Cavalcade of Whimsy - Picking Award Winners
Posted Nov 25, 2008

Who will win all the major college football awards, and who should win them? Along with thoughts on some key Big 12 coaching happenings, and an open letter to Oklahoma asking when the crash will come, here's the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Fiu's Cavalcade of Whimsy ... Nov. 23

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 | Week 12

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … I told my die-hard readers, who criticized my lousy year, that they needed to get a life, and now I’m in even more hot water after an epic season of losing columns.

They got so mad they sweated through their I Grock Spock T-shirts … Rich, my man, when you go 3-9 at Michigan, you keep your chin up, your head down (yes, at the same time) and you praise the fan base for sticking with you through thick and thin while promising that you’re just as mad as they are and that things will improve. You don’t say the Ohio State showdown is just another game, and you never, ever, ever, suggest that the superfans need to get anything more than another Michigan sweatshirt. Short of sending the Pussy Patrol to rooms of all the message board posters, Rodriguez needs to come up with the mega of all mega recruiting classes or else this is going to be a very prickly off-season.

It wouldn’t be any uglier than watching Jarrett Lee try to throw …
Two weeks removed from the LSU 30-point fourth quarter to overcome a 31-3 deficit to beat Troy, it suddenly hit me: when, if you’re Troy, do you simply start taking a knee on every play? Forgetting the whole wussing out/competitive fight to the finish aspect, there should be some sort of a chart that shows when it’s in your best interest to start grinding out the clock by going into the victory formation. With the new running time between plays, if you can milk the clock and dance around for a second or two, you’re basically blowing close to a minute per play every time you take a knee. Of course, the other team will use its three time outs, but even so, you should be able to eat up at least eight minutes of playing time by doing absolutely nothing. If you’re up by more than 20 points with around ten minutes to play, and if you can get one defensive stop, you should be able to kill it.

There’s a certain segment of the Penn State population that could only wish this sort of plan was in place … A few years back I asked Mack Brown if he was concerned over losing defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. Brown’s response was, “We’re Texas. We’ll just go out and get another great coordinator.” So then why was there such a desperate need to lock up Will Muschamp?

Of course, if Texas really likes Muschamp, this was a must or else he’d be gone to Tennessee, or any other top job opening he’d want. Brown isn’t showing any signs of retiring; it could be at least three years before the transition actually takes place. Muschamp might turn out to be a superstar, but this is Texas. This is the A list of A list job openings. Unlike, say, Michigan, this place will pay. Texas can hand pick its next head coach, and what if there are other hot coaches out there when Brown ends up retiring? Why not let Muschamp go and earn his stripes somewhere else, and then if you want him, then buy him back?

We'll put the band back together, do a few gigs, we get some bread. Bang! Five thousand bucks." ... Kansas State fans, are you really that excited about getting Bill Snyder back? It's not like Snyder was working magic at the end of his first run, and, as was proven by the Ron Prince era and the Bill Callahan reign at Nebraska, you can't go the JUCO route and hope to rock and roll in today's Big 12. Snyder isn't the type of name-brand legendary head coach to 17-year-olds who can walk into a living room and end the debate just by his presence, and the talent is just average enough that there won't be a turnaround for at least two years. How long will Snyder be around? I can't believe the rest of the Big 12 is quaking like it would've if TCU's Gary Patterson had taken over.

Uhhhhh, isn’t this the place that had to suspend a slew of players for academic fraud? … It’s with great jealousy and while wearing my Oxford Rugby T-shirt that I jokingly mock the awarding of a Rhodes Scholarship to Florida State safety Myron Rolle. Oh sure, the guy’s going to cure cancer and he’s helping to provide health care to needy children, and he has a shot to be a Pro Bowl defensive back if he doesn’t decide to pursue his career as a brain surgeon right away, but I thought the word “State” in the college title was an automatic dismissal from Rhodes Scholarship consideration. If that got by, then certainly the word “Florida” would’ve thrown up a red flag. Yeah, he graduated from college in less than three years, but a 3.75 GPA really gets it done? What, he couldn’t ace Organic Chemistry and beat NC State at the same time?

Congratulations to Rolle. He’s everything a college football player should be about, and for a Florida State program that gets dogged, fairly or not, for various transgressions on and off the field, and in and out of the classroom, give credit to the school and to Bobby Bowden’s program to be able to let Rolle be the student, as well as the player, that should be the model for all who play the game.

Yeah, right. And if I was a world-class athlete, not an idiot, and if I ever did anything for society beyond wearing deodorant, I’d have been a Rhodes Scholar, too … Forgetting the rushing element, I could’ve had the passing day that Duke’s Zack Asack came up with in the 14-3 loss to Virginia Tech. Asack ran for 87 yards on 24 carries, but he only completed 2-of-9 passes for 20 yards with four interceptions. I’d be dead after those nine plays, but I’d be willing to give it a try if Coach Cutcliffe can find me a game worth of eligibility.

Wake up pal, if you're not inside you're outside. And I'm not talking a $200,000 a year working Wall Street stiff flying first class and being "comfortable", I'm talking rich pal, rich enough to fly in your own jet, rich enough not to waste time, 50-100 million, a player Bud – or nothing.” … It’s time the college football world took a good, hard look at itself and come to an honest realization. If you’re not going to include Utah or Boise State in the discussion for the national championship under the current system, then you either need to change the system or it might be time to create another division of teams between the haves and the have-nots.

Kent State got 2,267 people in the stadium for last week’s game against Northern Illinois. 2,267. Granted, the weather was lousy and Kent State is finishing up an awful season, but how is a program like this supposed to compete with any of the big boys that would pass out at the thought of 2,267 empty seats? We all pump up the Toledo win over Michigan and Troy pushing the defending national champion, LSU, to the wall, but either the non-BCS programs are part of the equation or they need to be in a sub-division of its own. Ask any Utah fan how frustrating it is to have a team do everything right, in a year when the Mountain West went 6-1 against the Pac 10, and not even be a thought in anyone’s national championship mind.

That’s why pencils have erasers … All that jazz I said last week about giving Charlie Weis a break as he’s trying to turn around Notre Dame, nevermind. You don’t lose to Syracuse. You just don’t.

Maybe it can all go away soon, like all the dopey Twilight vampire stuff It finally happened, and it took a little longer this year than expected: I’m sick of people whining about a playoff.

Look, the Big 12 South doesn’t get solved with any sort of a playoff proposal that’s within the realm of possibility. If there was a plus-one, it would only include conference champions. No way, no how do all the BCS conferences allow any sort of a playoff, a plus-one, or any format other than what’s happening now without making sure the money train keeps rolling. You think the ACC is going to allow a plan that would potentially allow two Big 12 and two SEC teams play in a playoff? Yeah, right. You’re not going to get a 16-team playoff for the FBS, ever, so quit your “it works for the FCS” beef. Again, we have to work in the land of the real. Go to an eight-team playoff, and there still wouldn’t be any way that Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech all get in. At the moment, your ire needs to be directed at the Big 12 South tie-breaker system, not the BCS or the lack of a playoff.

Why can’t the South have some tangible way of settling the division title rather than going by the whims of the BCS voters? Total points in the three-game round-robin series, out of conference strength of schedule, something.

And you wonder why Penn State isn’t being considered in the national title discussion … A few weeks ago I dogged the Big Ten Network for its promo ad highlighting Purdue’s need for a last second touchdown to win a home game over the MAC’s Central Michigan. The Network is at it again with an ad promoting how exciting the league is by showcasing Iowa’s Andy Brodell taking a punt return for a touchdown in the 17-5 win over Iowa State. I know it’s a nasty rivalry, but still, ooooohhhhh, Iowa beat a team that finished the year with a 10-game losing streak. The Cyclones’ only win this year against an FBS team came against Kent State. Nice going, Big Ten … score! However, the Big Ten makes up for it with its brilliant ad with all the coaches giving their recruiting pitch.

65-21. Again, 65-21. Sixty-five to twenty-one. sesenta y cinco to veintiuno … What happens to the Big 12 South in terms of the national title if Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma? If the Cowboys beat the Sooners, and if Texas Tech beats Baylor and Texas beats Texas A&M, then Texas Tech wins the South clean and fair. Then if Tech beats Missouri for the Big 12 title, then how do you possibly put in Texas, who didn’t win its own division (and it’s not on the technicality it’d be in a three-way tie-breaker that went to the BCS rankings) in the national title over the Red Raiders? The fact is that you can’t do it. Do you really want to see Texas Tech play the Florida – Alabama winner after what happened in Norman on Saturday night? If you’re a fan of chaos, ask T. Boone Pickens to get you a pair of orange and black Cowboy pom poms

And when we say … Yeeow! Ayipioeeay! … We're only sayin' …. You're doin' fine, Oklahoma!” …

Dear Oklahoma,

So, when’s it going to come?

We’ve fallen for you before. We’ve believed in you before. We’ve given you the benefit of the doubt way too many times when you’ve been the best team in America, only to see you come out flat, seemingly disinterested, or unable to play up to your immense talent level.

You’re not Choke-lahoma for nothing.

Oh sure, you sure look like one of the two best teams in the nation (Florida being the other), but you looked like a world-beater going into the last two Fiesta Bowls against vastly inferior teams. How’d that work out?

You dominated throughout 2004 and won your last two games of the regular season and the Big 12 Championship by a combined score of 107 to 6, and then you decided not to show up against USC in the national championship.

You got blasted in the 2003 Big 12 title game by Kansas State, and then got the biggest break in the book and came up with a loss to LSU in the national championship. You had a shot to stay in the national title hunt late in 2002, but you blew it at Oklahoma State. The same went for 2001 when you lost to the Cowboys 16-13.

So when’s it going to come? When are you going to be all Oklahoma-ey and lose when everyone’s expecting the magic? Will it be in Stillwater or against Missouri in the Big 12 title game? If you could let us all know in advance, that would spare us all from having to listen to all the talking heads proclaim you the greatest team of all-time (like some were doing in 2003 before the Kansas State debacle).


The College Football World

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength

With the voting season for the big awards upon us, I’m going to help out the voters with who actually deserves to get the prizes.

12. Mackey Award – Nation’s Best Tight End
Finalists: Chase Coffman, Missouri; Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma; Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State
The Vote Will Likely Be: 1) Coffman, 2) Gresham, 3) Pettigrew
The Vote Should Be:
1) Coffman, 2) Gresham, 3) Pettigrew
Player Who Should Be A Finalist But Isn’t …
James Casey, Rice

Coffman was banged up yet he was still a steady catching machine throughout the year. Gresham will be a top NFL draft pick, and Pettigrew might be a top 20 overall pick, but they didn’t have the year that Coffman had. Coffman is fourth in the nation in catches per game.

11. Lou Groza Award – Nation’s Best Kicker
Finalists: Josh Arauco, Arkansas State; Graham Gano, Florida State; Louis Sakoda, Utah
The Vote Will Likely Be: 1) Sakoda, 2) Gano, 3) Arauco
The Vote Should Be:
1) Gano, 2) Sakoda, 3) Arauco
Player Who Should Be A Finalist But Isn’t …
Jake Rogers, Cincinnati

Gano’s only miss was on a bomb, but he hit four of his other five attempts from beyond 50 yards. It’s hard to go against Sakoda, who was clutch, consistent, and also handled the punting duties.

10. Ray Guy Award – Nation’s Best Punter
Finalists: Matt Fodge, Oklahoma State; Pat McAfee, West Virginia; Louie Sakoda, Utah
The Vote Will Be: 1) Sakoda, 2) McAfee, 3) Fodge
The Vote Should Be:
1) McAfee, 2) Sakoda, 3) Fodge
Player Who Should Be A Finalist But Isn’t …
T.J. Conley, Idaho

Easily the most bizarre category of the bunch, none of the finalists are in the top eight in punting average and Fodge, who’s averaging a nice 44 yards per kick, didn’t even have enough attempts to get on the board of national leaders. The finalists should be T.J. Conley of Idaho, who’s averaging 1.5 yards more than anyone else, Aaron Perez of UCLA, who bailed out the stagnant offense time and again, and Jacob Richardson of Miami University, who has been one of the nation’s best punters over the last few years, was second in the nation this year, and was the lone bright spot as he tried to save a continually sputtering offense.

9. Outland Trophy – Nation’s Best Interior Lineman
Finalists: Michael Oher, OT Ole Miss; Duke Robinson, OG Oklahoma; Andre Smith, OT Alabama
The Vote Will Be:
1) Smith, 2) Robinson, 3) Oher
The Vote Should Be:
1) Smith, 2) Oher, 3) Robinson
Player Who Should Be A Finalist But Isn’t …
A.Q. Shipley, C Penn State

Always sort of a nebulous award since it’s supposed to go to an interior linemen, yet offensive tackles are often thrown in the mix no matter where they line up, it would be a stunner if Smith didn’t win this going away. Oher has had a phenomenal career and played a big role in turning around the program, while Robinson is a great representative of the nation’s best O line. However, it’s debatable whether or not he’s the best lineman on his own team, much less in the nation.

8. Davey O’Brien Award – Nation’s Best Quarterback

Sam Bradford, Oklahoma; Graham Harrell, Texas Tech; Colt McCoy, Texas
The Vote Will Be: 1) Bradford, 2) McCoy, 3) Harrell
The Vote Should Be:
1) McCoy, 2) Bradford, 3) Harrell
Player Who Should Be A Finalist But Isn’t …
Tim Tebow, Florida

Tebow is out of the mix even though he might win the Heisman. This is a tough one to figure out and there’s no right or wrong answer between McCoy and Bradford, but if it really does come down to these two, and Harrell is out of the mix after the loss in Norman, than go with the guy who beat the other one.

7. Doak Walker Award – Nation’s Best Running Back
Finalists: Shonn Greene, Iowa; Knowshon Moreno, Georgia; Javon Ringer, Michigan State
The Vote Will Be:
1) Greene, 2) Moreno, 3) Ringer
The Vote Should Be:
1) Greene, 2) Ringer, 3) Moreno
Player Who Should Be A Finalist But Isn’t …
Donald Brown, Connecticut

For the second year in a row, the Doak Walker voters blew it. Last year the voters didn’t put 2,000-yard backs Matt Forte or Kevin Smith among the finalists, and this year, somehow, Donald Brown, the nation’s leading rusher for most of the season, was shockingly snubbed. Ringer makes the list for carrying the Spartans, but his 4.3 yards per carry is mediocre compared to his peers. Moreno has had a fantastic year, and he might be the most talented back in the nation behind Beanie Wells, but he could be bumped off for Brown. Greene deserves the Doak after running for 100 yards or more in every game.

6. Biletnikoff Award – Nation’s Best Wide Receiver
Finalists: Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State; Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech; Jeremy Maclin, Missouri
The Vote Will Be:
1) Crabtree, 2) Bryant, 3) Maclin
The Vote Should Be: 1) Crabtree, 2) Bryant, 3) Maclin
Player Who Should Be A Finalist But Isn’t … Austin Collie, BYU

Crabtree locked up the honor in the final seconds against Texas. Bryant has been fantastic, but he most of his production has come against the mediocre teams. Maclin is a phenomenal talent, but he’s the clear No. 3 in this group. BYU’s Austin Collie (the nation’s yardage leader by far with 1,149 yards) and Rice’s Jarett Dillard (19 touchdowns) deserve to be in the equation.

5. Thorpe Award – Nation’s Best Defensive Back
Finalists: Eric Berry, Tennessee; Malcolm Jenkins, Ohio State; Taylor Mays, USC.
The Vote Will Be:
1) Jenkins, 2) Mays, 3) Berry
The Vote Should Be:
1) Berry, 2) Mays, 3) Jenkins
Player Who Should Be A Finalist But Isn’t …
Rashad Johnson, Alabama

There’s no wrong answer here except for the exclusion of Rashad Johnson, who’d have gotten my vote. Jenkins had a tremendous season even though everyone has tried to stay away from him, Mays is a tone-setter for the phenomenal USC defense, and Berry is, arguably, the nation’s best playmaking safety. My vote is going for Berry, but again, all three are worthy.

Butkus Award – Nation’s Best Linebacker

Finalists: Not Announced Yet.
The Best Guess Vote Will Be:
1) Rey Maualuga, USC, 2) James Laurinaitis, Ohio State, 3) Scott McKillop, Pitt
The Vote Should Be: 1) McKillop; 2) Laurinaitis; 3) Maualuga
Player Who Should Be A Finalist But Won’t Be … Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri

Laurinaitis has been among the most overrated players in college football, and this year he was one of the most underrated. Sort of out of the national spotlight and all-star talk, he turned in a tremendous year for yet another good Buckeye defense. McKilliop, for the second year in a row, was a killer. He doesn’t have the name recognition, but he was the nation’s best linebacker this year. Maualuga certainly has been terrific, but was he better than Brian Cushing? If he was, it wasn’t by much.

3. Bednarik Award – Nation’s Best Defensive Player
Finalists: James Laurinaitis, LB Ohio State; Aaron Maybin, DE Penn State; Rey Maualuga, LB USC
The Vote Will Be:
1) Maualuga, 2) Laurinaitis, 3) Maybin
The Vote Should Be:
1) Laurinaitis, 2) Maybin, 3) Maualuga
Player Who Should Be A Finalist But Isn’t … Jerry Hughes, DE TCU

How is Hughes not on here? Maualuga will probably win it, but an argument could be made that Taylor Mays was the best player on the USC defense this year. Laurinaitis was in on everything this year for the Buckeyes, and while Maybin was unstoppable, if the choice is between these three, and Hughes isn’t in the mix, my vote is for the OSU star.

2. Maxwell Award – Nation’s Best Player
Finalists: Graham Harrell, QB Texas Tech; Colt McCoy, QB Texas; Tim Tebow, QB Florida.
The Vote Will Be: 1) Tebow, 2) McCoy, 3) Harrell
The Vote Should Be:
1) McCoy, 2) Tebow, 3) Harrell
Player Who Should Be A Finalist But Isn’t … Sam Bradford, QB Oklahoma

The Maxwell often becomes the booby prize for the guy who won’t win the Heisman. Since Bradford isn’t even on the list, the guess, at the moment, is that voters will pick Tebow for the Maxwell and McCoy for the Heisman, unless Bradford is winning the Heisman. Then McCoy would get the Maxwell.

1. Heisman – “The most outstanding college football player in the United States for 2008."
The Vote Will Be: 1) Sam Bradford, QB Oklahoma, 2) Colt McCoy, QB Texas, 3) Tim Tebow, QB Florida
The Vote Should Be:
1) McCoy, 2) Tebow, 3) Bradford

It’s not over yet and if everything holds to form, this could be among the closest races ever. How do you pick against Bradford, who’s been razor-sharp all season long? Tebow has been the tone-setting leader on a great run to a possible national title, and McCoy would likely win the Most Valuable Player award. Who has been the signature player of 2008? It depends on which Big 12 South team gets to the conference 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.

- Outside of Kirk Herbstreit’s dead-on destruction of Michigan’s Nick Sheridan on last week’s GameDay, has any young quarterback been ripped apart as much as LSU’s Jarrett Lee? The dude’s a freshman, yet he’s taking the lion’s share of the criticism for the team’s implosion. He’s been awful, but it’s up to the coaches to make him better, or call different plays to make him more comfortable.

- Peyton Manning, if he was actually dead, would be rolling over in his grave. Yeah, Tennessee beat Vanderbilt, but the Vol passing game completed 4-of-9 passes for 21 yards and two interceptions.

- There’s nothing better than watching a lineman try to do the geeky jump-up chest bump celebration thing with someone who can actually jump.

- If you’re a hot head coach in the MAC, you leave as soon as humanly possible. Take the bigger, better job the second you get the shot. Toledo’s Tom Amstutz was one of the league’s better coaches a few years ago, as was Miami’s Shane Montgomery, and then everything went all wrong. Buffalo’s Turner Gill and Central Michigan’s Butch Jones are all but gone.

- Three things that must always be a part of college football. 1) Storming the field, 2) throwing Oranges on the field when your team is in the mix for the Orange Bowl, and 3) cold weather, non-dome games with lots of snow and lousy conditions.

“I hearby designate   Colt McCoy, Texas (but I’m flipping a coin as of this immediate moment)   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:
 Sam Bradford, Oklahoma  

My Third Choice Is: Tim Tebow, Florida

“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 three straight weeks. Oh Mommy, Oh Daddy, I am a big old baddy … I’m up to 16-22-1 overall.

I press on by taking the three games I’m sure of  … 1) Temple -2.5 over Akron, 2) Georgia Tech +8.5 over Georgia, 3) Texas Tech -20 over Baylor

Last Week:
1) Washington -7.5 over Washington State (LOSS), 2) Oklahoma -6.5 over Texas Tech (WIN), 3) South Florida -3 over Connecticut (WIN)

Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault …
 I couldn’t write while being booed and pelted by snowballs thrown by angry Notre Dame fans after losing to Syracuse.