Fiu's Cavalcade of
Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances
Extravaganza of Import ... Part 1
What's your beef? ... Fire
2006 Season |
How the season will play
Part Three The 5 wacky
calls and 10 things to be grouchy about
With eight months
off and the season finally here, I kick off the Cavalcade of Whimsy with
three days of columns jam-packed with adventure, danger, and romance
thanks to a star-studded cast starring Fannie Flagg, the dueling urns of
Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Riley, the urn of Charo (even though
she’s not dead yet), the comedy stylings of Fred Travalena (who makes a
Richard Nixon face and throws up the peace sign with both hands),
Michael Phelps, and Fannie Flagg! Oh, wait, that’s Match Game 2019.
Sorry. Welcome to three days of self-righteously daft poppycock.
If this column sucks,
it’s not my fault …
a few decent tidbits were suspended because I’m playing Georgia
Southern. If I was playing Florida, they’d have found their way into the
a chance when we could have done something, I offered
you a chance
to be a cop and
you blew it!"
… It’ll be a normal Tuesday night 30 years from right now, just like
every other Tuesday night, and President Tebow will be getting into bed
next to his beautiful wife, who fell asleep a little early after a long
day. The kids will have been long tucked away, the dog will be out in
the yard, and all will seem right with the world. Tebow will stay up to
watch a little TV and catch the scores before turning in. Just as he’s
about to drift off into a deep, peaceful slumber, his eyes will bolt
wide open and he’ll feel this sick, gnawing pain in the pit of his
stomach as he realizes he passed on anything to do with Playboy. It'll
be at that moment, as only a long-time married man could fully
comprehend, that he didn’t take full advantage of being the superstar
quarterback at the University of Florida. He’ll then go off into another
room where he'll order two secret service agents to take turns kicking
him in the nads.
"Don't worry about it. If you miss it,
we lose." … When it
comes to big, monster football programs that don’t need the slightest
smidgen of sympathy, Ohio State is in the team photo, but it’s hard not
to feel a little bit for the team after the pummeling that has ensued
after losing two national title games. Now the pressure and expectations
go beyond the unrealistic and into a whole other dimension.
With almost everyone of note returning to a team full of players that
should be in an NFL camp, and with the addition of Terrelle Pryor, not
only is the season a total and complete failure if the Buckeyes don’t
get to the national title game, which is hard enough in itself, and not
only do they have to win it, but they have to beat an SEC team in Miami.
They could clobber USC 45-0 and go on to beat Oklahoma in the national
title game 35-14 and there would still be some in the college football
world saying, “Yeah, but what would they do against Georgia.”
its time to change you've got to rearrange/move your heart to what your
gonna be/sha na na na na na na na, sha na na na na na"
… If this sports off-season has shown anything, it’s that it doesn’t
matter who you are or what you've done. When a company wants to move on,
it’s bu-bye time.
If Brett Favre can be rejected by the Green Bay Packers (and rightly so
considering the way he jerked the team around), and if Joe Paterno can
be given a daily nudge out of Penn State by some ready for a transition,
then what hope is there for the rest of us?
Favre, at least, gave Paterno the blueprint on how to see if your
franchise loves you or not. Blubber like a little girl at your
ridiculous “retirement” speech, be instantly bored and throw out feelers
that you’d like to come back as you’re walking off the podium, and then
sit back and wait for the hug. If it doesn’t come, the team was never
But here’s the crazy part; Paterno’s 2008 Penn State team is really,
really good. As in could-win-the-Big-Ten good. This isn’t a Bobby Bowden
situation where the time has come and gone for a successful transition
to keep the party moving. Penn State, with this defense, one of the
nation’s best offensive lines, receiving corps, and defensive lines
(despite the loss of two key tackles), could certainly beat Coastal
Carolina, Oregon State, at Syracuse, Temple, Illinois, Michigan, at
Purdue, Indiana, and Michigan State. Let’s say the Nittany Lions win
those nine, not a stretch, and wins one of three road games at
Wisconsin, Ohio State and against a healthy and improved Iowa. That’s
10-2, a likely second place Big Ten finish and a possible trip to the
Memo to the Rose Bowl: When you have a chance to select the No. 2 SEC
team to face USC, you take it … There’s no reason for the BCS
rankings to matter anymore outside of the top two after the regular
season is over. Now there there’s a BCS Championship Game, and the
national championship doesn’t rotate bowls, there's just no point to any
other pecking order. The Rose Bowl can still be the Rose Bowl, the
Orange the Orange, and so on. They’re going to payout the same no matter
what. Fox will still want the primetime TV slots, and ABC will still
desperately want to hang on to the Rose Bowl. If you’re going to have
the BCS, figure out 1 vs. 2, and then let the big bowls do whatever the
heck they want.
“You know I'm not
a fan of that tippy-tappy, tic-tac-toe, wide-open skating.” … For
all the talk about the spread offense and how it can be the great
equalizer, since all you really need is a fast, smart quarterback and a
couple of backs who can move, but it could be argued that no one has yet
to win a national title because of the spread.
While Alex Smith and
Vince Young haven’t had any receiver help whatsoever, they have yet to
show they can be NFL stars They’re the test cases. One of them has to
become special, or watch how the talent starts to flow even more to the
Fine, so Texas might not have been able to unleash the full fury of
Vince Young if it didn’t run its version of the spread, but that team
was a juggernaut because Young was so good. The style of offense didn’t
really matter since Young would’ve been great no matter what, but that's
still the one example.
Florida didn’t win the 2006 because of the spread. It won because of its
defense. While the spread has certainly helped programs like West
Virginia, Illinois, Utah, and with its version, Hawaii, get to the BCS,
it hasn’t really helped anyone get over the top. You still have to
tackle, and you still need a defense. If you have that, like LSU did
last year, it doesn’t matter what offense you run. Five of the current
six best teams in America, Georgia, Ohio State, LSU, USC, and Oklahoma,
play it relatively straight with Florida the one running the spread. And
here’s why; if you want to bring in NFL talent, you have to run an NFL
The pros aren’t that happy about getting their quarterbacks hit, and
while New England runs a Texas Tech-like spread, but with more downfield
passing, the Florida/West Virginia version isn’t going to fly at the
next level. If you succeed in a spread offense, you have to prove to the
NFL types that you’re not a system guy.
Off the topic … As the well-rounded sports fan that I am, I watch
a lot of baseball until the NFL preseason kicks in, and I’ve begun to
have a problem with the knee-jerk reaction of disgust every time a base
runner dives into first to try to beat a close play.
“If it got you there any faster by diving, you’d see everyone doing that
in the Olympics,” is the line, or something to that effect, that every
analyst automatically throws out. But is that really the case?
If you’re talking about a finish line going from the ground up to
infinity, then yes, an extra stride will get you across a line faster
than diving. However, in baseball, a runner has to go to a specific
target on the ground. That extra stride might get the head or an
outreached hand across the base, but the foot might not actually hit the
bag. No one says a player should try to run though a tailing fly ball
instead of diving for it. He’s stretching out to get to a specific spot
down low, too. Have you ever heard a football announcer yell at a runner
for diving for the pylon, rather than run through it? Since everything
in the history of baseball has been geeked up to death, this seems like
something that someone, somewhere, should analyze.
Or just go to the Tom Osborne school of evidence tampering …
A quick note to all colleges, coaches, and administrators: Never,
ever, EVER, try to handle serious criminal matters in-house. The media
will eventually find out everything in time, so there’s no use to not
provide any info possible, so it's always best to go out of your way to
keep things above board.
If a kid gets caught peeing on the lawn or with a joint, that’s one
thing. Welcome to college. If players are being accused of sexual
matters or any kind of felonious assault, the school no longer is a
“family,” it’s an institution that has a right to protect all its
students. Iowa, after the Pierre Pierce case, should know better, even
if it thinks it's in the right. Otherwise, everyone will assume a
cover-up. No, Iowa might not have covered up the alleged sexual assault
involving two former players, but it wasn’t forthcoming enough in
providing information, and that's what has caused the pickle.
The winner will
play either the 2007 New England Patriots or the 1948 Thomas Dewey
campaign … There’s no truth to the rumor that ESPN will run a
tournament of the most dominant dynasties of all time with Michael
Phelps going against the 2005 pre-loss to Texas USC team.
(Sorry, but I can't let it go ... that
all-time tournament before that Rose Bowl is still one of the biggest
blunders in recent sports features history.)
Fine, so without the acoustic version of Wanted Dead or Alive we
never get Kurt’s epic Unplugged performance … Saying Phelps, because
of his medals, is the greatest athlete of all-time compared to Bo
Jackson or Carl Lewis, is like saying Bon Jovi is better than Nirvana
because he came out with more albums.
And you know Bolt would give Chad Johnson a run for his money when it
came to celebrations … Track talent rarely translates into football
production, one big smack from a linebacker usually ends the experiment,
but considering what Jamaica just did on the track, and considering the
size of Usain Bolt, I send my recruiting coordinator to Kingston
yesterday to see how many athletes are remotely close to firing out a
700 on the SAT. I also do everything possible to see if Bolt can run a
fly pattern with any regularity.
Where are Jammal Lord and Darrell Shepard when you need them …
Has there ever been a collection of college quarterbacks like the Big 12
is trotting out this year? Considering Baylor’s passing offense under
new head coach Art Briles should be occasionally dangerous, and Iowa
State has some good new options to run its attack in Phillip Bates and
Austen Arnaud, no one gets a week off this season.
It’s possible that no team has ever had to deal with as many great
quarterbacks and passing offenses in one year like Texas will have to
handle. The Longhorns won’t lose to a Florida Atlantic or a Rice, but
new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will have some work to do with
the nation’s 109th ranked pass defense.
- Florida Atlantic. Rusty Smith was the Sun Belt Player of the Year
after leading the league’s best passing attack with 3,688 passing yards,
32 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
- at UTEP. The Miners finished 26th in the nation in passing led by
Trevor Vittatoe, who threw for 3,101 yards and 25 touchdowns with seven
- Arkansas. Yeah, the passing game still needs work, but Bobby Petrino
is going to try getting the air attack going right away behind Casey
Dick, who appears to be night-and-day better now that he gets to chuck
- Rice. The Owls finished 15th in the nation in passing. Chase Clement
was sixth in the country in total offense and threw for 3,377 yards and
- at Colorado. Cody Hawkins is a rising star.
- Oklahoma. Sam Bradford led the nation in passing efficiency.
- Missouri. Chase Daniel will likely be a Heisman finalist again.
- at Oklahoma State. Zac Robinson was 12th in the nation in passing
- at Texas Tech. Mr. Harrell, your table is ready.
- Baylor. Averaged 273 yards through the air last year.
- at Kansas. Todd Reesing is on the Heisman short list.
- Texas A&M. Finally, a week off, right? Stephen McGee threw for 362
yards and three touchdowns last year on the Longhorns.
By the way, Texas Tech’s slate isn’t much better getting Nevada’s Colin
Kaepernick, SMU and the June Jones attack, and UMass and its star QB,
Liam Coen, to go along with games against the Big 12 stars.
Three words: Bo Levi Mitchell … Thanks to six years of
eligibility and the expanded Hawaii schedule, former Warrior star Timmy
Chang’s career passing mark of 17,072 yards once appeared unbreakable.
After all, he finished 2,041 yards ahead the No. 2 man, BYU’s Ty Detmer.
But if the right player could be in the right system for four years, he
might do it. If Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell does what he did last year,
he’ll finish his career with over 16,000 yards in three seasons. If he
had started as a freshman, the record would be in sight. That's why the
SMU quarterbacks, if a true freshman really does keep Justin Willis on
the bench, and the North Texas situation, when Riley Dodge takes over,
probably next year as a redshirt freshmen, could bear watching.
Announcer: “This is Jim
Carr. Jeff Hanson, I just can't tell you the pleasure you've given us.
I'd like to ask one question. Win, lose or draw, this is the Chiefs'
last game before you leave. Anything you want to say to Flood City?”
Hanson: “What do you mean, Flood City? …
There’s a reason why
the NHL is the NHL. One of the coolest ideas the league has created is
the outdoor game. Last year it was Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo. This year,
it’s Detroit vs. Chicago in Wrigley Field, and it’s going to be a
tougher ticket to get than a Game 7 for the Stanley Cup. This would be
an ideal game for December 31st, as everyone would give it a look for
the sheer novelty, but this is the NHL. What does it do? It puts it on
New Year’s Day, you know, bowl day, meaning all of Canada will be tuned
in, along with the five die-hard American hockey fans who aren’t in
And to close out this day's portion of fun and merriment with
a resounding, preachy thud … We all need a little bit of shiny
happiness in a time when the economy is in the tank and gas prices are
through the roof. Floods, hurricanes, and other natural wonders are
bombing away on us daily, the threat of terrorism hangs over out heads
like the crazy uncle in the corner that no one wants to talk about, and
the nightly news has become a horror show. Now, more than ever, finding
warm sports fuzzies are a must to distract us from the everyday world.
However, this only works if they’re real.
We’ve been lied to before.
From Mark to Barry, Lance to Ben to Marion, Roger to Andy, there have
been more than enough examples of cheating to demand that sports fans,
and more importantly, the media, be far more cynical and not be afraid
to inquire about the legitimacy of what we’re all seeing. With that in
mind, I’m begging everyone around the football world, from the fans, to
Roger Goodell, to the NCAA, to the people covering the sport, who
inexplicably continue to have their heads in the sand after we just
went through this with baseball, to ask more questions and be more
critical about how natural the athletes are. It’s not fair to the sport,
and especially the players, to continue to brush the idea of steroids
and undetectable human growth hormones aside, like everyone has done
over the last two weeks as they assume all the Olympic and world records
are just magically falling because of the athletes are just that good.
From moment one, the Olympics have been a steaming pile of hoo-ha
(helped by consistent ads from Coca-Cola and McDonald's to show how
their products and healthy lifestyles go hand in hand), and it all
started with the host country. China, the bastion of truth, honesty and
humanity that it is, artificially cleaned up its air for two weeks by
keeping cars out of Beijing, used computer generated fireworks for part
of the opening ceremony, pulled a Technotronic Pump Up The Jam by having
the Chinese version of Ya Kid K, a very cute 7-year-old girl, handle the
singing, while a cuter-looking 9-year-old girl did the lip-syncing,
trotted out obviously under-aged female gymnasts, allegedly made
possible by phony passports (although, do you really want to go from
silver to gold on an age technicality?), and put the kibosh on any
protesters of any kind. Start with that, and the slope gets slipperier
and slipperier, and you just know, someday, these Olympics will have an
ugly footnote attached to them.
hope Usain Bolt really is that fast, but past Jamaican star runners have
been nailed for banned substances, and if something doesn’t smell fishy
to you when an entire program all of a sudden rises up and becomes
dominant, and one guy is so much faster than the rest of the
field, then it’s your fault if you’re shocked when it all turns out to
be a farce.
Of course, in today’s day and age of advanced technologies, better
training, better scouting, better coaching, and a whole new generation
of Marv Marinoviches browbeating sports and training into their children
from conception, there’s going to be a higher level of athlete than the
world has ever seen. However, when world records start falling like
they’re no big deal, and when 41-year-old swimmers are doing things
21-year-old world-class swimmers can't, and when it’s all being done so
easily, it's time to start digging deeper. Adding to the hypocrisy is
the ring-leader of it all, Bob Costas, who can’t go 14 seconds without
bringing up Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle, while pining for the
over-romanticized pre-steroid days of baseball, and yet he has played
lickspittle to Michael Phelps without daring to at least put the star of
the games on the record to deny ever using performance enhancing
drugs (call me totally naive, but he's one of the few who appear to be
Fine, let the Olympics have their day, at least they took the focus off
of Brett Favre for ten minutes, and now we’re finally close to life
beginning again. Again, I beg of you to use a more critical eye than
ever, if only because no one else is when it comes to football.
I want to enjoy what I’m seeing. I want to be amazed. I want to assume
the best, and I'm trying to go into the football season with an open
mind. It isn't working.
Whenever you hear the words “quick healer” or that a football player is
a medical marvel, read between the lines. Whenever you see an old guy
doing things old guys have never done before on an NFL field, and in
some ways, improving well into their 30s, blaring sirens need to go off.
Whenever you see a college sports information department praising a
player for being the strongest ever in the weight room, roll your eyes.
When the NFL Combine kicks in and certain mediocre teams somehow crank
out workout warriors, understand what's probably happening.
Remember, the phrase “never tested positive” doesn’t mean anything. The
tests continue to be ten steps behind the times, and the drug testers
continue to admit as much. The harsh reality is that nothing much can
really be done if someone really wants to cheat.
Would you be any less entertained if most offensive linemen were a
natural 265 pounds? Would your college football Saturday be any less
fulfilling or the games any less exciting if linebackers were running
legit 4.7s at an honest 225 pounds? Baseball has gotten better and even
more enjoyable even though chemical factories bashing 500 foot home runs
73 times a year have gone bye-bye, and football can be the same way.
Eventually, it has to be.
But if you start counting by kicking your foot, you’ve gone too far …
With all that said, steroids don’t have to be all bad. Using the
technology available to heal faster isn’t a negative. It’s when the
drugs and the human growth hormones are used to give a player a
competitive advantage, and potentially ruin his or her health, that
makes it a problem.
Ask any parent whose kid is having a hard time clearing up an infection
what a little dose of steroids can do for a breathing problem or an ear
ache. If a new ligament isn’t responding naturally and a shot will help
the knee/elbow/whatever get better, there's no harm. But then it all has
to be regulated when it comes to football, and that’s just too much
effort, especially at the collegiate level, but in lieu of proper
testing, it might be the only hope.
How the season will play
Part Three The 5 wacky
calls and 10 things to be grouchy about