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ASK CFN ... The Flakiest Teams
Michigan State RB Javon Ringer
Michigan State RB Javon Ringer
Posted Nov 2, 2007

Which team in each conference is the "flakiest?" Is Tim Tebow the most hated player in college football history? Just how nasty is Notre Dame's schedule? These questions and more in the latest ASK CFN.

By Pete Fiutak
Fire over your questions to me at I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read. Any e-mails sent to this address may be published or edited unless requested otherwise. (Please put ASK CFN in the subject line, and PLEASE keep the questions short ... it makes my life easier.)

Even though he is only a sophomore, do you think that Tim Tebow is the most disliked college football player ever?  No matter where you go across the country or who you talk to, bring up the subject of Tim Tebow to a college football fan and you get a negative reaction. Outside of maybe Kellen “The Soldier” Winslow Jr., I can’t think of another college football player that has been disliked by the fans of every other college football team across the nation.   I thought about Brian Bosworth, but college football is so much bigger now than it was in the 80s with all the TV coverage, internet message boards, etc.   Who am I forgetting? – Steve

A: The only comparison I can come up with is the Duke basketball player of your choice. Maybe it’s Chris Collins, Shane Battier, or Steve Wojohowski. Christian Laettner. The other comparison is Steve Spurrier, who has everyone’s respect, but non-Gator and Gamecock SEC fans truly despise.

To me, Tebow is a true warrior, often to his detriment, who takes on too much unnecessary punishment. I’d take him quarterbacking my team any day of the week, and if there was a college football MVP race, I’d think he’d be right in the hunt alongside Matt Ryan. With that said, the rah-rah, go-get-‘em types tend to get dogged and become easy targets for a world that likes its quarterbacks to be cool, calm generals. The Boz was hated because he was flamboyant, but like Tebow, he could truly play. Winslow was hated because he was a blowhard, but it doesn’t seem to be at the same level.

Historically, the only other player I could come up with was former Miami Hurricane WR Michael Irvin, who became a lightning rod for those great teams, but he wasn’t near a national figure like Tebow or Boz.

Past ASK CFNs ...  
- A little BCS history
- Should USC be in the title hunt?
- The best RB you don't know
- What's wrong with Texas A&M? 
- How bad is the Big Ten?
- Will Miles run to Michigan?
- Supersized Season Premier of ASK CFN
 The most loved & hated teams
- Is Miami still a power?
- CFN's West Virginia ranking
- Is Booty Heisman-worthy?
- The USC Schedule
- The Big Ten Network
- The most underrated head coach
- The Top Ten NFL receiver prospects 

- Why did Brady Quinn slide?
- The Virginia Tech situation

- Creating a MWest-WAC super-league
Mid-majors who should be in the bigs
The potential new superpower
The 5 best coaching jobs
March Madness for football?
Potential Bowl Shockers
Tim Brewster?
Fox's BCS broadcasts
- Is Brady really better than Russell?
Hot & Cold Bowl Programs
- How ineffective was Reggie Ball?
- A 2007 Top 10 Mock Draft
Can Michigan win a national title?
- BCS possibilities for several teams
- West Virginia schedule, BCS rules
- Toughest coaching jobs
- Hidden Heisman 5

- Is Temple worst ever?
- Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco
- Has Bob Stoops lost it?
- Is Colorado done?

IF Ohio State and Boston College play for the National Championship does that prove that it's better (in terms of playing for a National Championship) to be a good team in a mediocre conference than a very good team from a strong conference? – Scott

A: Who are these “very good” teams that are assumed to be better than Ohio State and Boston College? Call me na├»ve, but I truly believe the Buckeyes and Eagles are the real deal and would, at the very least, be one of the leaders in a race for a SEC or Pac 10 title. Just because their conferences aren’t the best, that doesn’t mean the teams aren’t elite. By the way, based on cumulative opposition, Ohio State and Boston College have tougher schedules than LSU (according to the NCAA). To answer your question, it's far, far better to not play in the SEC or a tough league in a given year. Go unbeaten in a BCS conference, roll the dice on playing for a title.

Admittedly Notre Dame is miserable this season, but in forty years of being a serious college football fan I've can't remember a team opening with a tougher schedule.  No 1-AA schools, no mid-majors, not even any BCS conference bottom feeders; eight straight games with no bye week against quality opponents.  Is there a team in the nation this year you think would have been 8-0 after playing ND's schedule to date?  How many of the top 25 teams do you think would have been at .500 or above playing those eight teams on consecutive Saturdays to start the season? – Calhoun

A: Georgia Tech, at Penn State, at Michigan, Michigan State, at Purdue, at UCLA, Boston College, USC, and now, Navy and Air Force. That’s ten straight games against bowl bound teams, and it’s the toughest I can ever remember seeing. That doesn’t excuse being dead last in the nation in total offense, dead last in sacks allowed, second to last in scoring and passing efficiency, and deal last in rushing. No, I don’t think anyone goes unbeaten against this schedule because of the cumulative effects of tough game after tough game after tough game.

Any insight as to how the heck the biggest Big Ten game of the week ended up on the Big Ten Network and not on ABC, ESPN, ESPN 2, while much lesser games were picked up by the bigger networks? This is nuts! – TE

A: Every Big Ten team has to play a few league games on the network, and this one seems to have worked out badly for ESPN and ABC. This is the first time this year one of the really, really big games won’t be seen by a large portion of America, although people were also ticked to start the year when Appalachian State’s win over Michigan. The fight with Comcast continues to be nasty with the Big Ten Network continuing to insist it should be part of the basic package. Comcast thinks it should be part of the sports package, meaning users should have to pay more to get it. While the football side of things has gone relatively smoothly, wait until basketball season. If you want a lot of the better Big Ten hoops games, look into DirecTV.

What would you say is the one team in each conference that is the flakiest year after year?  They could beat anyone, but they could also lose to anyone (for teams in the non-BCS leagues, maybe you could modify "could beat anyone" to "could beat anyone in their league").  Michigan State and Clemson are the first ones to come to my mind. - Z. Morris

A: ACC: Clemson. There are few better teams when the lights are on, but consistency is always a problem.
Big East: South Florida. Just wait until the weather starts to get colder up north.
Big 12: Oklahoma State. The team that got whacked by Troy is still in the Big 12 title chase.
Big Ten: Michigan State. The epitome of the flaky team.
Conference USA: UTEP. This year is might be Southern Miss after losing to Rice, but UTEP under Mike Price has been in the hunt every year only to collapse in crunch time.
MAC: Bowling Green. So frustrating, the pieces are there to be a MAC powerhouse, but it hasn’t been able to turn the corner.
Mountain West: Wyoming. Tantalizingly close in the Mountain West race because it usually comes up with a few big wins at home, it can’t come up with the consistent wins on the road.
Pac 10: UCLA. How do you get obliterated by Utah, lose to Notre Dame, and beat Cal?  How do you beat USC last year, and get run over by Florida State?
SEC: Georgia. Just when you think it’s a world-beater, it comes up with a strange loss. Just when you think it’s average, it beats someone really, really good.
Sun Belt: Middle Tennessee. The makeup to beat Vanderbilt a few years ago and hang with good teams on the non-conference schedule, but it doesn’t have it when it comes to pulling off a title. Yeah, it tied for the Sun Belt championship last year, but it really lost it to Troy.
WAC: Fresno State. Where are all the WAC titles under Pat Hill? The program that’s so great at going on the road and losing close games to good BCS teams can’t get it done lately in the Boise State-dominated league.

Ok Vince Young fooled me. He tricked me into believing that Texas was actually an elite program with his phenomenal performances in two Rose Bowls and one NC game. I thought this team would have new swagger even after Vince left and for a while in the 2006 season it seemed like they did they did. I was able to assuage my worries about this team losing three games by just saying "If Colt was there" and "One of those losses was to the number one team in the nation" (even though I thought that buckeye team was overrated all year). But now this season after a sub par performance against the worst Nebraska team in 40 years I can't deny it any longer. We are back to the same soft underachieving program with delusions of elite performances as we were Before VY carried us to glory. I would like to know what you think is the reason a school in a small state with much less talent in their backyard like Ohio State can be so consistent every year but we can't even beat our rivals up north on a consistent basis who do not have near the resources we do? In my opinion there is no reason Texas shouldn’t be able to emulate what USC has done and I think that our inability to do so starts with coaching. – RP

A: There are a few different things at play here. First of all, Ohio is one of the most populous states in the nation and is every bit the football talent machine that Texas and Florida are. O.K., maybe just a hair below Florida, but Ohio State is hardly, hardly a school in a “small state.” Secondly, the bizarre part about Texas is that it didn’t fall because of the loss of Vince Young. Of course, you don’t get better by losing VY, but Colt McCoy was arguably the best player in the Big 12 last year before getting hurt and has been a warrior all season long. What McCoy can’t do is carry the team by himself when things break down. Young was an all-timer of a superstar who’ll never, ever be replaced, able to mask all the Texas issues you’re still concerned about. While Texas might not be in the national title hunt, it was close to playing for the Big 12 title last year, and despite the ugly showing for three quarters against Nebraska, is still one of the league's top teams.

If Randy Shannon had told the Hurricanes to rush the endzone a la Mark Richt, wouldn't the college football world be blowing up with righteous anger? – CP

A: Are you asking this based on coaching skin color, program or both? If this is a question about programs, there would rightfully be “righteous anger” from the media if Miami had done what Georgia even if Larry Coker was still the coach. Miami has a history of issues and the reputation of brashness that could incite a major on-field fight by doing something like that. Memories of the Florida International brawl of last year are still fresh, while Georgia doesn’t have that history of issues or a past. It does now, and now it can’t do anything like that again, but that’s what was so great about what the Dawgs did. You’d never, ever have expected that from Mark Richt’s team. It was brilliant.

If Michigan and Ohio State win the next two weeks and Michigan tops Ohio State in Ann Arbor, what are the chances a one loss Ohio State gets an at large BCS bid (giving the Big 10 two BCS berths, to the fury of fans of other conferences)?  Aside from the Hawaii/Boise State winner, only Arizona State and Kansas may potentially be one loss teams without an automatic bid, with the one loss for all these teams coming in the last few weeks of the season.  Which one of these teams get the open spot, or will a 2-loss team pass them? – CS

A: If Michigan wins the Big Ten title and Ohio State has one loss, outside of a possible Oregon - Michigan rematch, why would fans have a right to be furious? How could you say that these two don't beling in BCS games? Unless LSU loses the SEC Championship game, the SEC won't get two in, and it's unlikely the Big East gets a second team into the top ten. The slot will be three for a second Big Ten team.

This year again truly reinforced how critical it is to get your quarterback playing at a high level.  Most of your top teams all have had outstanding play at the quarterback position.  (Dennis Dixon, Chase Daniel, Matt Ryan ect....).  Which brings me to my question.  Why or how do some programs get consistently great playmaking from their quarterback position, while other programs it takes 1 or 2 seasons for the quarterback to start making plays?  For example look at the kid at Oklahoma, who is having a great year, and then you look at a team like Oregon State who seems to constantly struggle with a first year quarterbacks.  I know powerhouse programs attract better athletes (PLEASE don't mention the word recruit; they don't recruit they select), but I don't think the answer is that simple.  Is it?!!  - JC

A: Sometimes there are players already in place and the new guy needs to wait his turn, other times there are open battles for a spot for a young player to step in early on, and sometimes, in the case of Sam Bradford, who has two NFL receivers to throw to, a loaded backfield, and one of the five best offensive lines in America to work with, everything is in place. It’s all about getting a guy to fit a system or a style, and some guys get it faster than others. Some guys get better offensive lines than others.

The number one factor in a quarterback’s success is time. How many times have you seen someone get a hand on Tom Brady or Peyton Manning this year? At the highest level, those two make the right reads instantly and get rid of the ball in a hurry, but at the collegiate level, it’s all about the mismatches on the lines. For example, Oklahoma and Ohio State each have dominant lines, Bradford and Todd Boeckman, respectively, don’t get touched, and they get all the time they want to look great. When you hit a college quarterback, you make them screw up. The older a quarterback gets, the fewer mistakes he'll usually make and the better his reads will be. Coaches tend to limit what they give young quarterbacks to deal with.

Who is stronger?   The top 6 teams in the Big East (WVU, UConn, USF, Rutgers, Cincy, Louisville) or the SEC East division (Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Kentucky, Vanderbilt). – KV

A: Go by the standings. Right now, on a neutral field, would you take …
- Connecticut vs. Georgia … Georgia
- West Virginia vs. Tennessee … West Virginia
- Rutgers vs. South Carolina … South Carolina (but I’d call this even)
- Louisville vs. Florida … Florida
- Cincinnati vs. Kentucky … Kentucky
- South Florida vs. Vanderbilt … South Florida

I’d take the SEC East, but remember, you’re taking the worst team in a division vs. a mid-range team in a conference. Make it Syracuse vs. Vandy and it’s not even a close comparison.