2008 Kickoff Cavalcade of Whimsy, Part Three
Arizona QB Willie Tuitama
Arizona QB Willie Tuitama
Posted Aug 24, 2008

Willie Tuitama's Arizona over USC? The SEC will lose at least six non-conference games against BCS teams? These are just two of the wacky calls, to go along with ten things to be grouchy about, and more, in part three of Pete Fiutak's Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Fiu's Cavalcade of Whimsy

a.k.a. Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances

The Kickoff Extravaganza of Import ... Part 3

By Pete Fiutak   
What's your beef? ... Fire off your thoughts  
Past Whimsies
2006 Season | 2007 Season

Part One The Way Too Long Kickoff to the Season
Part Two How the season will play out

The 2008 Wacky Big Calls …
Five seemingly ridiculous predictions that aren’t all that far-fetched.

5) Arizona will beat USC
Last year's Wacky Call ... Nebraska will beat USC.

Arizona will have one of those offenses that’ll go for long stretches looking like two 84-year-old men kissing, but at other times it’ll go ballistic with Willie Tuitama playing like a Heisman winner. USC is always good for a clunker here and there, especially on the road, and the Arizona game played in late October, and after a trip to Washington State, is the perfect time for a big mental letdown, while Arizona should be relatively sharp after getting up for Cal the week before. Yes, I still get mocked for my call of the Huskers beating USC, but it wasn’t that crazy considering Washington almost upset the Trojans two weeks later and then Stanford came through with the shocker in early October.
4) Notre Dame will start out 5-2
Last year's Wacky Call ... Notre Dame will start out 1-7.

So I was wrong last year; Notre Dame started out 1-9. However, lost in the disastrous season was a good year from an improving defense that should be even better. The offense should be far, far better now that the skill guys know what they’re doing, but it all comes down to an O line that couldn’t pass protect. Here’s the early schedule: San Diego State, Michigan, at Michigan State, Purdue, Stanford, at North Carolina. The Tar Heel game will be tough, but I’m predicting losses to the Michigans and wins against everyone else before reality settles in. The Irish will lose at Boston College and USC, but will still go to a decent bowl.

3) Michigan State will hold an important key to the national title chase
Last year's Wacky Call ... Michigan will start out 10-0, Wisconsin will start out 9-0, and Ohio State will start out 11-0.

Here’s the call. If Wisconsin can get by the beartrap trip to Fresno State, and if Ohio State beats USC, then the winner of the Buckeye-Badger showdown in Madison on October 4th will be for a trip to the BCS Championship unless one team gets in the way: Michigan State.

The Spartans are good enough to hang with anyone in America, and the trip to East Lansing has been a traditional body shot for good Wisconsin teams. The two play on November 1st, while Ohio State has to go to East Lansing on October 18th.

2) Auburn and West Virginia will both be unbeaten when they play on October 23rd
Last year's Wacky Call ... Rutgers will be 11-0 going into the regular season finale at Louisville.

West Virginia’s schedule before Auburn: Villanova, at East Carolina, at Colorado, Marshall, Rutgers, Syracuse.
Auburn’s schedule before West Virginia: UL Monroe, Southern Miss, at Mississippi State, LSU, Tennessee, at Vanderbilt, Arkansas.

1) The SEC is going to lose at least six regular season non-conference games against BCS teams.
Last year's Wacky Call ... The SEC is going to lose at least three big non-conference games.

Last year, among the high profile dates, Tennessee lost to Cal, Auburn lost to South Florida, South Carolina lost to Clemson and Alabama lost to Florida State. The supposed be-all-end-all league will lose at least three BCS non-conference games again, and it’ll probably be more than six.

Here are the possible suspects: Kentucky at Louisville, South Carolina at Clemson, Auburn at West Virginia, Arkansas at Texas, Alabama vs. Clemson, Mississippi State at Georgia Tech, and Ole Miss at Wake Forest. That’s not counting Vanderbilt at Miami University (who’s likely the class of the MAC) and at Wake Forest. I think Georgia will win at Arizona State and Tennessee will win at UCLA, but those would hardly be jaw-dropping upsets if they went the other way.

Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa).
 - UNLV threw out the fun stat that Casey Flair, one of its great wide receivers, has caught passes in 35 straight games. However, part of the streak is a one catch for -1 yard performance in last year’s loss to Hawaii.
- Arian Foster is only 685 yards away from being Tennessee's all-time rushing leader. Think about the great talent that has gone through Knoxville. While that sounds impressive, it’s not like being the greatest Volunteer receiver. The most talented UT runner is probably Jamal Lewis. Reggie Cobb might be No. 2.
- If Bryant Gumbel was the question, Sterling Sharpe isn’t the answer.
- Florida Atlantic head coach Howard Schnellenberger is 5-0 lifetime in bowl games. He has to be considered among the most interesting head coaching figures of all-time.
- Call it a sneaky suspicion, but even though Michigan might have a rough start (I sort of like this Utah team the Wolverines have to deal with in week one), I don’t think this will be that bad a first season for Rich Rodriguez. Remember, this is still Michigan. There are athletes there who can play. On defense and running game alone the Wolverines should be in the top 20.
- I’ve never received more hate mail than when I made a crack last year that the Big Ten Network couldn’t survive by showing non-revenue sports on a regular basis. What happened? When push comes to shove, the daily programming turns to the Big Ten’s Greatest Games, and they’re not women’s volleyball or men’s soccer. Expect even more of that now with the Comcast deal in place. (BTW, I’m on from time to time commenting on some of those classing games. If you realize it’s me, you’ll see my impersonation of Renee Zellweger. I literally couldn’t see and my eyes were squinty/shut thanks to a mega-watt spotlight blaring two feet from my face. I had a blind spot for two days.)
2008 hopes, dreams, prayers and predictions …

The nation’s statistical leaders …
Rusher: Javon Ringer, Michigan State … Passer: Graham Harrell, Texas Tech … Receiver: Chris Williams, New Mexico State

The award winners will be … Heisman: Graham Harrell, Texas Tech … Doak Walker: Chris Wells, Ohio State … Davey O'Brien: Tim Tebow, Florida ... Johnny Unitas: Harrell ... Outland: Sen'Derrick Marks, Auburn … Lombardi: Marks … Biletnikoff: Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech … Butkus: James Laurinaitis, Ohio State … Thorpe: Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio StateRay Guy: Chris Miller, Ball State … Mackey: Travis Beckum, Wisconsin … Rimington: Alex Mack, California … Bednarik: Laurinaitis ... Groza: Austin Starr, Indiana

The five Heisman finalists will be … Graham Harrell, Texas Tech; Tim Tebow, Florida; Pat White, West Virginia; Chase Daniel, Missouri; Chris Wells, Ohio State

Since I’m always wrong on picking the five Heisman finalists in the preseason, it’ll be these five … Javon Ringer, Michigan State; Knowshon Moreno, Georgia; James Laurinaitis, Ohio State; Sam Bradford, Oklahoma; Mike Goodson, Texas A&M

The first ten picks in the 2009 NFL Draft will be
1. Matthew Stafford, QB Georgia (Jr.)
2. Chris Wells, RB Ohio State (Jr.)
3. Andre Smith, OT Alabama (Jr.)
4. Sen’Derrick Marks, DT/DE Auburn (Jr.)
5. Fili Moala, DT USC
6. Malcolm Jenkins, CB Ohio State
7. Michael Oher, OT Ole Miss
8. Knowshon Moreno, RB Georgia (3rd year sophomore)
9. Michael Johnson, DE Georgia Tech
10. Vance Walker, DT Georgia Tech

Five “Kansases” … No, these teams aren’t going to go to the BCS like Kansas was but they won’t be taken seriously and will be far better than anyone thinks. 1) Iowa, 2) Northwestern, 3) Ole Miss, 4) Louisiana Tech, 5) Iowa State

Five “Clemsons” … These five teams will be considered among the favorites for their respective conference titles, but will come up short with a relatively disappointing season: 1) Georgia, 2) BYU, 3) South Florida, 4) Ball State, 5) Arizona State

Think Wisconsin vs. UNLV or Western Michigan vs. Iowa (two of the five games in this category last year) … Five total mismatches that won’t be upsets, but will be closer than expected because the favorite won’t be paying attention. 1) Troy at Ohio State, Sept. 20; 2) Illinois vs. Western Michigan, Nov. 8; 3) East Carolina vs. Virginia Tech, Aug. 30; 4) Louisiana Tech at Kansas, Oct. 1; 5) San Jose State at Nebraska, Sept. 6
The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Ten things I’m already grouchy about, and the season hasn’t even started.
10. The College Football Hall of Fame
Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to what it really takes to get into the College Football Hall of Fame. My ballot isn’t all that hard to fill out. If you have to ask if a player should be a Hall of Famer, he isn’t one.

According to the criteria, the player has to have been an All-America who’s 10 years out of school. He must be a good citizen, but he doesn’t need to have earned his degree, and then there’s the dopey need to carry “the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community and his fellow man with love of his country.” That’s not a joke.

With that said, how can there be a legitimate college football Hall of Fame without Chris Spielman, Lawrence Taylor, Deion Sanders or John Robinson? I understand LT being out on the off-the-field stuff, but Spielman and Sanders (make that Comrades Spielman and Sanders) might have been the greatest college players to have ever played their respective positions. Robinson is an all-timer of a coach who should also be a lock.
9. Misdiagnosed injuries
“Well, he’s walking on it, so that’s a good sign.” Not necessarily. You can walk, run, and function with a torn ACL, a hairline fracture, or a variety of other injuries that end up knocking out a player for the year. It doesn’t mean a player will survive the rest of the season just because he’s jogging around after his leg was bent under him with a thousand pounds of man on top.

8. Jesse Palmer
I’m sure he’s a great guy, almost all the boo-ya types are, and he’s a decent analyst who obviously knows the game, but he’s the freaking Bachelor. He has a look on his face like he’s the one who lived the life as a Florida star quarterback that Tebow should be taking advantage of. It’s as if he’s taking time out of his busy schedule of being hit on by hot chicks to give you his take on the Big 12 North race. The College Football Live show needs Beano on to even things out, or at least Palmer needs spiked hair and a Taco Bell drive-thru headset to make him look like Vince the ShamWow! dude.
 7. Former Cincinnati QB Ben Mauk
Tommy: “
You know, a lot of people go to college for seven years.”
Richard: “I know. They’re called doctors.”

I get it, going out into the real world and getting a job sucks, and it needs to be prolonged as long as humanly possible, but it’s time. You should get four years of eligibility plus one redshirt, and that’s it. The NCAA already denied Cincinnati QB Ben Mauk’s request for another year of eligibility after missing most of his freshman season at Wake Forest with a foot injury, but Mauk is trying to keep the party going as long as possible.

6. Dogging the non-conference schedules
While there’s a whole lot of flaming garbage going on in September before the conference schedules kick it in full force, you can’t dog the SEC teams like Georgia for playing Georgia Southern or Big Ten teams like Wisconsin for taking on Cal Poly. All you can ask for from any BCS conference team is to play one really nasty non-conference game against another BCS team, or go on the road to play an elite non-BCS team. Do that, and everything else should be forgiven. Georgia is going to Arizona State and has to play Georgia Tech. Wisconsin is travelling to Fresno State, and went to UNLV last year. Ohio State gets a total free pass for playing Youngstown State, Ohio and Troy thanks to the road trip to USC.

So who deserves to be fired on? Indiana (Western Kentucky, Murray State, Ball State, Central Michigan), Minnesota (Northern Illinois, at Bowling Green, Montana State, Florida Atlantic), Rutgers comes close, but I’ll allow the home game against North Carolina, and Texas Tech comes close, but I’ll allow the game at Nevada.
 5. Last year’s Georgia schedule
The Georgia run to the Sugar Bowl wasn’t that amazing. The Dawgs blew up a Hawaii team that would’ve barely finished with a winning record if it played in a BCS league, and now everyone’s all geeked out. If you’re going to give a lot of love to the 42-30 win over Florida, then you have to give respect to an Ohio State team that held Michigan to 96 yards of total offense and three points in the supposedly emotional final regular season game for Lloyd Carr. Of course, Michigan went on to crank out 524 yards of total offense and 41 points on the Gators in the Capital One Bowl.

Yes, the Georgia blowout over Auburn was impressive, but so was the Tennessee first half against the Dawgs. The other wins in the seven-game winning streak to close things out came against Vanderbilt, Troy, Kentucky and Georgia Tech. Good, but it wasn’t nearly the huge deal many are making it out to be.

 4. Watch Lists
The post-season awards should be far easier to figure out. The Biletnikoff goes to the best receiver and the Doak Walker goes to the best running back. Got it. There should be one award for the best quarterback, one for the best defensive lineman, one for the best offensive lineman, and so on. The preseason Watch Lists call attention to the awards, but as a voter for almost all of the post-season honors, they mean nothing, and the only time they’re worth looking at is to see who was missed. If it’s really going to be a Watch List, put the top ten at each position on there and call them the favorites. That’ll get the discussion going.
 3. The BCS computers
After getting into discussions with some of the computer types who deal with the BCS, I sort of understand the idea behind having so many computer formulas in the mix … in theory. In reality, it adds to the goofiness of the whole system and makes fans, players and coaches nuts. While the computers, overall, are far more believable than the human aspect of the equation, the process has to become more user friendly so everyone knows what needs to be done. Throw them all out in place of strength of schedule. You want to win the national title? Then play real teams and force the issue. Do this, and you’ll see just how quickly the teams who want to play for the whole ball of wax ditch those FCS games.

 2. Bowl sponsors
I respectfully ask the bowls to kiss my perky taut butt if I forget to add the sponsor into a bowl name every time I mention it. I get it that sponsorships are important, believe me, and we all do our best to accommodate them by putting the full official name of the bowl into the projections and most of the things we do, but sometimes it’s just too clunky. If you have a problem with that, then tell your sponsor to pony up the Chick-fil-A coin and have the bowl named after the company.
The SEC and the national title
No one’s saying LSU, once it got healthy after over a month off, wasn’t the best team in America in 2007. However, with eight months to let last season digest, that regular season loss to Arkansas becomes more and more inexcusable. The Tigers had everything on the line against a mediocre Hog team at home, and lost. Yeah, it was tripe overtime, but a loss is a loss no matter how it happens. It keeps getting glossed over, but if Pat White doesn’t get banged up, West Virginia beats Pitt and LSU goes on to beat Hawaii 65-0 in the Sugar Bowl (at least we then would’ve gotten Georgia vs. USC in the Rose Bowl). Of course, the Tigers needed Missouri to lose to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game, too. Combine that with the luck of the league in 2006 when USC lost to UCLA so Florida could get in against Ohio State, and now there’s an important theoretical discussion that needs to be had.

If the SEC really is the best conference in the country (even though the Big 12 has to be in the fight this season), then will the league get the automatic benefit of the doubt no matter what? Let’s say, for example, Ohio State goes unbeaten. Considering that would mean the Buckeyes would win at USC and at Wisconsin, few could reasonably argue against putting them in the national title game. Now, let’s say Clemson beats Alabama 17-13 in the opener, blows through an ACC that appears to be mediocre, and finishes 12-0 with a 24-21 win over South Carolina before winning the ACC championship. Now, let’s say Georgia pulls an LSU and wins the SEC title with an impressive 35-10 win over Auburn, but lost in triple overtime both at LSU and against Florida in the regular season. Each would be far more acceptable losses than LSU’s defeats to Kentucky and Arkansas last season, and you’d have a huge segment of the world assuming that UGA is the best team in America.

And then the chaos would ensure.

You’d have an Ohio State team that almost no one in believes can beat an SEC champion like Georgia until it actually happens, and an unbeaten Clemson team that didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Do you still put Georgia in the national title? Would a two-loss SEC champion be more deserving of a national title shot than the unbeaten champion from the ACC? If you’re looking for a plus-one to be put in place some day, this is the scenario you need to be begging for.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
 1) Overrated: Swimming 17 races in a week ... Underrated: Going to all three days of Lollapalooza
 2) Overrated: Rich Rodriguez’s issues with West Virginia  … Underrated: Bob Pruett’s issues with Marshall
 3) Overrated: The 2008 3-13 Miami Dolphins and the 2-14 Atlanta Falcons ... Underrated: The 2010 SEC West Champion Alabama Crimson Tide, and the 2011 SEC West Champion Arkansas Razorbacks
 4) Overrated: Touch of Gray commercials ... Underrated: “Hope I die before I get old.”
 5) Overrated: Succession plans ... Underrated: Going outside the family

“You know I'm born to lose, and gambling's for fools/But that's the way I like it baby, I don't wanna live forever” … The three lines this week that appear to be a tad off. These picks were a complete and utter disaster last year, but if you’re an “investor,” all you care about is a prognosticator going completely one way or all the way the other. So here we go … 1) Colorado State +11.5 over Colorado, 2) Boston College -10 over Kent State, 3) Western Michigan +14 over Nebraska

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … I’ve spent the last eight months getting ready for the party to start. Welcome back. The six-foot sub is on its way.

Part One The Way Too Long Kickoff to the Season
Part Two How the season will play out