Fiu's Cavalcade of
Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances
What's your beef? ... Fire
2006 Season |
If this column
sucks, it’s not my fault … I was wearing a black shirt while writing it. The blackout
so freaked out and intimidated Alabama that it got up 31-0 before I
figured out what was happening.
“Pressure? Here it's kill or be killed. Make no friends and take no
prisoners. One minute you're up half a million, the next, boom. Your
kids don't go to college and you've lost your Bentley. … Unless you
can explain exactly what happens at the end of Trading Places,
you aren’t allowed to have an opinion on the nation’s current economic
crisis. The smartest economic minds in the history of the planet can’t
even figure out how this all should work. Of far more importance, the
smartest college football minds I know couldn’t see last weekend’s
bizarre meltdowns coming, either.
Yeah, everyone I talked to and trust sort of liked Alabama over Georgia
in a flip-a-coin sort of way, but no one gave a thought to Ole Miss over
Florida or Oregon State over USC. If you’re a college football fan, you
live for weekends like this. Even though a lot of “experts” and analysts
saw their picks crash and burn, it was worth it. This last weekend is
the reason why we love this sport.
With that in mind, here are five potential out-of-the-blue,
screw-up-the-season upsets to look out for over the next few weeks.
Three will be blowouts for the favorites, one will be close, and one
will come true.
1. Oklahoma at Kansas State, October 25th
2. Alabama at Kentucky, October 4
3. Missouri at Iowa State, November 15th
4. Boise State at San Jose State, October 24th
5. USC at Arizona, October 25th
Marty: “Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top
number and make that a little louder?”
Nigel: These go to eleven ... Instead of whining about the fewer
number of plays per game thanks to the new time-clock rules, like
Florida head coach Urban Meyer did this week before the Ole Miss
debacle, why not just be better at calling the plays you actually have?
To many, comparing Meyer to LSU head coach Les Miles would be like
comparing Chris Rock to Carrot Top, but on fourth and one on the Ole
Miss 32, would you rather have Miles calling the play, considering how
he’s made a living over the last few years on coming by gambling when
the game is on the line, or would you want the ill-fated, Meyer-called,
Tim Tebow power run?
However, there should be a bylaw that puts USC into the championship
game if Ohio State goes to the Rose Bowl …
There’s going to be an ideological and philosophical debate to deal with
if USC wins out and there aren’t two clear-cut teams deserving of the
national title spots. On the one hand, would you bet the ranch on
anyone other than maybe an unbeaten SEC champion, like LSU or
Alabama, or possibly an unbeaten Oklahoma, over USC in the BCS
Knowing what you know about how Pete Carroll and his staff prepares the
team for the really, really big games, come the end of the year, as long
the Trojans win out, it’s going to be tempting to not give in and want
to see them play for the national championship. On the other hand, USC
lost to a mediocre Oregon State team. On the deserve scale, losing in
Corvallis isn’t as bad as losing to Ole Miss at home, and it’s far
better than losing at home to Stanford in 2007, but it’s still an
unacceptable loss for a team playing in a struggling conference with
national title dreams.
Now here’s the real debate. What if it’s Cal that wins out and not USC?
Certainly losing at Maryland is just as acceptable as losing at Oregon
State, and the Bears’ win over Michigan State might turn out to be just
as impressive as USC’s win over Ohio State. Will Cal get the same
respect that USC is certain to receive by winning out, or is it all
about name brand name, glitz and glamour?
In this week’s Be Careful What You Wish For department (cough, Rose
Bowl, cough) … Fine, I’ll say it. If Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers
could run for 186 yards and two touchdowns on USC, what would a possible
No. 1 overall draft pick like a healthy Beanie Wells do? Completely lost
in the post-game haze of the 35-3 USC win over Ohio State was the way
the Beanless-Buckeyes were moving the ball on the Trojans in the first
half before the disastrous pick six thrown by Todd Boeckaman. No, Ohio
State wouldn’t have won that game no matter what, but it would’ve been
far more interesting with Terrelle Pryor and a healthy Wells in the
backfield from the start.
If you think that’s hard, try finding Corvallis … Pure gold from
Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rodgers after his tremendous performance
against USC and how he did it. “I’m a small dude. They couldn’t find
Now he’d be happy to get the lead role in that new Benji flick ...
If you’re wondering why coaches always look for the bigger job and
the better payday, look no further than the bizarre decline of Iowa head
coach Kirk Ferentz, whose career has gone into the tank faster than a
post-Medellin Vinnie Chase.
Ferentz was the hot
name on everyone’s list for top jobs, both college and pro, after going
31-7 from 2002 to 2004 with some marginally talented teams. A generally
likeable guy who created a reputation of producing strong teams with
tremendous offensive lines, the world was his for the taking. But
instead of becoming another Bob Stoops and making the program into a
perennial superpower, Iowa has struggled, mainly because Ferentz was
never able to consistently bring in the next-level talent to sustain the
Since beating Nick Saban and LSU in a classic Capital One Bowl on New
Year’s Day 2005 (yes, a Big Ten team really did beat someone from the
SEC), Iowa has gone 22-20, has gone 0-2 in bowl games, and has beaten
just one decent team, 2005 Wisconsin in Barry Alvarez’s final game.
After losing to Pitt and Northwestern in back-to-back weeks, and with a
shaky quarterback situation and mediocre play on the lines, things don’t
appear to be much better. Are you listening, Greg Schiano?
You take one down, pass him around, 98 spread quarterbacks left on
the wall …. If you choose to run a spread offense, you can’t
complain when your quarterbacks go down faster than your approval rating
after being interviewed by Katie Couric.
West Virginia’s Pat White and Washington’s Jake Locker are just two of
the high-profile superstars suffering hand/thumb injuries. Cincinnati
just lost Tony Pike after starter Dustin Grutza got knocked out with a
broken leg, Oregon is losing quarterbacks faster than it can change into
yet another ugly version of its metallic pea and highlighter-yellow
uniforms, and other spread teams, like Eastern Michigan, are trying to
get their quarterbacking houses in order thanks to injuries. There’s a
reason the NFL doesn’t run the spread, and it’s the same reason it
didn’t run the wishbone back in the 70s and 80s. If you run the
read-option spread offense, your quarterback is going to get hit and hit
a lot. College teams need to be prepared with several backups at the
“Why should I change my name? He’s the one who sucks.” … Just
like you can’t name your kid Michael if your last name is Bolton,
Jackson or Jordan, you can’t name your kid Rod if your last name is
Stewart. It’s a good thing the Colorado star freshman is really good,
rushing for 166 yard against West Virginia and 107 yards against Florida
Another 777 point drop in the market and that West Virginia buyout
will end up being worth about five cheeseburgers and a Frosty … No
matter what you think about Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez, the guy
can coach. Half of the battle is about making adjustments, and he and
his staff actually got the spread offense to work in the second half
against Wisconsin with the most-unspread quarterback ever, Steven Threet.
However, RichRod made a critical error that 95% of all coaches continue
With just over ten minutes to play, the Wolverines were on an incredible
momentum run as John Thompson took a tipped Allan Evridge pass into the
end zone for a 20-19 Michigan lead. Rodriguez chose to go for two and
try for a three-point advantage, just like the chart says to do.
Coaches, repeat after me … you only go for two when you have to. You
only go for two when you have to.
About six minutes later, Sam McGuffie scored on a three-yard run and
Michigan, smartly, kicked the extra point for an eight point lead. The
percentages are in your favor to make a team tie you on a two-point
conversion. Of course, had Rodriguez opted for the extra point after the
Thompson score, Michigan would’ve been able to kick the extra point to
go up nine after the McGuffie touchdown and it would’ve been ball game.
Instead, Wisconsin marched to a touchdown and had a shot to put it into
overtime. Rodriguez was bailed out of his bad decision because
All-America tight end Travis Beckum didn’t know where he was supposed to
line up and got flagged on the key two-point conversion attempt.
a mighty wind's a blowing 'cross the land and 'cross the sea/It's
blowing peace and freedom, it's blowing equality./Yes,
it's blowing peace and freedom, it's blowing you and me.” …
Great job Arkansas of putting that extra prep time for Texas to good
use. Thanks to Hurricane Ike, the September 13th game got
moved to last week and the Hogs got blasted 52-10. That was supposed to
be a week off, and now Bobby Petrino’s boys have a nice four-week
stretch of Alabama (a 49-14 loss), Texas, Florida and at Auburn. There’s
no truth to the rumor that Petrino wants to delay the game in
Fayetteville in the hopes of Hurricane Laura taking a wicked about-face.
C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by
the feats of strength
Ten things I’m grouchy about this week.
10. The NCAA and Reggie Bush
How in the name of Kim Kardashian’s stupid onion has USC not been nailed
with anything regarding the whole Reggie Bush investigation? How has
USC, along with just about any other top 25 team you can swing Myles
Brand’s hypocricies at, not had anything come down from the NCAA
in any way? The last time we’ve heard from the NCAA on a large ruling
was with the whole goofy Rhett Bomar vacated-wins fiasco at Oklahoma.
That only came about because Oklahoma blew the whistle on itself. If
you’re a midrange program trying to become a national player, you’re
nuts not to cheat your tail off. The NCAA has decided not to mess with
the billions of dollars that are rolling in from this golden era of
college sports. Speaking of which …
9. Tim Tebow jerseys
Thanks to everyone at the Gainesville Quarterback Club for having me
down there to speak last Tuesday. Walking around the Florida campus, it
was all Gator football everywhere you looked, and it was all about Tim
Tebow. No. 15 jerseys were everywhere, they were all over the
bookstores, the students, and in ads for Gator football. Millions of
dollars are being made off of Tebow’s talents at the school, on the
networks, and by the NCAA. It’s time (annual rant alert). Let the
players be able to do endorsement deals, and let them have agents. Don’t
pay them, but let them use their name and talents to make some side
money. It’s only fair, and eventually, the players will figure this out.
8. The Tina Fey bailout plan
Oh sure, the Sarah Palin impersonation is brilliant, but that doesn’t
make up for the fact that Fey ruined Saturday Night Live when she was
the head writer. Unbelievable timing and fortunate resemblances don’t
excuse what happened to the show under her watch.
7. And it never, ever works
A team has come up with a momentum changing turnover around the
opponent’s 38-yard line midway through the second quarter. What’s the
knee-jerk line that comes from every analyst? “Here’s where you should
try a quick strike.” This has been said time and again ever since
there’s been televised football. Every fan is thinking the same thing,
and so are both coaches. No, it’s not a bad thing to simply run your
normal offense and hand it off between the tackles.
Travis Beckum getting on the field
This isn’t the NFL. If a kid is hurt, he’s hurt, and he shouldn’t be on
the field playing. If he can play, especially in a big game, then get
him out there. Wisconsin superstar Travis Beckum hasn’t been healthy all
season long, and his absence was sorely missed for the first 55 minutes
against Michigan. But when the team needed to go on a late drive to try
to tie the game, Beckum was on the field and ended up catching two
passes for 17 yards before getting flagged to an illegal formation
penalty to screw up the decisive two-point conversion attempt.
Apparently, according to UW head coach Bret Bielema, the medical staff
had given the O.K., but Beckum said his hamstring didn’t feel right
before the game. This is where the adults have to step in and as the
coach, Bielema should’ve either forced his supposedly healthy player to
play, or if Beckum really didn’t feel right, then shut him down and
don’t let him hurt himself further. If a player can play on a key drive,
then he should be able to play the rest of the game, too.
5. And it’s pronounced Fyoo-tack, no Foo-tak
The guy’s one of the leaders in the Heisman hunt. It’s Missouri QB
Chase Daniel, not Daniels. Also, it’s Ole Miss, not Old Miss, as in the
name slaves used for the wife of a plantation owner, which is an issue
because it was seemingly brought up in every article after the
4. Big Ten credit for Tom Brady
Oh, Big Ten,
so now you want to take credit for Tom Brady. The Big Ten
conference is running a promo during its games showing kids who want to
be tough like former Minnesota running back Marion Barber or Iowa safety
Bob Sanders, and it starts out with a kid saying he wants to “lead like
Tom Brady.” It’s not like the Big Ten did any promoting of Brady when he
was at Michigan. The guy followed national-title winner Brian Griese and
was supposed to be pushed aside for wunderkind Drew Henson, but he ended
up having a nice career going 20-5 with 5,351 yards, 35 touchdown
passes, and two Honorable Mention All-Big Ten honors in 1998 and 1999.
By the way, Ohio State’s Joe Germaine was the First Team All-Big Ten
quarterback in 1998, and Drew Brees was the second teamer. Brees was the
first teamer in 1999.
3. Miami vs. Florida State
This used to be college football. While it was sold as one of
the marquee games of the season as recently as 2004, the matchup has
fizzled over the last few years since Miami joined the ACC. This was
supposed to be the yearly ACC title game matchup, but instead, Miami has
become shockingly bad while Florida State has fallen from its
unrealistically high pedestal. For roughly 15 years, this was more than
just the best rivalry in college football, it was the best showdown in
sports. Now it’s like the Rolling Stones in concert. The new stuff sucks
and the old standbys are sort of sad.
2. Tyrod Taylor
Where would Virginia Tech be right now if 1) Frank Beamer made the
right quarterback call on day one and 2) there wasn’t the blocked punt
by East Carolina? Completely glossed over by all the upsets was a very
nice win by the Hokies at Nebraska last weekend. The 20-17 wins over
Georgia Tech and North Carolina have been largely ignored, but those
will turn out to look better and better as the season goes on. Against
the Huskers, Taylor was calm, cool, and efficient completing 9-of-15
passes for 171 yards while running 15 times for 81 yards and a score.
However, Taylor was redshirted to start the season and Sean Glenon
completed 14-of 23 passes for 139 yards with two interceptions in the
loss to East Carolina. Had the Hokies won that game, they’d be in the
top ten right now.
1. Phil Fulmer
I’m dusting off everything I said about Lloyd Carr over the last few
years and applying it to Phil Fulmer, the embattled head coach at
If you believe your head coach isn’t getting the job done and should be
fired, fine. I’m not one of these people who believe a college football
head coaching job should be any more permanent or stable, beyond a
reasonable amount of time, than any other job. For every Rich Brooks who
pulled up out of the abyss to turn a program around, there are countless
other coaches who were allowed to stick around an extra year or two and
ended up making things worse. And if you’re Tennessee and you believe
you should be a player in the national title race every year, then yeah,
Fulmer, after 16+ years as the head man, should probably be replaced.
After all, the SEC arms race has gone nuclear with Nick Saban, Urban
Meyer, Les Miles, Tommy Tuberville, and Mark Richt presiding over
national title-level monsters, and with superior coaching talents like
Houston Nutt and Bobby Petrino about to turn their respective teams into
nasty killers. Tennessee can’t afford to fall behind. The word
rebuilding doesn’t work in Knoxville. You know who’s rebuilding this
year? LSU. Auburn. Florida, to a point. They’re all still in the SEC
Tennessee is 1-3 with a win over UAB and losses to UCLA, Florida, and
Auburn. The offense is cranking out a mere 341 yards per game, the
passing game is non-existent, and there’s been little pass rush. These
are not positive times.
However, that UCLA game, as bad as it looks considering the way the
Bruins have gone into the tank, was a one-time thing. The UCLA coaching
staff had been treating that game like the BCS championship for six
months, and it took Kevin Craft and the Bruin offense to stand on their
heads in the fourth quarter to pull off the upset. Florida, even after
the loss to Ole Miss, could still play for the national title by winning
out, and losing 14-12 at Auburn is absolutely nothing to get upset over.
Fans have short memories and high expectations. Remember, Tennessee 1)
played for the SEC title last year and lost to the eventual national
champion, 2) beat a solid Wisconsin team in the Outback Bowl, and 3) won
ten games for the third time in five years. Also remember that Tennessee
started out 1-2 last year and then tuned everything around with a
shocking win over Georgia.
Fulmer is 148-48 as the Tennessee head man. The guy has won 76% of his
games while coaching in the best conference in America for almost two
decades. He has a national title, two SEC titles, has coaches in three
other SEC championship games, and has kept Tennessee among the best
teams in the nation. Of course, he hasn’t actually won an SEC title
since 1998 and his bowl record is a mediocre 8-7, but he’s a winner
who's going to be run out of town if he doesn’t get a big win soon.
Yeah, this is a rebuilding year with David Cutcliffe leaving his
offensive coordinator duties and going off to Duke. Four-year starting
quarterback Erik Ainge is gone. There’s going to be an offensive
transition, even if the play appears, well, offensive. However,
defense this good, the team should turn things around and be 8-4, 7-5 at
It might be time for new blood and 17 years usually is too long for a
coach to be in one spot, but just remember, whomever comes in, you’ll
probably be happy if he ends up with Fulmer’s résumé when he’s all said
Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to
make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa)
a.k.a. things I didn’t feel like writing bigger blurbs for.
- The must-see game of the weekend that you should watch, but won’t:
Rice vs. Tulsa. Rice is coming off a 77-20 win over North Texas and has
one of the nation’s most dynamic offenses once it gets into a groove.
Tulsa leads the nation in total offense averaging 601 yards per game.
These two are going to throw about 1,200 yards of total offense and
about 90 points on the board.
- Don’t get too hung up by the Big 12 having all those teams in the top
ten and the top five. That’ll quickly change once conference play kicks
in and the teams start picking each other off.
- Nothing against Toledo, but way to go FIU. The sad-sack Golden
Panthers hadn’t won a road game since a 31-29 victory over UL Monroe in
mid-2005 and had lost 26 of their previous 27 games overall. The offense
hasn’t just been bad, it’s been among the worst in the nation by far,
but it was able to come up with 35 points in the win over Toledo. Unlike
the glee of a pro team bombing, it isn’t fun when a college team stinks.
The FIU veterans are going to remember this win the rest of their lives,
and for the fans who have stuck with the program, they deserve it.
- After making a great catch on the late touchdown against Michigan,
Wisconsin WR David Gilreath chucked the ball
as he popped up. It was an instantaneous act of excitement that
should’ve been flagged according to the rule book. There wasn’t a
penalty called, and why? Judgment. In the super-charged emotion of a
huge play with potential Big Ten title implications, the official didn’t
ruin a great game with a dumb penalty that would’ve defined the ending
and overshadowed Michigan’s epic comeback.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five
Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Tim Tebow in the clutch ... Underrated: Ole Miss QB Jevan
Snead, who originally committed to Florida before No. 15 committed, and
then signed with Texas.
2) Overrated: CNN … Underrated: Dave
3) Overrated: The Purdue transition ... Underrated: The play of the
Notre Dame offensive line
4) Overrated: Rosh Hashanah ... Underrated: Rush Hashanah marathon on
Florida going 81-9 in
home games since 1994 ... Underrated: The Gators losing
the two times I’ve ever been in Gainesville
“I hearby designate Colt McCoy, Texas as my First
Choice to receive the Heisman Memorial Trophy awarded to the most
outstanding college football player in the United States for 2008. To
the best of my knowledge he conforms to the rules governing this vote.”
My Second Choice Is: Javon Ringer, Michigan State
My Third Choice Is: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
“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.
Now I’m not just losing, I’m losing in flames going 4-11 overall after
my three picks last week weren’t even remotely close. These are
desperate times, so I’m going Costanza. If every instinct I’ve had has
been wrong, then the opposite would have to be right. Therefore, I’m
going with the exact opposite of what I believe this week as I take the
three teams I’m 100% certain are going to lose against the spread. … 1)
Stanford +7 over Notre Dame, 2) Northern Illinois +16 over Tennessee, 3)
Oregon +16.5 over USC
Last Week: 1) Arkansas State +1 over Memphis (LOSS), 2) Colorado
+6 over Florida State (LOSS), 3) UCF -5 over UTEP (LOSS)
Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … USC
quarterback Mark Sanchez got me in the huddle to fire me up after a
lackluster start, but I could never figure out Oregon State’s draw trap
play. Sanchez ended up whipping his mouthpiece in disgust as he walked
off the field.