ASK CFN (Part 1) - Is Crabtree Really Slow?
Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree
Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree
Posted Feb 26, 2009

The major concern about Michael Crabtree, the Texas schedule, Rey Maualuga vs. Aaron Curry, why strength of schedule matters, what will Bo Pelini do with Nebraska, and much more in Part One of the super-sized version of ASK CFN.

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.)

- Part 2 of this week's ASK CFN - Over/Under On Losses For USC, Texas, and More

Past ASK CFNs ...
- Does Mark Richt Have the Fire?
- "CFN Hates USC"

- 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?

Why do you keep ragging on Michael Crabtree? He was the best receiver, possibly the best player, in college football over the last two seasons. Everyone has him in the top five of the draft. If not No. 1 overall as the best player, and you keep criticizing him at every turn and have him far, far down the lists? What did he do to you? – JF

A: He didn’t run.

I like Michael Crabtree. He’s a good guy, a hard-worker, and he wants to be the best wide receiver in the NFL. He’s what the NFL needs, and he’ll be a player to root for when he gets to the next level. With that said, something about this whole foot injury situation doesn't seem quite right.

I’m not sure why every scout is going out of his way to ignore the obvious warning signs here. A few big-name draft guys who I deeply respect (but I don’t want to dog here) have been shockingly lazy in their analysis. Crabtree really is good, but he’s not Larry Fitzgerald, like some are suggesting. He’s not the same athlete, he’s not as big, and he’s not as fast. Checking in at 6-1 was the first issue; he was originally considered by most to be around 6-3. And then there’s the question mark about his speed.

In today’s day and age, if you can’t run a 4.5 or lower, you can’t be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL unless you’re really, really special. If you can’t hit 4.5, there’s a ceiling on what you can do, and having seen Crabtree game after game over the last few years getting open because of the Texas Tech system, and doing big things after the catch with functional football speed, I still want to see him in the 40 to show that he can get by NFL corners.

I’ve asked around about him, and there's an underlying concern that Crabtree is more like a 4.6 runner, at least at the moment. It doesn’t do him any good to run, especially with the foot problem. If he doesn’t run, he’s not going to slip out of the top 15. If he decides to work out and tears off a 4.65, it’s over. One of my low friends in high places actually uttered the words “Dwayne Jarrett” when it came to concern about the potential 40 time. I think he’ll give it a try privately, and if he can’t hit the mid-to-low 4.5s, he won’t run and will blame it on the foot … and rightly so. No one will have a problem with it.

It's the perfect PR move. Say you're going to run, demand to run, and say you want to show the scouts what you can do, and then have a doctor come out and say you're just not able to do it because the foot isn't ready. I'm not saying he's faking anything, and I really hope he comes out and rips off a 4.4, but this is a bad situation for the NFL teams. Someone will take him in the top 15 without knowing just how fast he really is, and if it turns out he really is a 4.5 runner, someone in the top five will be ticked off.

Does that mean Crabtree can’t play? No. Does that mean he’s not a possible 4.5 runner when he’s 100%? No, but I’d want to see it before I invested tens of millions of dollars in him over a number of other good prospects in a solid top 20 draft class. So in a long answer to your beef, no, I don't mean to dog him. I just want to see him run before I believe he's a top five pick.

As a Texas Longhorn fan, how worried should I be about our 2009 scheduling issues coming back to bite us?  At one point the schedule would have had game 3 of a home/away/home with Utah and game 2 of a home/away with Arkansas. A few weeks ago Texas was working through ESPN to get a home/away with Wisconsin to replace UCF, but the Badgers backed out at the 11th hour and now with 4 non-conf games that everyone will consider lightweights and a Big XII slate that will at least be less respected, I just worry that unless we're one of a pair of unbeaten BCS teams or we're the only unbeaten BCS team that we may get left out based on strength of schedule.

A: UL Monroe, at Wyoming, UCF and UTEP doesn’t get the crowd jumping? Your biggest worry needs to be at Oklahoma State on Halloween. Here’s the deal for Texas this year, and it’s not necessarily fair for the rest of the college football world. The voters weren’t ecstatic about putting in Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game over Texas. They did it, but everyone feels sorry that the Longhorns got screwed. Remember 2003 when USC was the one left holding the bag in the BCS Championship hunt? The Trojans certainly earned their way into the 2004 national title game, but the voters were going to give them every benefit of the doubt along the way because of the year before. The same will happen for Texas.

If everything is equal, the SEC champion will be first in the pecking order to play for the national title. Win three straight national championships and four of the last six and you get that benefit of the doubt. Texas is No. 2 in the pecking order, USC No. 3. Those three teams all but control their own destiny. If the Longhorns beat Oklahoma, win at Missouri and at Oklahoma State in the brutal mid-season stretch, that’ll carry them in the polls.  But to specifically answer your question, if Texas goes unbeaten, it’s in the national title game no matter what. If it has a loss, then there will be a debate, but it’ll need to win the Big 12 title, it’ll need the SEC champion to lose two games and USC to probably lose two, and no other BCS team can be unbeaten.

You said that Rey Maualuga was far behind Aaron Curry. Does that mean Curry should have won the Butkus award?  I think I know the answer, but I'm curious to hear what you have to say about it.
– ZN

A: I voted for Maualuga for the Butkus because I thought he was the best college football linebacker in the 2008 season. But if I’m picking for an NFL team, Curry is the safer choice. I love Maualuga as a pro, lack of foot speed and all, but Curry has it all. The package of skills and athleticism, along with his college production and talent, is breathtaking.

I'm SO SICK AND TIRED of fans complaining about scheduling. Sure, the schools bear some blame for bad scheduling but does anyone realize how long it takes and how difficult it is to schedule the non-cupcake schools? I'm a Sooner fan, and OU has games with the heavyweight programs scheduled as far out as 2016 and 2017 (Ohio State in this case), because that's the best you can do with some of these schools when you're making these types of arrangements.  I get that schedule strength is key, but why isn't it made more obvious that you can't just schedule the likes of Georgia, Ohio State, USC, and West Virginia every year (unless you're Notre Dame)? Let's work a little harder to give schools credit for trying (and not just OU, either). If we can't stop ragging on schools for having "poor" schedules regardless of their efforts, let's just shut up about it. - CM

A: You’re right, teams get hosed all the time when other name teams wuss out, but that’s not the point. Unfortunately, without a playoff of any sort, you have to go by what happened on the field and take it all in when evaluating teams. So yeah, it wasn’t fair that the Washington team OU played last year was a steaming pile a doo. The Miami game might be a trap, but that certainly looked better when it was originally schedule. But just scheduling good teams isn’t enough; you have to win those games. OU does a fine job of that, and it’s in a good position because it’s in the Big 12 and has to beat Texas and Oklahoma State and Texas Tech and Kansas and Nebraska. There are enough name teams on the schedule to make up having to play Idaho State. But in the overall analysis of teams and seasons, yeah, it’s fine to scream and whine when one team’s schedule doesn’t turn out to be as strong as another team’s slate. SOS, like you mentioned, is everything.

How long do you give Bo Pelini at Nebraska? 2 scenarios at work here:  Bo resurrects the program, wins the Big 12 this year and goes to the Fiesta Bowl, then maintains a Bob Stoops-like 10 wins/season for the next 5-7 years, winning a few conference championships.  Scenario #2:  Bo takes his team to the Big 12 championship game every other year or so for 5-7 years, but can’t come up with a way to put OU or Texas away and win it.  Osborne didn’t beat Oklahoma for several years after his hiring and nearly walked away in 1980.  If Bo’s successful, do you think he’ll stick around and be the next Osborne or Beamer?  Will he try to move back to the SEC where the talent is richer?  As for scenario #2, I think NU fans are going to give this man a huge leash with which he can struggle to win the big games for a few years, but eventually turn the program back into a contender after the 5-7 year grace period.  Your thoughts? - CM

A: I’m more on the side of scenario two. Oklahoma and Texas own Oklahoma and Texas when it comes to recruiting, while Nebraska has to be a bit more national in scope. The days of bringing in kids off the farm, beefing them up with, um, uh, lots of work in the weight room, and dominating the Big 8 are over. That’s not to say Nebraska can’t dominate the North. Kansas and Missouri have to prove they have staying power, and I’m not sold they can take another step up into consistent superpower status. Iowa State is, well, Iowa State, Kansas State is a mess at the moment, and Colorado can’t seem to get its mojo under Dan Hawkins. The division is ripe for the picking, and if Pelini rocks and gets Nebraska to the Big 12 title game on a regular basis, he’ll stick. Nebraska is a destination program; not a stepping stone.

- Part 2 of this week's ASK CFN - Over/Under On Losses For USC, Texas, and More