Fire over your questions to me at
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.)
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
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
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
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
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.