Cavalcade of Whimsy - Was Petrino Right?
Bobby Petrino
Bobby Petrino
Posted Dec 18, 2007

Why Bobby Petrino might have done the right thing, steroids and football, ten reasons why LSU will win the national title, coaches bailing early from the bowls, and much, much more in part one of the holiday edition of the 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
Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15

December 18 Cavalcade Part Two ... Every Team's Holiday Wish List

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … I was involved in the breeding and training of dogs so they could tear each other’s flesh apart for sport, and despite being sent away for 23 months, some of the Atlanta Falcons had FREE FIU written on their undershirts. Then I decided to leave because I’d rather be coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks, and now I'm a horrible human being.

At least he’ll get another job if he doesn’t fatten up on fried chicken … Let’s see if I got this right. Atlanta Falcon owner Arthur Blank, for all intents and purposes, canned former head coach Jim Mora because of a joking comment about the University of Washington head coaching gig being a “dream job,” but Bobby Petrino is a jerkweed for leaving a dead team for another job. Makes sense.

All that was missing was the Howard Dean “yeea” … Petrino could win ten national titles at Arkansas, leave to become President of the United States, become a two-time Oscar winner, win People’s Sexiest Man alive three years in a row, and when he dies, the nightly news will open with that Woo Pig Sooey press conference.

All coaches are liars, and Petrino might have taken things to another pondscum sort of level, but all the weeping and gnashing of teeth over the midnight run from Atlanta was misguided and flat-out weird.

Rich Rodriguez bailed on West Virginia before the Fiesta Bowl. No big deal. Houston Nutt ducked out on Arkansas before the Cotton Bowl. Whatever. Petrino leaves the Falcons in a meaningless season, and at the end of the day, gave Blank more time to find a new head man, and he’s considered history’s greatest monster.

When a college coach leaves his program for another opportunity, then you could argue he screwed over the players. After all, every coach goes into living rooms and tells the parents and families of 16-to-17-year-olds that he’ll take care of their sons for the next four or five years. When a pro coach leaves a sinking ship with three games to go in a dead year, it doesn’t matter. You just go get another coach.

The whiny Atlanta Falcons are supposed to be professionals. As the man said, you play to win the game. It shouldn’t matter whether it’s Bobby Petrino, Bobby Bowden or Bobby Brady coaching them, it’s their job, and a very, very well-paid one, to go out and prepare and give their best effort no matter what. Players get cut all the time and life goes on. Coaches get fired all the time and the world keeps spinning. Do you really want a coach who doesn't want you? Move on.

And all their fans expect an SEC title right now … With Petrino entering the mix, the SEC coaching arms race has gone nuclear. Urban Meyer, Phil Fulmer, Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier, Tommy Tuberville, Les Miles, Houston Nutt, Nick Saban, and Petrino. It’s not like Sylvester Croom, Bobby Johnson and Rich Brooks are exactly chopped liver. Try to find a better conference of coaches in the history of the game.

Remember, Belichick was the New York Jet head coach for one day … Enough of the “college coaches can’t handle the NFL” garbage. Steve Spurrier is a punchline when it comes to star college head men and their NFL experiences, but last I checked, Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since coming back to the Redskins.

NFL coaches don’t retire, they get canned. A lousy team fires its coach, it gives the gig to a big-name college guy who’s used to being able to turn things around by recruiting the right players, he can’t do that in the pros, the team continues to stink and has no reasonable hope to win a Super Bowl in the near future, and suddenly, the college world seems like more fun. It’s that simple.

It’s the players, stupid.

That Bill Belichick sure is a genius. How in the world does he get it done while shackled with Tom Brady and a Randy Moss who’s actually deciding to try?  How does he possibly fire up a defense with unmotivated dogs like Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison? There are a whole lot of coaches out there that could do epic things with this group.

The difference between Cam Cameron and Norv Turner is LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates. Give Bobby Petrino Peyton Manning and give Tony Dungy a starting quarterback who likes to watch dogs eat each other and see what happens. Romeo Crennel can't coach worth a lick, and all of a sudden he's Coach of the Year material now that Kellen Winslow Jr. is healthy, Derek Anderson became a star, the light went on for Braylon Edwards, and Jamal Lewis came over from Baltimore.

In college, a coach matters. The great recruiter and/or a coach with a great scheme can do wonders by getting the right players to fit the right roles. At the pro level, it’s all about the general manager and the head of player personnel. The difference between the good head coaches and the great ones isn't that much.

Frank Solich is a Nebraska guy, too  …
Is someone at Nebraska asking the good doctor Tom Osborne if he even considered throwing a phone call over to Rich Rodriguez, who would’ve been a better instant fit for the Huskers than the Wolverines, instead of insisting things had to stay in the family with the hiring of Bo Pelini? It's more important to hire the best person possible for a job, whether he's familiar with the school or not.

“Wake up pal, if you're not inside you're outside. And I'm not talking a $200,000 a year working Wall Street stiff flying first class and being comfortable, I'm talking rich pal, rich enough to fly in your own jet, rich enough not to waste time, 50-100 million, a player, Bud, or nothing.” Exactly why is it considered part of the deal for a coach like Rich Rodriguez or Houston Nutt to abandon their teams for a new job before a bowl game, while players like Steve Slaton and Darren McFadden would get crucified if they chose to skip out on the extra game to save themselves for the pros?

Yeah, if you’re going for a national championship, you play or coach the game, but if a coach can leave before a non-championship bowl game for a greener pasture, then surely it should be acceptable for a sure-thing top 50 draft pick to avoid risking tens of millions of dollars by leaving school as soon as possible to train and prepare for the NFL combine and the draft.

If McFadden had declared he was leaving Arkansas before the Cotton Bowl because he didn’t want to risk blowing out his knee, you’d be reading article after article and hearing every talking head cry about how this was the end of sports as we know it. After all the negative press, where would No. 5 go in the draft? Top three. If it’s a business for the coaches, it has to be considered a multi-million dollar business for the top players, too.

"I was buying them for my wife, Morgan Fairchild, yeah, that's the ticket.”  …
First of all, if you actually believe the fat load of bull muffins that Andy Pettitte is cooking up, then stop reading this column, go put pads on the corners of your tables and chairs, and hide all the pieces of string and shiny metal objects that might distract you from walking and thinking at the same time. However, there is something to Pettitte’s claim that he just used steroids a few times to quickly get back on the field when it comes to football.

Someday, some Washington-type hell bent on committing political suicide is going to start asking questions about the role of steroids and human growth hormones in the world of football, and it'll make the Mitchell Report look like, well, the Mitchell Report. Let me help everyone before it costs another $60 million to interview two clubhouse attendants and surf the Internet. There’s an easy way to tell which NFL players are shooting up, popping pills or applying some cream, legal or not: they’re playing.

It’s almost impossible for fans to understand just how mangled and destroyed an average NFL body becomes. How do most football players recover as a long season goes on? Lots and lots of Advil, way too much alcohol, and yeah, some are all over an undetectable HGH to help muscles heal faster, play with broken bones, dislocated joints, and an assortment of other ailments that would force the average human being to understand what those AFLAC ads are for
. Remember, NFL contracts aren't guaranteed, so if a player can't play because of injury, he might be gone.

Of course I’m not going to be irresponsible enough to fire off just a few of the names that I’m 101% certain would be on a list of some sort, but let me put it this way, if an older player is doing something superhuman on a football field, and especially if he's magically playing like nothing is wrong despite suffering a variety of seemingly serious injuries, your mental alarm had better be going off. If a college player goes from being 220 pounds to a faster 250-pound pass rushing terror over the course of an offseason, you had better believe that things might not exactly be kosher.

Whether you actually care or not is another issue, but don't bury your head in the sand about what's going on.

Certainly T. Boone can do something to cook the books a bit … I’m a huge Kevin Smith fan, but the UCF star really isn’t 180 yards behind Barry Sanders for the all-time single season rushing record. In one of the most bizarre of NCAA rulings, the bowl game numbers have only counted in the record books since 2003. Therefore, add 222 yards to the Sanders’ 1988 total for his epic Holiday Bowl performance against Wyoming to raise his total to 2,850 yards for the 12 games he played in, while Smith really won't come that close in 14 games. It’s not as hard as you think to find the stats for most bowl games and change up the record book.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
It’s over. LSU has been handed the national title in the court of public opinion, so go on about your lives everyone. Find something else to do on January 7th. In case they actually do decide to go through the motions, here are ten reasons why LSU will win the national title. (Buckeye fans, look at last week’s COW for the ten reasons why Ohio State will win.)

10. Get into the backfield, screw up the Buckeyes  
Penn State can rush the passer, had no luck in doing so against Ohio State, and lost big. Michigan State can rush the passer, got to QB Todd Boeckman several times, sacked him twice, and forced two big turnovers to make it a game in a 24-17 Buckeye win. Illinois forced three interceptions in its win partly because Will Davis, Jerry Brown and company generated consistent pressure. LSU hasn’t been as good at getting into the backfield as it should’ve been, with Tyson Jackson having a surprisingly mediocre season, but with a month to prepare, the dogs will be turned loose with the sensational Tiger corners left on an island against the OSU receivers. If Boeckman is rushed consistently, he’ll throw at least two picks.

9. Confidence, if things start to turn bad
What happens if LSU gets up 14-0 after its first two drives? There’s certain to be a sort of “it’s happening again” thing happening in the Buckeyes’ heads. It’s not just about trying to win the national title for OSU; it’s about not getting blown out like last year. LSU has been in several tight battles with six of the final eight games decided by seven points or fewer, and one of the other ones, a 41-24 win over Ole Miss, was tighter than the final score. Ohio State has only been in one really tough battle, and it lost it to Illinois. Can the Buckeyes handle pressure? We'll find out.

8. Time  
By the end of the year, LSU was as banged up as any bowl team and wasn’t nearly the same powerhouse it was at the beginning of the season. The time off should do wonders for all the bumps and bruises, and the month-plus since beating Tennessee for the SEC championship also allowed the Les Miles saga to play itself out. With Michigan hiring Rich Rodriguez and Miles secure in Baton Rouge for the foreseeable future, this is no longer an issue or a distraction in any way.

7. Power running game  
Ohio State, meet Jacob Hester. The Buckeyes have faced one true power back this season, Michigan State’s Jehuu Caulcrick (Wisconsin’s P.J. Hill missed the game in Columbus), and shut him down, but LSU isn’t going to stop blasting away with the running attack as it tries to control the game early on. If Hester has any sort of success, the Buckeye safeties will have to take their attention off Early Doucet and the speedy Tiger wideouts.

6. Pass protection

LSU isn’t great at it. For most teams, having problems protecting the quarterback is a really big deal since it throws off the timing of the entire offense, but it doesn’t seem to affect the Tigers all that much. Matt Flynn will take his shots, and there will be times the offense bogs down because of the issues from all parts of the Tiger front five, Ohio State should be able to get into the backfield from inside and out, but again, it hasn’t really mattered much so far. Why? LSU is fabulous on third downs. When the focus is there and the offense tightens up, the line is fine.

5. The Ohio State best win was over …     
Michigan? Whoopee. Penn State? Yawwwwn. Wisconsin? Probably, but that was a banged up Badger team that had a lead going into the fourth quarter. Ohio State was able to win that game, and plenty of others, by letting its great offensive line wear down the defense, but that’s not going to happen against the Tiger defensive front. No, Ohio State didn’t play a bunch of cupcakes, it played the 34th toughest schedule, but it didn’t have to deal with LSU’s slate and it certainly wasn't in the weekly wars the Tigers were.

4.  Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers  
For having such a great defense, Ohio State doesn’t force a lot of turnovers with a pedestrian 18 takeaways, good for 97th in the nation. Overall, the turnover margin isn’t too bad since the Buckeyes are stingy when it comes to giving away the ball, but to pull off the win, they’ll likely have to be plus-two. That could be tough against an LSU defense that’s fourth in the nation in takeaways with 33 and 11th in giveaways with 15. If LSU wins the turnover battle, forget about it.

3. Ohio State vs. the SEC       
41-14 vs. Florida in the 2007 BCS Championship. 31-28 vs. South Carolina in the 2001 Outback Bowl. 24-7 vs. South Carolina in the 2000 Outback Bowl. 20-14 vs. Tennessee in the 1996 Citrus. 24-17 to Alabama in the 1995 Citrus. 21-14 to Georgia in the 1992 Citrus. 31-14 to Auburn in the 1989 Hall of Fame. 35-6 to Alabama in the 1977 Sugar. Eight of Ohio State’s 19 bowl losses have come to SEC teams, with no wins. Other Big Ten teams have had success against the SEC, but when one of the league’s big dogs has so many problems, it feeds into the whole slow Big Ten speed myth. Even so, you never mess with a streak.

2. Home cooking
It’s LSU in the Superdome. Ohio State fans will represent, but it’s still LSU going roughly 75 miles down the road to play in a home field atmosphere from the time it arrives in New Orleans. This isn’t a team that needs any extra advantages.
1. LSU is better
Ohio State can absolutely pull off the win. The defense is terrific, the offense is full of NFL players, and the offensive line is strong enough to neutralize Glenn Dorsey and the Tiger defensive front. LSU is better. Jim Tressel is a better coach than Les Miles. He’s been in the biggest of the big games before, he and his staff will learn from the mistakes of Glendale, and they know how to slow a game down and control it enough to keep it close for a full sixty minutes against anyone. LSU is better. OSU can use the us-against-the-world mantra for the first time since it late won the national title over a juggernaut Miami team, it can play the disrespect card, and it can play far looser than the Tigers. LSU is better. This isn’t going to be the Florida debacle by a long shot with both teams almost certain to bring their A games in a fun defensive battle. I picked LSU in the Staff Picks for the confidence pool, but to be honest, I haven’t quite made up my mind yet on who’s actually going to win.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: The Pips ... Underrated: Tara Guelig
2) Overrated: Jessica Simpson  … Underrated: Tony Romo
3) Overrated: Submitting the paperwork to get evaluated by the NFL ... Underrated: The NBA rule that allows players to be drafted, but can go back to school if they don’t hire an agent.
4) Overrated: Empty seats ... Underrated: Bowling Green asking Ohio State fans to help out with GMAC Bowl ticket sales
5) Overrated: "Let's Go Mountaineers" ... Underrated:
"Let's Go Drink Some Beers"

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … apparently, a Michigan man needed to write it.

December 18 Cavalcade Part Two ... Every Team's Holiday Wish List