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Cavalcade of Whimsy - The Heisman Race

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Dec 2, 2008


Who are the five players who should be in the Heisman race, but aren't? Who are the five leaders in the race, and how do they stack up? The Heisman, more on the Texas - Oklahoma debacle, Lane Kiffin, and more in this week's Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Fiu's Cavalcade of Whimsy ... Dec. 2

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 | Week 13

If this column sucks, it’s not my fault … my lobbying and politicking didn’t seem to matter. I couldn’t convince the BCS computers that the column didn’t suck, so they kept me out of the Big 12 title game.


“Well, I'll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation! It's a quest! It's a quest for fun. I'm going to have fun and you're going to have fun. We're all going to have so much f***ing fun ... we'll need plastic surgery to remove our g**damn smiles. You'll be whistling zippity-doo-dah out of your a**holes! I have to be crazy. I'm on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy s***!” … The fans have lost it. I hear it when I talk to them. I read it in their e-mails. The Big 12 disaster has really pushed fans over the edge, mainly because it sucks from all angles.


If Oklahoma beats Missouri and loses in the national title game, everyone will be wondering what Texas would’ve done. If OU loses to Mizzou, then Texas gets into the national title game even though it didn’t win its conference title. If OU wins the national title, then 45-35 will take on even more significance in Texas football lore than 13-0, which morphed into BEVO, the UT mascot. The only way this thing ends cleanly is if Texas loses its bowl game, then whatever happens to Oklahoma, happens.

Even so, whatever happens, the calls for a playoff are becoming deafening, even if one wouldn’t solve all the problems this year.


Want a plus one? The SEC champion plays USC (figure the SEC Championship loser would fall out of the top four) and Texas plays Oklahoma. Uhhhhhh, but that doesn’t solve the Texas Tech question, Texas already beat Oklahoma, and Utah and Penn State would be screaming, and deservingly so, about USC getting in.


Want an eight-team playoff? The Fiu Plan, taking the six BCS conference champions, the top non-BCS conference champion, and one wild-card to allow the highest ranked team that doesn’t fit this format to get in, would be the fairest way of doing this. It would be the only way of having a playoff while keeping the full integrity of the regular season. However, Texas Tech would still have a major gripe, Boise State and Ball State would get left out, and the Florida/Alabama loser would argue that it belonged in over Texas. In other words, as fair as this would be, it would still create a controversy.


Look, this year stinks because of the mess made by the Big 12 and its tie-breaker problem, but there’s one thing to keep in mind. As much as you might hate the BCS, and as unsatisfying as this might be when all is said and done, more often than not, college football gets it right when it comes to crowning a champion more than other sports.


Jack: Your worship, I wish to plead my clients guilty to statutes 125 and 233 of the criminal code, and not guilty to all other charges due to mental incompetence.


Prosecutor: Objection!  You cannot split pleas like that!

 

Bob (to Doug): Two bowls of split-plea soup to go, eh!? … Texas, I’m on your side in this. I’ve spent my Monday trading e-mails with Oklahoma fans trying to explain why the Texas Tech factor doesn’t really matter (if the Longhorns were No. 2 last week, then the loss to Texas Tech has nothing to do to make them No. 3 this week, and it really is just an OU vs. Texas debate … but I move on). I’ve done what I can to argue your point for you, considering that if the situation was reversed and OU had been the one with the 45-35 win, then Sooner fans would be going out … of … their … minds.


However, if Oklahoma loses to Missouri, you’re on your own because I’ll battle just as hard to argue that Texas has no business playing in the national title because then it would become a Texas Tech vs. Texas head-to-head debate. I’m also going to scream like my one-year-old after turning off Elmo if there’s any discussion of a split national title because of the AP poll.


Here’s the potentially annoying storyline we’ll all have to deal with. Texas is ranked ahead of Oklahoma in the AP, Oklahoma wins the national title, but Texas wins its BCS game by 27, and the AP ranks Texas No. 1 to end the season and OU would be number one in the real world.


It might suck, but the BCS is college football’s national championship. That’s it. The AP poll has the history and it might be better than the Coaches’ or Harris, but ever since it decided that it was a conflict of interests to be a part of the BCS, but not enough of one to stop doing a ranking system altogether, it has become irrelevant and it continues to take away focus from the polls that, for right or wrong, actually matter. Case in point …


And if you can buy this, maybe you can watch The Mentalist without the image of how Simon Baker’s character of Matt Reynolds dies in L.A. Confidential CBS, Alabama vs. Florida doesn’t need any hype or hyperbole. The sports world knows this is the equivalent of a Final Four game, and other than Oklahoma vs. Texas, it’s the biggest game of the year. It’s the one we’ve all been waiting around six weeks for. In this year of bad football, there’s finally going to be a non-Big 12 South game to care about, and it’s going to be a doozy worthy of cancelling all Saturday night plans to watch. However, CBS, it’s the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. the No. 4 Florida Gators. Quit using the AP poll that has Bama 1 and Florida 2 to pump it up more.


“Oh cool, the Alabama – Florida game is here! Oh, wait, Florida is only ranked No. 4? Honey, uh, yeah, Florida is ranked fourth, not second. Oh well, I guess we can go see Twilight.”


Somewhere, Sage Rosenfels is smiling, safe in the knowledge that there will always be a place in the league for him … If I’m Georgia QB Matthew Stafford, I make it very clear that Matt Ryan’s six-year, $72 million contract, with almost $35 million of it guaranteed, will not be a starting point. It won’t be a negotiating tool. It won’t even be relevant. No, if I’m Stafford, I’m starting my holdout now to get in the Peyton Manning range of about $100 million for seven years, and some NFL team would pay it.


Insane, right? The NFL is chock full of awful, awful quarterbacks. (By my rough estimate, at least 12 teams need a real, live NFL quarterback, and at least five others could use a serious upgrade. In other words, the quarterbacking in roughly half the NFL is horrible.)


Oh sure, Sam Bradford is a possible first rounder in some circles, and Colt McCoy will find out from the NFL advisory board that he’s a top 75 pick, but Stafford is the only sure-thing NFL quarterback prospect on the horizon.


Thanks to the infiltration of the spread offense, there’s a whole new generation of mediocre, ill-prepared college passers with mechanics that don’t just need to be broken down, but thrown out entirely. Finding an adequate pro-style passer in college football right now is next to impossible, and it’s making the NFL scouting types nuts. They all have to look through the poor fundamentals to try to root out actual talent, while fans are expecting the next Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco to produce right away.


$75 million or the Heisman. Heisman, or $75 million … Forget about it. Stafford’s gone. So is Knowshon Moreno. However, there might not be as big a mass exit to the NFL that there normally is, mainly because so many superstars are going to work a bit more on their respective games. Oh sure, Beanie Wells, Shonn Greene, Percy Harvin, Jeremy Maclin and Michael Crabtree will all be millionaires next year at this time, but Sam Bradford is likely to stick around, as is Colt McCoy, as is Mark Sanchez, as is Tim Tebow, even though he really wants to go. Throw Juice Williams, Todd Reesing, Terrelle Pryor, Dan LeFevour, Nate Davis, Max Hall, Zac Robinson, Robert Griffin, LeSean McCoy (who really needs to be gone), the P.J. Hill/John Clay combo, Dez Bryant, Kendall Hunter, Jacquizz Rodgers, Matt Grothe, Jonathan Dwyer, and Jahvid Best in the mix, and 2009 should be a special year for skill players as well as the Heisman race.

There’s no truth to the rumor that if they get in, Chris Myers will spoil the news that Ian Johnson’s wife is pregnant … The WAC might stink, at least compared to the Mountain West, but beyond the sheer weight of all the wins over the last decade, the win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl to reference, and all the success that still goes unnoticed, Boise State really does have a decent talking point in the theoretical fight against Utah, that’s now over, for the automatic non-BCS league bid. Boise State beat Oregon at Oregon, Oregon obliterated Oregon State in Corvallis, and Utah’s big non-conference win it’s hanging its hat on came against Oregon State. So, really, what’s it going to take for Boise State to ever play for a national title? The undefeated season thing isn’t making much of a dent in national perception. The wins upon wins upon wins aren’t bringing the benefit of the doubt. It’ll likely take a few more big wins against BCS teams to finally earn the respect needed, and those are tough to come by since no one wants to deal with the Broncos anymore.

Larry: “
You know anything about changing a tire? Wanna help me change a tire here? No? I could use a little help. I need a little assistance. I never took a shop class, and I need a little help. Okay, I'm just coming flat out and saying 'help me'. Anybody want to help a semi-retarded individual change a tire? 25, 30 dollars. 30 dollars to change this tire. 35 dollars to change this tire right now. I'll give you 10 dollars for a verbal response. 10 dollars. Anybody want to make 10 dollars and respond verbally? No?” … In this time of utter economic disaster, people are hurting all across the board. Do something good for the world this holiday season … http://feedingamerica.org/. With that in mind, the news channels have to do a better job of making the case that people should donate even though we’re all worrying about their own wallets. For example, this Thanksgiving weekend, one national network did a story about an empty food bank, complete with an interview with a woman who was driving away empty handed … in her sweet convertible. Another story on another network had a heartbreaking story with a bawling mom freaking out that she couldn’t feed her two kids. And then they showed the kids. The shockingly obese, ridiculously out-of-shape kids. Donate anyway.
 
But he didn’t (gasp!) throw the ball in the air. … First of all, how big does that celebration penalty on Washington’s Jake Locker against BYU look now? How much could UW have used that win?

Kansas was able to beat Missouri thanks to a brilliant final touchdown drive finished off by a Todd Reesing touchdown pass to Kerry Meier. The KU sideline went wild with some of the players joyously jumping out on the field. Reesing ran around celebrating and was shown taking his helmet off … an automatic penalty that wasn’t called. Fortunately, the officials didn’t ruin the moment by throwing a flag for unsportsmanlike conduct, and it made a difference. Missouri’s last second field goal attempt was low and partially blocked, and who knows what would’ve happened with an extra 15 yards. Thank you, officials, for using the proper judgment and for letting the players show the raw emotion of the game without punishing them.

My point is that you have to think for yourself. If your parents told you that chocolate was dangerous would you take their word for it? Exactly! So perhaps instead of acting like sheep when it comes to cigarettes you should find out for yourself.” … If you have to make an argument about why your team deserves to be in the national title, your team probably doesn’t deserve to play in it.

Yeah, I checked. FireLaneKiffin.com is already taken … Admittedly, I’m a bad human being for not being all that interested in the lack of minority head coach storyline. Maybe it’s because I find coaching carousel talk boring. Maybe it’s because I naively believe that racism isn’t a problem in the upper echelons of the coaching world in today’s day and age. Maybe it’s because I don’t have any real solutions, and maybe it’s because I think that one day, we’ll wake up and this won’t be an issue anymore.

With that said, minority head coaching candidates have to see the Lane Kiffin situation and be more than a little frustrated. Kiffin might turn out to be the next great college football head coach, but so far, besides his last name and because of his father, the great NFL assistant, Monte, he’s known mostly for being a solid co-offensive coordinator at USC. My sister could’ve made the Trojan offense go with Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White and Dwayne Jarrett to work with, and in reality, Steve Sarkesian had as much to do with the success as Kiffin did. Instead of going for the Norm Chow disciple, why not actually try to get Norm Chow, even if he might not have a great rep around those parts after his stint with the Tennessee Titans? Soon, Kevin Sumlin, Turner Gill, and DeWayne Walker need to get high profile looks, or else there really will be something to get curious about.

Now that you’re just getting back to normal after the Big 12’s “Three-Way Tie” drinking game … The Arizona State win over UCLA has to have set some sort of unofficial record for the number of times two quarterbacks had gotten hit in one game. UCLA’s Kevin Craft and Arizona State’s Rudy Carpenter were punching bags. If you’re looking for something to do on that pub crawl this weekend, or if you’re by your lonesome, play the Craft/Carpenter game and take a shot of something every time one of them has to get up off the ground in their respective rivalry games.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
Breaking down the 2008 Heisman race with the five who should be in it, but aren’t, and the five who are in it. Here’s the attempt to make the case for each candidate.

The five who aren’t in the race, but should be …

5. Chase Clement, QB Rice


He deserves to win because … remembering this is Rice we’re talking about, Clement has been the ringleader for one of the nation’s best offenses, cranking out 3,812 passing yards with 41 touchdowns and seven interceptions to go along with 621 rushing yards and 11 scores. Rice is currently 9-3 and on a six-game winning streak, complete with a win over Houston last week, as Clement has gotten hotter and hotter.
He won’t win because … he plays at Rice and no one outside of the greater Houston area has ever seen him play. When it comes to national attention, what little there has been, he has taken a back seat to his tremendous battery mate, Jarett Dillard. His team got rolled over in the two really big games of note early on, losing to Texas 52-10 and to Tulsa 63-28.

4. Case Keenum, QB Houston

He deserves to win because … he’s the nation’s leader in total offense. The sophomore has thrown for 4,768 yards on the year with 43 touchdowns and ten interceptions, and he also has five rushing scores. Basically, he’s out Graham Harrelling Graham Harrell, throwing for 317 yards or more in every game and for 400 yards or more in five games including going over the mark in each the last three. In his last three outings, Keenum has thrown for 1,376 yards with 14 touchdowns and one interception.
He won’t win because … Houston lost to Rice last week. As brilliant as Keenum was against the Owls, throwing for 494 yards and five touchdowns, his team still blew its chance to play for the Conference USA title.

3. LeSean McCoy, RB Pitt

He deserves to win because … he’s carrying the Pitt offense. With spotty quarterback play and a defense that’s good, but not great, Pitt has needed McCoy to be the consistent, steady producer. The nation’s scoring leader, with 20 touchdowns, was shut down by Louisville in a 41-7 Pitt win, but he wasn’t needed and he still got a score. Last week in the key win over West Virginia, he ran for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and in the middle of the season, he was everything for the offense with a string of five straight games with 142 yards or more. Beyond the stats, he’s arguably the nation’s third most talented back behind Knowshon Moreno and Beanie Wells.
He won’t win because … he doesn’t lead his own conference in rushing, and Big East players tend to get overlooked in the Heisman discussion. If Pitt was the Big East champion, McCoy might be a fringe candidate.

2. Rashad Johnson, S Alabama

He deserves to win because … the nation’s No. 1 team deserves someone in the race, and while OT Andre Smith might be the country’s best blocker, Johnson, along with LB Rolando McClain, is the reason the nation’s third best defense has been so dominant. Johnson is the team leader and the quarterback for the secondary, and he has also been a premier playmaker in game after game with a team-leading 73 tackles, five interceptions, taking two for scores, while being one of the nation’s leaders in broken up passes.
He won’t win because … there’s the defense factor when it comes to the Heisman, the fact that Tennessee’s Eric Berry is probably the nation’s best defensive back, and the lack of overall recognition despite being on TV every Saturday. If you consider the Heisman the MVP award, think of it this way: Alabama isn’t in the national title hunt without Johnson.

The winner of the NIT … or the honor of being the most worthy player not in the Heisman hunt is …

1. Donald Brown, RB Connecticut

He deserves to win because … he’s the nation’s leading rusher. The Connecticut offense doesn’t have a passing game, winning games on defense and Brown’s legs. The junior is averaging a nation-leading 148 yards per game with 16 touchdowns, and with one game left to go against Pitt, he’s just 96 yards behind Iowa’s Shonn Greene for the rushing title. A true workhorse, he has touched the ball a whopping 325 times this season and has only been held under 100 yards twice. However …
He won’t win because … … those two games have come in the last three. He hasn’t had the national showcase game that has demanded the spotlight, even if he has come up with his share of highlights. As is the problem for LeSean McCoy, the Big East just doesn’t get any recognition in the Heisman chase.

The five finalists (with some debate about No. 5) are …

5. Shonn Greene, RB Iowa

He deserves to win because … he’s the only back in America to run for 100 yards or more in every game this year, and currently, he’s the nation’s leader in overall rushing yards with UConn’s Donald Brown 96 yards behind with one game to go. Greene carried the sputtering Iowa offense through the rough patches and the quarterback problems earlier this season, and he came through big against the big boys with 117 yards and two scores against Penn State, 217 yards and four touchdowns against Wisconsin, and he outduled Pitt’s LeSean McCoy rushing for 147 yards (to McCoy’s 78) and a touchdown in the loss.
He won’t win because … no one outside of the Big Ten knows who he is. Normally, unless the stats are jaw-dropping, like a 2,000-yard season, it’s hard for an unknown player on a team that doesn’t win its conference to get any recognition. The voters will look at the stats and will give him some consideration as a No. 3 pick on several ballots.

4. Graham Harrell, QB Texas Tech

He deserves to win because … the nation’s leading passer in completions per game, Harrell has put up the tremendous numbers, as expected, despite having the bull’s-eye on his back. He has completed over 71% of his passes for 4,747 yards with 41 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. Remember, he’s doing this in the Big 12 and not Conference USA.
He won’t win because … Oklahoma 65, Texas Tech 21. It’s not necessarily fair considering Harrell bombed away on Texas for 474 yards and two touchdowns, but his offense struggled early on against Oklahoma while Sam Bradford came away as the star.

T1. Tim Tebow, QB Florida

He deserves to win because … 25 touchdown passes, two interceptions, 12 rushing touchdowns. He might not have last year’s overall stats, but he’s been cranking them out ever since the loss to Ole Miss with two touchdown passes or more in each of the last eight games and 10 rushing scores since the loss. Most importantly, he took the entire program on his back, apologizing for the defeat to the Rebels when he threw for 319 yards but missed a couple of open receivers for touchdowns late. This tremendous run to the SEC title, and possibly the national championship, is because he’s the conductor of the juggernaut. He might not get that many No. 1 votes, but he’ll be no worse than No. 3 on everyone’s ballot.
He won’t win because … there’s the two-time thing. While he’s proven to be worthy of being the second two-time Heisman winner, there’s going to be a bias against him reaching that immortal status. Voters who go purely on stats will have a hard time giving him the nod.

T1. Colt McCoy, QB Texas

He deserves to win because … if the Heisman goes to the MVP, this is over. McCoy is third in the nation in passing efficiency and sixth in the nation in total offense. Not only has he thrown for 32 touchdowns and 3,445 yards, with just seven interceptions, but he leads the team in rushing with 576 yards and 10 scores. He fought through the problems against Texas Tech to lead the way to what should’ve been a game-winning drive late, and then Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree had their say.
He won’t win because … he’s not the hot player that Bradford and Tebow are. While McCoy has been brilliant, he won’t get the national stage to close out the campaign. If Bradford and/or Tebow take their teams to wins, McCoy doesn’t have a shot.

T1. Sam Bradford, QB Oklahoma

He deserves to win because … the guy is on fire at just the right time. Getting the national spotlight game after game hasn’t hurt, considering he has produced big time with everyone watching. Second in the nation in passing efficiency and fourth in total offense, Bradford has thrown for 4,080 yards and 46 touchdowns, and he has only thrown one interception in the last six games. Flawless, absolutely flawless.
He won’t win because … there might be a backlash. OU got the break in the Big 12 South debate, and now voters might feel badly about Texas not being in and will go for McCoy. While he threw for 387 yards and five touchdowns against Texas, he was picked off twice, didn’t get the offense into the end zone late, and, of course, the Sooners lost.
 

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.


- After the Missouri loss to Kansas, there was a shot of a kid with a Tigers hat on crying. That’s just poor parenting. C’mon, Dad, tell the little guy that this week is all that matters. While it would be nice to go into the Big 12 title game on a hot streak, there had to have been some looking ahead going on.


- Last week I said a chart should be put together to know when to take a knee. In the fourth quarter with a big lead, a team can kill roughly a minute a play simply by going into the victory formation. Georgia Tech just about did that against Georgia, running the clock out late, helped by a little wiggling around on fourth down. Again, why risk handing the ball off when you don’t have to, but there had to be some nervous Yellow Jacket fans with Georgia swarming all over the ball.


- My two favorite moments from last weekend, and they were both were slightly mean-spirited. I’m sorry, but I chuckled a bit at the suckiness of the situation as Boise State tried to do the right thing by starting senior Bush Hamdan at quarterback in his final home game, and then he came out a threw a pick-six against Fresno State on his first throw. He would later get back in the game. Meanwhile, I loved Colorado’s Jimmy Smith interception for a touchdown off the goofy fake field attempt against Nebraska. There’s a part of me that likes seeing trick plays fail miserably.

- Texas fans, don’t get too hung up on Colt McCoy looking to get a little feedback from the NFL advisory board. Every player who has any sort of pro dream should do that so he knows whether or not he needs to focus a little harder in the classroom. For McCoy, he’ll be told he’s a mid-second round pick, and he’ll probably stay around.


“I hearby designate   Tim Tebow, Florida (but I’m flipping a coin as of this immediate moment. Honestly, I have no freaking clue where I’m going with this right now.)  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: Colt McCoy, Texas


“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 a fourth straight week. That’s a peach, hon! I’m hot today. … I’m up to 18-23-1 overall.


I press on by taking the three games I’m sure of  … 1) East Carolina +13.5 over Tulsa, 2) Oklahoma -17 over Missouri, 3) Cincinnati -7.5 over Hawaii


Last Week: 1) Temple -2.5 over Akron (WIN), 2) Georgia Tech +8.5 over Georgia (WIN), 3) Texas Tech -20 over Baylor (LOSS)


Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … it was Pete Fiutak appreciation day on my last day as the Tennessee head coach, but the stadium as only about half full because of the rain and because my column had no pop this year.