ASK CFN - "CFN Hates USC ..."
USC RB Stafon Johnson
USC RB Stafon Johnson
Posted Feb 13, 2009

... or so Trojan fans want to believe. In the return of ASK CFN, Pete Fiutak tries to answer the Cardinal and Gold critics, gives another look at the 2008 Pac 10 season, and explains who 2009 North Carolina looks a lot like.

By Pete Fiutak
Fire over your questions to me at I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read. Any e-mails sent to this address may be published or edited unless requested otherwise. (Please put ASK CFN in the subject line, and PLEASE keep the questions short ... it makes my life easier.)

Past ASK CFNs ...
- The Best Coaches Going
- Violation of team rules
- What was Nebraska's problem?
- Is Jim Tressel an elite coach?
- A foolproof BCS solution

- An early look at OSU vs. USC
- The WVU/Rodriguez situation
- Who's the team of the decade?
- Dump Mack Brown and JoePa?!
- Big East expansion
- Is Charlie Weis on a hot seat?
- The Reggie Bush situation

- Is Bob Stoops the new Lloyd Carr?
- Why LSU winning matters
- Bowl winners & losers
- Can a two-loss team play for the title?
- The five worst recent champions 
- The Flakiest Teams
- A little BCS history
- Should USC be in the title hunt?
- The best RB you don't know
- What's wrong with Texas A&M? 
- How bad is the Big Ten?
- Will Miles run to Michigan?
- Supersized Season Premier of ASK CFN
 The most loved & hated teams
- Is Miami still a power?
- CFN's West Virginia ranking
- Is Booty Heisman-worthy?
- The USC Schedule
- The Big Ten Network
- The most underrated head coach
- The Top Ten NFL receiver prospects 

- Why did Brady Quinn slide?
- The Virginia Tech situation

- Creating a MWest-WAC super-league
Mid-majors who should be in the bigs
The potential new superpower
The 5 best coaching jobs
March Madness for football?
Potential Bowl Shockers
Tim Brewster?
Fox's BCS broadcasts
- Is Brady really better than Russell?
Hot & Cold Bowl Programs
- How ineffective was Reggie Ball?
- A 2007 Top 10 Mock Draft
Can Michigan win a national title?
- BCS possibilities for several teams
- West Virginia schedule, BCS rules
- Toughest coaching jobs
- Hidden Heisman 5

- Is Temple worst ever?
- Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco
- Has Bob Stoops lost it?
- Is Colorado done?

First of all, I apologize for not doing more of these lately. I’ve been swamped this year, and unfortunately, this is the column that takes the hit. I’ll try to do these every Friday through the off-season, so fire away with your questions.

When will you and your (bleep)ing site just (bleep)ing admit that you’re biased against USC and you love the SEC and get it over with. You took every chance this year to be negative against the Trojans and you just can’t admit that they were the best team. They would’ve killed your precious Florida Gators, and you know it, and you suck. – MM

CFN hates USC. Why? Did they do something to tick you guys off? Why are you always ripping on them? Jealousy? Your pathetic, and so is your east coast bias. – PK

A: To all the Trojan fans who continue to bomb away at me and the rest of the CFN writers about a perceived bias against your beloved team, if you actually bothered to try to comprehend what I’ve written, you should be thanking me … I’ve set my expectations higher for your program than you have, and I’ve certainly set the bar higher than your head coach does. I demand nothing less than national title appearances out of USC each and every year, and so should you.

I’ve done nothing but praise USC ever since Pete Carroll took over. This has been the model program for wins, it has become the premier team in college football over the last decade, and Carroll is one of the genuinely good guys in a coaching world filled with raging asshats.

With all that said, here’s my No. 1 gripe when it comes to USC, and I can’t believe Trojan fans have spent so much time ripping me apart on this: If USC played up to its talent level each and every week, it would play for the national title every year.

The Pac 10 isn’t the SEC. If all the four and five-star recruits played like four and five-star recruits for a full season, USC would go unbeaten and would be in the BCS Championship without question. Only an unbeaten SEC champion would be ahead of USC in the national respect pecking order (a.k.a. the polls). Because of this, I’m sick and tired of Carroll claiming that going to the Rose Bowl is the program’s goal each and every year, and then complaining that there’s no playoff after beating whatever Big Ten team dares to venture out to Pasadena.

If USC had brought have the energy and focus to the Oregon State game that it brought to the Ohio State game, it would’ve won by 30. Don’t give me the line about getting every team’s best shot; that’s true, but USC’s backups are better than almost everyone else’s starters. But that goes to the other issue that Trojan fans don’t realize plays in their favor: the East Coast bias is a plus for you.

No one plays better when the lights are on, and ESPN is great at making your Trojans look fantastic on SportsCenter. Everyone saw the Ohio State game and the Rose Bowl, and East Coasters paid attention to the season-opening win at Virginia, but few (and that seemed to include Lee Corso) watched the sluggish performance against Arizona, the mediocre offensive outing at home against Cal, or the rough offensive day in the 28-0 win over Arizona State. We at CFN actually watched those games, along with all the Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas games, and while USC could’ve absolutely beaten anyone in a BCS Championship, it simply was not the best team throughout this season.

And then there’s the rationality factor that we always get ripped apart on. Without a playoff, USC couldn’t have finished ahead of Utah based on what happened on the field. There’s the common opponent factor (Oregon State), and the Mountain West’s record against the Pac 10.

Is anything I’ve just written unfair? Does any of it sound like I, or anyone at CFN, hates USC? Of course we don’t. If I did, I’d start writing more about how the Reggie Bush situation appears to have been swept under the rug.

When will everyone start issuing across the board apologies for ripping on the Pac 10 all season long? After going 5-0 in the bowls, and with the SEC being so mediocre all season long, and with the Big 12 tanking, can we all just admit the Pac 10 was the nation’s best conference? More importantly, will the league finally start getting its proper respect going into next year? – DP

A: The Pac 10 won all five bowls, yeah, but that doesn’t just erase everything else that happened throughout the season. Just go right down the line with the big non-conference games …
- Arizona – Lost to New Mexico, but beat BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl.
- Arizona State – Lost to UNLV and Georgia. The best non-conference win was over Northern Arizona.
- California – Lost to Maryland, but beat Michigan State and Colorado State at home. Won a home bowl game against Miami.
- Oregon – Lost at home to Boise State and needed two overtimes to beat Purdue. Beat Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl.
- Oregon State – Got blown away by Penn State and lost to Utah. Beat Pitt 3-0 in the Sun Bowl.
- Stanford – Lost to TCU and Notre Dame. The best non-conference win was over San Jose State.
- UCLA – Beat Tennessee, but lost to BYU 59-0 and lost at home to Fresno State.
- USC – Blew away Virginia, Ohio State and Notre Dame, and won Rose Bowl over Penn State.
- Washington – Lost to BYU, Oklahoma and Notre Dame.
- Washington State – Lost to Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Hawaii.

There were a lot of mediocre non-conference losses for the Pac 10, and while the bowl season helped save face, it didn’t erase all the losses. However, going forward, Oregon is getting plenty of early buzz after the Holiday Bowl performance against Oklahoma State, Cal is getting some early respect, and Arizona and Oregon State will get far more attention. Throw in UCLA’s great recruiting class and the attention always paid to USC, and yes, the bowl season might have opened up everyone’s eyes about the Pac 10 going into next year.

You do a great job pulling off obscure movie references in your COW column.  I get a number of them right off, but it might be nice if you add somewhere the movies that you are quoting.  Have you given that any thought?
– JT

A: Thanks so much. When in doubt, just Google it and the line is certain to come up somewhere. I purposefully try to keep the lines obscure and I don’t refer to the movies under the belief that the few people that do get it without looking it up will find it that much more interesting.

How come nobody on your website or the national football media for that matter admitted to be super wrong about the Big 12 all year.  Everybody was all over the conference and then the bowl season showed just how overrated it was.  I loved it because i said all year how bad it was and they play Swiss cheese defenses.  Holes everywhere. – JW

A: The Big 12 was more than fine this bowl season and it certainly wasn’t bad. There’s no ripping on Oklahoma for losing to Florida, the beat team in America in a battle for the national title (the defense was solid), and Texas should’ve received more credit for beating a rested, talented, focused, and fired up Ohio State in the Fiesta. Texas Tech getting ripped apart by Ole Miss didn’t help the league’s cause, but I’ll forgive Oklahoma State for the Holiday Bowl considering the buzzsaw Oregon had become by the end of the regular season. Missouri might not have been great against Northwestern in the Alamo, but it won, and Nebraska beat Clemson and Kansas beat Minnesota.

Since USC and Florida are the two greatest teams in the history of team sports, is there even any need for any other teams to suit up any more?  Perhaps the rest of college football should do one of the following:

1)  Curl up in a fetal position and cry until there are no more tears left;

2)  Pull the old "North Side C.I.T." trick when they played the Mohawk boys basketball team;

3)  Become better at chess; or

4)  Form a new Non-UF, Non-USC FBS.  It could be sort of a Div. I-A1.  UF and USC can play each other thirteen times with the winner of the season series being declared the unbelievably really incredible and greatest team to ever suit up.  We can all sit in wonder as we watch their magnificence. Thoughts? – Paul

A: You mock, but if your proposal brings a Florida vs. USC national title game in the 2010 BCS Championship in Pasadena, I’ll be more than happy at the matchup. Don’t forget, going into next year, throw Texas into that mix as far as the media love that’ll come, while also make sure you throw Oklahoma under the bus, just like the college football world will continue to do, after it dared to lose the national championship. Also, you unwittingly speak to the problem with the system.

I use this argument every year, and it’ll apply next season more than ever. Let’s say West Virginia comes out and rips it up. For argument’s sake, say the Mountaineers blow away everyone in their path by 20 points or more in every game on the way to a 12-0 season. There’s a ceiling on how high they can go unless they get plenty of help. If Florida goes unbeaten, because it’ll be ranked No. 1 to start the year, it’ll play for the national title. Texas, Oklahoma and USC all sort of control their own destines, needing losses from the other two teams to go into the second slot in the BCS Championship game pecking order. Because the world will be throwing bouquets of love all over Florida and USC, if they go unbeaten, they’ll likely play for the national title.

(On North Carolina being ranked ninth in the CFN Pre-Preseason Rankings) You do realize this team went 4-4 in the ACC, lost three of its last four games, and is, well, North Carolina right? – VA

A: Who else struggled down the stretch in a season, losing its last four regular season games in 2007, but turned out a monster of a program once the recruiting classes started kicking in? Alabama lost its final four regular season games of 2007, including a loss to UL Monroe, but it cleaned up, rebounded, and won 13 of the next 15 games. Under head coach Butch Davis, North Carolina's recruiting classes have been just short of Alabama's, but they've been fantastic. The talent level has been upgraded in a big way.
Could North Carolina be the next Alabama? Absolutely if it figures out its quarterback situation early on and if a few key targets can be found to replace Hakeem Nicks.

How underrated a coach is Houston Nutt? In addition to the impressive turnaround he orchestrated at Ole Miss this season, he can now boast that over the past two seasons his teams have beaten the eventual national champions (2007 LSU and 2008 Florida). Using your vast knowledge of college football history, can you tell me if that’s ever been done before? – Donny

A: How underrated was the job of recruiting done by former head coach, Ed Orgeron? Coach O is now off to Tennessee, and while he had his issues as the head man, he put together some fantastic defensive front sevens. He’s obviously a judge of talent, and Nutt is reaping the rewards. Nutt has found his stride in the SEC with the move to Ole Miss turning out to be a good thing. He appears to be fresh with the move, Ole Miss is a program on the way up, coming off a strong recruiting class, and he certainly knows how to win in the SEC. As far as the wins over the previous two national champions, I couldn’t find it, but Troy had to play LSU and Ohio State last year (losing both in tight battles), the 2007 BCS Championship combatants.

You are a QB and about to play your first game of the year, and the opponent is a relatively tough defense.  Which would you prefer to operate behind, a group of 4 star linemen who are freshmen / sophomores starting their first game or a group of 1 and 2 star linemen who are juniors / seniors and have a full season or two under their belts? – MM

A: Four-star linemen, but it would be a big debate. I want the most talented players on the field as much as possible, and while I’d love experience in front of me, I want the stars and the athletes. Four-star prospects will get better as the year goes on, at least that’s the hope, and while you’re referring to the first game of the year, I’ll take my lumps early for a later pay-off. Remember, the star system of recruiting mainly goes by a combination of high school production and the body type/athleticism needed to be special. The athletes, even inexperienced ones, will turn out to be better in the long run ... even if they get me killed over the first few games. However, the key is to sprinkle in a little of both sides of the equation..