Cavalcade of Whimsy - Is Florida Having Fun?
Florida head coach Urban Meyer
Florida head coach Urban Meyer
Posted Nov 10, 2009

Is Florida having any fun with this? The No. 1 team in the country is struggling with issue after issue, and might that mean the time is right for a certain big-time program to make a big push for Urban Meyer? This, the Boise State PR campaigns, and more in this week's Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 10

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)
- Week 5 (The incomparable Bobby Bowden) 
- Week 6 (The 10 big college football arguments)
- Week 7 .. Part 1 | Part 2 - The Ten Best Players In College Football ... so far
- Week 8 ... Part 1 | Part 2 - You're an idiot if ... 
- Week 9 ... Part 1 | Part 2 - What if players couldn't leave early for the NFL?

By Pete Fiutak

- Part 2 - Every conference race broken down

Sorry if this column sucks, it's not my fault … The SEC fined me 30K for my blurb last week criticizing the inability to criticize officials.

Oh, by the way, Les, Michigan Man, that job in Ann Arbor could be open again sooner than you think … Les Miles, let me save you the money and make the complaint for you. His … foot … was … down. It's fine for officials to miss a call on the field, but it's unforgiveable for replay officials to choke on the obvious. The charmed life of Iowa, er, um, Alabama, continues.

"I'm tired/ sick and tired of love/ I've had my fill of love/ from below and above/ tired/ tired of being admired/ tired of love uninspired/ let's face it/ I'm tired!" ... Has there ever been as joyless a run for a possible national championship as the one Florida is currently on?

There has been nothing fun about this. From Tim Tebow's concussion, to Lane Kiffin's pestering, to the Brandon Spikes eye-gouging, to Meyer's constant criticism of officials, and the subsequent tongue-lashing and monster fine from the SEC, this hasn't been the smoothest of seasons for the Gators. This is a team in desperate need of a few weeks on a deck chair with a pool boy coming by every 30 minutes with a mister, an upgrade in magazine options, and frozen grapes.

The biggest problem has been the mediocre play relative to what the team was supposed to do. It's hard to argue with the overall success, after all, Florida has the nation's No. 1 scoring defense and No. 2 overall D, and for all the problems, being 11th in the nation in scoring and averaging 439 yards per game is nothing to blow off. But the season has been a chore, and it hasn't been the triumphant exercise of college football greatness that it was supposed to be. That Meyer feels like he has to come out and defend his team's yawner of an effort against Vanderbilt, and that he has to pull the GEICO caveman to Billie Jean King "scoreboard" yell on the 19-game winning streak, shows that he's trying to fool everyone into thinking that there aren't problems.

This isn't last year's juggernaut of a team. Of course, there was the loss to Ole Miss, but last year's team seemed like it couldn't wait to get on the field and jump on someone's throat. This year's team can't wait to get on the field to run dive play after dive play while holding its breath every time Tebow takes a shot. Maybe Florida will win the national title, or maybe not, but whatever happens, in the end, everyone is going to take a big sigh of relief after the pressure is off.

So now the question becomes this: is this what Meyer really wants to do? He's not having fun with the success like Steve Spurrier did when the Gators were rolling, and he's only going to get more and more into a bunker-down mentality as the world continues to want more out of a team that should be setting the college football season on fire instead of putting it to sleep. This is as good as it's going to get for Florida football, with Tennessee about a year away from being a powerhouse again, Alabama already there, LSU and Georgia sure to come back roaring, Arkansas looking like it's about to do big things under Bobby Petrino, Auburn getting back on track, and the rest of the SEC continuing to improve. It's not like this will be Florida's roost to rule on a yearly basis, and that idea isn't going to sit well with Meyer, especially if he goes from the elite of the coaching ranks to College Football God with a third national title. How excited do you think Meyer will be to come up with a rebuilding effort after this season?

Take it a step further. If you're Notre Dame, you have to understand the mood of the situation in Gainesville and understand that this might be your one and only show. You make the phone call and you get the ego massaging down pat, to make up for the time you blew it the first time you tried to woo Meyer to South Bend. You open up the checkbook and you make Meyer the highest paid coach by a million bucks a year, because you can afford it without a problem. You discuss how NBC will be an Urban Meyer infomercial every Saturday, point out the light 2010 schedule and the solid talent base that Charlie Weis has in place, and you discuss how those two rings, and possibly three, can grow into four or five in a big hurry with a few more key players and without the rest of the SEC to butt heads with. Notre Dame, the timing will never be better. Go and get your man.

"Geology is the study of pressure and time. That's all it takes, really. Pressure and time." … From ESPN's Todd McShay: "(Notre Dame) is not a job overly attractive to the elite coaches because the pressure is so high and the expectations are so high that it's hard to match them." Uhhhhh, compared to where? Florida? Oklahoma? Western Kentucky?

Don't fall for the concept that no coach wants the Notre Dame job because of the pressure. EVERY head coaching job has pressure. In fact, there's more on the lower ends then there are at the Michigans and Notre Dames of the world. If Charlie Weis and Rich Rodriguez get fired, they'll get another job, maybe as a high-priced coordinator, in about five minutes. They're already millionaires and their families are already set. Pressure is being the head coach at a mediocre MAC or Sun Belt program, where if you don't succeed, you're not only fired, but you're likely done as an FBS head coach without a ton of breaks. Pressure? Any high profile, big name coach worth his salt is only going to go somewhere where the expectations are jacked through the roof. If a coach doesn't think he can handle the pressure of Notre Dame, then Notre Dame doesn't and shouldn't want him. And neither should anyone else.

"That's right. I killed your master. And now I'm gonna kill you, too. With your own sword, no less. Which, in the very immediate future, will become my sword." … The mock indignation meter was set on 11 this week about the Spikes eye-gouging incident. It appeared to be an isolated incident and all seemed forgiven by Georgia RB Washaun Ealey, but it seemed like everyone felt the need to bash away and pretend to be really upset about the half game suspension against Vanderbilt out of duty and not out of any feelings of true anger. Put a camera on the package-twisting and face-ripping going on at the bottom of a pile when there's a fumble and have the same beef.

But Case Keenum isn't Colt Brennan … To anyone pushing the idea of Houston in the BCS: We did this already. We saw the 2007 Hawaii team in the 2008 Sugar Bowl against Georgia, and if Tulsa, UTEP, and Southern Miss can rip through the Cougar defense for a bazillion yards, imagine what a real team can do with time to prepare. Of course there's the counterargument of …

Where have you gone, Sam Bradford, a college football world turns its lonely eyes to you … What the hell happened to the Big 12? The hot conference of last year with high-flying offenses, weekly drama on Saturday night national TV, and more stars and talent than the league offices could promote suddenly has become a god-awful mess of unwatchable schlock. Combine the games against Iowa State and Oklahoma, and Nebraska has put together two of the ugliest, weirder performances you'll ever see. Missouri can't beat Baylor at home, Kansas has decided to stop playing offense, Oklahoma apparently has decided that running the ball isn't any fun, Texas Tech is only interesting now if Mike Leach is in front of a microphone, and Colorado, Iowa State, and Texas A&M are taking turns to see who can come up with the flakiest possible season. There's Oklahoma State, who's quietly putting together a really nice year, but lost all street cred when it turned out to be the only team that couldn't put up close 500 yards of total offense on Houston in a home loss. Kansas State is a cute story, but your Big 12 North leader has a loss to Louisiana-Lafayette on the résumé. And then there's Texas, who might turn out to be your 2009 national champion, but no one seems to care because the rest of the conference is full of tomato cans. The bowl season needs to be a big one. A really big one.

The first firm was fired when it was suggested that the team change its uniform colors to a light mauve …
The WAC has hired the PR firm of Scott Peyron and Associates to try to "keep Boise State in the forefront of the minds of the media" so the world can be sold on the idea of the Broncos in the BCS. Forgetting that the move has already backfired since the hiring of a PR firm is supposed to go unnoticed, you don't tell everyone the fastball is coming, the real problem appears to be the ideas used to promote the team and the conference. Below are some of the highly classified concepts being kicked around …

- Play on the fears and insecurities of the dumb old pollsters by floating out the idea that if you vote for anyone but Boise State for a BCS spot, you will die. Start calling the SEC the Death Conference.
- Promo idea: Vote Boise State in and former RB Ian Johnson will propose to you.
- Hire Denise Austin as the spokesperson for an ad campaign highlighting how Boise State is low in fat and an important part of a healthy lifestyle.
- "WillyouvoteBoiseStateintotheBCS?" No. "WillyouvoteBoiseStateintotheBCS?" No. "WillyouvoteBoiseStateintotheBCS?" No. "WillyouvoteBoiseStateintotheBCS?" No. "WillyouvoteBoiseStateintotheBCS?" No. "WillyouvoteBoiseStateintotheBCS?" No. "WillyouvoteBoiseStateintotheBCS?" Argghhhh, fine.
- The campaign: "Boise State. Yes, Boise State."
- Call for an official protest at the NCAA offices to rally the public around the displeasure with the BCS system. 500 people will show up, but it'll be spun to the media that 50,000 were there. The protesters will call themselves the Tea Baggers, and … what? … crap. Fine, they'll call themselves the Salad Tossers and they'll get their noses deep into the debate and force their way into the system. What's that? Double entendre? Is that the one with the special sauce?
- Plaster photos of Governor Rick Perry all over the place and point out how he wants Texas to secede, therefore, the voters might be committing treason by voting the Longhorns into the BCS.
- Promo idea: Vote Boise State in, get a free shot at Byron Hout.

"Sell it all. What the hell, so I'll only make ten million." The NFL and NCAA need to have a one-year grace period to allow anyone who wants to turn pro a chance to do so regardless of class. With the NFL almost certain to drop in a rookie salary cap like a hammer for the 2011 NFL Draft, the only right thing to do is allow the players who want leave go and try to earn as much as they can get. Alabama RB Mark Ingram, Alabama WR Julio Jones, Clemson DL Da'Quan Bowers, Pitt RB Dion Lewis, Stanford QB Andrew Luck, USC QB Matt Barkley (he'd obviously need developing), Georgia WR A.J. Green, and Virginia Tech RB Ryan Williams would all be taken on the first day of the 2010 NFL Draft if they were allowed to leave, and they're all going to lose tens of millions by the time they're able to go pro.

And to help continue promoting a healthy lifestyle … John Madden! … It's always a little bit sleazy to use raw emotions and feelings to sell a product, and that's the fine line that advertisers and marketers always have to walk. But to exploit the concept of supporting the troops and the idea of patriotism to make an extra buck is flat-out evil.

If a major corporation wants to run an ad saying "Thank You" to the troops, fine, but it's still trying to sell a product by using the sacrifices made by the men and women who serve. If a major corporation wants to thank the troops and tie it into a promotion, that's fine, to a point, like Applebee's advertising that all members of the military get to eat free on Veteran's Day. But that's really, really close to going the wrong way. And then there were the Outback ads plastered all over the college football weekend.

Any veteran or member of the military on active duty can go into an Outback Steakhouse on Veteran's Day and get a free Bloomin' Onion and a drink. Forgetting that the last the last thing anyone needs is a 787 calorie, 70 fat gram appetizer, the problem is that Outback is looking to make money off our soldiers under the guise of being magnanimous by giving away roughly nine dollars worth of food.

Restaurants make a ton of money off of soft drinks, costing roughly a penny per pop (with most of that cost going towards the cup or glass). That's why every fast food joint throws the drink in with the meal; it doesn't cost them anything. And how much does it cost to actually eat at Outback? It's costing them roughly a buck to give away the appetizer and drink, and they're going to make a minimum of $15 per person, and more like $20-$30 if there's alcohol, other appetizers, or desserts involved. So our fighting men and women of the armed forces, who make jack-squat to begin with, will likely drop $100 to take a family out to dinner just to get a free drink and a fried vegetable. Hey, thanks for putting your life on the line for our country. Here's your fried food and a carbonated beverage.

"So, can I get you gentlemen something more to drink? Or maybe something to nibble on? Some Pizza Shooters, Shrimp Poppers, or Extreme Fajitas?" …
At the bottom of the Outback ad is the disclaimer, "At Participating Restaurants." I would buy dinner for a military family of four just to see how the conversation would go at one of the Outbacks that chooses not to be a part of the promotion.

Veteran: "Excuse me, miss, you charged us for that onion thing and my Pepsi. I'm a veteran; isn't it supposed to be free today?"
22-year-old waitress named Britney (while chomping on gum): "No, we're not a part of that promotion, sorry! Can I get you a New South Wales Sangria or one of our Sydney's Sinful Sundaes or Chocolate Thunder From Down Unders to go?"
Veteran: "No, you can take the $9 off the check for the free food that you advertised to get us in here."
Waitress (rolls eyes): "Let me talk to my manager."
(Ten minutes pass)
Waitress: "Sir, do you have any ID?"
Veteran: "ID?!"
Waitress: "You know, to prove that you served in the war, and stuff."
The veteran then stands up, pulls down his pants, and shows the waitress where half his left buttock was blown off by a grenade.

And watch the panic ensue when three unmanned drones are used …
Fine, I'll be the killjoy who asks the question in today's day and age of limited budgets and no money anywhere. How much does it cost John Q. Taxpayer every time there's one of those overrated flyover things before games and done this week at the GameDay remote at the Air Force Academy?

Yes, I'm 12-years-old and still find it funny to punch in 58008 on a calculator and turn it over … I'm only going with this because all indications are that he's expected to be fine and will be a multi-millionaire next year at this time in the NFL. After a cutaway showing the horrific fall by Cal QB Jahvid Best, Ron Franklin, who was calling the Oklahoma – Nebraska game, came back with, "Wow. We've had the pleasure of doing him several times."

And I'm still pushing for GameDay to come broadcast from me breakfast nook, but Desmond Howard would miss the first part of the show, like he missed the opening kickoff of the second half of the 1996 NFC Championship, changing his shirt in my bathroom. … " It's Week Three of my open lobbying of the ESPN College Football Final show guys to give me a helmet sticker and the signed T-shirt, suitable for framing. Why do I deserve one this week? I was stuck behind a BMW doing 23 in a 45 and couldn't get past. 99 times out of 100, in my neighborhood, that means there's some brainless, North Face-wearing soccer mom talking on a cell phone (fine, guilty as charged), and 999 times out of 1,000 I'd be laying on the horn like a New York City cab driver. But I took a deep breath, let it go, and as it turned out, it was a lost old grandma trying to figure out where she was going. She ended up turning off at the hospital.
- Part 2 - Every conference race broken down