Cavalcade of Whimsy ... All About The Coaches
Rich Rodriguez, Mark Mangino, & Charlie Weis
Rich Rodriguez, Mark Mangino, & Charlie Weis
Posted Nov 24, 2009

The BCS race is a snoozer and the Heisman chase is non-existent, so all anyone wants to talk about is Rich Rodriguez, Mark Mangino, and Charlie Weis. Pete Fiutak analyzes each coach's controversy, what Michigan and Notre Dame should do, and more in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 24

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?
- Week 10 .. Part 1 | Part 2 - Every conference race broken down
Week 11.. Part 1 | Part 2 - The 10 unsung things you need to know

By Pete Fiutak

- Part 2 - Breaking Down The Award Finalists

Sorry if this column sucks, it's not my fault … I am what I am, folks, and right now, I'm a 6-5 football team. That's not good enough for you, and it's certainly not good enough for me. Oh, wait, it's not 2004. Oh, wait, I am a 6-5 football team. I'm not stepping down, but I wouldn't be surprised if I get fired.

In my best Tom Hammond voice, because you didn't hear it enough as NBC milked the angle for all it could … "Was this the last time Charlie Weis will have opened up this column as the Notre Dame head coach?"

And hopefully they'd create something more entertaining than some dopey vampire movie … If Robert and Kristen can come out and make their romance, or whatever it is these kids do nowadays, public, then why can't everyone come out and state the obvious?

Urban Meyer and Les Miles are involved in good, solid marriages, but they want to be with the girls next door that they grew up with.

It's like a bad sitcom plot of a show that forces you to sit through season after season of close calls only to have the one big inevitable moment when the love interests finally come together. Then the show has to find another hook, can't do it, and gets canned two awkward years later. Only, in this case, it might be without the jump the shark part.

I wrote pretty much the exact same thing a few years ago when Steve Spurrier, deep down, really wanted to go back to Florida, and Florida, deep down, really wanted him back, but the higher-ups who didn't want the Ball Coach got Meyer and the rest is history. But this is different. If Meyer goes to Notre Dame, the place he really wants to coach, and if Miles goes to Michigan, the place where he was going to coach had West Virginia not gagged against Pitt and Missouri not lost Oklahoma in 2006 to put LSU in the national championship, this isn't like Spurrier going back to Florida to try to recreate some lost magic. This would be two elite head coaches in the prime of their careers stepping into situations that they've dreamed about all of their lives. Neither coach is NFL material, and this is the next step forward for each. This would work.

Enough already, Notre Dame. Ease his pain. Get rid of Charlie Weis and make a full blown attempt at the guy you really want. Of course, Meyer says he has no interest in the job, but he can't say anything else while his team is in the thick of the national title hunt and with the meat of the recruiting season right around the corner.

Enough already, Michigan. For whatever reason, you don't like Rich Rodriguez (more on that in a moment), and the 7-5, 2010 season that's the stepping stone to what would be a monster 2011 isn't going to be enough for you. Rodriguez, whether or not you believe it, really is an elite head coach who has a few successful acts left in the show. He'll pull a Rick Neuheisel, will bounce around for a bit, and then he'll be the head man at another major program. You want Miles, Miles wants you, just end the dance and get it done.

Florida and LSU, because you're the Todd Clearys in this bromance, you need to find your rebound love to quickly overcome the rejection. Brian Kelly, meet Florida. Florida, Kelly. LSU, you enjoyed your first go-round of raiding Stillwater, just go outspend ol' T. Boone and get Mike Gundy. There, the two SEC superpowers move on an prosper, Meyer and Miles can go live out their dreams, and the college football world would be a lot more interesting.

"And don't miss Jay this week as he catches up with Taylor Swift and the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger." … "Could this be the last time that Charlie Weis has to wonder about Urban Meyer being the Notre Dame head coach as the Notre Dame head coach?"

"Think classy and you'll be classy. If you win 20 in the Show you can let the fungus grow back on your shower shoes and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win twenty in the Show, however, it means you're a slob." … Coaching at the highest level of college football and in the pros has nothing to do with making young men better. It has nothing to do with helping them as students, and it has nothing to do with creating a family atmosphere and molding men to go out in the world and do good. All that matters is how many wins a coach comes up with. Period. That's why you can serve at one school for more than a half a century, make a program a superpower, be so ingrained in the place that you were the one who created the iconic uniforms, like Joe Paterno has done at Penn State, and still have a segment of the fan base looking for the next head coach when times started to get rocky a few years ago. It's why a coach like Bobby Bowden can be given a "thanks, here's your watch, no go do a Sudoku or something," after his team struggles just to become bowl eligible. If there's no margin for error for the legends, then what hope is there for Mark Mangino?

A coach can be a screamy, abusive, abrasive asshat, but none of it matters if he wins. If he wins, he's quirky, eccentric, a character. But when he loses, he's just an asshat, with Bobby Knight being the definition.

Had all this Mangino verbal abuse stuff come out in mid-September when Kansas was rocking and rolling and had a team that looked like it could do some major damage in Big 12 play, then it would've all been ignored. But now that KU has gone into the tank in a disastrous collapse, it's open season on Mangino.

If Notre Dame had beaten Connecticut 55-0, would there be talk about Charlie Weis being fired? Yeah, but it wouldn't be as loud and there would be another chance against Stanford to let Weis keep his job. Would the flames under Rich Rodriguez's butt be cooler if Michigan pulled off a win over Ohio State? Take a guess.

It's only about winning or losing, and if a coach wins, then all the periphery stuff, all the grouchy press conferences, all the insufferable arrogance, all the minute NCAA rule-breaking gets swept under the rug, just like it does in Gainesville, Austin, Columbus, and every other school with a football team that plans on playing in early January.

"Son, we live in a world with walls that must be guarded. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have more responsibility than you can fathom. You weep for Santiago and curse the Marines. You don't know what I know. Santiago's tragic death saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque to you, saves lives. But deep down, in places you don't talk about at parties you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. They're the backbone of our lives. You use them as a punchline. I haven't the time or inclination to explain myself to a man who needs my protection but questions the way I do it. Better just say "thank you," and go on your way. Or pick up a gun and stand a post. But I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to." …
No, coaching football isn't the same as commanding troops in a battle, the comparisons to war are lazy and insulting, but it is a sport where the slightest flinch from an offensive lineman means an ill-timed penalty. It's a sport where a mental lapse by one defender could ruin the gap discipline causing a small gain to turn into a touchdown. It's a sport where poor technique on a tackle could mean a serious injury. It's a sport that requires more discipline and synchronicity than any other, and if a coach feels the need to get his point across by raising his voice and getting verbally abusive as if what he's saying is the difference between winning and losing, well, it's partly because it is. Now, does that mean he can get personal on a player and use deep, dark secrets against him? Yeah. 245-pound guided missile linebackers and crackbrack blocks may break a player's bones, but words will never hurt him.

Maybe I've become desensitized after a decade of daily barrages of e-mails hurling every insult imaginable, but if you're a player and you don't like what a coach is saying to you, and how, then leave. Transfer. Go play football somewhere else. Better yet, man up and tell the coach behind closed doors that he crossed a line. Coaches, even the jerkiest of them, want to make sure the players are fine, even when they need a verbal kick in the pants.

Players, do your research before signing on the dotted line. If you don't like getting yelled at and you choose to go to Oklahoma or Alabama, then that's on you. If you choose to go to Kansas, now you know that Mangino might try to tweak you and push you by being verbally abusive at times. If you don't like it, then pick another school, and that coach will try to tweak you and push you by being verbally abusive at times.

Oprah got Palin, I got this … In an exclusive, several former Kansas players have told me some of the verbally abusive things said by Mangino. Parents, you might want to ask your children to leave the room. Reader discretion is advised.

- "U.G.L.Y. You ain't got no alibi you ugly. Eh! Hey! You ugly, You ugly, You ugly, You ugly."
- "Don't you ‘yes sir' me. I'll send you back to St. Louis where the summer humidity is oppressive and the Cardinal fans are creepy, old, and weird."
- "Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries."
- "It doesn't happen to every guy and it IS a big deal!"
- "You want to keep missing the snap count? Go right ahead. It's just that lack of discipline that cost us the game last week and cost you that thing you called a baked brie. It needed toasted almonds. Walnuts? WALNUTS?! The recipe specifically called for TOASTED ALMONDS!!!"
- "You start making that block or you're going to end up a chocoholic just like your daddy. Oh, wait. That's me. Nevermind." (Oh come on, I had to get one weight jab in there.)
- "Your mother's an astronaut."
- "How many times ARE YOU GOING TO MISS THAT TACKLE! That's fine; go right ahead and keep it up, and you'll end up just like your dad, making decent money and retiring at age 61 to live a life of leisure, travel, and leaving the toilet seat up."

"Don't forget that Monday, it's an all new Trauma, as a plane crash in the city puts Thanksgiving plans on hold!" … "Could this be the last time that Charlie Weis has to read another one of these lame list-bits as the head coach of Notre Dame?"

NBC needs to make a trade with CBS for Jennifer Love Hewitt … For the love of Tim Tebow; no more Tony Dungy, The Football Player Whisperer. I'm in 100% agreement that coaches need to teach more and scream less, in the Dungy manner, but let's call his tenure in the NFL what it was: underachieving. Dungy ignored the offense in Tampa Bay and couldn't get team with an all-timer of a defense to the Super Bowl, and he won one championship in all those years in Indianapolis because he had a quarterback who handled the entire offense. How good was Dungy? The Colts are 10-0 with him in the NBC studios. And now, after spending years having a front seat view watching Peyton Manning, Dungy is saying that Tebow "will be a great player in the NFL" as a quarterback.

Alright, fine. The opinions on Tebow vary, but Dungy then ends the debate, and his career as anything more than a walking faith-based initiative, by saying that Tebow's problem is his accuracy. There are plenty of things to knock Tebow for as a pro prospect, but accuracy is the one thing he does have. Tebow will finish his career as one of the most efficient passers in college football history, completing 66% of his throws so far with 81 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions.

"Don't miss the latest Heroes, as H.R.G. hosts an untraditional Thanksgiving dinner, only on NBC." … "And with that, we might have just witnessed the last time Charlie Weis will be in a Notre Dame hoodie and wonder about Tim Tebow's accuracy."

"I've been told the best crackers in the world could do this in sixty minutes. Unfortunately, I need someone who can do it in sixty seconds." … There are plenty of waste-of-space, holier-than-Lombardi head coaches who think they're curing cancer on a daily basis, and Rich Rodriguez isn't one of them.

I'm not quite sure why Michigan isn't more understanding of its own situation, and I'm not sure why Rodriguez isn't being given a wee bit more of a free pass, sort of like Rick Neuheisel is at UCLA. Granted, Neuheisel has wins over Tennessee to fall back on and a bowl trip this year, but that's a fan base, like Michigan's, that wants to win last year.

Michigan fans, you knew the entire program had to be rebuilt no matter who was coming in as the head coach, and no, it's not like the players who bolted early for the NFL, or Ryan Mallet to Arkansas, would've taken your team where you wanted it to be. You weren't happy when Lloyd Carr was winning Big Ten titles and going to Rose Bowls, you wanted national titles, and to have any chance of that happening the entire program had to change. Sometimes it works when a team undergoes a facelift, like Oklahoma, and sometimes the results take time, like Nebraska. But Michigan can recruit nationally, is still one of the powerhouse programs in college football, and can get to the level you want it to be at if you let the man do his job … maybe.

Of course the record over the last two years stinks, and yeah, I'm with you that Rodriguez has to come up with a winning season next year (three seasons is enough to show a true turnaround, not two) or else it's time to find a better fit, but it's almost like you're pulling a Rush Limbaugh and hoping for the head man to fail instead of giving him time to see if this grand experiment might work.

No, you don't care about the West Virginia buyout thing. West Virginia cares about the West Virginia buyout thing, but that's a non-issue to you, and so is the current NCAA hubbub over the extra workout time. For one, there is nothing happening at Michigan that doesn't happen at every other football program, and the controversy really isn't RichRod's fault, even though it's his butt that has to cash the check. To take a long explanation and put it into one sentence, it's a clerical error in the Michigan compliance office that 120 out of 120 FBS head coaches would've had no clue about. And no, it's not because you want a Michigan man coaching Michigan.

You know who wasn't a Michigan man? Glenn Edward Schembechler, Jr. Bo was an Ohio State man who went to Miami University and cut his teeth both as an assistant in Columbus and as a head coach in Oxford. In all my correspondence with Michigan fans, the "Michigan Man" factor comes up in half the conversations about why Rodriguez is getting the bum rap, and unless you go back to the days of Bennie Oosterbaan, being a Michigan Man means yearly underachieving in big games and not winning national titles. As soon as that's brought up, I mentally put the Maize and Blue die-hard at the kid table playing with the silly string.

I'm not saying Rodriguez deserves a ton of slack for two straight awful years, but he's getting sabotaged and is dealing with way too much stuff that has nothing to do with winning football games. But again, it all goes back to winning. If he wins, everything else from the NCAA to the non-Michigan background to the problems early on will quickly go bye-bye. He'll get one more chance, but that's it.

"Coming up on the Tonight Show, Conan sits down with Eva Medes, Nicole Kidman, and Jon Bon Jovi, only on NBC." … "History is being made here. That could be the last time Charlie Weis will think about the Michigan coaching situation as the Notre Dame head coach."

And I'm still pushing for GameDay to come broadcast from my breakfast nook, but then I'd have to adjust the whole pound-per-person ratio … It's Week Five 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 went with the more expensive, natural, hormone-free fresh turkey as opposed to the Pujols-like bird sitting in the freezer, and not because of the organic thing, but because the guy said it would taste better. Happy Thanksgiving. Now go out and eat too much, or at least more than you would on a normal Thursday.

- Part 2 - Breaking Down The Award Finalists