Cavalcade of Whimsy - The Incomparable Bobby
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden (in 1976)
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden (in 1976)
Posted Oct 6, 2009

Florida State is off to a rough start and there's a movement to kick out one of the great head coaches and great icons in college football history. In praise of Bobby Bowden, Miami's swagger, the fiasco at the end of the LSU-Georgia game, Tim Tebow's brain, and more in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Oct. 6

Past Cavalcades
- 2008 Season | Sept. 1, Part 1 | Sept. 1 - Part 2
- Week 1 (The Bradford Shoulder) | Week 2 (Time To Boot the Big East?)
- Week 3 (The Ten New Stars)
- Week 4 (ESPN's responsibility)

Sorry if this column sucks, it's not my fault … Chairman of the Florida State Board of Trustees, Jim Smith, wants me to quit. He appreciates what I've done for the site and for the state of Florida, but he feels the Seminole Nation has been more than patient and that the column has been in decline for seven or eight years. He thinks eight is enough.

"Thanks. Hey, I guess they're right. Senior citizens, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose. I'll be right back. Don't you go dying on me!" … From 1973 to 1975, Florida State went 4-29. There was some success in the 1960s and a Fiesta Bowl appearance in 1971, but the football program was basically non-descript and was hardly a player on the national scene. Bobby Bowden was hired in 1976; he went 5-6. Florida State hasn't had a losing season since.

In just one season Bowden created a program that spent more than three decades among the elite of the elite of the elite. Legendary to the point of being in the discussion of the greatest college football head coaches of all-time by any measure you want to use, Bowden has done more than just make Florida State a football powerhouse, he has become Florida State. That Bowden's legacy and accomplishments have to be written and acknowledged shows just how quickly a halo can become a noose, to use Bowden's own words, and how no matter what we do in life and what we accomplish, in the end, we're all going to get thrown out with the trash.

Of course the wins, the national championships, and the overall numbers are phenomenal (the last time FSU didn't go to a bowl was 1981, and that was a 6-5 year), but more than that, Bowden has been a dream of a figurehead for the university. Not only has he always won with dignity and humility, but in the face of defeat, even in the most soul-crushing of moments, he has been the model of grace and class for a profession littered with too many petty and despicable human beings. Yes, there have been scandals, and yes, there have been several things that Bowden can be criticized for, but for the most part he has handled off-the-field problems better than just about any big-time head coach ever has. Now his team is 2-3, and now there is a bunch of very silly, very impatient people who feel like their lives will be better if they can push Bowden out to pasture.

Florida State isn't the superpower it once was, but it's not like the program has fallen off the map. This is still a very athletic, very talented team that's young and needs more work and consistency. It'll be fine, it'll go to a bowl game, and it'll win some big games over the rest of the season. But that doesn't matter. Bobby Bowden can go 0-12 and he should still be allowed to keep his job. He has earned the right to several hundred benefits of the doubt, because this is his program and this is his football team that he created.

To all of those who want to see Florida State football move on and think that you have any sort of right to tell this great icon of college football what to do, conduct yourself like he would. He's going to handle himself with grace, humor, and honesty, and now it's up to you to do the same.

"I was wrong/Self destruction's got me again/I was wrong/The only moment that I was me/ I was wro –onnnnng." … Where are the apologies to the Auburn powers-that-be for all the nastiness surrounding the hiring of Gene Chizik? Talk shows and article after article couldn't rip on the university for the strange and bizarre hiring of a coach who was an utter failure at his previous job, and even though the Tigers have shown one of the most balanced and effective offenses in college football, and even after wins over a Mississippi State team that pushed LSU, a good West Virginia team that could win the Big East, and at Tennessee, it's almost as if the No. 19 ranking in the Coaches' Poll was made with one arm twisted behind the pollsters' backs. It's okay to admit it … we were all wrong. By the way, Buffalo is 1-4 and going nowhere in a big hurry.

Once you've taken a break from Googling Erin Andrews … Here's your message board discussion topic of the day for all you college football philosophers. What would've happened if Tommy Tuberville had hired now-Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn at the beginning of the 2008 season?

Upon further review, the officials have to holster their flags … C'mon, LSU fans. You can be happy that you got the win, but you're supposed to be sophisticated SEC fans and you're supposed to know your stuff. You know that the Tigers probably don't pull out that win without the awful, awful, awful, awful unsportsmanlike penalty call on Georgia WR A.J. Green after his key late touchdown catch, and no, the calls didn't even out in the end. On the flip side, Dawg fans, just like when Oakland got hosed on the tuck call against New England in the 2002 NFL playoffs, and just like when Oklahoma got completely screwed by the replay official in the loss to Oregon in 2006, Georgia didn't lose because of a poor call. The Raiders and Sooners could've still come up with stops to win their respective games, and Georgia could've thought about tackling Trindon Holliday on the kickoff and wrapping up Charles Scott on his game-winning touchdown dash. LSU won because it executed better in the final minutes. Period.

"Unit. Corps. God. Country." … A.J. Green, basically, got flagged for being happy and wanting to share the moment with Georgia fans and teammates in a spontaneous outburst of uncontrollable joy. LSU RB Charles Scott, basically, got flagged for being happy and wanting to share the moment with God. It's a coin-flip on who will be tougher to answer to for the ill-advised flags, the Supreme Being or scorned Georgia fans.

And watch, the situation will come up at Tennessee next year … Alright, Urban Meyer. You want to go all Monday morning quarterback on the SEC officials and pop off about how the Green penalty was "awful" and "wrong?" Fine, then let your Lane Kiffin-public relations-kicked butt cash the check your mouth just wrote and do the right thing if and when this happens to you.

Say there's a huge play late in the SEC title game against 12-0 Alabama. Tide RB Mark Ingram tears off a 75-yard touchdown run with a few minutes to play to give his team the lead. After getting into the end zone, he points to a slew of insanely cheering fans while instinctively flinging the ball a few feet up in the air. And then comes the fun as he gets hit with a chickenspit unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a not-that-bad celebration. Meyer, it would then be your job to walk out to the middle of the field, call over Alabama head coach Nick Saban, along with the officials, and demand that the flag be picked up and ignored because you don't want that kind of a call to have any bearing on the outcome.

Blount, Just … Say … No. Start training for the NFL. Now. … Thinking about returning Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount to the football field after he was supposed to be suspended for the season for punching Boise State's Byron Hout might be a "human being decision," but it sure doesn't seem like it. After head coach Chip Kelly and the Oregon program dealt with the situation as well as it could've possibly been handled, now the timing is completely off. Now that the team appears to be a real, live Pac 10 title contender again, who couldn't use a burst from a running back who'd start for several NFL teams this Sunday if given the chance?

But the cherry stuff really is pretty good. … Back to something I wrote about a few weeks ago. For everyone who continues to use the term "drink the Kool-Aid," and to the ESPN GameDay guys for actually using a glass of the liquid as a prop a few weeks ago, check out MSNBC on Sunday at 10 pm EST. Watch the hour show called Witness to Jonestown (which isn't nearly as good as the PBS American Experience documentary on the Jim Jones cult, but is still effective) and then decide if you want to keep using the quirky phrase.

Pettitte is spelled with four Ts … Here's the deal, Brett Favre. I promise that I'll go out right now and buy a pair of Wrangler jeans and I'll wear them in public (but I'm not tucking in the shirt) if you can tell me how much they cost, why they're such a great value, and when, exactly, you've used Wrangler jeans as the standard of what a good value is in comparison to the rest of your every day life. And while you're at it, tell us, exactly, how a 40-year-old man can play at such a high level physically, can come back week after week over the course of a career from serious injuries, and where the magical, supernatural recuperative powers come from without the use of any pain killers or mood altering stimulants, that you're not able to use because of past substance abuse problems, that NFL players need to survive. We're waiting.

Fish, barrel, meet gun … Most coaches like to get off the field and into the locker room as soon as humanly possible. They might give monosyllabic grunts to the poor on-the-field haircut who's trying to do her job, but when they feel like they've adequately handed over enough of their time, the run inside faster than their corner who just gave up the big play in the final minute. That's why it's fantastic theater to watch the lovely Alex Flanagan (rule number one when naming a girl: girls with guys' names have a 71% better chance of being hot than girls with female-only names) try to interview Charlie Weis before halftime. The man has a bad knee, has to stand up for a few hours, and probably desperately needs to throw a whiz and take a seat. If he could run, he'd do a dead sprint into the locker room and blow past Flanagan, but he can't move, goes as slow as my kid (Sam, by the way … we're tried to give our children every advantage) trying to clean her room, and Flanagan can read War and Peace to him by the time he's finally able to get off the field. It's both painful and beautiful to watch.

The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength The ten aspects of the college football world that have amused, disappointed, demoralized, depressed, or flat-out annoyed me this week.

10. And the Rebels outscored the Pack 21-7 in the third
I did a quick look-see through the historical books and I couldn't find anyone who pitched as close to a perfect game as the Nevada offense came up with on Saturday night in a 63-28 win over UNLV. There have been some flawless performances against the college football dregs and the D-IAA/FCSers of the world over the last several decades, but this was different; UNLV isn't all that horrible and wasn't playing that poorly coming into the game. Nevada committed 15 penalties for 169 yards, and lost four fumbles, but other than that, try to do better than this ...
- 773 yards of total offense.
- Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick, combining with one pass from RB Luke Lippincott, completed 16-of-19 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns.
- The running game went for 559 yards and seven touchdowns averaging over ten yards per carry. Lippincott, Kaepernick, and Mike Ball, who ran for five scores, all ran for more than 170 yards.
- The offense was 7-of-7 on third down conversion chances, and there weren't any punts.
UNLV plays BYU next week, while Nevada gets Louisiana Tech.

9. But there were roughly 14,529 promos for BrettFavre (one word) and his Monday night battle against Green Bay

ESPN's College GameDay did a nice job with its one novelty appearance of the year by going to Boston College to honor Eagle superstar LB Mark Herzlich, who saw his career take a detour after being flattened by cancer (and is now almost cancer-free). However, the show should've used the opportunity to raise money for cancer charities rather than spend every free moment pumping up some other ESPN show. Instead of Big ‘N' Rich, they should've showed Jim Valvano's breathstopping Don't Give Up speech at the 1993 ESPYs, followed up by a graphic plastered on the screen for the entire two hours saying how fans could donate to help cancer research. … it wouldn't have been that hard to capitalize on the inspiration of Herzlich's story.

8. And no, it didn't make up for the finale
The basic premise became quickly flawed because NBC would never, ever, ever put the "kibosh" on any sort of Seinfeld reunion project no matter what Larry David would say to the head of NBC. Also in the "yeah, right" department was Brett Favre being listed on the crawl as "probable" for the Green Bay game with a foot problem … like there was a question about whether or not he was going to play.

7. "That's why guys in my car club call me "The Cruiser.""
"Should call him "The Dork.""

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's Louisville. L-O-U-I-S-V-I-L-L-E. Jerseys with "The Ville" on the front, like the ones worn in the Friday night blowout loss to Pitt, are sold in gas stations next to the pine tree air fresheners and beef jerky and should only be worn by 45-year-old fat men to match their Cardinal and White Zubas and the dollop of nacho sauce hanging from their mustaches. Forgive me for throwing a second 80s movie reference in the same blurb, but to dust off my best Fred Palowaski when referring to the Louisville players wearing those jerseys … NEERRRRRRRRRRRRDS.

6. "Heh heh heh. `Learn'd', son. It's pronounced `learn'd'"
No more "teachable moments." A coach is supposed to be teaching his players at all times, and just because someone screws up, that doesn't make it a "teachable moment." A mistake means it's time for a coach to show a player what he's supposed to do differently and how to do something better, which is a coach's full-time job. There doesn't need to be a defined instance for someone to be taught something, and the hip new catch-phrase must go away, and must go away now.

5. You can't be a badass team if you play in something called Land Shark Stadium
Just because the Miami players and fans say the swagger is back doesn't make it so. Even the juggernaut national title-level U squads of the early 2000s didn't have the swagger and the attitude of the teams of the 1980s and early 90s, and if you question this in any way, you weren't around when the Miami Hurricanes were the Miami Hurricanes (Jacory Harris had barely been born when Miami ruled the world). This was a whole different animal before the sanitizing came following sanctions and the Butch Davis era.

Miami's attitude and swagger came from former head coach Howard Schnellenberger, who had to continuously sell the program to the administration and created a true Us vs. The Establishment mentality. When he put a wall around the "State of Miami" to keep all the top players at home, and Miami had better athletes and more talent than everyone else, then the swagger kicked in. Jimmy Johnson's teams combined arrogance and true swagger, along with gobs of talent, and Dennis Erickson's teams added a cup of obnoxiousness to the equation.

Anyone program with true swagger doesn't have to try to sell the concept. Either you have it or you don't. USC has swagger. Florida definitely has swagger. And even in a loss, Oklahoma has swagger. Miami is just plain good, but the big-time attitude only comes with a steady stream of big wins. This group of Canes aren't there yet.

4. The Landry Jones mustache
I don't have it and it's killing me. I'm better than this. I can't come up with anything witty about the sad caterpillar sitting on top of the Oklahoma quarterback's upper lip, and I've been working on it for three weeks. Jones with the ‘stache isn't Doc Holliday, as OU tight end Brody Eldridge calls him; the Val Kilmer portrayal in Tombstone is way too cool for the comparison to work. And Jones isn't Schneider (the most annoying headlining character in television history) from One Day At A Time (the most annoying show in television history). I'll get it before Sam Bradford takes over again. I promise.

3. The suspenders end the debate
If Lawrence Taylor isn't the greatest defensive player in the history of football, he's in the top three. Not only was he a dominant pass rusher in the pros who changed the way the game is played, but he was also a legend at the collegiate level as a do-it-all superstar for North Carolina. Even though he had a slew of off-the-field character issues that kept some from wanting him in the Hall of Fame, there was no questioning that he deserved to be in on talent. Now I want him out. Part of LT's persona and mystique was in the intimidation factor, and that's completely gone after his NutriSystem ad with Dan Marino that makes America just a little bit dumber, and makes anyone who watches it a little sad inside. The dancing, the horrific banter, and the suspenders are enough for the Pro Football Writers Association to hold a special ballot to either take Taylor out, or put him in a separate part of the Hall for those who cause irreparable damage to their legacies. It's a small room he'll share with O.J.

2. "You've got to make that catch."
It's the laziest of all analysis, and the announcers in both the pros and college use it as a fallback in the most obvious of circumstances. It's 3rd-and-8 on a key late drive and a receiver drops a pass that hits him in the hands, or was reasonably close, and every time the color analyst will remark that the catch should've been made, like the receiver doesn't know that already. It's the type of comment that separates the good ones from the bad, and the good coaches from the bad. When the coaches are miked up and they tell a player something obvious like that, it's not teaching and it's not coaching; it's piling on. When announcers say something that you could've come up with, that's not doing the job, either. Players know when they screw up and they don't need to be reminded of it. If a play isn't made, it needs to be explained why, and it can be as simple as, "it looks like he didn't concentrate," or "he was trying to run after the catch." "He needs to make that catch," or, "he has to make that kick," or "he has to make that tackle," doesn't help anyone.

1. Tim Tebow's brain
All of a sudden, everyone has become a neurologist and knows what's wrong with Tim Tebow's bruised brain and what needs to be done to make sure it's fine and able to withstand the punishment of playing football again. What no one seems to be talking about are the non-football ramifications. Because Florida plays a monster game at LSU on Saturday night, that CBS is giving the primetime spot for in place of whatever dopey CSI Whispering Mentalist thing it normally would've showed, Tebow's injury is being analyzed and scrutinized like he was a pro. Forget about playing football; how about trying to concentrate in the classroom (and I mean this for all players who suffer a concussion and now necessarily Tebow, who's only taking one class)?

Lost in the world of college football is that injured players still have to study, walk to class, sit in class, try to learn, and try to lead a normal student life. Try doing any of those things after suffering a major concussion. Try sitting through an extended lecture for over an hour with a throbbing shoulder with pain that isn't going away even after taking ten Advil. Try writing notes or typing on a computer with sore fingers that have been jammed and banged on over and over again. Try focusing on absorbing the material when you have a bruised rib that you feel every time you breathe.

We've all had injuries, aches, and pains of some sort that make life hard, but concussions are at another level. This is all about the doctors when it comes to Tebow, and it's all about making sure the next 60 years of his life are spent with a clear mind and without the horrors of being sensitive to light, headaches, mood swings, memory loss, and all the other problems that are certain to follow. But Tebow is at the University of Florida to play football, and football players live with concussions and injuries. Just remember that the next time you question whether or not they're supposed to be treated just like regular students.

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.
- A little note for Purdue this week and the rest of the Big Ten. Minnesota QB Adam Weber is tipping his pitches. If I'm seeing this then I'm sure a highly-paid Big Ten defensive coordinator must notice the same thing. When a pass play is supposed to go to the left side, Weber dips his left shoulder when he's under center and has a severe body lean to the left when he's in the shotgun. When the play calls for the pass to go to star WR Eric Decker on the left side, Weber might as well be turned 90-degrees.
- Not only has Navy been the first team in NCAA history to lead the nation in rushing three years in a row, but it's now on a four-year run. The streak is in serious jeopardy this season as the Midshipmen offense isn't nearly as effective running the ball as it's been in the past. Part of the reason is the emergence of QB Ricky Dobbs as a passer, Navy throws for about 100 yards a game, and part of the reason is that the ground game simply isn't as good.
- Time of possession is overrated in the pros, Miami can hold the ball for 45 minutes with the Wildcat offense and Peyton Manning can undo all the momentum with a one minute touchdown drive that covers 81 yards. In college, time of possession matters a bit more because it allows lesser teams to hang around a bit more (which is why teams that run the spread so effectively can control games). That's why it's interesting to note that Cincinnati isn't just last in the nation in time of possession (Notre Dame is first), but it's last by a huge margin holding on to the ball for 23:47 a game. The No. 119 team, Baylor, holds the ball for 25:32. That's partly why a mediocre Fresno State team was able to stay close, and why the Bearcats didn't obliterate a miserable Miami University squad. This might matter against the West Virginias and South Floridas of the Big East world.
- Saying that Washington head coach Steve Sarkesian had a 6-1 record vs. Notre Dame, like NBC had up in a graphic, based on his time as an assistant at USC, is like giving credit to Cliff Levingston for winning two NBA championships for the Chicago Bulls.

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item …
The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Bush Push … Underrated: Hughes Push
2) Overrated: Louisville QB Adam Froman … Underrated: The Sausage King of Chicago (I know, I know, but I wanted to use it anyway)
3) Overrated: Tim Tebow as a motivational speaker ... Underrated: Mark Herzlich
4) Overrated: The Olympics ... Underrated: Chicago
5) Overrated: Kenny the Page ... Underrated: Dabo Swinney

"Ain't so bad." (Another hit from Lang) "Ain't so bad." (Another big hit from Lang) … The three lines this week that appear to be a tad off. I will stop thinking that Army is quirky-good … I will stop thinking that Army is quirky-good … I will stop thinking that Army is quirky-good. You have to really, really try to be 1-2 every freaking week. I press on. … 1) Wisconsin +14 over Ohio State, 2) Alabama -6.5 over Ole Miss, 3) Florida State -2.5 over Georgia Tech

Week 6 Results: 1) Wisconsin +2.5 over Minnesota (WIN UW 31-28), 2) Toledo -7.5 over Ball State (LOSS Toledo 37-30), 3) Army -6 over Tulane (LOSS Tulane 17-16) … Record So Far: 4-11.

My Heisman ballot this week would be (if the college football season ended right now) … 1) Jimmy Clausen, QB Notre Dame, 2) Jerry Hughes, DE TCU, 3) Case Keenum, QB Houston

Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … Michael David Barrett simply told the front desk people that he wanted a hotel room next to mine, and inexplicably, he got it. Now Erin Andrews is about to get a very, very, very large check from the good people at Marriott.