ASK CFN (2/22) - Dump Mack & JoePa?!
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno
Penn State head coach Joe Paterno
Posted Feb 22, 2008

Is it really time to talk about the end of Mack Brown and Texas & Joe Paterno at Penn State? Should Northwestern be booted from the Big Ten to create a Pac 10-like schedule? Is the ACC close to being as good as the SEC? 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 ...
- Big East expansion
- Is Charlie Weis on a hot seat?
- The Reggie Bush situation

- Is Bob Stoops the new Lloyd Carr?
- Why LSU winning matters
- Bowl winners & losers
- 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?

If I were (Big Ten commissioner) Jim Delaney I would kick Northwestern out of the Big 10 and play a Pac 10 type of schedule, rather than hold on to the fallacy that Notre Dame might one day join the conference - agree or disagree? – MF

A: Why so much hate for the Purple; did you have a bad hot dog and Mustard’s Last Stand or something? Remember, Northwestern has won at least a share of three Big Ten titles in the last 13 years, while Minnesota and Indiana haven’t won a title since they tied with Purdue back in 1967. Want more fun stats? Compared to the three Wildcat championships since 1995, Penn State, Illinois and Purdue have each only won one, Michigan State hasn’t won any, with the last one coming in 1987, and Wisconsin has won two. It’s not like the Northwestern has been embarrassing recently, like Duke in the ACC or Baylor in the Big 12, going a not-that-bad 29-32.

I’m 100% with you on wanting a Pac 10-like schedule where everyone plays everyone else to get a true champion, and I don’t just want that for the Big Ten. If it were up to me, I’d cancel conference championship games and have a 13-game season with ACC, Big 12, and SEC teams all playing 11-game conference schedules with two non-conference games, and the Big Ten playing a ten-game slate with three non-conference games. The extra revenue generated would dwarf any money created by a conference championship game, the Big Ten schedule is perfect for an extra game with the last weekend in November and the first weekend in December already free, and more than anything else, we’d get better conference races.

I am going to send you some statistics of 2 different QB's.  They are both from the Junior and Senior years in college of the two QB's. Tell me which one you would rather have on your team.  They played against almost identical competition. 

QB 1:  Junior year went 292-450 for 3919 yards.  A 65% completion percentage with 32 TD's and 7 INT.  A rating of 158.4. Senior Year went 289-467 for 3426 yards.  A 62% completion percentage with 37 TD's and 7 INT. A rating of 146.7

QB 2:  Junior year went 263 of 427 for 2942 yards and a 61.6 completion %. 15 TD and 10 INT a rating of 126. Senior year went 388-654 for 4507 yards and a 59.3 % completion with 31 TD and 19 INT. Rating of 127.

QB 2, Matt Ryan, is going to be the first player taken in this year’s draft, while QB 1, Brady Quinn, slid in last year’s first round.
– DM

A: He’s not, but stats have nothing to do with anything. I’ve always said Quinn got a horrible rap in last year’s draft as it seemed like every scout and every team ignored how little time he got to work. That same lack of pass protection that got Jimmy Clausen and Evan Sharpley killed last year was there with Quinn under center. It’s also about timing. Alex Smith wasn’t a No. 1 pick in the draft type of quarterback, but he just so happened to be one of the only options in a horrible year for QB prospects, combined with several teams not needing a new passer. Remember, Aaron Rodgers slid in 2005 because of how the first round played out. The same happened to Quinn, as team after team passed for other needs knowing that players like Kevin Kolb, John Beck, Trent Edwards and Drew Stanton were still there to be had later. Had Quinn gone No. 1 to Oakland, JaMarcus Russell would’ve likely been the one in a freefall, but he wouldn’t have dropped nearly as far.

This year, if Ryan isn’t the No. 1 pick and Brian Brohm is the first quarterback taken, there might be a drop and a gap between QB picks. However, watch out for teams to panic a bit this year and overpay for a quarterback as they look ahead to a horrible, HORRIBLE 2009 class. If Tim Tebow and Matthew Stafford choose to stay for their senior seasons, there’s no one on the radar at the moment.

Why isn't there more of an outcry for Joe Paterno's departure? As a huge PSU fan it’s obvious that Penn State football is no longer among the elite. We even got out recruited by 5 other Big 10 teams this year. I hope we make a run for the Big 10 championship this year. Regardless, he needs to leave at the end of this year!! – PSU1

A: You had more of a leg to stand on if this was 2004. Since going 7-16 in 2003 and 2004, Penn State has gone 29-9 with a Big Ten title and three very, very nice bowl wins (Florida State in the 2006 Orange Bowl, Tennessee in the 2007 Outback, and Texas A&M in the 2007 Alamo). You’re right in that Penn State might not be among the national-title elite like it was when it first joined the Big Ten, but Paterno did a fantastic job of turning things around since it looked like the era was over just a few years ago. Paterno doesn’t need to step down, especially since the team is almost certain to win at least eight games yet again this year, but he needs to get succession talk in place if he wants to have a say in it. There’s a sizable portion of the Nittany Lion nation that loves JoePa, and always will, but are secretly jealous of Michigan for being able to go outside the fam and get a Rich Rodriguez; that’s not likely to happen in Happy Valley. Whenever the Penn State job opens up it’ll be the sweet gig in whatever year that is, and the program will likely have its pick of top-shelf coaches. I think Paterno will end up pulling a Bob Knight/Fidel Castro, wake up one morning and realize it’s time, and hand the reins over to his son, quarterback coach Jay Paterno.

I love Mack Brown as a head coach. I think he has done a great job here at UT. I get tired of seeing the Sooners in the Big 12 title game every year it seems. Why can't Mack Brown win more conference titles? Will we be hearing the fire Mack Brown chant again soon if does not start winning? – Jeff

A: It’s not like he’s not trying. He shook up the coaching staff a bit, he’s working the recruiting trail as hard as ever, with a loaded class last year and a strong one this season, and what you’re dead-wrong about is the implication that he’s not a winner. I know you want Big 12 and national titles, but he’s on a streak of seven straight ten-win seasons, and while everyone wants to win championships, and the bar is set higher in Austin, I have a big problem any time a double-digit win campaign is seen as anything other than fantastic. Remember, if Colt McCoy hadn’t gotten injured on a quarterback sneak early in the 2006 Kansas State game, Texas likely would’ve won and would’ve taken the South, or at least would’ve beaten Texas A&M the following week and gone off to the Big 12 title game. The team was still in the race up until the final day last year. Winning isn’t the problem, but the team has had its flaws. Brown is sending a ton of players off to the NFL, but his teams aren’t producing enough on defense, and there are gaps in the offense, like on the line last year. Even so, just two years removed from a national title, it’s way too early to start hearing the Dump Mack chants again.

I’ve heard that the new rules in CF regarding the clock when players end up out of bounds is going to mirror the rules of the Big League (NFL).  Can you please explain these new rules and the impact they will have on the games? – WW

A: It’ll speed up the game a little bit and make it a bit crisper, but don’t expect there to be a major change in the number of play-calls, and don’t expect the uproar of two years ago with the ill-fated changes to try to cut down on game times. Here’s the rule (and I’ll go into the new rule changes later next week in a Spring Preview article): in college football the game clock used to stop when the player went out of bounds, and it didn’t start up again until the next snap. Now, the clock will start when the official marks the ball as ready for play, just like it’s done after a first down. All it really means is that players will have to hustle a bit more, but it’s not going to wreak any real havoc.

I was wondering what are your expectations for Alabama this year?  I am a realistic fan and believe that 9 wins is possible (with one being a bowl win) However, I think 7 regular season wins is almost a must for Shula. If Brodie Croyle stays healthy they could have a chance to be in every game they play.  What do you think? -Chad (Jackson, Michigan)

A: This question was sent to me on March 12th, 2005, and it just showed up in my inbox this week. Any question that takes so long to get here deserves an answer. Call me crazy, but I think the Tide is due for a shocking year with a defense that comes up with a great season and every conceivable break about to go its way. Unfortunately, the Iron Bowl is at Auburn, so I’m guessing it’ll be a fourth straight loss before going off to the Cotton Bowl to finish with a ten-win campaign. 

Replace Shula with Saban and Brodie Croyle with John Parker Wilson and apply it to this year. Bama might be the wild-card in the SEC race with as good a chance as anyone to at least win the West. I think LSU is due for a slip (meaning a four-loss season instead of two), Auburn is undergoing major offensive changes, Arkansas needs at least a year under Bobby Petrino, and Ole Miss and Mississippi State aren’t really contenders.
Bama should be far better than it was during the collapse over the second half of the 2007 regular season, but the five away games are nasty, REALLY nasty, starting out the season with a neutral site date with Clemson, later facing back-to-back road games at Arkansas and Georgia in late September, and then dealing with trips to Tennessee and LSU. The home slate is a joke until the season finale against Auburn, so if the Iron Bowl hex can be solved and Bama goes 7-0 at home, a ten-win season is more than possible.

OK, we’re a few years into ACC expansion now and let’s face it: the goal was to mimic what the SEC has—national championship contenders and 6-7 top flight teams every year.  Clearly that’s not the case yet.  But with Clemson looking strong for this year, Wake is proving to be no fluke, O’Brien @ NCSU, BC chugging along winning bowls every year, Paul Johnson at Tech, and Davis at UNC things appear to be trending upward.  Plus Va Tech is still Va Tech and you know Miami and FSU will be back—their boosters won’t accept anything less.  So when does it happen? – RB

A: Absolutely the conference is pointing up, but don’t try to start comparing the ACC to the SEC, which has gone nuclear with a jaw-dropping roster of head coaches and loaded team after loaded team thanks to years of top-notch recruiting classes. Yeah, Clemson is good, Miami is on the road back after a sensational recruiting class, Virginia Tech will be strong again, and the rest of the league is getting better (even Duke with David Cutcliffe), but it’s not remotely close to the SEC. Going into this year, Georgia, LSU and Florida would be the favorite if they were in the ACC, while Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina would certainly be in the running.

The big key will be in the coaches over the next few seasons. Will Butch Davis stay at North Carolina? I don’t think so. Will Paul Johnson take Georgia Tech to another level? Probably not, but the team will probably be better. How long will it be before Jeff Jagodzinski is snapped up by a really, really big program? I’m guessing three years. Miami and Florida State need at least another two years before even thinking about being Miami and Florida State again, even with Randy Shannon and Jimbo Fisher in place, respectively. Don’t expect the ACC to be the SEC, but it can certainly be the No. 2 BCS league in the near future.

How much of an impact does a talented incoming freshman class have on a team's overall record?  My thinking is that a group of hungry guys can elevate the projected starters to practice harder starting as early as Spring. The best example as of last year has to be Illinois.  Any thoughts? – Billy

A: That’s more for fall camp when the freshman class is there in full. Competition is always important in spring and fall practices, but in a perfect world, spring is used to figure out who the new starters will be to take over for the departed ones while the established starters, at least the ones returning, get more and more used to the new guys. Of course, if a few new players shine early on challenge the incumbents, the tone will be set for the fall when things really get interesting. More than anything else, the coaching staff wants to use the spring to form an opinion of what’s going to need working on over the rest of the offseason, and it wants to try to settle key position openings as quickly as possible. The impact of a good freshman class only really pushes the starters for the teams that need to turn things around, unless the new recruits are expected to be more talented, like the Illinois situation of last year. Then the dynamic quickly changes.