Cavalcade of Whimsy - The Irish Futility
Posted Sep 18, 2007

This hasn't just been a bad start for Notre Dame, it's been a whole different level of bad. How did this all happen? The Irish futility, along with ten of the biggest disappointments to start the season, in 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 | Preseason Part One, Part Two | Week 1 | Week 2

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … after three horrendous weeks, Charlie Weis declared that I need to go back to training camp and that my season is starting over. Unfortunately, my lines are worse than Notre Dame's.

You think you hate it now, but wait ‘til you read it …
I like the unifying look when everyone in the stadium is wearing all one color, like the Penn State White Out vs. Notre Dame, the current Nebraska all-red, and freakiest of all, the occasional South Carolina Black Out. In an attempt to create an intimidating environment for the reader, I'll use the official column colors in the C.O.W. Inaugural Metallic Pea Out.

And if you say it again, you have to sit through a traditional Latin Mass … Over the last few weeks, various scouts, coaches, and media types, as they’re searching for answers and making excuses, have done everything short of actually saying the words, “you can’t recruit at Notre Dame.”  Yeah, it must be tough. If only the football program had some history to fall back on, a recognizable brand name, exposure from a national TV contract, an elite educational experience, several classic movies cheering her name, a few legendary figures to wake up echoes, and every conceivable break in the book when it comes to the BCS rules, then maybe, just maybe, Weis and his staff would have a chance to bring in some decent talent.

That George O’Leary résumé doesn’t seem like that big a deal anymore …
The world is having a grand old time piling on Notre Dame, and rightly so considering the futile start is an all-timer. This is a Charlie Weis offense. This is the guy who made Tom Brady, Tom Brady (before Brady went off on his noble pursuit to join forces with the hot women of the world to create a generation of pretty people), and turned Brady Quinn from a nice third round prospect into a first round draft pick. 115 yards per game. 119.7 passing yards. Two points per game generated by the offense. This is a really, really big deal, and it could be argued that it trumps the Appalachian State win over Michigan as the signature storyline of the season so far.

Upon further review, number crunching and analysis, we've found one basic problem: they stink ...
New England has spent some draft picks on shoring up the offensive line, but for the most part, the team's philosophy has been to piece together a front five and spend the most time, energy and money elsewhere. That doesn't work in the college game. ND's offensive line has been miserable for the last two seasons, while the defensive line gets shoved all over the place. Until the Irish are better on the lines, the Jimmy Clausens of the world won't matter.

And no, they're not the ones who make sure the socks are the right length … Reason No. 307 why college football is better than the NFL. Frequency coordinators. Hopefully you lead an interesting enough life to not have any clue why they’ve suddenly become a relevant part of our bizarre sports culture. 

But through the magic of videotape, there’s historical footage of Notre Dame's offense scoring a touchdown …
.Because we’re all adults of reasonable intelligence, we all realize just how full of bull muffins New England head coach Bill Belichick is, and we all know that the videotaping of signals in the win over the New York Jets wasn’t an isolated incident. So the question has to be raised; just how far did the apple fall from the cheat? Isn’t it at least worthy of discussion to wonder if Notre Dame under Weis has learned more from New England than how to make LaDainian Tomlinson mad?

At least Pacman got to make it rain before he got in trouble …
Dog the NFL and its fascist regime all you want, but at least those kids don’t joke around when it comes down to meting punishment. You want to stop cheating on the college level? Start fining the coaches when something goes wrong. It might not be fair, but watch how fast that “lack of institutional control” issue goes away.

And on the flipside, the NFL should’ve taken a page from the NCAA. Fining and taking away draft picks was a start, but if Generalissimo Goodell really wanted to make the cheating stop, he should make New England vacate its win over the Jets.

And no, it’s not because Northern Illinois is playing Temple …
Here’s just a little something for you to look forward to: October 6th. It’s a dog week of games overall, with a few notable exceptions. Nebraska travels to Missouri for an interesting Big 12 North showdown, but it might be just a wee bit overshadowed by Oklahoma vs. Texas down in Dallas. While the Red River Rivalry is big, it’s nothing this year compared to Florida at LSU in a battle of true heavyweights for the number two spot in the polls.

Put 'em on the Glass, Part One …
Notre Dame might have problems right now, but Navy lost to Ball State and is playing no defense whatsoever. November 3rd will be the real test to see how far the Irish have fallen. If the 43-game winning streak over the Midshipmen ends this year, then watch everyone really start to roar.

Put 'em on the Glass, Part Two … It’s a long season and several things are certain to change, but if Auburn keeps playing the way it’s playing, and Alabama keeps playing the way it’s playing, watch the Tide fans’ lovefest for Nick Saban to come to a quick stop if the Tigers’ five game Iron Bowl winning streak doesn’t come to a screeching halt.

However, if she’s unable to fulfill her duties, or if we find hot lesbian photos of her taken when she was young and needed the work, the first runner-up shall assume the crown  …
Oh sure, it’s college football politically incorrect to call a FCS team D-IAA, and a D-I team FBS, but what about the D-II and D-III teams? Where’s their confusing designation? Aren't they special? How come they don’t get to be counted in the AP Poll? Now that the NCAA has created this goofy madness, wouldn’t D-II technically get to move up and become D-I?

And of course, the people who voted for Louisville over Kentucky need to go somewhere special, too ...
Appalachian State got 5 votes yet again in the AP poll. You have to be the house, the car, the kids, and your virtue; do you take ASU over Washington, Florida State, Kansas or Michigan State (who were all ranked below the Mountaineers)? Of course not, but then again, you've probably seen those teams play this year.

Of course, you're basing your ranking on the 48-7 win over Lenoir-Rhyne ... O.K. you pretentious AP voting fops who've suddenly become the champion of the D-IAAers (oops, I've been bad), who'd Appalachian State beat last week? Uh huh. I'm waiting. It was Northern Arizona, 34-21. But you already knew that.

He looks like a 39-year-old man, and apparently he has the knees of one, too …
First of all, stop comparing Greg Oden to Sam Bowie just because they’re both big and they were each drafted early by Portland. Oden has a knee injury, it’ll get fixed, and he’ll be the NBA’s next big thing. Bouie had a foot issue that wasn’t going to go away, and he was a limited talent. With that said, to all the sure-thing multi-millionaires currently shortening their NFL playing life by sticking around the college game and working (it's not play for you right now) for free, take a look at Oden’s situation. He’s currently hurt, can’t play this year, and he’s getting paid gobs and gobs of money. Had he stayed in school, he'd be going to class, wouldn't be playing this year, and he wouldn’t be getting paid gobs and gobs of money.

Halfway through the column, and still no Notre Dame offensive touchdowns.  

“Weather. I don’t need weather. Weather doesn’t do it for me.” …
No more rain/weather delays. If I can borrow a Dan Hawkins voice, THIS IS FOOTBALL. Oh sure, at any time a player can break a bone, dislocate something valuable, or heaven forbid, have his spine snapped in two, but ooooooh, watch out for the scary clouds and the big rain drops. The fans have nowhere to run and hide if a tornado hits; they’re sitting ducks. If they’re in the elements, then get out there and play. Lightning hits? Shake it off.

“Do you gamble?”
“Every time I order out.”
“You do speak French?”
“Unfortunately, no. But I do kiss that way.” …
Not sure when this will come up again, but check out this little mini-trend. Outside of Boston College's win over NC State (which seemed to be a specific case of the Eagles needing to be impressive in conference play), for whatever reason, superior teams don’t seem run it up on teams with coaching ties to the school. For example, FIU head coach Mario Cristobal is a former Miami Hurricane. Randy Shannon’s Canes, a 33-point favorite, beat the Golden Panthers 23-9. Idaho head coach Robb Akey took the job after years as an assistant at Washington State. The Vandals were 26-point underdogs, but only lost to the Cougars by 17. USC defensive coordinator Nick Holt was the head man at Idaho two years ago. The Trojans were 45-point favorites in the opener, and only won by 28.

There hasn’t been a less intimidating bodyguard since Ricky Linderman …
Do the coaches really feel safer walking off the field with Barney Fife running behind them? Until a coach rents out S1W to hang in the background while he talks to Holly Rowe about why his team sucked in the first half, there’s just no practical need for the protection, is there? Double that if the cop is shorter and smaller than the coach, like the officer running off the field behind Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema at halftime of the Citadel game.

The Non-Sexual Man Crush Of The Week Award goes to
… it’s a tie. Boston College’s Matt Ryan against Georgia Tech, and Alabama’s John Parker Wilson against Arkansas. Ryan is a true veteran college quarterback. He’s the type of experienced leader who makes everyone around him better, and is the difference between BC being a top 25 team and something truly special. If you somehow have a chance, watch Wilson’s final drive against the Hogs. He stood in the teeth of a good pass rush time and again and was a stone-cold killer. Considering the moment, you won’t see a better ball thrown all year than the loft to Matt Caddell for the game winner.

Nuggets for the upcoming week, now made with white meat, at participating restaurants …

- Tulsa won’t beat Oklahoma on Friday night, but watch out for the Todd Graham-led Golden Hurricane to provide a stiff test for at least a half. Paul Smith is by far the best quarterback the Sooners have faced, and the Tulsa defense has a little bit of a pass rush to generate some pressure on Sam Bradford.

- Watch out for Purdue’s Curtis Painter to flirt with 500 passing yards against Minnesota on Saturday night. So far, the Gopher secondary has allowed 412 yards to Bowling Green, 418 to Miami University, and 463 to Florida Atlantic.

- Tennessee had better not start thinking about Georgia, or Arkansas State could make things very interesting. Coming off a blowout loss to Florida, and needing a win over the Dawgs in two weeks to stay alive in the SEC race, the Vols are certain to be looking ahead. ASU played Texas tough in week one and blew out SMU. Now, with QB Corey Leonard and RB Reggie Arnold each playing well, UT could be in for a battle.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Taking the obvious, Michigan and Notre Dame, out of the equation, here are the ten ways the world has disappointed me over the first few weeks of the college football season (and with a long way to go, the way things can be turned around).

10. The WAC
Considering the MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt have all come up with good wins over BCS Conference teams, the WAC hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. Boise State’s run ended at Washington, Hawaii hasn’t played anyone, and was lousy in a near-miss against Louisiana Tech, Nevada lost in the final seconds to Northwestern, and Fresno State did what Fresno State does, coming close, but losing, to Texas A&M before getting blasted by Oregon. 
How it can turn things around: Hawaii still gets to play Washington, while Boise State can establish some conference pride with a win over Southern Miss.

9. TCU
There was talk about the BCS, being this year’s Boise State, and possibly taking a major step forward for a program that’s been on the verge of big things for several years. With top RB Aaron Brown hurt, there’s been no punch to the running game, the supposed brick wall of a defense has been merely above average, and after losing to Air Force, there’s work to be done in Mountain West play.  
How it can turn things around: Get Aaron Brown healthy, start to get more big plays out of the superior defensive line, and start winning Mountain West games. The defense has to be the TCU defense everyone was hoping to see.

8. Oklahoma State
Where’s the speed and explosion? Where’s the team with all the returning skill talent that was supposed hang 50 on the board against everyone in its path? The Cowboys could still show up and be a Big 12 factor, and everything could change this week against Texas Tech, but a quarterback shuffle, a few injuries, and little from the defense has led to a 1-2 start. Things aren’t going well when you lose to Troy 41-23.
How it can turn things around: Start winning in the Big 12. Beating Texas Tech and Texas A&M would make everyone forget about the Troy loss.

7. The Departed
Overwritten, overacted, overrated. GoodFellas worked as well as it did because no one had really heard of Ray Liotta. In The Departed, it’s just a bunch of superstars reading lines before they go have a beer together. It’s on the movie channels now; check it out again and try not to see Jason Bourne, or Colonel Jessup, or Jack Dawson, or Dirk Diggler, or Jack Ryan, or Jed Bartlet.
How it can turn things around: Do the GoodFellas/Casino double feature, and then if you need your fix of bad Boston accents in a terrific movie, do Thirteen Days.

6. Wisconsin’s defense
The Badgers were among the best in America last year defensively, and were tops against the pass. There’s no pass rush, there are way too many problems against quick teams working wide, and no one seems to be tackling. This was supposed to be a brick wall, and was why the ranking has been so high.
How it can turn things around: Avoid spread offenses, get more big plays from the ends, stuff Iowa in the Big Ten opener.

5. Arizona
Basically, the Wildcats have proven to be no better than a mid-range Mountain West team after losing to BYU and New Mexico. The one win came over Northern Arizona … yippee. Even with All-America CB Antoine Cason in the secondary, the Cats are giving up 267 yards per game, and haven't been remotely consistent from drive to drive. The new-fangled spread offense bombed away New Mexico, but there was no running game, and only 32 yards on the ground against BYU.
How it can turn things around: Start to D up. After 3+ years, it’s time Mike Stoops to produce on the side of the ball he’s supposed to be a wizard at. A win over California this week would jump-start the program.

4. Tennessee vs. California, Miami vs. Oklahoma, Virginia Tech vs. LSU, USC vs. Nebraska
Virginia Tech vs. LSU was supposed to be a titanic defensive battle worthy of the BCS Championship game. Unfortunately, it was worthy of the national title game; the Florida – Ohio State version. Nebraska had been talking about the USC game being the pivotal moment in the once-proud program’s recent history, and then it forgot to defend the run. Overall, the big-time non-conference games were big-time duds.
How it can turn things around: A good Texas A&M – Miami game would be a start, and then hope the league games can be as strong as they’ve been so far (at least in the SEC).

3.  Texas
The Longhorns are 3-0. Considering how many other name teams have been upset, 3-0 is 3-0 is 3-0. But it hasn’t been pretty. The offensive line has been average, though it was better against UCF, the linebacking corps has been a disappointment, and the receiving corps full of NFL talent has decided to take the first few weeks of the season off.
How it can turn around: Beat Kansas State, beat Oklahoma, be in the national title hunt.

2. Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State offense
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. FSU was hoping for a running game and a more balanced offense under new offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, and so far, it’s gotten the latter, currently ranked 75th in the nation in rushing and 76th in receiving. Fisher made a big point of wanting more big plays from the attack, and they haven’t been there.
How it can turn things around: The O line has to be better. It might not seem like it, but the skill players are there. They aren’t getting any time to work.

1. The USA Today/Coaches’ Poll
I know I’m a broken record when it comes to the polls, but no one else is taking the polls to task for being wrong every single week. Along with the upcoming Harris Poll, the Coaches’ Poll is determining your national championship matchup, and it continues to be lazy and uninformed. How are we supposed to believe that the coaches really know that USC is one, LSU two, Florida three and Oklahoma four, when Louisville is 19th and Kentucky 23rd? UK's win over the Cardinals was one of the highest profile games of the week, with an ending that was featured on all the highlight shows, but the coaches (along with the AP) still got it wrong. Auburn was ranked ahead of South Florida last week, and only dropped lower after losing to Mississippi State. Wisconsin and Texas might be better than California, but no one who’s seen every game all three teams have played would rank the Bears behind the Badgers and Longhorns right now. Again, this is everything to college football. Everything that’s happening on the field, doesn’t seem to matter, because it’s not reflected properly where it should be.
How it can turn things around: Make the coaches accountable right now. Let us call out the coaches who picked Kentucky behind Louisville in the latest poll, and along the way, ask them to name the starting quarterback for 15 the top 25 teams.

Notre Dame just lost more yards on a ball snapped over Jimmy Clausen's head.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated:
The making out with Madonna Britney ... Underrated: The had fries with that Britney
2) Overrated: Jimmy Clausen  … Underrated: Demetrius Jones
3) Overrated: Keyshawn Johnson, Emmitt Smith and Mike Ditka  ... Underrated: Steve Young and Michael Irvin
4) Overrated:
37-year-old me pulling a hamstring playing shuffleboard ... Underrated: 59-year-old Sul Ross State LB Mike Flynt
5) Overrated:
John C. McGinley ... Underrated: John C. McGinley as one of the Bobs
My Heisman ballot this week would be (remember, this is assuming the season ended at this very moment based on what has happened) … 1) Matt Ryan, QB Boston College, 2) Sam Bradford, QB Oklahoma, 3) Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii, 4) Pat White, QB West Virginia. 5) Steve Slaton, RB West Virginia
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. (1-2 last week again, 2-4 overall, so as always, enjoy these just for pure amusement.) … 1) Miami University +13.5 over Colorado , 2) Penn State -2.5 over Michigan, 3) San Jose State +3.5 over Utah State

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … After giving a pep talk to Michigan, Russell Crowe came over to try to fire me up to write. Unfortunately, I got the Mystery, Alaska version that was afraid of losing his woman to Hank Azaria.