Cavalcade of Whimsy - The Next 30 Champions
Alabama QB John Parker Wilson
Alabama QB John Parker Wilson
Posted Oct 7, 2008

What teams will win the next 30 national titles? John Parker Wilson's Alabama should be among the few. The Wisconsin band, Tony Mandarich, the possible BCS blitzkrieg and more in the latest 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 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4
- Week 5

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … like Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini after the Missouri game, I apologized to the team for such a poor performance. I don’t point the finger. I point the thumb. It all starts with me.

Throw in a six-foot bong and you’ve got a Saturday night Mifflin street house party … The Wisconsin band was suspended indefinitely due to allegations of alcohol abuse, hazing, and sexual misconduct including reports of girls having to kiss other girls in order to use the bathroom on the bus. Uhhhhh, you’re Wisconsin. You know, a next-level, national championship-caliber party school. Alcohol abuse, girls kissing other girls, and boorish behavior are all part of the recruiting pitch.

“And what we should do today in band? Instead of playing our instruments regularly?  We should play them backwards!  That'll be so funny!” … I actually heard one talking head suggest that part of the reason Wisconsin might have lost to Ohio State was because a) the crowd wasn’t really into it because b) the band was suspended and therefore c) the atmosphere wasn’t up to its normal we’ve-got-spirit-yes-we-do-we’ve-got-spirit-how-‘bout-you level. I dismissed this until I heard someone else say this. And then I read it.

The Wisconsin band could’ve played a stirring rendition of Escape (The Pina Colada Song) until it barfed and the Badger defense wasn’t going to stop Beanie Wells.

Yes, a band, especially one as revered as Wisconsin’s, is a vital part of the tradition and greatness of a college football Saturday. But if you watched the game, the lack of background noise was a breath of fresh silence. It was like watching a classic NBA game before Gary Glitter, Crazy Train and Deee-Fense (clap, clap) had to be blared on a non-stop loop.

Really, I’m pro-band, but for just this one game, chalk it up for those who wish they could watch a Michigan game without hearing The Victors after every first down. Give those who have given up on Tennessee games because of Rocky Top their day in the sun. You may now go back to your regularly scheduled tribute to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

Dammit, this always happens! I think I'm gonna score and then I never score! It's not fair! We've traveled a hundred miles 'cause we thought we were gonna score, but now it's not gonna happen! SHUT UP! I'm sick and tired of this! We're never gonna score! It's just not gonna happen! We're just gonna get old like these people, but they've probably scored! But not us! We're never gonna score! WE'RE NEVER GONNA SCORE!!! AAGGHHHH!” The Chicago Cubs tacked on yet another year of futility for their long-suffering fan base after deciding they didn’t feel like playing baseball anymore. Every year, story after story comes out about old people who just want to see a Cub World Series championship before they die, because a bunch of multi-millionaires hitting a ball with a stick more successfully than a bunch of other multi-millionaires would make life complete. With that in mind, what college football teams have no shot of winning a national title in your lifetime?

It’s hard to win a championship. Really, really hard, and unfortunately, most college football teams have no chance to play for a title no matter what they do. It’s college football’s fatal flaw. Because there isn’t a playoff, and one could easily be created to remedy the situation while still maintaining the integrity of the sport, a program could have a once-in-a-lifetime season and still be left out of the championship picture.

Ask 2007 Hawaii, or 2004 Utah, or 2004 Auburn, or 2006 Boise State what it’s like to be perfect in the regular season but have no shot to see if it’s really possible to win it all. Ask 2008 Penn State how this might feel. The Nittany Lions could beat everyone by two touchdowns, but it’s off to Pasadena, not Miami, if Oklahoma and LSU finish the year unbeaten.
Pop quiz. Off the top of your head, how many national titles has Ohio State won over the last 40 years? I’m talking about the real kind … AP, UPI, which turned into the ESPN/USA Today Poll, or after 1998, the BCS. The Buckeyes have won several, right?

One. 2002. That’s it.

That’s how many Michigan has won over the last 40 years, too. That’s also how many Georgia, Clemson, and Tennessee have won.

Think about all the big-name, big time programs that haven’t won a national title over the last 37 years (setting the starting point at 1970, which was right around when the national title was awarded after the bowl games instead of after the regular season, and it was also around when integration for most programs finally kicked in). UCLA hasn’t won one. Neither has Auburn, Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, West Virginia, Oregon, Michigan State, Purdue, or South Carolina.

Just 21 teams have won at least one national title over the last 42 seasons (Alabama, Clemson, Colorado, BYU, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Pitt, Tennessee, Texas, USC, and Washington), and that’s with split national titles, too. Washington might have lost to Miami in a true national title game in 1991, while Georgia Tech and Colorado would’ve played for the 1990 national championship in today’s day and age. That means 98 college football teams haven’t won an FBS/D-I national title in your lifetime.

Let’s be generous and assume there will be roughly 30 more college football seasons before everything as we know it goes into the tank. Future playoff or no playoff, and knowing how college football has evolved over the last 30 years, how it’ll eventually morph into a plus-one format, and with most of the top programs unlikely to go away over the next three decades, here’s the best-guess breakdown of the national title situation for the rest of your life.

There will be 120 teams when Western Kentucky, joins the FBS ranks next year. 120 teams, 30 years, 30 national titles. Some teams, of course, will double and triple up, so unless you’re on these lists below, thanks for playing, enjoy the veal.

Programs that are almost certain to win at least one national title from now until the end of your life: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC, Texas (These eight teams will likely account for 13 of the next 15 national championships.)

Programs that realistically could win a national title before you die (or will at least come really, really close): Auburn, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech (These seven teams will account for one of the next 15 national championships.)

Programs that you think will win a national title before you die, but won’t: California, Clemson, Florida State, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, West Virginia
 (Alright, one of them will break through. These eight teams will account for one of the next 15 national championships.)

Programs on a good enough track that if everything breaks the right way, and the coaching staffs stay in place, could play for a national title … and lose: Boston College, Georgia Tech, Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, South Florida, UCLA

Programs that will finish a year unbeaten and will get screwed over by the man and his discriminating system: Boise State, BYU, TCU, Utah

“Yeah, I can’t believe Liberace was gay. Women loved him, man. I didn’t see that one coming.” ...
Tony Mandarich did steroids while he was at Michigan State? Nooooooo. How did college football’s dirty little secret finally get out of the bag? Now that it’s all out in the open, steroids and human growth hormones certainly won’t be a part of football anymore. Finally, we can close the book on that big, bulky chapter. What’s next, O.J. really is a dangerous felon? The Tom Osborne rehab project didn’t work and Lawrence Phillips really might do something to be landed in jail for 10 years? Yeah, right, and several former Husker offensive linemen didn’t watch that Mandarich interview with more than a little interest.

“It seems to me that the only thing you have learned is that Caesar was a salad dressing dude. Bill, Ted, this is really quite simple. You have flunked every section of this class. Now unless you get an A+ on your final oral report tomorrow, guys, I have no choice but to flunk the both of you.” … 100% guilty as charged on this one on a daily basis. You can’t bring up team history when it comes to figuring out whether or not a team will win. Baylor QB Robert Griffin is 18. The dude was six when the Big 12 was formed. Like he cared that the Bears were 0-for-forever against Oklahoma. Like Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin thought for one second that their Missouri team couldn’t beat Nebraska in Lincoln just because the Tiger program hadn’t won there in 30 years. College football players care about girls, video games, and girls playing video games. All other analysis, and the history of college football, is for those of us who wish girls, video games, and girls playing video games were our main concerns.

However, Tennessee apparently didn’t get the memo … ESPN has to make sure it gets the CBS Excitement Level clause in its billion-dollar deal with the SEC. CBS could pit Custer vs. Sioux, The Godfather vs. Ernest Saves Christmas, Coke vs. Pepsi, or Charlize Theron vs. Rosie O’Donnell at 3:30 EST on a Saturday afternoon and those gross mismatches would be competitive. Sarah Palin could be thrown out there against John Kenneth Galbraith in an open forum debate on economic reform, and if it’s in that time slot on CBS, it would go down to the wire.  

“Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman. Damn glad to meet you.” … At this point, is it really necessary for the presidential candidates to introduce themselves in their ads?
“Hi, I’m Barack Obama, and I approve this message.”
“Huh? What the … hey ma, get in here. Either the DuMont’s on the fritz again or this guy with the funny ears thinks he’s running for prez-dent of the U-night-ed States.”

If you don’t know who the candidates are by now, you’re probably the one person out there who’ll be affected when the TV signals switch to digital in February.

ARTHUR: You are indeed brave sir knight, but the fight is mine.
BLACK KNIGHT: Had enough?
ARTHUR: You stupid bastard. You haven't got any arms left.
BLACK KNIGHT: Course I have.
BLACK KNIGHT: What! Just a flesh wound
. As part of the media, I demand to know every player’s injury status and just how hurt the stars really are. We’re all going to find out eventually. However, if I’m the coach of a college team, I never, ever, ever release any info about injuries, depth chart changes, or playing status. This isn’t the NFL where you have to release an injury report that’s factual and correct, you know, so the gamblers, er, uh, so the teams know what they’re dealing with. You can say all week long that you’re starting the backup quarterback because the No. 1 man is out due to menopausal complications, and then play your starter anyway. If a player is out, tell everyone he’s going to play. Make the other team prepare for him.

“I guess I realized I'm just Bud Fox. And as much as I wanted to be Gordon Gekko, I'll always be Bud Fox.” “In 20 years, we will be able to remember that we beat UCLA at their house,” beamed Fresno State head coach Pat Hill after the 36-31 win over the Bruins in Pasadena two weeks ago. Yeah, and you’ll also remember the week after when you dropped a doozie of a twozie at home against a bad Hawaii team with six turnovers and a slew of other assorted brain cramps in the 32-29 overtime loss. Yes, Fresno State, we’ve got it. You want to play anyone, anywhere at any time. So does that team up in Boise and it seems to have no problem keeping its head on straight. All that’s missing from your program is a big, huge car with bigger speakers blaring Bad Company.

And do it now before the 219 straight days of snowfall starts … A note to Syracuse. Before Washington snags Lane Kiffin as its new head coach, you politely change the locks on Greg Robinson’s office and you go get the former Oakland Raider head man. Now. Not tomorrow, not after breakfast, now. He might be a rent-a-coach who goes off to take over a real NFL team someday, but he would turn the woebegone Orange program around in a hurry.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Ten things I’m grouchy about this week.
10. Rashard Mendenhall
The former Illinois star left school a year early and signed a five-year deal worth $12.55 million. Now he’s out for the year with a shoulder injury … with over $7 million of guaranteed money to kick back and groove on. Had he fractured his shoulder in a senior year at Illinois, he’d be getting paid a fat load of jack squat. Beanie Wells, Knowshon Moreno and LeSean McCoy, it’s been great having you around. Thanks for playing.
9. Michigan’s spread option
Paul Johnson stepped in at Georgia Tech with no pieces in place whatsoever to properly run his option attack. Somehow, he has his team ranking fifth in the nation and tops in the ACC, in rushing averaging 290 yards per game. His Yellow Jackets are 4-1 with a win over Boston College and victories the last two weeks over Mississippi State and Duke by a combined score of 65 to 7. Meanwhile, Michigan is averaging 123 rushing yards per game and needed a miracle/Wisconsin gag to be 2-2 before getting ripped up by Illinois. Either Johnson is truly special, or Rodriguez’s team isn’t making the transition as quickly as it probably should be. It might be both.

8. Undecided voters
If you’re waiting and watching to see how the presidential candidates are handling themselves during the current economic crisis, then yes, you’re allowed to be undecided. Otherwise, you shouldn’t be allowed to vote in a Mr. Tight Buns competition much less this election. If you really don’t know which candidate best represents you and your issues by now, you’re watching too much G’s To Gents.
7. Utah vs. BYU
BYU has a fantastic offense and a strong D. You don’t win 15 straight games as a program without doing something right. Included in the streak is an epic comeback win over the Utes last year. However, for some reason, BYU is being given the benefit of the doubt in the rankings, currently ranked 8th in the Coaches’ Poll, when it has played absolutely nobody. BYU has played the third easiest schedule in the nation so far facing Northern Iowa, Washington, UCLA, Wyoming and Utah State. Meanwhile, Utah has faced a mediocre slate, ranking 62nd toughest in the country so far, but there are three solid wins beating Michigan at Michigan, Air Force at Air Force, and Oregon State. Meanwhile, BYU struggled to get by a winless Washington and has made its reputation by blasting an inconsistent UCLA. Both of them would lose at Oklahoma like TCU did.

6. “Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum, Mandelbaum ...”
Here’s the deal, SEC fans. You get to continue to do your little S-E-C, S-E-C chant whenever your conference is brought up or whenever you hear someone dare speak the name of a team from another league, but you must also crank it out for the bad teams. Did Louisiana Tech fans chant W-A-C, W-A-C when the Bulldogs beat your Bulldogs from Mississippi State? Did Wake Forest fans chant out A-C-C, A-C-C when in the win over Ole Miss? How about the Pac 10 chant when UCLA beat Tennessee, or “Sun Belt, cha cha cha, Sun Belt, cha cha cha” when UL Monroe beat Alabama last year and almost beat Arkansas this year?
Coaching changes 
There used to be a time in the NFL when a team could draft a quarterback, groom him for a few years, and then have him hit the ground running by year three. Now, with the new economic situation in the league, a team can’t have so much money tied up in a clipboard holder. The same goes for college teams. It’s fine to need one year of rebuilding, possibly two, but now, with the way Nick Saban has made Alabama a national title contender in roughly 18 months, Urban Meyer and Les Miles winning national titles early on, and with the instant success of coaches like Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech, Ken Niumatalolo at Navy, and David Cutcliffe at Duke, to go along with what North Carolina’s Butch Davis, Minnesota’s Tim Brewster, and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio are doing with their turnaround projects in their second seasons, watch out for fan bases to get more and more impatient. Realistically, a coach should get one full recruiting cycle to show what he can do, but that’s not going to work. Everyone’s too afraid of a Greg Robinson/Bill Callahan situation.

4. Ads for Time Life’s World and War and Vietnam: An American History DVDs
This week’s annoying ad campaign that played over and over on a college football Saturday is actually for something I might want. The Time Life DVD series on the Vietnam War and the other set on World War II are supposed to be terrific, but the ads are making the brutal and tragic conflicts sound like video games and are being marketed like a Faces of Death series. The World at War set is being billed as “The Mother of All Wars,” like it’s about to battle Kimbo Slice on pay-per-view. They’re selling the footage of death and destruction rather than the historical documentary aspect of the series.
3. South Carolina
South Carolina can’t figure out its quarterback situation, has a woeful running game, a lousy offensive line, a horrendous punting game, and it can’t stop turning the ball over. Oh yeah, and it’s roughly two plays away from being 5-0. That road loss to Vanderbilt doesn’t look so bad now, and the Gamecocks were a fumble away from likely pushing Georgia into overtime. After getting by Ole Miss, watch out for an under-the-radar Gamecock team to potentially be dangerous with home games against LSU, Tennessee and Arkansas after next week’s road date at Kentucky.
2. Tulsa head coach Todd Graham and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn
Are you fully comprehending the monster Graham and Malzahn have created? Graham made Rice relevant in just one year before going off to Tulsa where he and Malzahn put together the nation’s best offense last season. Fine, so the schedule has been a joke so far (New Mexico has been the toughest test), but the offensive numbers are still frightening. Going back to last year, Tulsa has cranked out 48 points or more in 10 of its last 11 games. After putting up 56 points in back-to-back games against North Texas and New Mexico, the Golden Hurricane took things to another level with 62 points against Central Arkansas and 63 against Rice. Yeah, Central Arkansas and Rice, whoopee, but this isn’t a fluke. If you’re a fan of Syracuse, Washington, and yes, Clemson, give a look at what this Tulsa team is going to do over the next three weeks against SMU, UTEP and UCF before facing Arkansas. 
1. A full-on BCS raid
Every team and every year is supposed to be taken on its own merits. You can’t take what happened in the past and apply it to what’s happening this season. However, with 96 wins in nine years and the 2007 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma still fresh in everyone’s minds, hasn’t Boise State earned its stripes by now? The schedule isn’t good enough for the Broncos to deserve a spot in the national championship game, but if they win out, they should be playing in a BCS game no matter what the Mountain West champion does. The Broncos have played the 19th toughest schedule so far, and even there they should be favored against everyone the rest of the way, they have to play five of their next seven games on the road. If they go 12-0, yeah, stick them in.

Then what should happen if BYU or Utah goes unbeaten? How about Ball State? How about Tulsa? Of course, upsets always happen, but the Golden Hurricane will be favored against everyone on the schedule the rest of the way with the possible exception of road dates against Arkansas and Houston. If Ball State stays healthy, it should roll through everyone on the slate outside of a road trip to Central Michigan. According to the BCS guide …

No more than one such team from Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West Conference, the Sun Belt Conference, and the Western Athletic Conference shall earn an automatic berth in any year. If two or more teams from those conferences satisfy the provisions for an automatic berth, then the team with the highest finish in the final BCS Standings will receive the automatic berth, and the remaining team or teams will be in the pool of teams eligible for selection by the bowls as at-large teams.”

Here’s hoping Ball State, Boise State, Tulsa and BYU or Utah all go unbeaten and they all get in. Remember, we’re not talking about playoffs here. We’re talking about well-paying exhibition games. For every Hawaii – Georgia Sugar Bowl, a Utah – Pitt 2005 Fiesta Bowl and a Boise State – Oklahoma 2007 Fiesta Bowl makes college football better.

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.

- Alabama still might be a year away from being tremendous everywhere but quarterback. John Parker Wilson is doing what he needs to do as a caretaker, but very soon, Greg McElroy will need to start getting in some meaningful work. Remember, Florida used two quarterbacks to win the national title two years ago, and LSU needed Ryan Perrilloux to step in for Matt Flynn late last year.
- Washington coaches, don’t let Jake Locker back on the field until he’s healthy. He’s an elite player who’ll be the cornerstone of the next regime. He’s being a great teammate saying he’d be winning to play another position if needed, but he’s a quarterback with a limitless potential. Let the thumb heal and stick him back under center.
- Everyone’s talking about undefeated BYU and Utah teams, but they could each get picked off by TCU. The dominant performance of last week that you didn’t notice: TCU rushing yards 383 – San Diego State rushing yards -13.
- Because BYU fans don’t hate me enough, a show of hands on who out there would take No. 8 BYU over No. 9 USC, No. 10 Georgia, No. 11 Ohio State or No. 12 Florida?
- Why isn’t Pitt in the top 25 ahead of South Florida? That loss to Bowling Green was obviously an opening week gag. Pitt is 33rd in the Coaches’ Poll while South Florida is 20th. Meanwhile, Kansas, who lost to USF, is 15th.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Inside the NFL on HBO ... Underrated: Inside the NFL on Showtime
2) Overrated: The Chicago Cubs in the playoffs under Lou Piniella … Underrated: Ohio State vs. the SEC
3) Overrated: Jillian Barberie in the NutriSystem ads ... Underrated: Marie Osmond in the NutriSystem ads
4) Overrated: Chase Daniel allegedly being spit on by Nebraska fans ... Underrated: Stacey Dales on the sidelines in the rainstorm during the Florida State – Miami game
5) Overrated: Vanderbilt’s first half of the season ... Underrated: What Vanderbilt will do in the second half of the season

“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:
 Chase Daniel, Missouri  
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.

Last week I went 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 opposite of the three teams I’m 100% certain are going to win against the spread. Considering I couldn’t stop going 1-2 the old way, going 1-1-1 last week is a step forward. I’m sticking with the strategy. 5-12-1 overall, I press on by taking the three games I’m sure of … and I’m going the other way. … 1) Nebraska +21 over Texas Tech, 2) Temple +9 over Central Michigan, 3) Texas A&M +3 over Kansas State

Last Week: 1) Stanford +7 over Notre Dame (TIE), 2) Northern Illinois +16 over Tennessee (WIN), 3) Oregon +16.5 over USC (LOSS)

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … North Carolina’s Bruce Carter blew past my protection team and blocked three of my better blurbs.