ASK CFN (4/11) - The Program Of The Decade
LSU DE Tyson Jackson
LSU DE Tyson Jackson
Posted Apr 11, 2008

Who's the program of the decade so far? Who should you root for? What's the true definition of a No. 1 receiver? Who are the top five pro quarterbacks of all-time? These questions and much more in the return of 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 ...
- Dump Mack Brown and JoePa?!
- 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?

I great up in Vermont and went to school in Maine, and I’m a die-hard college football fan who grew up with no real rooting interest. I sort of like BC and UConn, but I don’t care that much. So as a general fan, who should I be rooting for? – CL

A: There’s two ways to do this. As a neutral observer who has to love all 119 teams equally, and someone who does this for a living, I always root for the really big game and the really big moment. Along the way, there’s nothing like the excitement of seeing the possible upset that ruins that big matchup, and therefore becomes a big moment itself like the Pitt win over West Virginia last season, or the Arkansas win over LSU.  On the opposite side of that, you should always root for the little guy. Hawaii getting a BCS bid last year meant everything to the program both financially and with its fan base. That was a once-in-a-lifetime season for Warrior fans, and getting to the Sugar Bowl doubled the school’s athletic budget. UL Monroe fans will forever talk about beating Alabama. Appalachian State will always mean something to college football fans, and it's not because of the FCS national titles. It’s impossible to properly explain just how massive the gap is between the really big monster programs and the non-BCSers, and it's impossible to overstate how much the non-BCS over BCS upsets really mean to the fan bases.


A: WHY ARE YOU YELLING? No, the Big Ten wasn’t the worst BCS league at all. For the last two years, the SEC was the unquestioned No. 1 BCS conference. I’d put the Big 12 second, the Big Ten third, the Pac 10 fourth, and ACC fifth and the Big East sixth. You could probably flip-flop the ACC and Big East if you want.

why does every national media personality be them writers or tv commentators, talk radio hosts and non-Georgia fans alike, their memories all begin in 1990?  Every single stat that gets mentioned nationally regardless of year only references what has happened since 1990.  Not 1989, ’88, 87 etc, you get the point.  Just who anointed history to be written from there? – HW

A: Maybe it’s because the current crop of young players weren’t born before 1990. It creeps me out that the 2009 incoming freshman class was born the year Nevermind was released. I’m freakin’ old. Actually, the modern era of college football from a historical sense starts in 1970. That’s when the bowl games started to play a bigger role in determining the national champion, and that’s when almost all programs were finally integrated. By the way, if any alleged Georgia fan doesn’t know what Run, Lindsay Run means, you can dismiss them.

So, there’s been some debate as to who is the team of the decade with 3 seasons left. Who would you go with at this point? I, as a completely biased LSU fan vote for LSU but USC obviously makes a compelling argument. What’s your thought? Thanks -Tyler, Winston-Salem

A: Ooooooh. There’s no right answer to this, but I’d have to say USC. Six straight double-digit win seasons, 70 wins over that span, one national title and an AP title. The biggest selling point is a run of six straight BCS games and an all-timer of a performance from Vince Young needed to keep it from being six-for-six with two national championships. It’s hard to argue against LSU going 6-2 in bowls in the decade, with a phenomenal last second play by Iowa from making it 7-1, to go along with the two national titles. No. 3 is probably Ohio State with a national championship and five BCS appearances in six years, including three Fiesta Bowl wins, and three appearances in national title games. Oklahoma is right there, and could be No. 3, with three national title game appearances and six BCS games.

The whole "Bill Self to Oklahoma State" thing this weekend got me thinking about the Rich Rodriguez saga again.  Can you remember any other time where a coach voluntarily left his alma mater, where he had a legit shot to play for a national championship, to go to another school (albiet a historically more prestigious one)?  To me, it would be like Frank Beamer leaving Virginia Tech (his alma mater) to coach Notre Dame - I doubt the Hokie fans would be very happy about that.  Now, I would never condone death threats or vandalism, but I think the fact that this kind of move is unprecedented is lost on some of the people who were overly critical of the WVU fan base's reaction.  Why hasn't anyone pointed that out?
– WP

A: Mountaineer fans need to let … it … go. It’s Michigan, and you’ll be fine. I know West Virginia fans feel jilted, and I know they were used to the long Don Nehlen era and can’t fathom that one of their own could ever want to go somewhere else, but it’s Michigan. This is the job coaches dream about. Remember, coaches aren’t normal and are never, ever comfortable in one spot for too long. This is as big as it gets without going to the NFL, and it’s even bigger than coaching half the big-league teams.

I’m not sure about leaving an alma mater, but coaches leave great situations all the time for supposedly bigger and better ones, especially in college basketball, only to fall flat on their faces. How did that Michigan State run work out for John L. Smith after he built up a monster at Louisville? Look what Boise State did the year after Dan Hawkins left for Colorado, and look at what the Buffs did.

I hear you keep saying there aren’t any true No. 1 receivers in this draft. O.K., how many No. 1 receivers are there, really, in the NFL right now, and what do you define a No. 1 receiver to be? My friend and I are debating on the number of true No. 1s there already are, and we want to see what you think.
– GT

A: A number one receiver is a player who produced even though every opposing defense gameplans to stop him. As the saying goes, an NFL defense can take away any one player if it focuses enough on stopping him, and the playoffs proved that with Randy Moss, but that’s sort of what an NFL offense wants. Fine, roll your safeties over to stop my one guy, and the rest of the offense will blow up. A No. 1 receiver is a guy who can beat just about any top corner at any time, or will at least win more than his share of battles, and he’s a target who can make a mediocre quarterback look terrific and a great quarterback a Hall of Famer. He’s also a player who can shine in any system with just about any NFL quarterback, so no, I don’t include Wes Welker.

To me, there are 11 NFL receivers who would be a true No. 1 right now on any team he played for. Reggie Wayne, Randy Moss, Chad Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Terrell Owens, Braylon Edwards, Torry Holt, T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Plaxico Burress, Anquan Bolden, and Andre Johnson. I count two other receivers who are absolute No. 1 targets if they’re healthy, Marvin Harrison and Steve Smith, and I have four who will most likely be true No. 1s next year: Calvin Johnson, Marques Colston, Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Bowe. Joey Galloway, Roddy White and Roy Williams might be No. 1s, but I wouldn’t put them in the elite of the elite level.

Considering you seem to be a football historian, where do you put Brett Favre on the on the all-time list of greatest quarterbacks? I’m in an e-mail battle about this and we need an “expert” opinion.  What’s your list of the top five greatest pro quarterbacks? – HU

A: My problem with Favre is that for all the wins and all the touchdown passes and all the durability, he took his team out of almost as many big games as he won. While everyone loved his gunslinger mentality, how many times did he throw a bad pick at the worst possible time? He falls in my grouping of guys like Peyton Manning, Steve Young and Dan Marino as legends who probably make the list of the most talented quarterbacks ever, but not ones you’d want under center for the proverbial Game to Save the Universe.
The all-timer list starts with John Elway. To be totally high-brow pretentious, I immediately mentally dismiss any expert who doesn’t have Elway as the greatest of all-time, and this is coming from someone who was never a fan of his. Everyone forgets just how mediocre those early Denver teams were that Elway took to the Super Bowl, and everyone seems to remember the late version of the legend and not the early one that had one of the strongest arms ever and could run. And no, he wasn’t just along for the ride for those two Super Bowl wins; Denver doesn’t get to either one without him. From the comebacks to the sheer talent to the validation from the Super Bowl wins, he’s the greatest ever and there’s no real second option.

Based on what actually happened on the field, Joe Montana is my number two, but I can’t get past my unshakeable belief that he’d have been just another guy, like a Marc Bulger, if he hadn’t played under Bill Walsh and on that team. Elway would’ve been a legend anywhere, while Montana was mostly part of a system.

Tom Brady is third. Name the legendary wide receivers he had to throw to in his three Super Bowl wins. My personal No. 4 is Troy Aikman. In today’s day and age of fantasy football, Aikman doesn’t get his historical due mainly because he wasn’t a numbers guy, but as far as accuracy, leadership, as the steadying force for those ultra-talented, but ultra-nuts teams, he deserves to be considered among the greats. I suppose you have to put Johnny Unitas in the top five, although I’m not ecstatic about it. He was the first great modern passing quarterback, was ridiculously consistent, and was great in the clutch, but he was also an interception machine.

What are your thoughts on where the Sun Belt is as a conference and what do you believe is the conferences' potential?  Obviously we lack the TV deals and bowl-tie ins at the moment, but our football teams are deceptively just as good as C-USA and the MAC.  Do you think C-USA and the MAC have peaked?  I do, and I think the geographical location of the Sun Belt will inevitably allow it to become a much stronger conference.
 – Wiley

A: No, Conference USA and the MAC haven’t peaked. The MAC is loaded with experience this year, and while Conference USA is top-heavy, it’s still a better all-around league. Yeah, the top Sun Belt teams have proved they can play, but the league isn’t going consistent. Yeah, Florida Atlantic was able to beat Minnesota and Memphis, but it got obliterated by Oklahoma State and Kentucky. Troy beat Oklahoma State and battle hard against Georgia, but got steamrolled by Arkansas and Florida. Even so, the league has gotten better.

The Sun Belt has a nice thing going for it with the location, at least compared to Conference USA. Generally speaking, C-USA gets most of the recruits who get overlooked or bypassed by the ACC. The MAC, again, generally speaking, gets the players who didn’t get to play in the Big Ten. The Sun Belt gets a lot of players who great up dreaming of playing in the SEC, and the Florida schools like FIU and Florida Atlantic get plenty of players who spent their high school careers playing with and against future Miami, Florida State and Florida players. One thing to remember about getting stronger as a conference, the Sun Belt will lose its stars in a hurry. Conference USA will eventually lose a few schools to the Big East, and it’ll hope Florida Atlantic and FIU will be big enough to bring into the fold.