Cavalcade of Whimsy - The Coaching Situations
Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman
Texas A&M head coach Mike Sherman
Posted Nov 27, 2007

Mike Sherman? While he could turn out to be great for Texas A&M, did the program have to hire him so quickly? Breaking down the coaching vacancies and hires, like Houston Nutt going to Ole Miss, next year's Heisman race, the two stars left out of the Doak Walker Award voting, and more 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 | Week 8
Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11, Part 1 | Week 11, Part 2 | Week 12

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … like Alabama football after losing to UL Monroe, and like America after the 9/11 and Pearl Harbor attacks, the “catastrophic event” of a column had to rebound. As you’ll see, like the Tide against Auburn, it didn’t.

“Oh, I see. This is all part of the theme, right? Sure. And you're just stage actors pretending to be filthy drunkards. Bravo. Bravo, everyone. Long live the theater.” …
(to the 2007 college football season so far). Clap, clap, clap (make the clap faster) clap, clap, clap, clap (get out of chair while wildly applauding) clap, clap, clap, CLAP, CLAP, CLAP (whistling and hooting in appreciation) CLAP, CLAP, CLAP.

If you haven’t had fun this season, and if you haven’t woken up every Saturday morning excited about the Christmas present of games about to be unwrapped, then I, and a vat of Paxil, can’t help you.

The equivalent of camping outside a Best Buy on Thanksgiving night to be the first in the store Friday morning to buy a Walkman …
It’s not that Texas A&M hired Mike Sherman, he might turn out to be solid, but it’s that it had to happen RIGHT NOW. At the very least, couldn’t there have been more of a search? It didn’t need to be done as Dennis Franchione was turning in his key to the executive bathroom. Confused Aggie fans are right in wanting to see just who might have been available after the bowls are over.

“I'm so scared! Oh no, the Germans are coming after me. They're so big and strong! Oh, protect me from the Germans! The Germans.” …
There’s no truth to the rumor that Bob Stoops and Mack Brown spent Monday afternoon frantically padding their résumé on after their deepest, darkest fears have come true: The Shermanator is in College Station.

“A deja vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix.  It happens when they change something.” …
Isn’t it great? We finally get to end the speculation and see Oklahoma actually have to play Missouri … uh, oh yeah. Well, the debates can finally stop as Virginia Tech and Boston College will settle it on the field after … what? Oh, that’s right. At least the Conference USA title game should be interesting to see what Kevin Smith and the UCF offense can do against Tulsa and it’s porous … really? 44-23 Knights? So what, exactly, is the reason behind playing these three conference championship games if these they already played each other?

Will Coach Michigan For Food …
So, Michigan fans, you still want Les Miles? He has one of the three most talented teams in America, along with USC and Oklahoma, and couldn’t get the job done at home against a mediocre Arkansas team. Michigan doesn’t know anything about having loaded teams that can’t come through in crunch time, does it? (cough, cough) Bill Frieder (cough, cough).

Now that Mike Sherman is off the board …
I’ve got the ideal Michigan head coach: Dennis Franchione. Oh sure, he might not do much in conference play and might lead the program to a consistent fourth place finish in the league very year, but at least the guy knows how to win a rivalry game.

But I’m still most afraid of the Viva Viagra guys  …
The ads from a four-day college football weekend pop quiz
1)  Who’s creepier, Burt Reynolds, fresh from his stint at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, in the Dell ad, or the little girl obsessed with the mirrors that supposedly make a TV better?
2) What brand of TV has those mirrors, and do you remotely care enough to make you want to buy that TV.
3) Beyonce in the DirecTV “Upgrade” ad or the woman at the end of the electric razor ad with the guy with a medicine cabinet full of his own heads? Discuss.

What's 4,000 yards between friends? …
I just filled out my ballot for the Doak Walker Award voting Darren McFadden 1, Ray Rice 2, Mike Hart 3. Those were my only three choices. I guarantee you will never again see a year when two, 2,000-yard backs couldn’t even make the Doak Walker list of finalists. I’m not saying UCF’s Kevin Smith and Tulane’s Matt Forte are the most talented backs in America, but Smith might end his 2007 season with 2,500 rushing yards and Forte finished up with 2,127 yards and 23 touchdowns. Even if they were on the ballot I’d still vote McFadden first, but Forte has rushed for 402 more yards than the Arkansas star with eight more touchdowns, and Smith has run for 439 more yards and ten more scores. I don’t care if you’re playing in the Sun Belt, if you’re putting up the numbers these two did, more credit is deserved.

"The peanut is neither a pea nor a nut. Discuss."1) Now that Fresno State is 44th in the latest BCS rankings and Florida State is 45th, who’s the real FSU? 2) If it’s the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas, then why are they called MU and KU respectively?

“So, that's it then, hmm? Just like a young man coming in for a quickie. I feel so unsatisfied.” …
If it’s Missouri and West Virginia for the national title, fine. I don’t need one of the preseason big names like Ohio State, USC or LSU to be in it. Not this season. However, if ever there was a year in need of a playoff, this is it.

On the morning of January 8th, are you going to be completely sold on your national champion? We can still have all the drama we’ve had all season long if a playoff is almost only limited to conference champions. Put in the six BCS champions, the highest ranked independent or non-BCS champion, and leave one at-large slot open for the highest ranked team left on the board. I firmly believe that you shouldn’t play for the national title if you can’t win your conference, but I’ll concede just a little to the hottest-team theorists out there.

Think about how great this would be:
- Missouri/Oklahoma winner vs. Hawaii
- West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech/Boston College winner
- Ohio State vs. LSU/Tennessee winner
- USC vs. Georgia

The regular season would still mean absolutely everything, and there’d be no room for any whining or complaining because every BCS team will have had a shot, you’re giving one little guy a chance, and you’re acknowledging one other team that was fantastic at the end of the year because it jelled or got healthy.

But don’t be banking on ol’ No. 5 to be “bringing the wood” for anyone but the Miami Dolphins …
Not to get ahead of ourselves, but the 2008 Heisman race should be out of this world. Assume the front-runners will be: Florida QB Tim Tebow, Missouri QB Chase Daniel, Ohio State RB Chris Wells, West Virginia QB Pat White, Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell, Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, Texas QB Colt McCoy, Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree, Boise State RB Ian Johnson, Wisconsin RB P.J. Hill, Kansas QB Todd Reesing, and USC QB Mitch Mustain or Mark Sanchez. Now imagine what the race will be like if Darren McFadden, Steve Slaton, Rashard Mendenhall, Jonathan Stewart, Jamaal Charles, Felix Jones, Ray Rice and/or Kevin Smith don’t bolt early for the big league.

Chris Myers will be following Colt Brennan at the end to see if he proposes to some cheerleader …
There’s no argument when it comes to Hawaii and the BCS. Remember, we’re not talking about the national title or a playoff here; we’re talking about a glorified exhibition game. If Hawaii goes 12-0, then it should absolutely without question have one of the BCS spots (which it’ll automatically get by finishing in the top 12).

Of course, it helps when you play almost no one outside of your own conference …
You want to know why alumni, fans and administrations have no more patience and want to crank things up to 11 at the soonest possible moment? Missouri and Kansas. Those two took a few years to get to a national title level, but they did it. If they could ascend to the heights they did this season, then you can understand why Nebraska and Texas A&M was so itchy to try to capture the same sort of magic.

Maybe the wealthy alumni of the rest of the SEC can pool their money to buyout Meyer’s contract …
Notice all those Florida seniors kissing their parents on Senior Day? No? That’s because there weren’t that many. There won’t be the mass exit of underclassmen to the NFL like there was last year, so hopefully you enjoyed this 9-3 Gator season because it’s not happening again for a while. Of course, fans in Athens are saying the same thing about their Dawgs, too.

Would Missouri be Hillary or Rudy? …
Be honest. You’re fine with the presidential candidates, but if it weren’t for the rules and restrictions, you’d rather see Bill Clinton vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger for the big prize. You’re fine with the likelihood of West Virginia and Missouri, but if it weren’t for the rules and restrictions, you’d rather see LSU play USC for the big prize.

That's great to give something back like that. I'd love to find time to do volunteer work. Just the other day I saw this golden retriever that-- He had like a gimp, and he couldn't really-- It made me feel terrible. I wish there was something I could do.”
The NCAA needs to put in a rule against going for two when a team is embarrassingly behind. Texas Southern, down 59-6, trying for a two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter against Houston made me feel all sad inside.

This is the worst-looking game I ever saw. You watch a game like this, I’ll be you get a free bowl of soup. …
If Oregon vs. UCLA wasn’t the worst college football game played in the last decade, I want to see what was. I sat through Gigli from start to finish just to see how bad a movie could be. If you didn’t see the Ducks and Bruins, you have to try to find a copy of the game somewhere just so you can say you saw it. In the 16-0 UCLA win, the two teams combined for 22 first downs, 368 yards of total offense, 22 punts and six turnovers. Oregon was five of 22 on third down conversions, while UCLA was two of 17. The signature of this tour-de-force was the passing from both sides with Oregon completing 11 of 39 passes for 105 yards and three interceptions, and UCLA completing four of 17 passes for 64 yards and two interceptions. Trust me, the game was even worse than the stats.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
More coaching openings will pop up over the next several days, Colorado State is a sure-thing, but for right now, here are the 12 key openings and the overviews of their situations.

12. SMU
Prestige Factor: Stepping-stone job
Ideal Candidate Would Have …
success at the D-I level as a top-notch offensive coordinator or with an exciting offense that could work anywhere. Previous success at some level in Texas is a must.
They Should Think About … Rice head coach David Bailiff
The Skinny:
The program has never been able to overcome the 1987 death penalty brought on by the sins of the heyday, but the team is in good enough shape for someone to step in right away and succeed in Conference USA play. Former head man Phil Bennett didn’t have much success, but this was supposed to be a big year with the building blocks he put in place.

11. Northern Illinois
Prestige Factor: A destination for an older head coach, a stepping-stone for a younger one
Ideal Candidate Would Have …
a media-savvy older coach with name recognition and good energy. Being able to own the greater Chicago area is a must.
They Should Think About …
Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo
The Skinny: The stability of Joe Novak for 12 seasons turned the program into a bit of a MAC power that couldn’t get over the hump. The potential is there to make this the MAC’s premier program by getting the huge Chicago alumni base fired up and generating a buzz with a coach who’s not afraid to work the media 24/7. While the Huskies will likely go young, they should take a cue from the immediate success Ohio had with Frank Solich and get a bit of a proven commodity. Injuries killed the team this season; the team can win it all next year.

10. Southern Miss   
Prestige Factor: Decent. The chance is there for a young head coach to up his stock in a hurry.
Ideal Candidate Would Have … fresh ideas. After 14 extremely successful seasons under Jeff Bower, the tradition of great defense isn’t going anywhere. Someone who can upgrade the offensive profile would be nice.
They Should Think About …
Tulsa offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn
The Skinny: With a reputation for wanting to play anyone, anywhere and any time, USM wasn’t afraid to take on the big boys under Bower, and that’s a tradition that must continue. It’s not like the program went into the tank under Bower; it’s still more than good enough to win the Conference USA title right now. However, for all the success, a little bit of new blood won’t be a bad thing.

9. Duke
Prestige Factor: None. It’s considered one of the toughest jobs in America.
Ideal Candidate Would Have …
a quirk. Duke will never be able to get the talents to win the ACC title on skill, but an offensive wizard who can run the spread to near-perfection would throw a scare into the rest of the league. Remember, the program was good back when Steve Spurrier’s offense was rolling.
They Should Think About … Appalachian State head coach Jerry Moore
The Skinny:
If Wake Forest can win an ACC title and if Northwestern can be a consistent competitor in the Big Ten, then Duke can follow the same blueprint. This isn’t an ideal job for a young coach looking to make some noise right away, but getting an established D-IAA star or a decent coordinator (think Al Golden moving from Virginia to Temple) could change things around in a year or two.

8. Baylor
Prestige Factor: None. A coach can make a big name for himself with the slightest bit of success.
Ideal Candidate Would Have …
in-roads in Texas. Baylor is a different type of Big 12 school because of its private status. The coach has to come up with a big-time offensive idea, like Guy Morriss tried to do with the Texas Tech passing attack, only with more success.
They Should Think About … North Texas head coach Todd Dodge
The Skinny:
As far as the tough job openings go, this is far more difficult than Duke because the rest of the South is so nasty. Oklahoma and Texas will be in the national title discussion every year, Oklahoma State/T. Boone U. is improving, and Texas Tech and Texas A&M will always be bowl bound. Forget about the defense. Some alumni might like the idea of Mike Singletary, but the Bears need an effective offense that can outbomb teams on the right day. Trying to get in defensive struggles against Oklahoma and Texas won’t work. Houston’s Art Briles will likely get the gig.

7. Washington State
Prestige Factor: Medium to low. Only Stanford is a tougher Pac 10 situation.
Ideal Candidate Would Have …
the offensive wizard tag. You have to be able to put up consistent points on the board in the Pac 10, and Wazzu has been successful when it’s been able to crank up the offense on everyone. Defense, schmefense; this is the Pac 10.
They Should Think About … Boise State head coach Chris Petersen
The Skinny:
The early talk is about Mike Price coming back to his old stomping grounds, but take a look at how his UTEP teams went into the tank in crunch time during his reign. The program doesn’t have the fan base or the overall cache of the other Pac 10 teams, but the right coach can win there right away. Bill Doba wasn’t bad, but he managed to be on the wrong side of seemingly every close game.

6. Ole Miss
Prestige Factor: Not as much as Ole Miss thinks it has.
Ideal Candidate Would Have Had …
the ability to win right now, but with a realistic eye on building for the future. Even though the program needs time to turn things around, forget about any sort of a five-year building plan under Houston Nutt. As the administration has shown with David Cutcliffe and Ed Orgeron, win now or die.
They Should’ve Thought About … Baltimore Ravens assistant coach Rick Neuheisel
The Skinny: Orgeron actually had the right idea and the right plan in place building from the lines out, and now it'll be up to Nutt to provide some stability and some instant pop after his tumultuous stint at Arkansas. Despite going winless in SEC play, there were enough close losses and enough competitive performances to hope for a relatively quick turnaround under the former Arkansas head man, but it this simply a case of going through someone else's trash? Getting to a bowl in the next two years is a must, as is beating Mississippi State.

5. Georgia Tech
Prestige Factor: Better than you might think. It’s a solid job that opening that’ll attract its share of big names. In a big city with an administration that wants to crank things up to another level right now, Tech should be able to have its pick of several big-time names.
Ideal Candidate Would Have …
the media savvy to win over Atlanta. Georgia is the top dog in the state, even in Atlanta, so it’ll require a charismatic head man who can sell the program as more than just a second-fiddle.
They Should Think About … UCF head coach George O’Leary
The Skinny:
No, Tech isn’t going to go rehire O’Leary. Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp are the likely front-runners, but don’t rule out a shocker of a name being thrown into the mix before all is said and done. Going the pro route actually worked a bit with Gailey, and Tech might at least consider throwing a feeler phone call to Oakland Raider head man Lane Kiffin or Atlanta head coach Bobby Petrino.

Texas A&M
Prestige Factor: Not remotely close to as high as Aggie fans think it is.
Ideal Candidate Would Have Had …
more of a “wow’ factor. Mike Sherman has a nice résumé and should certainly be able to step in and get the Aggies to bowl games every year, but he’s not going to force Oklahoma or Texas to close up shop.
They Should’ve Thought About …
North Carolina head coach Butch Davis
The Skinny:
Sherman certainly knows the program and is part of the Aggie family, but is he really the guy to take the program to that next level it’s been dying to get to for several years? As disappointing and embarrassing as the Dennis Franchione era became, he beat Texas over the last two years. Sherman can be great right away, but he has to come up with wins over the Longhorns right away.

3. Arkansas
Prestige Factor: Relatively high. Depending on who you believe, this is a powder keg of a program ready to blow up, or Houston Nutt basically maxed it out in a nasty SEC West. The next head coach will be walking into an extremely interesting situation.
Ideal Candidate Would Have …
a mega-name. In a conference full of heavyweight head men, the Hogs need someone who won’t blink at the idea of game-planning against Nick Saban and Urban Meyer.
They Should Think About …
North Carolina head coach Butch Davis
The Skinny:
Watch out for this to be Alabama-lite. Arkansas will make a run after several monster names, including a few from the NFL, only to be rebuffed like Bama was last year, although on a much less public scale, before getting a high-powered coordinator like Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher.

2. Nebraska 
Prestige Factor: Obviously great, but this isn’t a job for a big-name coach who’ll want to make the program his. The bigger problem will be the unattainable expectations. Husker fans want to be in the national title hunt every year, but the mid-1990s are long gone and in the new Big 12 world, programs like Missouri and Kansas have become powers.
Ideal Candidate Would Have …
the ability to function in Tom Osborne’s shadow. Nebraska wants a head coach with Husker ties, but it can’t be at the expense of getting the top candidate possible.
They Should Think About …
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez
The Skinny:
It might not have worked, but former athletic director Steve Pederson was right the program needed a fresh coat of paint … to a point. The offense actually worked under Callahan, but the defense went bye-bye, and at a place like Nebraska, that’s inexcusable. It’ll either be LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini or Buffalo head man, and former Husker great, Turner Gill, but Pelini might want to hang around Baton Rouge to see if he could potentially step into a much, much better situation if Les Miles bolts for Ann Arbor.

1. Michigan

Prestige Factor:
The leader and the best. Along with Notre Dame football and North Carolina basketball, it’s the premier job in college sports.
Ideal Candidate Would Have …
the ability to not be starry-eyed when it comes to the Michigan tradition. Urban Meyer was able to blow off the Steve Spurrier factor and make Florida his from the start. Michigan’s new head man can’t get bogged down by trying to play to the crowd. Basically, the program needs a stone-cold killer, a rainmaker who can step in and make everyone do a collective “yeeeeesh.”
They Should Think About …
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops
The Skinny:
Michigan can get almost any college coach it wants outside of Meyer, Nick Saban, Charlie Weis, Jim Tressel and Pete Carroll. The job is that big. I’m not joking when it comes to pursuing Stoops, a former Iowa player who would fit perfectly into the Big Ten, while scaring the bejeebers out of Ohio State. Oklahoma is big; Michigan is bigger. Les Miles is the name at the top of everyone’s list, but don’t be shocked if Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz is in the running late in the game.

Nuggets for the upcoming week, now made with white meat, at participating restaurants …
- The college version of overtime is head-and-shoulders better than the NFL version, but it needs to be tweaked. The drives should start on the 35 instead of the 25 and teams should have to go for two after touchdowns from the start instead of after the second overtime.
- Note to the Rose Bowl: you don’t have to take a Big Ten team if it’s not the champion. The Big Ten – Pac 10 thing only really matters if you get the best teams from each league. If you lose Ohio State to the BCS Championship, take Georgia.
- It's not like a normal free kick, the opposing team needs to have possession first, but couldn’t Kansas have gone for an onside kick after the safety late in the Missouri loss? As crazy as this sounds, if you remember the situation, I thought the safety was actually a plus for KU because it moved the ball out a little bit.
- The most interesting game you didn’t pay attention to last weekend was Tulsa’s win over Rice. Owl QB Chase Clement accounted for 601 yards of total offense as Rice hung 700 on the Golden Hurricane. With Tulsa’s porous defense, the Conference USA title game will be a shootout.
- Tim Tebow is the obvious First Team All-SEC quarterback, but a little love has to go to Tennessee’s Erik Ainge. He put up a whale of a year with a slew of no-name receivers compared to last year’s group.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Chick-fil-A anti-beef ads  ... Underrated: Fast Food Nation
2) Overrated: Fat Joe Montana in the NFL Network ads  … Underrated: Fat Jim Kelly in the ESPN ads
3) Overrated: Playing your stars on special teams ... Underrated: Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray
4) Overrated: Several top job openings ... Underrated: Checking out the contract situation after beating Alabama for a sixth time in a row
5) Overrated: Virginia Tech at No. 6... Underrated: LSU at No. 7 despite beating the Hokies 48-7.

My Heisman ballot this week will be … I'm holding the ballot in my hand. "I hearby designate Tim Tebow, Florida, As my First Choice to receive the Heisman Memorial Trophy, awarded to the most outstanding college football player in the United State for 2007. To the best of my knowledge, he conforms to the rules governing this vote."

My Second Choice is: Chase Daniel, Missouri
My Third Choice is: Pat White, West Virginia

If White or Daniel lose this weekend, I'll put Darren McFadden in the slot.

“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 again. I'm really not this bad if you look at my overall picks for the site, but if actually care about this segment, all you're worried about is consistency one way or the other, and that's me  … 12-24-1 overall.) … 1) Washington +14.5 over Hawaii, 2) Florida Atlantic +15.5 over Troy, 3) Army +14 over Navy

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault …
 I had everything right there for the taking needing just a home win over an average team and a win in a championship game to be in the championship, and then Darren McFadden had other ideas.