ASK CFN (8/8) - Violation of Team Rules
Former Kentucky QB Curtis Pulley
Former Kentucky QB Curtis Pulley
Posted Aug 7, 2008

What does it mean when there's a violation of team rules? How important are returning starters? Why might Georgia be a disappointment? These questions and 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 ...
- What was Nebraska's problem?
- 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?

What a shock. Youre saying Georgia is going to be a disappointment (in the CFN SEC Preview). Let me guess, you think Ohio State or USC is going to be the be all end all, while the rest of the world has already figured out that Georgia is #1. Period. The schedule is tough, it’s the SEC afterall, and there might be a few losses because it’s such a tough league, but Georgia would wipe up your beloved Big Ten or Pac 10. Your a joke. No wonder my friends and I never take CFN seriously. – JF

A: “There might be a few losses because it’s such a tough league.” THAT’S THE FREAKIN’ POINT! An SEC title and an appearance in the Sugar Bowl, for this Georgia team, would be a total and complete failure of a season. Yes, the bar is set that high because after years of coming close to being an elite of the elite, national title superpower, Mark Richt has the team put together to get over the hump and, in his words, finish the drill. If you’re a Georgia fan, or an SEC fan, and you’re not thinking it’s national title or bust, then you’re selling this team short. Georgia has done the Sugar Bowl thing in recent years, and at this point, it’s time for more. It’s not fair and it’s unrealistic, but welcome to the SEC. If you don’t like the big-time pressure that comes from the demands of the fans, the media, and the rest of the conference, there are plenty of other leagues to go play in.

Really, why does everyone think a quarterback controversy is a bad thing? I always like the way it brings out the best in everyone and puts the pressure on. If you can handle a QB controversy, you can handle a tough game. Am I wrong? – DB

A: I see what you’re saying, but the problem with a QB derby is that it doesn’t allow your eventual starter to get better. There are so few offensive practices and there’s so little time for college teams to work and come together, and there isn’t a preseason to tune up, so it’s vital to find one guy who can spend all his practice time improving. When there’s a quarterback battle, everyone’s trying not to screw up. Maybe a quarterback isn’t going to try a throw and will play if safer because he doesn’t want a black mark next to his name in the evaluation process. Maybe he’s not going to let it rip and make the mistakes he’s supposed to make to try to improve. It’s never, ever good for a player to be looking over his shoulder and be afraid to play.

Reading all the college football previews, the statistics about returning starters appears over and over again.  Is it always true that having more returning starters predicts success?  Here's the crux of the question:  If a team was crappy last year, does having returning starters a good thing?  For example, 4 out of the 5 Wisc O-linemen is a returning starter.  But last year, they gave a conference leading number of sacks.  Makes me question whether their O-line will be a strength or a weakness. – Dan C.

A: The question is whether or not you’d rather have Alabama’s recruiting class over the 11 returning starters on the Western Michigan defense. Yeah, the returning starters shouldn’t be a be-all-end-all, the players have to be able to play, but I think it’s a huge deal, and it’s really important for the offensive line. Cohesion is everything, and while the Badgers struggled in pass protection, another year of seasoning and experience means, at the very least, that the line isn’t going to be worse, and most of the time it’ll be far better.

Every college players says the same thing. There’s a quantum leap from high school to the freshman year, then things get a little easier as a sophomore. By the junior season, the player has it mostly figured out between the speed of the game, the time demands of balancing homework and football, and everything else about being a college student. And then as a senior, the game slows down to a standstill compared to the freshman season, the body has had four or five years in the weight room, and the player has been through enough to know what he’s doing. So yeah, to me, returning starters is the most basic, most important preseason stat there is.

Alright, you tell me. What does is really mean when someone is suspended for the dreaded “violation of team rules.”  - KP

A: I’ve always asked coaches about this, and while I don’t have any definitive on-the-record statements, this is what I’ve been able to gather.

First of all, you have to understand that coaches will do anything to keep a player from missing a Saturday. Yeah, there are few coaches here and there comfortable enough in their own skin to suspend a kid because his socks weren’t at the right height, but for the most part, a player who screws up, especially a starter, will run until he’s ready to yack, won’t get a fruit cup at dinner, or will suffer some sort of in-house punishment before he’d miss a game. Usually when a player gets nailed for violating team rules without any sort of an explanation made public, he has really screwed things up.

Again, from what I’ve been told every time I’ve asked, a “violation of team rules” usually means one of three things.

1) 10% of the time it was for smoking pot. I’m generalizing, but for the most part, alcohol-related issues, like underage drinking along with every other 18-20-year-old college kid on the face of the planet, gets handled in-house by running stadium steps or doing extra reps in the weight room; something in a boys-will-be-boys nature. Failing a drug test or getting caught smoking dope requires the coach to take more aggressive action.

2) 20% of the time it’s for being a dillhole. If a kid skips out on team meetings, is habitually late for practices, has a major attitude problem with the coaches, doesn’t pull his weight as far as working hard enough on the field, something like that, the coach will put the kid in a “time out” by suspending him for a game or so. Coaches do have to maintain some consistent semblance of team discipline at all times, and the one thing they don’t stand for is insubordination of any kind unless the player is a super-mega star.

For the most part, a small, short suspension is generally because of one of those two problems. The big, whopping, “violation of team rules,” that brings the longer suspensions for a month or so, comes from when a player breaks the law, mostly after getting drink and either driving or fighting, and he doesn’t leave the coaching staff any choice, or 3) he doesn’t go to class. 70% of the time a player violates team rules because he’s flunking basket weaving. If you see a long “violation of team rules” and the head coach isn’t saying why, it’s almost always because the player needs to spend every waking moment in the classroom trying to stay eligible.

If you could choose the conferences, which teams would you put in each? 5 conferences with 12 teams each, or 6 conferences with 10 teams each. I'm interested in seeing how you would line the teams up with each other. (you can rename the conferences also.) – Thomas

A: I’m fine with tradition, so I’d keep the names. I wouldn’t make too many changes, but I’d make it 12 teams per league instead of the 10 you’re talking about.
- ACC: As is, but lose BC and Maryland (history and all) to the Big East and add UCF and South Florida.
- Big East: As is, but lose South Florida while adding Penn State, Boston College, Maryland, East Carolina, and Vanderbilt.
- Big 12: As is, but lose Iowa State and add TCU. I’d think about finding a way to add Arkansas.
- Big Ten: As is, but lose Penn State and add Notre Dame and Iowa State.
- Pac 10: As is with Utah and BYU added.
- SEC: As is, but lose Vanderbilt and add Southern Miss

Do you think in our lifetime we will ever see a pre-season ranking that will show us the real top 25 teams?  I'm tired of teams being put on the list simply because of the name of the school.  Why not put Ohio State at #25 and let them work their way up the rankings as other teams have had to do.  Are they better than USC?  The press always makes them out to be a great team and every year we have to watch them show how overrated they are while losing yet another championship game.  USC will beat them simply because they are not from the Big-10 nor a bottom dweller like they usually schedule.  If OSU wants to run with the big dogs then they should schedule the big dogs. – CL

A: Uhhhhh, isn’t Ohio State playing USC at USC? If that’s not the nastiest non-conference road game possible, it’s close. What else do you want? Didn’t the Buckeyes play Texas two years in a row? Back when it was booked, going to Washington appeared to be a nasty trip for last season. I’m going to keep saying this, no one’s going to listen, and I’m going to end up saying it again in about ten minutes: Ohio State lost the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP two years in a row. It didn’t lose the International Bowl, or the Holiday or the Outback. It lost to Florida and LSU teams that would’ve beaten the other 117 teams in the nation, too. And again, Ohio State 31, Miami 24 in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. This team has won plenty of big games and deserves more respect. (BTW, I HATE having to come across as an OSU apologist.)

Why does Army even have a football team?  How do they recruit players?  "Hey son, serve your country, play some football but don't get your hopes up.  Even if you are one of the chosen few who get selected to go to the next level, Uncle Sam won't let you go."  My question: How does the ruling about that poor kid affect Army's football program?  (Before you think I'm not patriotic or don't know what's going on in the world, I am a Marine vet and served overseas.) – ScottyA

A: Most players don’t go to the NFL, even from the big schools, and 99% of the players realize early on that they’re going to have to make money doing something other than playing ball. Army has to get a specific type of player, but so does Air Force and so does Navy, and they’ve been successful. As far as the Caleb Campbell ruling, that won’t affect anything as far as recruiting. You can’t be dumb and go to Army; no one’s going there with dreams of playing for the Dallas Cowboys.

Bobby Bowden has 30-some wins at division 1-AA (I refuse to call it FCS) Samford counted in his win total for 1-A, what is logic behind this? – Colin M.

A: I don’t get it, I’ve never liked it, and to me, Joe Paterno’s career record is far more meaningful. Paterno was successful at the highest level from the get-go, while Bowden has wins over Gordon Junior College, the Tennessee Tech freshman squad, Millington Naval Air Station, and my favorite, the University of Mexico on his résumé. I’m not dogging Bowden, he’s obviously an all-time great, but Paterno has had the more impressive career.

I love the 3-4 defense than the Steelers use. It causes the Offensive line to really think about their blocking assignments. Since Offensive lines aren't as knowledgeable than the ones in the NFL, why don't more college teams use the 3-4 defense? The 3-4 can be used effectively against spreads because it gives the defense more speed and it is flexible enough to bring an additional safety for passing situations. Why isn't it used more often? – BP

A: Power running. At the pro level, the overall offensive line size and strength is neutralized by the NFL strength of the linebackers and the front three. Besides, the fourth linebacker is normally a big end, anyway. In college, if you have a 3-4, you had better have three big anchors up front or else the bigger, beefier O lines will pound away all day. As far as handling the spread, depending on who you talk to, the ends and the interior pressure from the tackles have as much to do with stopping it as anything else. The other problem is that some players do better on the line than in space. Look at Kansas State’s Ian Campbell. The guy was a killer as an undersized end, and then struggled when he was put outside as a hybrid player in the 3-4.