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Cavalcade of Whimsy - Give Chuck A Break
Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis
Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis
Posted Nov 18, 2008

It might be fashionable to rip on Notre Dame, but Charlie Weis has come up with a not-that-bad year. This, along with ESPN's conflict of interests with the BCS, the Carroll-Harbaugh rift, and more in Part One of the Cavalcade of Whimsy.

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
- Week 11

- Part Two This Week The 10 Big Things You Need To Know

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … I thought I’d use a little gamesmanship against Pete Carroll by tacking on meaningless points late in a blowout loss. He called a timeout to ice my column, so I decided to go for the touchdown. Unlike Stanford, I misfired.

“"All warfare is based on deception..." Sun Tzu says, If your enemy is superior, evade him, if angry, irritate him, if equally matched, fight... if not, split and reevaluate.” … Oh, that’s right, Jim Harbaugh. Poke the bear, poke the bear.

You don’t need Sun Tzu or Bud Fox to know that if you’re Stanford, you don’t tick off USC. You genuflect at the altar and fly under the radar. USC doesn’t lose when it’s focused and fired up, and now, after Harbaugh and Carroll have become the Maggie Simpson and the unibrow baby of Pac 10 coaching rivalries, Stanford will now be a “focus” game for the Trojans.

Does it take beating the Trojans to get them pumped up? No, otherwise USC would’ve been focused against Oregon State. It takes something extra. UCLA was able to rile things up after coming close to beating USC, the eventual national champion, in a 29-24 battle in 2004. The Bruins started popping off and got whacked 66-19 the following year. Mark it down: A long as Harbaugh is coaching Stanford and Carroll is at USC, expect the need for more late tack-on scores from the Cardinal.

Great Moments In Sports Gambling History … With all the attention paid by the investment community to the debacle at the end of the Pittsburgh Steeler – San Diego Charger game, the end of the USC – Stanford game was swept under the rug.

“This means something to (Harbaugh’s) team and players,” said the announcer. Uh-huh, and to a gaming public that was either horrified or elated like getting a Red Rider on Christmas morning at Harbaugh’s decision to try for a meaningless touchdown at the end of the USC game. Down 45-17 with the spread at -22.5, the Cardinal came up with a touchdown to beat the number. And you thought your GM stock was having a rough day.

Three words: “Bonds on Bonds”… ESPN appears to be on the verge of getting the rights for the BCS games for 2011 and beyond. Meanwhile, the network has ponied up $2.5 billion for the rights to televise the SEC games other than the one CBS will snag for its game of the week. That means ESPN will be the equivalent of the SEC Network during football seasons.

As if the $55 million a year the SEC will be getting from the deal isn’t enough, let’s just say it’ll be in the Boo-Ya’s best interest if the league just so happens to be promoted all the time when it comes to lobbying efforts to get an SEC team into the national title. Also, be prepared for any and all critical thought when it comes to BCS discussion to be gone from the Worldwide Leader, and for any hint of the P-word, be it for an eight-team tourney or a plus-one format, to be squashed like Harold Reynolds.

Oh, hi Head. I’d like to introduce you to Ass. Ass, Head. … In response to Barack Obama’s appeal-to-the-masses call for a college football playoff, BCS head honcho John Swofford released a statement containing this all-timer of a whopper.

"… For now, our constituencies, and I know (Obama) understands constituencies, have settled on the current BCS system, which the majority believe is the best system yet to determine a national champion while also maintaining the college football regular season as the best and most meaningful in sports. …"

John, honey, you can’t do that. If you want to defend the bowl system that’s one thing. If you want to roll about the importance of the regular season, that’s great. But you can’t open up your fly and throw a whiz on the 99% of the college football world that’s not happy with this system. I’ll defend you if you want to defend the system, it’s far better than the old poll ‘n’ boll style, but you can’t say it’s what the fans, players, or coaches want.

The statement showed that the BCSers 1) don’t get it, don’t care, and aren’t even trying, and 2) are the enemy.

I’ll keep writing this column after column to hammer it home. Eight teams. Six BCS conference champions, the top non-BCS conference champion, one wild card, one integrity of the regular season fully intact. John, that’s what your constituencies want. More to the point, that’s what your president is asking of you.

But no one pulls off Blue Steel like Pelini You want to dog the BCS system, go for it. I’m about four days away from officially being sick of all the whining, but the frustrations are fair. However, when it comes to deciding the Big 12 South champion this year if there’s a three-way tie, don’t blame the BCS for being the deciding factor. What do you want? The stalemate has to be broken somehow. Would you be happier with a coin flip? A Zoolander walk off between Mack Brown, Bob Stoops and Mike Leach?

On a slight tangent, the personal belief that you must win your conference title to play in the national championship will be relaxed this year. If, say, Texas gets left out and Missouri beats Oklahoma for the Big 12 title, I have no issue with the Longhorns playing the SEC champion for the national title.

Newsweek reported that the Election Night euphoria is expected to produce a baby boom nine months from Nov. 4. In other news, the hospitals are expected to be clear nine months after Nov. 15 after continuous sightings of a wet Charlie Weis during the win over Navy … Well isn’t that convenient of ole Chuck Weis. Now you want to take over the offense when Navy and Syracuse are on the schedule. Where were you for Pitt and Boston College?

To all Irish lovers and haters (they’re often one in the same, even if they don’t realize it), what did you expect this year? Notre Dame is going to a bowl game, likely a decent one. The franchise quarterback is in place for the next two years, the baby-young receiving corps has the potential to be special, and the defense is light years better than it was even during the BCS years under Weis.

The offensive line was among the most inept in college football last season, allowing 58 sacks, and this year it has given up 14 in 10 games. The offense isn’t Texas Tech, but after finishing dead last in America averaging 242 yards per game, and 16.4 points, it’s averaging 372 yards and 24.6 points per outing. The team is improving, and it’s still young with most of the key parts coming back, with the big exception of safety David Bruton and LB Maurice Crum.

Next year has to be the year. If Weis doesn’t have the Irish in a position to be in the discussion for the BCS, then it’ll be time for a serious hot seat. But until then, a little bit of credit has to be given to Weis (even if it’s through clenched teeth) and the coaching staff for coming up with a major overall improvement from last year.

“Hey, you wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world? Braaaahahahhhhhhhhhhh!”  …
Be warned before you read this; it’ll put you in a grouchy mood for about nine minutes. No, not the High School Musical 3: Senior Year soundtrack or Arianna Huffington’s voice.

If Oregon State beats Arizona and Oregon, and if Penn State beats Michigan State, your 2009 BCS season will kick off with a rematch of the September 6th 45-14 Nittany Lion beatdown of the Beavers. Maybe that Winter Classic game between the Blackhawks and Red Wings really isn’t that bad an option.

However, all is fine if handled by the announcing team of Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok …
I have no problem with Oregon State going to the Rose Bowl, new blood in the mix is always a good thing, but I just don’t want to see a rematch with Penn State. As the Grand Poobah of all things college football, I get to come up with the five games and matchups, within the confines of the system (my powers only extend so far), that America would most like to see. I’m not saying this is fair; I’m saying this would be the most fun and would generate the biggest buzz. As far as the conference champions, I shall make it so for the Big East and ACC choices.

- BCS Championship: Florida vs. Oklahoma
- Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. USC
- Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Ohio State
- Fiesta Bowl: Texas Tech (someone from the South has to be left out) vs. Utah
- Orange Bowl: West Virginia vs. Miami

“I was young. I needed the work.” …
One of the most important things to keep an eye on over the final few weeks of the season will be the development of LSU QB Jarrett Lee. Thrown into the full-time role after Andrew Hatch had problems from a concussion, Lee has been, well, spotty. He has thrown 15 interceptions on the year, going just one game without tossing a pick, and he has been hidden by the coaching staff at times, thrown under the bus at others, and given the keys to the car in crunch time in key games. He seems like he has the skills to grow into a good SEC passer, but will he be the guy to revolve the program around for the next three years? LSU has some major rebuilding to do next year, and for a place that can go into every season shooting for the national title, it’ll be interesting to see how the coaching staff handles this.

“These people are peasants. They are too ignorant to vote. Hear me. l am your new president. From this day on, the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. Silence!” …
Alright, fans. You really want to do this right? You really want take ownership of your program while giving a head coach an honest, fair shot? Take a cue from the recent presidential election. The fans are given a few options for a head coach and it’s put to a vote. The winner gets a four-year term. There are no term limits here; if you like the guy, you keep voting him in. My tongue is only half in my cheek here. The coach would have stability, the fans have no one to blame but themselves if their guy stinks, and a recruiting class would know where it stands from the start.

“If anybody, but you, returns this ball to me, you'll wish you'de never been born.” …
A little tip for the Michigan coaches: Make the players walk around campus for the next nine months holding a football at all times The Program style. Only Army has lost more fumbles than the Wolverines, and the Knights have the excuse of trying to figure out the timing of the option.

And if you’re on offense, go deep the play after …
Not to go all Bill Maher here, but to all the players who kneel in prayer whenever a player is down and the ambulance comes out, keep that moment in mind for the rest of the game going forward and in your thoughts for the following week. God isn’t the one making the helmet-to-helmet kill shots. That’s on you, sport. 

Ranger: “There are over 200 active geysers in Yellowstone Park alone. Old Faithful here is one of the largest. During an eruption the water can reach as high as 200 feet!”

Butthead: “So?” …
Full body hugs and a carafe of strawberry warm fuzzies to Vanderbilt for getting bowl eligible. However, that shows how much the SEC sucks this year. In a normal season, the Dores aren’t beating South Carolina and Auburn and they’re not going 5-3 in conference play, like they’ll probably do after facing a hapless Tennessee.

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.

- Is making a catch when trapping the ball on your helmet really that big a deal? Kansas WR Dezmon Briscoe made a great grab against Texas as he took the bobbled ball and pinned it against his helmet while falling down; the highlight types on every station went wild. I sort of thought the Dez Bryant one-handed catch and run on the move for a score against Colorado was more impressive. And by the way, the escape and throw by Eli in the Super Bowl was more amazing than the David Tyree catch.

- Most interesting fun stat of the week part one: Utah converted 13-of-14 third down chances against San Diego State.

- No, Jimmie Johnson isn’t a “modern day icon.” Bring up the name without the spelling to 1,000 sports fans and 914 will say he’s the former head coach and current Fox NFL studio man.

- Most interesting fun stat of the week part two: UCF beat Marshall even though QB Rob Calabrese completed 4-of-17 passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. I’m sure this wasn’t even close to an NCAA record for combined passing futility, but the 11-of-46, 113-yard, two touchdown, two interception performances by the two passing games wasn’t a thing of beauty.

- I’m not picking the upset, but watch out for Cal Poly out of the FCS against Wisconsin this week. The Badgers are known for taking the foot off the gas in layup games, while the Mustangs, who beat San Diego State to open the season, lead the FCS in total offense and scoring. They have the third best running game, averaging 304 yards per game, and is No. 1 in passing efficiency. The defense is second in the nation among FCS teams in sacks.

- Very quietly this year in the loaded Big 12 has been a great season from Nebraska QB Joe Ganz. The steady senior has thrown for 3,103 yards and 21 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, and he has rushed for 248 yards and five scores. Speaking of under the radar …
The 10 Big Things You Need To Know

“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.

2-1 for the second week in a row?! These are heady times helped by a gift of the Lock Of The Millennium Notre Dame -3 over Navy pick. I’m up to 14-21-1 overall.

I press on by taking the three games I’m sure of  … 1) Washington -7.5 over Washington State, 2) Oklahoma -6.5 over Texas Tech, 3) South Florida -3 over Connecticut

Last Week:
1) Central Michigan +3 over Northern Illinois (WIN), 2) Notre Dame -3 over Navy (WIN), 3) Georgia -8 over Auburn (LOSS)

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault …
 Jon Gruden just turned down my advances to take over the column. Oops, now Randy Edsall isn’t interested, either. Maybe Skip Holtz will grab the gig.

- Part Two This Week The 10 Big Things You Need To Know