Cavalcade of Whimsy - A Real Heisman Favorite
Florida QB Tim Tebow
Florida QB Tim Tebow
Posted Oct 23, 2007

Now that Tom Osborne is in charge at Nebraska, what can he do to really make a difference? The bad LSU play call, the ten ways the 2007 season would be different if everyone had to stay for a full four years, and the real Heisman front-runner who isn't out front, Florida QB Tim Tebow, in the 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 | Week 1
2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … I’m assuming LSU will run the ball to get into the middle of the field for a game-winning field goal attempt. Since there’s not enough time to throw into the end zone, I’ll just move my safeties up and …aw crap.

Let me be the one to name it: The “Hail Miles” … I don’t care that the 22-yard Matt Flynn to Demetrius Byrd touchdown pass that lifted LSU to a win over Auburn worked. It was a horrible play call, and either head coach Les Miles still doesn’t seem to understand what actually happened and why it was so dumb, or he knows he dodged a bullet.

No, it wasn’t a great call. No, it wasn’t gutsy. It was an all-timer of a brain-cramp that just so happened to work because of the brilliant execution by the players. It was the type of call that Miles, who obviously had no clue about the clock situation, will make in the future that will get his team beat. Even after the fact, Miles still didn’t get it. From his press conference …

“I would have made the exact same call if I had the chance again. In the specifics that we have a quarterback who understands that we need to conserve the time on the clock. I felt really comfortable that the call was given enough time to place if it was incomplete. If he brings the ball down and runs, then I have a timeout in my pocket I am ready to use. If we get to the next down, I like Colt David.”

Uh, and what if the ball got batted away or picked off or juggled and the dropped? There would’ve been no time left if there had been anything other than a completion, or at best, one second left if everything worked out right, and considering LSU would’ve won, not tied, won, by kicking a field goal, it was a totally unnecessary gamble. If the field goal would have sent it into overtime, then the play call is at least justifiable. As it happened, it was the equivalent of being down one in basketball with time running out and passing up a seven-foot shot for a 45-footer.

With that said, every national title team needs one of these kinds of moments. As good as LSU might be, to win a championship, it needs a few big breaks that teams like Oklahoma and USC didn’t get.

Was that a duck or is there another AFLAC ad? … In 1988, LSU beat Auburn 7-6 in the famous Earthquake Game, dubbed so because the Tiger crowd erupted so loudly after a late Tommy Hodson touchdown pass that a tremor was measured on a seismograph in the geology department. 19 years later it happened again late in another Auburn-LSU classic, but it wasn’t Flynn to Byrd. It was just Todd Blackledge after weeks of eating fried fries and fries smothered in deep fried gravy for his ongoing taste-of-the-campus bit.

If the marketing people had any stones and foresight, they’d just call it The DefibrillatorOne thing the Blackledge bit does show is just how much garbage people put into their bodies every time they go out to eat. There’s an uproar over Hardee’s 920-calorie, 60-fat gram Country Breakfast Burrito, but the huge numbers put on the board don’t even scratch the surface compared to what gets served at most restaurants. If you want to eat big fatty burritos, knock yourself out. The melted polar ice caps or Superbug filled Pakistani nukes will probably get to you before the cholesterol anyway.

Or he could just be like Sammy Sosa and pretend he can't speak English … Clad in T-shirts saying: “T.O. Tradition. Order.” Nebraska fans are all giddy over Tom Osborne stepping in as the interim athletic director in charge of trying to make Nebraska Nebraska again. Of course, with Osborne comes an implied aura of respect and legendary status as a tie to when several Husker teams were among the best in college football history. But along with all the good comes a rehash of the darker side of the Osborne era.

There were the fiascos involving Christian Peter, Lawrence Phillips, and Osborne’s shockingly disastrous inability to properly handle the low-character element brought in to win a national title. The other major issue is steroids and the role they played in all the success.

Osborne was at the forefront of steroid testing in the 1980s, but at the same time, the rumors were deafening that Nebraska was a chemical factory that made the BALCO boys look like they were dispensing Pez. Yeah, everyone was doing them at the time, but Osborne and his training staff went out of their way to denounce the practice despite all the rumblings that everything wasn't exactly kosher.

Back in the 1980s and early 90s, steroids were part of the deal. You couldn’t swing a Lyle Alzado without hitting a juiced up offensive line. Now, in today’s day and age when we’re supposed to care about steroids, and when we’re supposed to care about cleaning things up, Osborne’s return marks a chance to potentially do something big.

We all say we don’t want steroids around and want to see games decided on ability, and not a pill or syringe, but in reality, that only applies to certain sports. Football seems to get a free pass. We know human beings aren’t supposed to be 6-4, 255 pounds and run a 4.45 40. We know that linemen have gone from using steroids to become hulking 280 pound sides of beef, to now growing into 300+ pound athletes who can run and hit equally well. But if part of the sports world could somehow gloss over the running joke that was the Barry Bonds home run chase, then the entire sports world doesn’t appear to want anything to touch its beloved football.

And that’s where Osborne can make a difference.

He’s in charge of making the Husker fans happy by building a superpower again, and he could very well do that. But with his stature and Washington contacts, he has a chance to make a real change by stepping up the overall drug testing policies for his program, and by challenging the rest of the Big 12 and the rest of college football to follow suit. Introducing legislation is one thing, but putting it in action and making it actually work is another.

You can also tell he’s on something if he taps his foot twice when asked a question … Speaking of performance enhancers, whenever you hear announcers glow about a player who sets program records in the weight room, or in some sort of a strength and conditioning test, a mental red flag had better instantly go up.

But I’ll still take my chances with Joe Montana under center … Notre Dame wore its cool green jerseys against USC to honor the 30th anniversary of the 1977 championship team and also to inspire a possible upset. Everyone was hoping the Irish would play like that ’77 team, and it did. Of course, the 1977 team is full of guys in their 50s.

Not worrying about the current interest fiasco is … Boston College. It’s just renting that spot at number two.

He might go on to win several Super Bowls, but good luck topping Bridget Moynahan and Gisele BundchenRemember back in the early 1990s when everyone tried to make Harold Miner into the next Michael Jordan, mainly because he could jump out of the gym, had the same look, height and build as the Chicago superstar? The media even dubbed him “Baby Jordan.” At around the same time, Florida State QB Casey Weldon was being called by some as the next Joe Montana, mainly because he looked like the NFL legend. Pro Football Weekly’s 1992 Draft Preview even said Weldon had “Joe Montana-like qualities.” Let’s not do the same thing with Boston College QB Matt Ryan.

I’m a huge fan of his, and I truly believe he’ll be a starter in the NFL for the next ten years. But now he’s being talked about as the possible top pick in the 2008 Draft, and while he’s fantastic, I can’t help but think that somewhere in the subconscious minds of many scouts is Ryan’s physical similarities to Tom Brady. They’re both tall, strong leaders who wear No. 12 and play in the Boston area. You think I’m crazy? Watch how many times Brady’s name comes up in the analysis of Ryan between now and April.

Yeah, but you too could throw 20 TD passes if all you had to do was chuck it up into the air for Randy Moss … It’s such a shame that Charlie Weis left New England a few years ago depriving us of a chance to see if Tom Brady could ever reach his potential. It’s too bad his career has gone into the tank without his former tutor.  

Off the topic … If I’m the Oakland Raiders, I find some sort of way to get go after Randy Moss and a portion of his salary back from the time spent with the Silver and Black. Lost in all the Patriot love was how it’s now obvious that Moss was completely dogging it over the last few years.

We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1! We’re No. 1! … Baylor assistant football coach Eric Schnupp was charged with disorderly conduct and reckless exposure for whizzing on a bar at a place called Scruffy Murphy’s in Waco. On the plus side, it’s one of the first times all year a Bear hit its intended target.

Of course, there were four million other reasons helped ease the transition … Alright all you self-righteous media types, it’s time to apologize for the way you overreacted to Nick Saban’s bailing on the Miami Dolphins. Give him credit for realizing that NFL coaching is about the luck of the draw. If you don’t have the players, there’s absolutely nothing you can do. In college, you simply go out and recruit the position you need to strengthen. Free agency only goes so far in the NFL, if you have to go with the lousy cards you’re dealt, you’re screwed no matter who you are.

It’s also time to admit that maybe, possibly, it wasn’t that Steve Spurrier couldn’t coach in the NFL, it’s that he was stuck with an awful team to play with. Granted, he had a big hand in the team stinking, but it’s not like he’s funnin’ ‘n’ gunnin’ at South Carolina. The man can coach. Last time I checked, Joe Gibbs is a pretty decent coach, and he hasn’t exactly set the NFL world on fire after his return.

And if it’s in the studio, there’s technically no reason to play that opening song about coming to the city … ESPN’s College GameDay continues to be the gold standard of all football pregame shows, college or pro, and is a solid second behind the brilliant TNT and Charles Barkley’s NBA studio coverage. With that said, the idea of going to the site of the big game is a bit played out. I joke about the Blackledge food bit, but the GameDay shows should have a little bit of that style and get more of the flavor of the campus and the environment. As it’s put together now, the actual site the show is at doesn’t matter. It’s just a different set of fans yelling woooooo.

Scoring defense … It’s time to tweak the way the stats are compiled. Ohio State gave up 17 points to Michigan State, with all 17 being added to the scoring defense totals. The Buckeyes still lead the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 7.88 points per game, but it’s actually 6.125 considering the two Spartan touchdowns came from the D. The 24-17 win over MSU wasn’t a proper indicator to the rest of the nation of just how strong this OSU defense is.

Don’t fall for the trap the pollsters do. Ohio State lost all its defensive stars last year, but got back offensive players everyone had heard of like Troy Smith, Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez. The Buckeyes were voted No. 1 without much of a fight. Flip it this year. Now the defense is as loaded as last year’s offense was, while the offense is filling in the gaps. Just because defense isn’t always sexy, that’s no reason to assume the team isn’t great.

“Then, after a period of being "there for you", we slowly remove the two words "for you", and we're just (Makes a "ta-da!" gesture) "there"”.… I told you that West Virginia was going to slip and slide its way into the national title game, and last week was step one of the wheels going in motion. I’m telling you, it’s all setting up perfectly. After starting out ninth, the Mountaineers moved up to seventh after South Florida, South Carolina and Kentucky lost.  Boston College is going to lose at least once, Arizona State, Oregon and the rest of the Pac 10 are going to start picking each other off, Ohio State still has to deal with at Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, and at Michigan, Oklahoma is looking like a team begging to get tagged, and LSU could have problems with a trip to Alabama or in the SEC title game. As we all know, it’s about when, not if, you lose.

You have to ask me nicely.  You see, Danny, I can deal with the bullets and the bombs and the blood.  I can deal with the heat and the stress and the fear.  I don't want money and I don't want medals” .I want is to be able to finish the line from A Few Good Men when describing the Oregon all-white uniforms worn last week. Oregon football is like a mid-range hot chick. Along with unnecessarily changing its clothes far too often, it’s fast, loud and exciting, but you know it’s not going to last and will end up breaking your heart out of the blue.

And not one shot of Judd in the bunch …  The press release just came across. CBS will televise Kentucky’s next two games against Mississippi State and Vanderbilt as the SEC showcases of the day after ruling that 3,391 cuts to the Wildcat Dance Team weren’t enough.

“Mattingly, I thought I told you to shave those sideburns!” ,,, It’s taken half the year, but I finally found the player worthy of being the Heisman front-runner. If I gave you a player who led the nation in passing efficiency for a top five caliber team in a premier conference, was seventh in total offense, threw 17 touchdown passes, 1,711 yards, three interceptions, ran for 578 yards and ten touchdowns, with at least one in every game, and carried the ball 125 of the team’s 267 attempts, you’d probably make him a Heisman leader, right? Florida’s Tim Tebow is carrying Florida right now, and more than Michigan’s Mike Hart, is the nation’s most valuable player, along with being one of the most outstanding. Oregon’s Dennis Dixon has thrown for 1,728 yards and 16 touchdown passes with three interceptions, and has rushed for 416 yards and seven scores, but he hasn’t had to do what Tebow has.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength

There’s never any guarantee that a team will be amazing when its star returns for a senior season rather than go off to make his riches in the pros. Andre Woodson might be making himself a fortune by leading Kentucky to a huge year, while Brian Brohm, as good as he has been, hasn’t been able to carry Louisville. Even so, the college football landscape would be far different if the players had to stay a full four years before going pro. Every year around this time, I like to go back and look at what the season would be like if everyone had come back. You can “what if?” something like this to death, but I’ll keep it in the land of the likely.

10. Wake Forest goes from good to possibly special
As is, the run defense has been amazing, and it would’ve been a brick wall had tackling machine Jon Abbate not foolishly left early to became a Houston Texan. Would he have been the difference in the season-opening losses to Boston College and Nebraska? Maybe not against the Eagles, but he likely would’ve been the difference against the Huskers when just one extra big defensive play was needed late.

9. Notre Dame wouldn’t be dead last in rushing
Darius Walker stunned Charlie Weis and Notre Dame when he said he was leaving after his junior year. After not getting draft, he’s barely hanging in the league as a Houston Texan. Had he been back, Notre Dame would still likely be 1-7 to start, but the offense would be far better, and it wouldn’t be 119th in the nation on the ground averaging 34 yards per game. Walker’s presence would’ve eased the transition for Jimmy Clausen.

8. Arkansas would be in the thick of the SEC race

The Hogs lost to Alabama because it couldn’t get enough pressure on QB John Parker Wilson and didn’t get enough production from the secondary. The same goes for the late loss to Kentucky and against Auburn, when the Wildcats were able to come up with a key final drive to pull off the win. Star DE Jamaal Anderson and CB Chris Houston would’ve been the difference in at least two of those three losses, if not all three. The Hogs would probably have been 6-1 or 5-2 at worst instead of 4-3.

USC would still be unbeaten
Patrick Turner was decent against Stanford, and tight end Fred Davis was tremendous, as John David Booty threw for 364 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. The Trojans needed one big playmaker to change things around and put the game away, and that likely would’ve been Dwayne Jarrett. Stanford wouldn’t have had an answer.

6. Oklahoma would get an even bigger start from Sam Bradford
Would Oklahoma have beaten Colorado if Adrian Peterson was still running the ball in Sooner uniform? The Sooners were held to just 118 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Allen Patrick, but that’s Allen Patrick. If Peterson can carve up Chicago like that, then he likely would’ve found some room to move against the Buffs.

5. California would’ve been unbeaten
Marshawn Lynch would’ve joined forces with Justin Forsett to take over all the offensive workload from Kevin Riley in the Oregon State game, while the Bear ground game wouldn’t have been held to 67 yards by UCLA.

4. LSU doesn’t lose to Kentucky
Do you really think Les Miles would’ve run the ball four times in overtime if JaMarcus Russell was still under center? Matt Flynn only completed 17 of 35 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown against the Tigers.

3. Ohio State would be number two, and no one would think boo about it
The defense would’ve still been the defense, ranking number one in the nation in the top categories. Now picture the Ohio State offense, which is right now averaging a respectable 415 yards per game, with Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, and Antonio Pittman to go along with Chris Wells and Brian Robiskie? OSU would still be unbeaten, and the results would’ve been truly frightening.

2. Florida would be number one from the start, but would’ve still lost to LSU
The Gator pass defense is giving up 257 yards per game, got picked apart by Kentucky’s Andre Woodson, and hasn’t been anything special ever since stuffing Western Kentucky in week one. DE Jarvis Moss would’ve certainly helped an already solid pass rush, Brandon Siler would’ve been a boost for the run defense, and Reggie Nelson and Ryan Smith would’ve certainly been a big plus for the secondary. There’s no way Auburn QB Brandon Cox would’ve been as efficient as the Tiger win, and it would’ve have been pounded on for 247 yards and against LSU. However, remember, LSU would’ve had JaMarcus Russell.

1. We’d have an all-timer of a Heisman race
Along with Mike Hart, Andre Woodson, Graham Harrell and Colt Brennan, throw Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Marshawn Lynch, and JaMarcus Russell into the Heisman mix. Erik Ainge would be stronger with Robert Meachem back, John David Booty would’ve been a candidate with Dwayne Jarrett to throw to, and Arizona State’s Rudy Carpenter would’ve become more of a sleeper with Zach Miller to throw to. Arkansas would’ve certainly been better, meaning Darren McFadden would be still in the hunt.

The current juniors who’ll be analyzed in next year’s column. The ten top juniors who are all but certain to be gone are … 1) Darren McFadden, RB Arkansas, 2) Calais Campbell, DE Miami, 3) DeSean Jackson, WR California, 4) Tyson Jackson, DE LSU,  5) Kenny Phillips, S Miami, 6) Derrick Harvey, DE Florida, 7) Rey Maualuga, LB USC, 8) Malcolm Jenkins, CB Ohio State, 9) Steve Slaton, RB West Virginia, 10) James Laurinaitis, LB Ohio State

Nuggets for the upcoming week, now made with white meat, at participating restaurants …
- Hawaii is averaging 464 passing yards per game. New Mexico State is averaging 317 passing yards a game. Enjoy.
- The award for the best remaining game that you’re not remotely interested in comes December 1st when Florida Atlantic goes to Troy to
likely decide the Sun Belt title.
- In case you’re snoozing, Wake Forest has won five straight and has a great chance to make some big noise over the final five games helped by home games against North Carolina and NC State. No, the Demon Deacons aren’t going to win a second straight ACC title, but they’re for real.
- The SMU defense has been a special kind of bad over the last three games, giving up 308 yards and five scores to UTEP, 209 yards and three scores to Southern Miss, and 361 yards and four touchdowns to Matt Forte and Tulane. Tulsa and the nation’s third ranked offense are up next, but the game to watch out for is in three weeks at Houston on November 4th. SMU doesn’t have the linebacker speed to keep up with Anthony Alridge.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Casey Affleck ... Underrated: Johnny Drama
2) Overrated: Ellen   … Underrated: Mutts & Moms
3) Overrated: The SEC East race ... Underrated: The SEC West race
4) Overrated: Cheryl ... Underrated: Larry
5) Overrated: South Florida at two ... Underrated: South Florida at ten

My Heisman ballot this week would be … I vote based on a combination of three things: Most valuable player, most outstanding player, and the signature player of the season. I might wildly change my mind weekly, but I’ll sort it all out at the end. 1) Tim Tebow, QB Florida, 2) Matt Ryan, QB Boston College, 3) Mike Hart, RB Michigan, 4) Dennis Dixon, QB Oregon, 5) Michael Crabtree, WR Texas Tech

“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. (Will there ever be a rainbow? Yes! 2-1 last week for the first time all year. 7-15 overall.) … 1) Michigan State -3 over Iowa. 2) Ohio State -3.5 over Penn State, 3) Toledo -3.5 over Northern Illinois

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault …
 like the USC charter flight on the way to Notre Dame, I couldn’t figure out how to land the thing.