Cavalcade of Whimsy ... The BCS & USC, Part 1
USC QB Mark Sanchez
USC QB Mark Sanchez
Posted Nov 11, 2008

The happiness of Nick Saban, getting the college football playoff message heard, the lack of minority head coaches, and explaining the BCS for USC's world in Part One of the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy. Tomorrow is Part 2, analyzing the ten teams with national title chances and what they need to do to get to Miami.

Fiu's Cavalcade of Whimsy ... Part 1

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 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10

- Part Two This Week What 10 teams need to do to get into the national title

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … after a 17-0 loss to Boston College, Charlie Weis has decided he’s going to take a more active role in the column. He believes he can be the “answer” to the “problem.”

Like him or not, the guy is on the record for wanting a college football playoff …
(I’m sorry about this groaner. I really, really am, but it’s too goofy a coincidence in wordplay, and way too ironic, to not use it. I ask that you get through it and keep on moving through the rest of the column. Thank you for your support and for your understanding during this unfortunate blurb.)

Before anyone else figures this out, I’ll throw it out there … Alobama. The Crimson Tide is running a calm, cool, flawless campaign. It doesn’t get rattled, head coach Nick Saban never wavers off the message of focusing on the task at hand, it answers adversity when challenged with a business-like approach that focuses solely on getting the job done without getting too high or too low, and it keeps getting sharper and better even though everyone is waiting for the big stumble.

“Uh no, they’re saying Boo-urns, Boo-urns.”
… I’m a fan of booing everything from the Starbucks barista who put too much foam in my latte, to the little girl in the wheelchair throwing out the ceremonial first pitch, to this column when I write horrific crap like Alobama. It’s your right as a sports fan, hell, as an American (unlike the Europeans and their weasely whistling) to take out all your pent up unchanneled angst with a big, fat, cathartic, starting-from-your-toes-and-working-its-way-out BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

With that said, LSU fans, there’s absolutely no reason to have any issue with Saban. Had he left LSU for Alabama, then yeah, it would be understandable to feel jilted and really ticked off. But it’s not like he pulled a
Joe "You're dead to me, Fredo" Lieberman and trashed the place; he took off for a pro gig and has been nothing but complimentary and gracious when it comes to LSU. You can not like the Alabama head coach, but at least give the dude a little credit. He made you. LSU was doing a fat load of jack squat before Saban showed up, and he not only won you a national title, but he built the foundation for the college football superpower that gave you another championship last year and the possibility for more in the future.

“Money can’t buy happiness? Look at the (bleep)ing smile on my face. Ear to ear, baby.” … Give Saban credit; the man is focused. “I know I don’t look happy, but I am,” he said after the win over Georgia a few weeks ago, and repeated something to that effect after beating LSU. Apparently, him being happy is a job requirement as part of the $4-mildo he’s receiving, but that’s just not his style. If you're a Tide fan, it's all about your happiness right now. This isn't a one-year thing. He has the juggernaut back on track.

Said with a wink, you betcha! …
95% of Americans under $200,000 getting a tax cut. Joe the Plumber. He voted with Bush 90% of the time. Drill, Baby, Drill. Redistribute the wealth. Maverick. By the end of the long, long presidential campaign everyone could recite the talking points and catch phrases by heart. The candidates kept saying the same things over and over and over again until it became second nature to anyone who watched TV for more than 14 seconds over the last six months. Taking a cue from what works, I will stay on point and keep pounding away at my message until it becomes second nature to the American public … 8 teams, 6 BCS-league champions, the top ranked non-BCS champion, the top ranked at-large team. America, it's your turn to get what you want.  

“I know I don’t look happy, but I am.” … Nick, the media held a meeting, and everyone decided to stop asking you about your happiness! (Cut to reaction shot)

The Undercard For UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar …
The ill-tempered Bo Pelini vs. the “unleashed” Oprah. Place your bets.

8 teams, 6 BCS-league champions, the top ranked non-BCS champion, the top ranked at-large team. America, it's your turn to get what you want.

“If that’s true we’re going to really have to start brushing our teeth.” … I’m suffering from withdrawal. I miss all the political stuff I'm used to having on a continuous all-night loop while working, and now that it’s all over, fine, I’ll start watching (gritted teeth) the Wednesday night college football games.

I’ve got your Nielson rating right here, really …
Granted, it was on the smallest of my three office TVs and the sound was down, but I’d be stunned if I wasn’t the only person in America to have watched the Tuesday night Miami University vs. Buffa
lo game.

“I know I don’t look happy, but I am.” … Nick, it turns out one of the circumcisions Tim Tebow performed didn’t take and he has to go back to finish the job on December 6th! (Cut to reaction shot)

8 teams, 6 BCS-league champions, the top ranked non-BCS champion, the top ranked at-large team. America, it's your turn to get what you want.  

And your Saturdays are never free … With the Prop 8 debate in California the nation’s hot button issue at the moment, there's a standard comedic line being used in some form on all the shows. Let gay people marry; why shouldn't they be as miserable as the rest of us? Apply the same lame joke to minority football coaches. Sure they’re not getting hired, but why would they want to be? Being a big-time college football head coach is a miserable existence. There’s no job security, there’s no margin for error, you can’t have a bad year, and even if you’ve been an unquestioned success you’re going to be expected to produce at the same high level every year or you’re gone. You don’t sleep, you don’t have a family anymore, you have to suck up to old guys who call themselves Happy or Colonel and you have pitch and sell to 16-and-17-year-old kids who think they're ready for the NFL right now. The stress level is off the charts and you're under a constant microscope. But hey, if that’s for you, knock yourself out.

Next up: A study to figure out the number of Caucasian American NBA All-Stars …
From the Department of No Duh, a recent study showed that the number of African-American college football head coaches is dwindling. Actually, the Institute of Diversity and Ethics In Sport at UCF concluded that most of the major leadership positions involving college sports, from presidents and athletic directors on down, aren’t making the headway needed with it comes to minority hiring into positions of power. College football-wise, the firing of Ty Willingham and Ron Prince didn’t help the cause.

Try this pop quiz. Outside of Willingham and Prince, name the four remaining African-American head coaches among the 119 FBS schools.
If you’re reading this, you’re into college football and there are only four to come up with so this shouldn’t be that hard .... time's up.

If you're like the others I asked in my unscientific poll of a few die-hard college football fans, you immediately got Sylvester Croom and Turner Gill. Half of you needed a second to remember Randy Shannon, and almost none of you got the fourth one right away: Houston's Kevin Sumlin. If you didn't get Sumlin, that's partly because the media didn't make much out of a minority becoming a head coach. While it should've been hailed more as a positive, it's not necessarily a bad thing that race went largely unrecognized. To many of us in the media, especially us under-40 types, we just didn't notice so it didn't get any play.

Of course hiring more minority head coaches is important because of the influence, the role model aspect, and the power and prestige the position holds. Of course the “Eddie Robinson Rule” (meaning minorities need to be interviewed whenever there’s an opening) needs to be in effect and enforced to make sure that African-Americans aren’t forgotten about in the hiring process. It's important.

8 teams, 6 BCS-league champions, the top ranked non-BCS champion, the top ranked at-large team. America, it's your turn to get what you want.   

“I know I don’t look happy, but I am.” … Nick, Heidi Klum just saw you coming out of the locker room and she decided to dump Seal! (Cut to reaction shot)

If only they played in a major media market and if they could just get on TV once in a while, then maybe, just maybe people would start to notice Pete Carroll is one of my favorite college football coaches. He gets it. He gets that it’s all supposed to be fun, he’s not the total jerkweed that most of the superstar coaches quickly become once they get drunk with power, and he’s never afraid to challenge his team against anyone, any place, any time. However, he’s off on his “BCS stinks” rant.

He says he doesn’t understand how the system works. Pete, let me clear it up for you. If you win, and if your ridiculously talented team doesn’t choke (and yes, your team is so loaded year in and year out that a loss to anyone outside of the top 10 is a choke), you will play for the national title. The same can’t be said for anyone else in America outside of an undefeated SEC champion. You’ve earned the benefit of a hundred doubts on this one when it comes to the really, really big games that matter, so the BCS boils down to this: win, and you're in.

Because of the USC brand name, if it goes unbeaten, it will play for the national title no matter what. Forget about strength of schedule and forget about appearances. USC gets so much blind love and respect from the media (check out Lee Corso on GameDay every Saturday or the way Mike Mayock likes to blast away on me whenever the Trojans come up on our NFL Network appearances) that it will always, always find a spot in the national championship if it finishes 12-0. That it’s USC is the only reason it’s still considered a national title contender this year. If Cal, Oregon, or anyone else in the Pac 10 had the exact same 2008 résumé as USC (yes, even with the tremendous defense that’s stopping all the horrifically bad Pac 10 offenses), there wouldn’t be one word about a national title shot.  

“I know I don’t look happy, but I am.” … Nick, they decided your annual salary is now $4,000,001! (Cut to reaction shot)

If the return of Bill Snyder is your answer … … you need to ask more questions. Are you really allowed to have jacked up expectations at Kansas State? The program became strong under Bill Snyder, who proved to be a miracle worker, but it only won one Big 12 title and that was thanks to an epic upset of Oklahoma. The failed Ron Prince experiment showed that 1) hoping for JUCO players to form the bulk of your talent base doesn’t work. Bill Callahan showed that at Nebraska, and 2) you can’t lose to an in-state rival like Kansas 52-21 when you’re in the midst of a disappointing season. Remember, as mediocre as the Prince era has been, it was better than the end of Snyder’s run.

8 teams, 6 BCS-league champions, the top ranked non-BCS champion, the top ranked at-large team. America, it's your turn to get what you want.   

“So, that's it then, hmm? Just like a young man coming in for a quickie. I feel so unsatisfied. I'm sorry. You must feel proud and good. Strong enough to beat the world.” ... Reason No. 413 why the Big Ten sort of sucks. To show how exciting the league is, the Big Ten Network keeps running a promo highlighting the spectacular last-minute 46-yard touchdown run from Purdue’s Kory Sheets to beat Central Michigan. So, Big Ten, one of your teams needed a last-second miracle dash, at home, to get by a team from the MAC, and that’s what you have to hang your hat on? There has to be a better Big Ten non-conference moment this year, right? There was the thrilling way that Illinois held on to beat UL Lafayette. No? There was Minnesota scoring a touchdown after going for it on fourth down, and batting down a last gasp pass attempt in the end zone, to beat Northern Illinois. Doesn’t do it for you? The Northwestern defense holding on to beat Duke? Wisconsin grinding it out to close out Fresno State? That’s about it. And you wanted Penn State in your national title game.

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.

- In theory, the Tennessee job sounds like a dream come true for most coaches, but it’s set up to be a tough gig in a Ron Zook-bridge-the-gap sort of way. The expectations are jacked through the roof, Florida isn’t going anywhere as long as Urban Meyer is there, Georgia is still strong, and Alabama is the big elephant on the schedule to deal with. It’s going to take at least two recruiting classes to get Tennessee at the level Vol fans want it to be at, which means there’s no national title discussion until at least 2011, at best. It’s going to take an A-lister with a ton of job security and a lot of money to want the aggravation.

- It’s not like AC/DC was cutting edge anymore for anyone other than those who don’t wear sleeves on a regular basis, but if your record is being sold exclusively at Wal-Mart, you’re officially ready to be played on WMOM. Go ahead and blast Angus in your Dodge Caravan.

8 teams, 6 BCS-league champions, the top ranked non-BCS champion, the top ranked at-large team. America, it's your turn to get what you want.   

- Don’t dismiss LSU QB Jarrett Lee quite yet. That touchdown pass he threw to Demetrius Byrd showed why he could be a good one with a little time and a lot of coaching, but for now, he’s a killer. LSU beats Alabama if it gets competent quarterback play.

- Who predicted Texas Tech would be unbeaten going into the Oklahoma showdown? Well, we did. Sorry to chirp, but I was fired up to see that we got this right in the Preview because ...
- I wanted to kill myself with a Veg-o-matic when Iowa beat Penn State because I ignored the Upset Voice that rings in my head once in a while (yes, the same one that told me that Ohio State would beat USC, but I digress). I told anyone who’d listen (and many who wouldn’t) that the Nittany Lions would have trouble in Iowa City and that Daryll Clark was a question mark in the fourth quarter, considering he hadn’t needed to throw a meaningful crunch time pass. Of course, I wussed out in a big way and picked Penn State to pull away late. With that in mind, my I’m-too-chicken-spit-to-actually-call-it pick of the week to watch for: South Carolina. I think Florida is winning the national title, but part of me thinks the Gamecocks are going to show up big-time in Gainesville, and it’s not just the Spurrier factor. Florida is due for a clunker.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: 2008 Oklahoma ... Underrated: 2007 Georgia
2) Overrated: Senior Day … Underrated: The real world with no jobs to be had
3) Overrated: “Red, or black” ... Underrated: “Both”
4) Overrated: Mid-level Big Ten teams ... Underrated: Ball State, Western Michigan, Central Michigan
5) Overrated: The BCS, according to Joe Paterno ... Underrated: The BSC, according to Joe Paterno

“I hearby designate   Graham Harrell, Texas Tech   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:
 Colt McCoy, Texas  
My Third Choice Is: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (although Iowa’s Shonn Greene is hovering)

“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.

Officials estimated close to a quarter-million people gathered in Grant Park to be a part of the shared experience and emotional outpouring of me finally going 2-1. (Cut to Oprah weeping on some random dude and then screaming bizarrely for CNN about how she never thought this was going to happen “in … MY … lifetime”). I’m up to 12-20-1 overall.

I press on by taking the three games I’m sure of  … 1) Central Michigan +3 over Northern Illinois, 2) Notre Dame -3 over Navy, 3) Georgia -8 over Auburn

Last Week: 1) Kentucky +10.5 over Georgia (WIN), 2) Arkansas +10 over South Carolina (LOSS), 3) Houston -14 over Tulane (WIN)

8 teams, 6 BCS-league champions, the top ranked non-BCS champion, the top ranked at-large team. America, it's your turn to ... eh, screw it. We're stuck with it as is.   

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … I wasn’t exactly rocketing into coaching stardom with my gig as the quarterback coach at West Texas A&M, and now I have to fight through drug allegations.

- Part Two This Week What 10 teams need to do to get into the national title