Cavalcade of Whimsy - "BCS Busters"
Fresno State WR Marlon Moore
Fresno State WR Marlon Moore
Posted Sep 9, 2008

Are teams like Fresno State, BYU and East Carolina BCS Busters or are they just really good? The Penn State situation, guidelines for face-painting, the Jake Locker penalty, and much more in this week's Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Fiu's Cavalcade of Whimsy

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

By Pete Fiutak   
What's your beef? ... Fire off your thoughts  
Past Whimsies
2006 Season | 2007 Season
Preseason Cavalcade | Week 1

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … I was suspended by Joe Paterno after Penn State Police found a “small amount” of marijuana in my former college apartment. It wasn’t my pot so I was allowed to dress, but I didn’t get to play.

“The defense department regrets to inform you that your sons were dead because they were stupid.” ...
I'll deny writing this 14 years from now when daughter one goes off to blow $300,000 for four years of higher learning.

You’re supposed to do dumb things in college.

The idea is to explore while learning and experiencing new things both in the classroom and out, and if that includes violating a silly law or two, so be it. You’re supposed to, uh, inhale, drink bad beer, do some random smooching, eat lousy food, and blow off a class here and there when the mood to throw around a Frisbee strikes. Of course, you make up for it all by scrambling like mad pulling all-nighters to cram for exams while learning how to juggle and balance the irresponsibility of newfound freedom with the hard work involved in learning and producing at a high level. That’s the pure joy of college; you’re supposed to screw up and be a little nuts. However, you don’t get that luxury if you’re a high profile athlete, not anymore, and the Penn State players currently in hot water should've known better. They don't get the leeway to make dumb mistakes after all the problems this off-season.

The recently suspended players needed to go above and beyond the line when it came to being as clean as possible, because at Penn State, especially now, mistakes get magnified. Other schools (who shall remain nameless) do a great job of sweeping things under the rug. Penn State punishes, not harshly enough for some, but Joe Paterno deals with things head on. But now things have changed and it's up to the players to be more responsible than they were in the past.

In today’s day and age of instant information, the players know just how fast their mistakes can be magnified. 20 years ago, it took longer for mistakes to get through the news cycle. Now, if you get arrested or get in trouble in any way, you’ll be on a home page in 15 minutes and a message board in five. In the past it was up to the coaches to maintain some semblance of institutional control. Now it’s up to the players, and at the moment, they need to be perfect.

Unfortunately, high-profile college athletes are the ambassadors for the universities. Would you care about The Ohio State University or the University of Southern California in any way on a daily basis at this time of year if the two schools didn’t have monster football programs? The breakthrough in the chemistry lab last week at XYZ State isn’t going to make the AP wire, but the name of the wide receiver who got charged with a DUI will be known by every sports fan, and the school name is always attached to the player. It's not fair, but that's what the players sign up for. They're not regular students.

Would that make Bill Stewart the Sammy Hagar? … West Virginia now seems like a once great band that lost the star singer, said all the right things about being bigger and better than ever, and then came out with an OU812 effort. Alright, let’s start the what-iffing. If Rich Rodriguez was still the head coach of the Mountaineers, do they lose to East Carolina? September 20, 2003 against Cincinnati was the last time West Virginia lost to a non-BCS conference team (the Bearcats were in Conference USA at the time). Under Stewart, the Mountaineers have to quickly show what an aberration this was. To get thoroughly dominated in the second game of the year, and in the first battle against an FCS team, isn't good.

And you have to promise to tone it down a wee bit if it turns out that the Hokies and Mountaineers just plain stink …
I’ll throw it out there. Let’s say West Virginia regroups, beats Auburn at home, loses one more game to, say, Louisville, and goes off to the BCS as the Big East champion with a 10-2 mark. Now let’s say Virginia Tech struggles a bit but still ends up winning the ACC title, which isn’t all that far-fetched considering how down the league is. What happens if East Carolina runs the table, sub-question, do the Pirates deserve BCS consideration with one loss to a team like Southern Miss?

If the Pirates do finish without a blemish, it's possible they'll have beaten the ACC and Big East champions, two other ACC teams on the road, NC State and Virginia, last year’s Conference USA champion on the road, UCF, and a good Southern Miss team on the road. Of course, that would mean a win in the Conference USA title game, too.

Do the Pirates deserve to play for the whole ball of wax over a one-loss SEC team, a one-loss USC and/or a one-loss Big 12 champion? Let’s throw one more wrench into the equation. What if BYU achieves its Quest for Perfection with wins over Washington, UCLA, at TCU and at Utah on the résumé? Would you feel happy with two non-BCS conference teams playing for the national title if there aren’t any unbeaten BCS teams? Obviously things like this never work out as planned, but this could be a blast of a storyline as the season goes on.

“Oooh fuuudge! Only I didn't say "Fudge." I said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the "F-dash-dash-dash" word!” … Washington QB Jake Locker had to be the team leader as he stood up and apologized to his teammates and coaches for getting nailed with a penalty for spontaneously flinging the ball into the air after his last-second touchdown against BYU. Now the world needs to apologize to Locker for putting the kibosh on any future pure, unfiltered joyful moments from a guy who's obviously everything you’d want in a college player. I sort of prefer the Locker who was caught on camera mouthing an exasperated f-bomb after BYU blocked the extra point attempt.

But as far as the karma police are concerned, the Cougars are still playing with house money after winning the 1984 national title without beating a team with a pulse … It came as no shock whatsoever that 99% of the e-mails to us criticizing the call on Locker came from non-BYU fans, and almost everyone who agreed with it appeared to Cougar die-hards. As I write every time fans of a team feel screwed, put the shoe on the other foot. Had BYU been the one penalized and had Washington ended up blocking the extra point for the win, would Cougar fans be so strict about the celebration rule being followed to the letter? For any other fan base, the answer is obviously no, but in this case I believe more BYU fans than most would’ve accepted it on a rule-is-a-rule theory

“Rehabilitated? That's a bulls*** word, so you just go on ahead and stamp that form there, sonny, and stop wasting my damn time. Truth is, I don't give a s***.” … Former Cincinnati QB Ben Mauk keeps coming up with new pitches in his never-ending quest to get another year of eligibility. He suffered a foot injury early in his freshman year at Wake Forest and later missed a year with a broken arm suffered in the 2006 season opener. He then transferred to Cincinnati where he was a star last season, and now he's trying for a sixth year he feels he should have coming because of the past injury problems. The NCAA has denied his requests on five separate appeals, but that doesn’t mean Mauk is done trying to squeeze out the little life his football career has left. Now there's a new twist; he’s suing to try to get back on the field. I’d mock the effort (and I did a few weeks ago), but I write about college football for a living, have ESPNU on half the day, listen to XMU the other half, and own a wardrobe built by Old Navy. Go get 'em, Ben. You might as well give it a shot, because when it's over, it's over.

Ooh, the Germans are mad at me. I'm so scared! Oooh, the Germans!”From an official to the crowd at the Stanford - Arizona State game: “Please do not blow the whistle in the stands or there will be, uh … consequences.” All that was missing was an “and stuff” at the very end

Well, it's not that I don't like you, but, well to be perfectly honest, I'm just having some trouble getting past the face painting.” …
It’s time the guidelines for school sprit through face and body painting be established once and for all.

1) If you’re a college student, going to a game with your face and body painted is more than acceptable, especially if you’re the overweight one with the A printed on your chest to form STATE.

2) If you’re a man over the age of 22 and not in college, you’re not allowed to paint any part of your body, ever, and if you’re over the age of 30 you’re not allowed to wear a jersey. Ever.

3) If you're a man over 22 and you insist on paining a part of your body, you have to go whole hog. Not just a letter on the cheek or a temporary tattoo of the team logo on the bicep, but full body paint. Then everyone will know you’re just nuts and quirky. You're that guy.

4) If you’re a woman, paint any part of your body you’d like, and feel free to take off your shirt in -4 degree weather like some of the insane men do.

Those who don’t learn from history are forced to repeat the eighth grade … If the past has taught us anything, and it hasn’t, we should go into the rest of the year knowing that …

- Iowa obliterates bad non-conference teams at home in September and then has a nightmare of a time against Iowa State. The Hawkeyes and the Cyclones play this week.

- Oklahoma obliterates every team at home and then suffers a bizarre mental breakdown on the road when it just doesn’t show up. And then comes the clunker in the bowl when the team fails to play up to its talent level. At Washington likely isn't any sort of a trap game, but the road trip to Kansas State in late October could be it.

- USC always obliterates a decent BCS opponent early on, and eventually loses its edge on the way to losing to a vastly inferior team. The Trojansthen go on to destroy a Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl causing 84% of the college football world to whine that Pete Carroll’s club belonged in the national title. The other thing we know is that the Trojans shine when the lights are on. If they get by Ohio State, the under-the-radar game to watch out for is at Arizona at the end of October.

- Wisconsin will struggle early against the dregs of college football causing a mini-buzz on the early scoreboard, and then it comes back roaring to win. The Badgers usually step up when they have to, while Fresno State, when properly motivated, can be a buzzsaw at home. This week's matchup between the two should be one of the more interesting showdowns of the young season.

- California will look like a national title contender, Lee Corso will watch one Bears game and be unable to stop raving, and then comes the big loss when it matters most. The Bears play Arizona State, at Arizona, UCLA, Oregon, a USC staring October 4th.

- Clemson will blow an early game, will go on a roll and move its way up the rankings and into everyone’s good graces, and then come up with a dud just when everyone starts to care. At Boston College on November 1st could be when the letdown hits.

- Texas Tech will throw 500 passing yards on the board on everyone, will pull off one big upset, and then stink it up out of the blue by some team whose coach raves about how he thought this was a good matchup. That could happen early on with a  trip to Kansas State for the Big 12 opener on October 4th.

Putting the echoes back to sleep … Outside of the classic but illegal shot by Rey Maulauga on Patrick Cowan in UCLA’s upset win over USC in 2006, there hasn’t been a bigger, more explosive nationally-televised hit than the bomb delivered by San Diego State’s Corey Boudreaux on Notre Dame’s Armando Allen last Saturday. Unfortunately, anyone watching that game was probably long asleep by the time it happened.

“You ain’t so bad (Clubber delivers another big hit). You ain’t so bad (Clubber delivers another big hit). You ain’t nothing!” … I got yelled at and was called a bunch of funny names by SEC die-hards for suggesting that their beloved league would lose at least six non-conference games against BCS conference teams. How about losing more than six non-conference games against anyone? Arkansas certainly got by Western Illinois and UL Monroe by the skin of its teeth and is an all-but-certain loss at Texas this week. Ole Miss lost at Wake Forest, Mississippi State lost at Louisiana Tech, and Tennessee lost at UCLA. Time is running out to get to six, but South Carolina could still lose to Clemson, Georgia could have problems at Arizona State, and Auburn could struggle at West Virginia.

The Tomfoolery of Professor Lou Holtz … I’m a huge fan of Lou Holtz’s work on ESPN, so I kid with love. This week’s Holtz line regarding the flag thrown on the Locker play: “It was a shamesty of justice!”

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Ten things I’
m grouchy about this week.
10. Bill Belichick
Without Tom Brady, give it another ten minutes before Belichick thinks about pulling a Bobby Petrino or a Nick Saban. It should say something about how much better the big-time college coaching gigs are than the pros considering Belichick’s starting quarterback couldn’t get on the field for Pete Carroll. 

9. Throwback jerseys
The old school, throwback uniforms are almost always better for a reason. For one, they don’t look like they were put together by a marketing company, and they’re usually cleaner and just more aesthetically pleasing. There’s a reason why the “classic” uniforms of Penn State and the Green Bay Packers work so well. Illinois came up with these beauties (outside of the Nike Swoosh) with a nod to the past in its home opener against Eastern Illinois. Keep them.

8. Weather and the SEC
I started to write this as a quirky blurb and quickly and sadly realized there might actually be an inconvenient truth here. With $2.25 billion in the equation between ESPN and the SEC, are there any clauses in the deal if the unthinkable happens and, within the next 15 years, the southeast part of our country looks far different than it does now? Look at how bad Baton Rouge got hammered by Gustav, and that wasn’t even from a full-force hurricane. Here is where I’d throw in a line about how it might take the polar ice caps to melt for Ohio State to win another national title, but that would be in poor taste.
 7. Jimmy Clausen’s hair
We get it, you’re trying to be Sunshine from the God-awful Remember The Titans. At least Ronnie Bass could throw. Fortunately there’s ol’ Chuck Weis with a haircut you can set your watch to. Actually, Clausen wasn’t all that bad considering the team around him doesn’t appear to be appreciably better. He threw two picks against San Diego State, but he completed 21-of-34 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns.

6. Utah State head coach Brent Guy and Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson
Utah State head coach Brent Guy has gone 6-31 in just over four years with the wins coming over New Mexico State (twice), San Jose State, UNLV, Idaho, and a 2006 13-12 shocker over Fresno State. Guy’s Aggies started off the season with a good fight in a 27-17 loss to UNLV before getting bombed by Oregon 66-24. Outside of a major upset, the only real chances at a win will come September 20th vs. Idaho and in the regular season finale against New Mexico State.

The expectations aren’t that high for Utah State. That’s not true at Syracuse, a program that used to be a superpower who challenged for conference championships every year. Greg Robinson has gone 7-31 in his time and things don’t appear to be getting better after losing to Northwestern and Akron, not exactly Florida and USC, by a combined score of 72-38.
 5. FCS games
Every FBS team should start off the season against an FCS team to tune up for the real games. However, if the first two weeks were any indication, that likely wouldn't be a fun opening weekend. 53-2. That’s what the big leaguers did to the minors this year so far, and while the top 20 FCS teams are as good or better than the bottom 30 FBS teams, the cupcake matchups this year, outside of a Colorado-Eastern Washington game here and there, have been awful.

 4. Florida’s running game
Oh sure, in a blowout against Hawaii, Florida had everyone but Alberta Alligator running the ball with 11 different Gators getting a carry. When it came time to battle in a big game, like last week against Miami, the running backs went bye-bye. Tim Tebow ran for 55 yards on 13 carries and Percy Harvin ran for 27 yards and a score on five carries. The rest of the Gators ran nine times for seven yards. By the way, Tennessee, who’s up next for Florida, allowed just 29 yards rushing against UCLA.
 3. Steve Spurrier  
Alright Steve Spurrier, it’s time to do some of that ball coachin’ stuff you’re so famous for. You’d think the old fun ‘n’ gun style at Florida could tweaked and adapted to shine in the new spread era, but it’s just not happening on offense. The Gamecocks can’t stop giving the ball away and they’re not getting much of anything on offense averaging a mere 347 yards per game hurt mostly from a madly inefficient passing game. This is Steve freakin’ Spurrier, the guy who won 78% of his games before coming to Columbia. This is the guy who made marginal talents play like world beaters at Florida, and he can’t get a passing game going.
 2. The greatest product mankind has ever invented 
If you’ve gotten this far in the column, and you’re who I think you are, then here is my heartfelt Thank You for being a loyal reader.

This ad ran over and over again during the late Pac 10 games and a few other local feeds across the country, and yes, it’s for real, and yes, you really do get the lyrics, the ear buds, and the wrist strap. And by the way, if you notice, there are only two songs. Along with the ShamWow!, these are so going to be the CFN corporate holiday presents. Happy Tuesday.
 1. BCS Busters
The Big East sucks right now and the ACC is dying faster than prime time network television. The Big Ten has its issues, the Pac 10 and SEC are top heavy, and some of the Big 12 teams have struggled to get though the non-conference portion of the schedule. With that in mind, I vow to limit my use of the term “BCS Buster” to just one per day. East Carolina is good. BYU and Utah are really good. TCU can play with anyone, and Fresno State could easily beat Wisconsin this weekend. The top teams from the non-BCS conferences can do more than just hang around with the big boys, they are the big boys. We shouldn’t be shocked any longer when a Fresno State beats a Rutgers. It should say something when a Louisiana Tech win over Mississippi State doesn’t register a blip on the national scale. The BCS shouldn’t need to be busted, and a team from a non-BCS conference shouldn’t have to run the table to get in. It’s time to take the ten highest ranked teams in America and put them in the BCS, and if an East Carolina or a BYU happens to get in there, fine.

Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa).
 - The ultimate obscure stat from the ultimate obscure game. Idaho State’s star WR Eddie Williams caught 17 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown in a 42-27 loss to Idaho.
- Because Ocho Cinco is already taken in this week’s edition of What I’m Going To Change My Name To: Minnesota RB Shady Salamon.
Auburn's run defense has been terrific so far holding UL Monroe, who gave Arkansas fits, to 84 yards on the ground and stuffing Damion Fletcher and Southern Miss for just 37 yards. Mississippi State, LSU and Tennessee are up next.
- Yes, Tim Tebow desperately needs to work on his touch, but after watching some of the throws he made against Miami, specifically his first touchdown pass which was all arm, I want to know why being a thrower instead of a passer is that big a deal. You know who’s a passer? Chad Pennington.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
 1) Overrated: The Jamaican track team's success ... Underrated: Lance Armstrong in the 2009 Tour de France
 2) Overrated: BrettFavre (said as one name by all announcers) … Underrated: TimTebow (said as one name by all announcers)
 3) Overrated: The Geico cavemen ... Underrated: Geico's Mike Wallace
 4) Overrated: The fat Jerry Seinfeld ... Underrated: churros
 5) Overrated: USC ... Underrated: Ohio State

“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. I’m always, always going to go 1-2 with these picks (I’m 2-4 after two weeks). It’s what I do, but this week it took something unbelievable for me to not be 2-1. Rice scored 22 points in the final 6:28 with a pick-six to win it with 11 seconds to play to screw up my Memphis pick. I press on.… 1) Western Michigan -7.5 over Idaho, 2) Ohio State +11 over USC, 3) Michigan over Notre Dame PICK

Last Week: 1) Iowa -27 over FIU (win), 2) Miami +22 over Florida (lost), 3) Memphis -3.5 over Rice (lost)

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … I’m a grown man who has devoted a good portion of the last ten days trying to find information about the foot of someone named Beanie.