ASK CFN ... The Big Bowl Winners & Losers
Missouri RB Tony Temple
Missouri RB Tony Temple
Posted Jan 4, 2008

Which conferences have had the best bowl seasons? The Big 12, thanks to Tony Temple and Missouri, have been great, but the ACC and others have had big problems. What kind of a pro prospect is Tim Tebow? Will Fresno State turn the corner? 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.)

Past ASK CFNs ...
- Can a two-loss team play for the title?
- The five worst recent champions 
- The Flakiest Teams
- 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?

There are still a few games left, but who’s the biggest winner this bowl season and who’s the biggest loser? – KM

A: Even with the Fresno State win over Georgia Tech, the biggest loser is probably the WAC. Nevada got shut out by New Mexico in the worst bowl game of the season, Boise State lost to East Carolina in Hawaii, and Hawaii looked like it didn’t belong in D-I compared to Georgia. It’s one thing to lose in the Sugar Bowl to a great team, and it’s another to be that bad.

The ACC didn’t do much better. The league has yet to make a dent in the new BCS era with Virginia Tech losing to the Big 12’s No. 3 team, Kansas, in the Orange. BC was supposedly a national title level team during the season, and it had to battle to deal with a mediocre Michigan State. Clemson losing to Auburn in the Chick-fil-A didn’t help, and coaching issues aside, Georgia Tech shouldn’t have lost like it did to Fresno State in the Humanitarian.

No one seems to care, but the Mountain West had a terrific bowl season with New Mexico shutting out the high octane Nevada offense, BYU getting by UCLA, Utah beating Navy, TCU hanging on against Houston, and Air Force battling well in a loss to a far more talented Cal. At a lower level, it’s what the conference needed to confirm that it’s the best of the non-BCS leagues.

The Pac 10 redeemed itself for an awful second half of the year with USC, Oregon, Oregon State and Cal coming through. Arizona State brought things down, but it was still a nice few weeks for the league.

The Big 12, outside of Oklahoma, might be the biggest overall winner for the health of the league. The way Kansas and Missouri won will be a huge boost for the much-maligned North, Texas needed a statement win, and it got it against ASU in the Holiday, and Texas Tech’s win over Virginia and Oklahoma State’s dominant performance against Indiana only made the league look top-to-mid-level stronger.

(in reference to my Fiesta Bowl Stream of Consciousness Quarter By Quarter Game Notes)  Could you possibly be more biased? Ooooh, I’m sooo sorry your beloved Sooners got their butts whipped and now you have to see what a real team is like. I can’t believe you actually wrote that your an OU fan, how do you have a job? No wonder CFN always hates West Virginia. I’ll never read this garbage again, and I’ll tell everyone else to do the same. A**hole. – Mountaineer Jeff

A: I welcome all chest-thumping, arguing, and good-natured banter when fans are fired up about their team. It’s what the bowls are all about. But the one thing that always gets under my skin is when something I write gets taken out of context, someone spins it the wrong way on a message board somewhere, and then people who don’t actually read what I wrote bomb me with angry e-mails (the above was a kiss on the cheek compared to what I received throughout Thursday from most Mountaineer fans).

Yes, I said I liked Oklahoma as a kid, mostly because I liked J.C. Watts’ hair. I also liked Major Harris, Lik-em-Aid, and Valerie Bertinelli. That was over 20 years ago. It doesn’t mean I was watching the Fiesta Bowl in a Tony Casillas jersey while wearing a Bob Stoops OU visor. I actually was worried about the backlash from the OU fans. I reread what I wrote later and thought I was a bit too harsh at times on the Sooners for that performance.

If you’d have read the site over the last year, you’d have noticed we picked West Virginia to go 11-1 in our preseason Preview, and spent all of November saying things were setting up perfectly for West Virginia to play for the national title with the way it was dominating down the stretch. We always give credit when credit is due.

(On my 5 Thoughts comment that no one predicted the Fiesta Bowl outcome and that we didn’t get any arguing on our prediction of an OU win from the West Virginia fans)
Will you and everyone else finally start giving West Virginia credit for being worthy of playing for the national title? You didn’t hear anything from us because we quietly knew we were going to beat up the Sooners, but no one gave us any credit or respect. Maybe now everyone will learn their lesson! – KJ

A: You can’t have it both ways. You can’t come up with one of the biggest chokes in college football history, lose your head coach in a painful, dramatic soap opera that appeared to be the ultimate distraction, and then get all high and mighty that no one thought your team had a chance to beat an Oklahoma team that supposedly had a chip on its shoulder. I’d actually go the other way. If West Virginia was really that great, how come it didn’t show up against Pitt with the national title on the line? So either WVU really was that good and stunk it up when the pressure was on, like the program has done several times and several ways over the years, or it stood on its head and outplayed and outclassed the Sooners. Again, you can’t play both sides. The M.O. continues for WVU; when it’s the underdog and no one’s paying attention, it’s almost unbeatable. It’s fantastic in the “no one believes in us” games. When it’s time to step up to the big boy table when everyone’s expecting it to finally turn the big corner, it folds.

What do you think of Tim Tebow as a pro prospect?
 - HK

A: It’ll be interesting to see how the perceptions unfold over the next few years. The jury is still out on spread quarterbacks on the next level considering Alex Smith has been a mega-flop of a No. 1 overall pick, and Vince Young took a step back in his second year. Granted, neither has weapons around him to throw to, but it’s not like they’ve elevated their respective teams. Tebow might end up suffering in the 2009 or 2010 NFL Draft if Smith and/or Young don’t break the mold. Tebow isn’t the runner Young is, but he’s a far, far better NFL passing prospect. I think he does a little of everything better than Smith, who I’m still stunned became a top overall pick.

Quick questions, if I may, with regards to Pat Hill and Fresno State.  With the number of returning players next year, and the way they finished the season, can the Bulldogs finally win the WAC, and make a serious BCS run next year? – Gary

A: It seems like the program turned another corner this year as Hill was able to show that 2006’s disaster was just an aberration. Fresno State certainly appears to be the class of the WAC going into next year with Hawaii certain to take a major step back, especially if June Jones goes to SMU, and Boise State looking good, but not special. If QB Tom Brandstater can be consistent, this could be a special team. However, the Bulldogs have to go on the road to face UCLA and Kansas State and has to play Wisconsin. It’ll take wins in all three games to begin dreaming about the BCS.

The return of Kevin Smith to UCF obviously makes them a C-USA favorite in 2008.  Does the return of a marquee player such as Smith boost recruiting for the current year of a school? – Brett

A: It only really helps to keep the spotlight on the program for another year to boost the school’s overall profile. You’re not going to get too many, if any players who’ll want to come to UCF just to play with Smith for a year. Obviously they might not be ready to roll as true freshmen, and it’s just not the type of thing to tip the scales for anyone. However, if you’re a good back and you see what Smith is doing, maybe you’d pick UCF knowing that if you can produce, you’ll get fed the ball like he did and maybe spending a redshirt year as an understudy wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Will a non-traditional power ever turn the corner in the BCS era??? I've been watching college football for about 15 years rooting for the upsets and hoping that a non-traditional power can win a national title. I've spent years routing for the WVU's Cal's and Va Tech's of the world, hoping desperately to see at least one of them get it done. West Virginia ripped my heart out when they completely choked that game away against Pitt. A few weeks later, Rodriguez leaves his home for a traditional power. It seems that only 7% of college football teams matter. A part of me just died inside. – JR

A: It depends on what you mean by “turned the corner.” West Virginia fans would argue that their program passed that point after beating Georgia in the 2006 Sugar Bowl. Ohio State, Michigan, USC and Texas will always be among the biggest of the big names, and nothing will change that, but remember, LSU wasn’t LSU like it is now until relatively recently. It was great back in the day, but it slipped big-time until Nick Saban turned it around. “Traditional” powers like Florida State, Miami, Alabama and Nebraska haven’t been able to maintain their success recently. Remember, USC has only won one BCS title under Pete Carroll. Texas has only won one championship under Mack Brown. It’s hard for the big names to win it all, much less the mid-range guys. Don’t blame the system. Missouri and West Virginia controlled their own destiny to play for the title and blew it. The same goes for Kansas.

Any chance that Rich Rodriguez at Michigan will have a similar end result as Bill Callahan at Nebraska?  I worry that U of M fans won't have a lot of patience with the time it might take to turn a traditional power running / drop-back pass offense into a spread attack.  Do you agree? – Steve in Cleveland

A: Rodriguez isn’t Callahan, but I’m not 100% sure he’s Urban Meyer or Jim Tressel, either. Kind of like the Nebraska situation, which wasn’t bad before the system was blown up, Michigan wasn’t bad under Lloyd Carr. It’s easy to forget that the Wolverines were 11-0 going into Ohio State in 2006 with a shot to play for the national title. Rodriguez has more to live up to than just beating Ohio State; he has to take Michigan to the next level and play for national titles. Anything less will be a failure. It might not seem fair, but that’s Michigan, Ohio State, USC, Texas, or any of the other really, really big places.

Pete, with ESPN still arguing that Les Miles will be the head coach at Michigan (even 3 hours before Rodriguez took the job), will any official statement ever be made to apologize?  I know that every LSU fan hates ESPN with a passion now that they have tarnished our coach's name by publishing several articles calling Miles a liar. – CB

A: Not likely. Remember, ESPN was sort of right. If LSU wasn’t playing for the national title, Les Miles would probably be wearing Maize and Blue right now. Remember the circumstances. Miles wanted the Michigan job, had to say all the right things about LSU before the SEC title game, and was in constant, daily contact with the Wolverine brass. Never in 100 million years did Miles guess that West Virginia would lose to Pitt AND Missouri would lose to Oklahoma AND LSU would leapfrog everyone else and play for the national title. Then Miles was stuck. He couldn’t go after the Michigan job with LSU playing for the national title. Michigan was stuck because it needed to move on. Had LSU been going to the Sugar instead of the title game, he could’ve said he changed his mind and no one would’ve been shocked. That extra week, along with the stakes that go with playing for the national title changed around everything.