistent.

The Grass Is Currently Greener In Boston

By John Harris

3. So, if you’re Tom O’Brien, how do you feel this morning?  You finally get your first win…over a 1AA Wofford.  Great, huh?  Well, you still don’t know if your team can beat a 1A team.  You’ve lost your star RB Toney Baker for the year.  Then to make matters worse, you’re looking straight up at your old school Boston College in the ACC Atlantic Division standings (a team that beat yours 37-17 last week).  You left a school where you must have felt you couldn’t take them to the next level for a mid-level ACC school on the downswing.  Meanwhile, Boston College is laying waste to ACC schools one week after the next.  No team in the nation had three conference games to start the year, yet BC took care of business, convincingly.  They’ve beaten last year’s champs (Wake), O’Brien’s new team (NC State) and a solid Georgia Tech squad by a combined 99-55 and should be 7-0 going into the Murderer’s Row at the back end of the schedule.  However, many thought that the Eagles wouldn’t survive the first quarter of their schedule, much less flourish.  Like the coach who left for Raleigh.

The Welcome Houseguests

By Pete Fiutak   

4. Anyone who noticed Troy throttle Oklahoma State, Florida Atlantic bomb its way past Minnesota, or Utah obliterate UCLA knows that it’s always, always dangerous when a BCS conference team has to travel to a non-BCS conference team’s house. Ask Wisconsin how easy it was to get by UNLV two weeks ago, and check with Texas fans to see if they still have a pulse after struggling to get by UCF. We’re talking about teams with national title dreams, or at least BCS aspirations, that needed everything in the bag to get out alive against teams like UNLV and UCF, not USC.

I have nothing against FCS (what normal folk still call D-IAA) teams, and I love seeing the little guys rise up and have their moments in the sun. Can they play with the FBSers? Some can, since the starting 22 on most of the better FCS teams are talented enough to hang with a lot of name teams (they just don’t have the depth to go through the grind of a big conference season). However, for every McNeese State over UL Lafayette or Southern Illinois over Northern Illinois, there are plenty of South Carolina vs. South Carolina States and Oregon State vs. Idaho States to go around.

The real problem is the equality among the 119 FBS programs. While many struggle to make money to pay for the rest of the athletic department, along with its own expenses, many big boys are fattening up on FCS cupcakes to get a sure win (and more often than not, they are sure wins) in ugly blowouts that do nothing for the college football landscape.

So here’s my proposal to make the world a better place on Saturday afternoons. Non-BCS conference teams can schedule anyone they can get; they need the home revenue. BCS conference teams can only schedule a game against an FCS team IF they travel to a non-BCS stadium in the same year. Georgia wants to fatten up on Western Carolina? Fine, then that game against Troy on November 3rd will be played at Movie Gallery Stadium. Rutgers wants the easy payday win over Norfolk State? That’s cool; then the date with Buffalo is at University Stadium.

This would do three things: 1) Make big boys think twice about scheduling the FCSers, 2) force the big boys to give the little guy FBSers more big money paydays, and 3) potentially force the big guys to show up in new places. UCF fans will forever be talking about the day Texas came to town, and that’s a good thing.

The Rutgers Rub In

By Matthew Zemek

Greg Schiano padded Ray Rice's stats late in a win over Navy on Sept. 7. But after being criticized for a bush-league move, the Rutgers head coach only seemed even more determined to rub it in the face of an opponent.

Saturday against tiny Norfolk State, Schiano called a bevy of timeouts in short succession while his team held a 45-0 lead at the end of the second quarter. NSU coach Pete Adrian had a right to be upset, and the fact that the controversy was the lead item in the Associated Press' (usually) bland game report shows you how much this story matters. It overshadowed anything and everything that Rutgers might have achieved in this game.

Okay, coach Schiano, it's time to throw down some tough talk: before this season, you did the right things in the right way for all the right reasons at Rutgers. After several years of hard work--and justified patience from your athletic director--you've gained the right results as well. You were a model for all other coaches in every possible way.

But now, after two straight weeks of stat-padding, with one of them coming in a classic paycheck game, all the goodwill and political capital of Rutgers University's football program are being thrown out the window. This on-field controversy involving Schiano's methods (and motives) accompanies the off-field developments concerning the unruly and unbecoming behavior of the Rutgers student body at home games in Piscataway, N.J.

Coach, your reasoning after the Norfolk State game was pretty lame. You said that as long as your starters are in the game, you play the way you coach:

all-out, with a complete focus on performance and excellence. That statement leaves a lot to be desired for a number of reasons.

First, you can justify leaving your starters in the game far longer than they should. If Ray Rice is on the field, you think you can do whatever you want. So you leave Rice in the game, and you do whatever you want. Twisted logic, to say the very least.

Secondly, one would think that with backups in the game, you would actually work harder as a coach. When first-string players are competing against a grossly inferior opponent, you don't need to trick up your playbook or complicate your game plan. With dominant players, you can do the simplest things and still score points. If that happens, then you can't be accused of stat-padding.

But with backup players who need exposure to live-action game management situations, it's justifiable to provide trick plays and special strategies.

Second- or third-string players deserve the right to work with the gadgets, exotics and wrinkles normally reserved for the first teamers. If your bench-warmers get a full playbook and a complex offensive package, no opposing coach could argue: second-stringers don't get much work, so they need exposure to everything. The logic is clear and convincing.

Long story short, you can't have it both ways, Mr. Schiano: either you keep your first string in the game and don't call the timeouts, or you put in your backups and call the timeouts. If you were a really nice guy, you'd put in second-stringers and not call the timeouts, but we'll be reasonable and ask for only one action, not both. But you did neither: you kept in the first-team offense AND called the three timeouts in a 45-point game against a paycheck school whom you should treat with a little more respect. It's not just Pete Adrian who should be angry at you; it's an entire college football community that suddenly doesn't feel that Rutgers is a feel-good story anymore.

Not with the embarrassing way in which you're conducting yourself on gamedays, Mr. Schiano.