ASK CFN (5/23) - What Was Nebraska's Problem?
Nebraska's Zach Potter
Nebraska's Zach Potter
Posted May 23, 2008

Why did Nebraska struggle so much under Bill Callahan? Can there be an Ohio State-USC rematch in the Rose Bowl and would it be a good thing? 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 ...
- Is Jim Tressel an elite coach?
- A foolproof BCS solution

- An early look at OSU vs. USC
- The WVU/Rodriguez situation
- Who's the team of the decade?
- 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?

Pete, help me out here.  I know this is College FOOTBALL News, and I love my Georgia Bulldogs as much as the next guy, but it is obvious you have an interest in the NCAA Tournament.  I have gotten into a few debates recently with buddies/co-workers about the significance of Mario Chalmers' shot to tie the Kansas/Memphis game. No one agrees with me here, but I will argue until I'm blue in the face that Chalmers drained the most clutch shot in the history of basketball, college or pro.  Christian Laettner's shot was in the Elite Eight, so that one is out right away.  The more interesting comparisons are to Michael Jordan's shot that beat Utah in 1998, John Paxson's that beat Phoenix in 1993, and Magic Johnson's junior sky hook against Boston in 1987.  None of those occurred in a game seven, and that's my argument for Chalmers.  Lo Charles made his dunk vs. Phi Slamma Jamma in a tie game. Chalmers was faced with the situation of "make this shot, or lose the national championship."  To me, it is the equivalent of a buzzer beater in game seven of the NBA Finals.  Do you agree?  – David

A: No. The Chalmers shot was an all-timer to be sure, but it didn’t win the game. Had KU lost in OT, the shot would’ve been as important as the Jerry West half court bomb in game five of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Knicks. Neither the Jordan shot to beat Utah nor and the Paxson shot to beat Phoenix came in a game seven; I refuse to believe either of those Bulls teams would’ve lost a seventh game. The Lo Charles dunk wasn’t clutch; it was opportunistic. What about the Keith Smart shot to give Indiana the 1987 title over Syracuse?

I know it was a regional final, but I’ll still go with the Laettner shot to beat Kentucky in 1992. The argument could be made that Laettner also came up with a “make this shot or lose the national championship” play, but Duke needed to beat Indiana and Michigan while Kansas had to get through overtime.

The other qualification is the legendary status. Find 100 guys in a sports bar tomorrow night and ask them about the Laettner shot. 99 of them would have a story about where they were when it happened. Ask the same 100 guys to 1) name who played in the 2008 national championship and 2) who hit the key shot to send it to overtime, and maybe ten will answer both of them within a reasonable time.

Assuming you must watch a lot of the games each week on TV - please discuss what you think of the play-by-play and color analysts that are out there.  Who is bad, good, very good, off the charts ..... – CD

A: I’ve always been a lone wolf when it comes to the announcers I like. I love hearing Brent Musburger call a game, and he’s great with Kirk Herbstreit, while Verne Lundquist is also high on my list. Maybe it’s because they’ve been around forever and sound like classic college football, and maybe it’s the confidence they have after years of work, but they’re my favorites. Of the new guys, Thom Brennaman and Charles Davis have been solid on the Big Ten Network and Fox. I also really like the GameDay guys doing weeknight games. As far as the guys I can’t handle, Paul Maguire has always been at the top of my list. He was better last year after being banished to the sideline, but he fails to add anything.

I was wondering if you had an opinion on why Pat Hill’s name, out of Fresno State, doesn’t come up when big time coaching vacancies are open in BCS conferences? – KK

A: He hasn’t actually won much of anything significant. Fresno State has come up with a few good wins here and there over average BCS teams, but where are all the WAC titles? He was hot several years ago but he didn’t take the program to another level, and now he has cooled off. That might change if this year’s team is as good as expected.

Had to vent this to seems that every year that goes by, the '04 Auburn team seems more and more screwed.  Your BCS projections just reminded me how unfortunate that team was. Not only to sit undefeated behind two other undefeated teams, that's the obvious part, but to do it in 2004 instead of more recent years is now my new torture.  As you pointed out in your Championship Game prediction "it will take a lot to keep the SEC champion out of the title game".  If the LSU and Florida titles had happened in '02 and '03, Auburn would have walked into the title game, based simply on the results of the two 2-loss SEC teams winning the title. But, of course, it didn't happen that way.  Auburn didn't have the benefit of the precedent we have now on which to judge the relative strengths of the contenders. – JD

A: In hindsight, yeah, the Tigers got screwed out of playing for the national title, but they probably didn’t get as hosed as you think. The big difference between the last two years and the Auburn season is that 2004 Auburn probably doesn’t beat 2004 USC.

I was reading CFN's "Way Early BCS Projections" and I noticed there was no mention of a possible USC-Ohio State rematch in the Rose Bowl.  I realize the guess is that the winner of the 9/13 contest will probably go unbeaten the rest of the way, BUT if neither one of these teams make it to the title game, yet each goes on to win their respective conferences, we'd have a rematch between the two, correct?  I feel this would be a bad thing for college football, but I was wondering what your thoughts were.  What would the national perception be?  And more importantly, how would the Rose Bowl/Big Ten/Pac 10 feel about it? – MM

A: Yeah, there’s a chance to the two could meet in the Rose Bowl again since they’ll automatically go if they each win their respective conferences and don’t play for the national title. The Rose Bowl, Big Ten, and Pac 10 would take that matchup in a heartbeat no matter what happens on the 13th considering who they are.

Is it good for college football? I hate rematches, but it would be far more competitive than last year’s debacle. At the end of the day, remember, bowl games, outside of the BCS Championship, are glorified exhibitions. If it’s USC vs. Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, fine. It’s not that big a deal. If it’s USC vs. Ohio State in the BCS Championship, then I have a big, big problem considering the issue was already settled. The only way a rematch might be acceptable is if USC wins a nail-biter and there’s some question about whether or not the Buckeyes would win on a neutral field. Even then, I’ll be 100% anti-rematch if that time comes.

As a life long Nebraska football fan i was extremely disappointed with Callahan's 07 year. I think that the Huskers had losing seasons because he [Callahan] changed the offense style to west-coast from their old and very effective option-run. Do you think that might just be the reason? – MR

A: No. I love the option and think there’s a place for it at the highest levels of college football, but Callahan’s offense wasn’t the problem. In fact, and most Nebraska fans don’t want to acknowledge this, but he was on the right track. What’s to complain about when the offense finishes ninth in the nation, seventh in passing, and averages 33.4 points per game? It wasn’t consistent, but it was starting to catch on late. Callahan’s problem was defense; the Huskers finished 116th in the nation in rushing D, 112th overall, and 114th in scoring defense. That’s what Bo Pelini has to change and that’s his first order of business. Don’t expect a major tinkering with the offense right away; there are other problems to deal with first.

With New England Patriots getting a slap on the wrist for their video taping scandal from the NFL, how do you think the NCAA would've handled a similar situation?  Does the NCAA's ridiculous or harsh punishments do more to preserve the integrity of the game or are they as meaningless as the NFL's punishment of Patriots? – MM

A: Interesting thought. If the NCAA got ticked off enough, it would’ve stricken the affected game from the record books, take away scholarships, and hit the offending school with some kind of probation. To me, spying on opposing teams like the Patriots got nailed for is far worse than any kind of $100 handshake, paying players, or any other goofy reason the NCAA tags programs with probation. The Patriots got off easy.

I know that Tim Tebow was awarded the the Heisman Trophy last year and I believe Darren McFadden was the runner up, but what about Pat White? I really thought he carried West Virginia through many crucial moments when Steve Slaton was missing, or just did not have the game in his heart. Pat White really carried the team on his shoulders, and there was no doubt that he leads that team with poise and confidence. Tebow was phenomenal with the numbers he put up, but Pat White singlehandly won a lot of games for the Mountaineers, at least he should of been runner up, don't you think?! -Matt, Malden, MA

A: I’m with you, and if you did the Heisman voting after the bowls, he might have won, or else he would’ve finished No. 2. Look at what happened to the finalists. Tebow lost to Michigan, Chase Daniel didn’t do anything in the win over Arkansas, Colt Brennan was a grease spot against Georgia, and Darren McFadden was mediocre against Missouri. White should’ve been in the Heisman mix over the last few seasons, especially last year, but he was banged up in two of the team’s biggest games and West Virginia lost to South Florida and Pitt partly because of it. I think he gets his due, finally, this year. As long as he’s healthy, and as long as West Virginia is decent, he deserves to be a finalist this year.