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Cavalcade of Whimsy - The Holiday Wish List
Florida QB John Brantley
Florida QB John Brantley
Posted Dec 22, 2009

It's time for the annual holiday wish list for all 120 teams, like hoping that Florida's John Brantley doesn't get ruined by the spread, along with a look at the Joe McKnight situation, the Big Ten expansion, another reason to be happy about the bowls, and more in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Dec. 22

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 
- Week 12.. Part 1 | Part 2 - Breaking Down The Award Finalists 
- Week 13 - The Notre Dame Circus | Part 2 Ten things to be grouchy about 
- Week 14 - The Texas Near Miss. Part 1 | Ten things to be grouchy about
- Week 15 - Understanding The U. | Why Texas will win the national title

By Pete Fiutak

- Dec. 22, Part 1 - Ten reasons why Alabama will win the national title 

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault … Scott Schenter bought it for my girlfriend and she’s making payments for it. I never wrote it or drove it, and I’m doing nothing wrong even though Schenter owns

“It's that little souvenir of a colourful year/which makes me smile inside/so I cynically, cynically say, the world is that way/surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise” ... NCAA, if you can’t figure this one out, you’re going to have a whole bunch of fans at places like Oklahoma, Alabama, and Florida State ready to blow a gasket.

Why does the NCAA continue to turn a blind eye to some transgressions while letting others go? Why hasn’t USC had to vacate everything it did during the Reggie Bush era, while Florida State got tagged for academic issues that should’ve been a school matter and Oklahoma got honked at for work that Rhett Bomar didn’t do and got paid for at a car dealership? The Joe McKnight car thing is the tip of a massive iceberg, and at some point soon, USC has to be hit with something , if for no other reason than for the NCAA to show that it’s not totally and completely incompetent when it comes to investigations. But as this situation points out so clearly once again, the rules are silly and they should be broken.

I fought all week with various radio show hosts about this as the NCAA’s version of morality continues to have fans brainwashed. It should be absolutely fine if some silly man wants to buy a college player a car, or give him $200 just for being a star player, or wants to put him up in some sweet apartment. First of all, there’s nothing legally wrong with any of this, second allowing boosters to give players stuff would help level the playing field, and third IT’S GOING ON ANYWAY.

The schools shouldn’t have to give players a dime, but if a booster club wants to raise funds to give star players perks, or if uber-boosters like Phil Knight and T. Boone Pickens want to blow their dough to fund their teams to put the best players on the field that they can, then so be it. It’s not a right that every program must play by the same rules, because they can’t and they don’t.

Eastern Michigan could go 12-0 next year and win every game by four touchdowns and they still wouldn’t get a shot at the national title. Right now, you can eliminate 70 teams from the 2010 national championship chase just because they don’t play in the right conference (ask Boise State and TCU what that’s like) and you can assume that another 20 or so teams don’t have any realistic shot even though they play in the a BCS league (ask Cincinnati what that’s like). And you can eliminate those teams in the exclusionary BCS system from the national title chase in 2011, 2012, 2013, and all the way up until we’re all under three feet of melted icecap water. In fact, you can all but eliminate 115 teams each and every year, like this season, if the top teams win as expected. There was no way Texas, Alabama, or Florida were budging from the top spots in the polls after being put there in the beginning of the season, and yet there are some worried that the idea of allowing fan bases and agents give stuff to player would make the rich schools richer. No, it would give the little guy more of a shot to buy its way into prominence (ring, ring, SMU, it’s for you).

But I digress.

The issue here with the McKnight situation isn’t just that USC broke a few rules or took a few liberties with their female party guests; they did (wink). The real story is that this might be the beginning of the decline of the empire. Every seemingly untouchable program has its fall from grace at some point and there’s always one marking point that signaled that things were starting to go wrong. Miami had Luther Campbell and Pell Grants. Florida State had Jeff Bowden and Chris Rix. Nebraska had Steve Pederson. Oklahoma had Charles Thompson. And while some schools are able to overcome the problems and shine again, like OU did after hiring Bob Stoops and Penn State was able to do a few years after losing defensive coordinator and key assistant, Jerry Sandusky, it takes a while. Considering USC’s mediocre year even with a team full of tremendous prospects, the rest of the Pac 10 has to plan for a possible opening in the window and be ready to pounce.

If you’re UCLA and Rick Neuheisel, here’s your 2010 wake-up call, pal. Go to work.

“You only see 'em drivin' cars out on the street/ Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'/ You won't see a kid walkin' home from school/ Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin' / Their mothers pick 'em up in a car pool/ Nobody's walkin' walkin' walkin' walkin'” … And now McKnight isn’t even playing in the Emerald Bowl. He couldn’t get a ride to the game.

But it will only last until Timmy throws a fit and is pacified by his Wii … Two weeks ago I was at a birthday party for my friend’s one-year-old twin boys, and over in the living room in the corner were a few guys hanging around the TV, as men tend to do at these types of get-togethers. And they were watching ... (heavy sigh) soccer. It wasn’t because they loved The Beautiful Game or were die-hard Wayne Rooney fans.

We live in the richest country in the world and yet in today’s day and age grown men are being forced to watch soccer reruns when there aren’t any other sporting events going on. Yes, it’s hard to get too jazzed up for Little Caesars Bowl and the Poinsettia Bowl might not make your life any better, but there will be a point over the next several days when you’ll be at a holiday party or family gathering and you’ll hit your knees and thank whatever god it is that you pray to for the existence of something called the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl.

“Ma'am, were you aware that your car was on fire?” ... Cincinnati was so wronged and felt so betrayed by the idea of Brian Kelly leaving his team empty handed for its bowl game by taking off for Notre Dame early that it did the exact same thing to Central Michigan … again. Not only did USC hork Kelly from CMU the first time around before a bowl, but it grabbed Butch Jones this year before the Chippewas face Troy in the GMAC Bowl. So which is it, Cincinnati? Is it wrong to steal someone’s date before their big dance or not? Bearcats, you hereby forfeit the right to ever whining about losing a head coach to a bigger, better program (and yes, there are bigger and better programs than Cincinnati) ever again. And Central Michigan, you are allowed to go all Angela Bassett Waiting to Exhale on Jones and Cincinnati.

“And Leon’s getting larrrrrrrrrger.” ... The Big Ten is going to expand. I’d rather see the league go to a ten-game conference schedule and keep things as is, but that’s never going to happen. While the idea of adding three teams and creating a 14-team league is being floated out there, realistically, the conference is going to add one team that makes the most financial sense from a football standpoint. But Big Teners, spare us all the sanctimonious bullspit about demanding that the 12th school be a top-shelf academic institution. While there are some great academic universities in the conference, like Northwestern, Michigan, and Wisconsin, there are also others that will take a student as long as he can mark an X on a dotted line.

Football-wise, check out the likely divisional split of teams, assuming the Big Ten adds someone from the east like Pitt, Rutgers, or Syracuse. If only one team is added and it’s a 12-team conference, you’d have …

East: Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, 12th team.
West: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin

There might be some talk of splitting up Michigan and Ohio State, but geographically that likely wouldn’t happen and there would have to be some assurance that the two played every year. That would mean a massive imbalance between the two divisions with teams like Wisconsin and Iowa drooling. And it wouldn’t likely be much better in a 14-team league.

East: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse
West: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin

And I’m still pushing for GameDay to come broadcast from my breakfast nook, but we have three Christmas cookies left and there are four hosts. I don’t want Desmond and Corso fighting over the misshapen snowman with pink sprinkles … It’s Week Nine 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 have pitched, sold, hocked, peddled, and done everything else a human being could do to sell these minor bowl games to America. ESPN, I’ve done my part for you. Now make sure these things are interesting.

And now, without further ado …

The 6th Annual Christmas/Festivus/Hanukkah Wish List for all 120 teams this holiday season. To ...

ACC Atlantic
Boston College ... A healthy Mark Herzlich who comes back as good as new.
Clemson ... A team as good as its pregame entrance.
Florida State ... That Jimbo Fisher can come up with one season as good as any Bobby Bowden had from 1987 to 2000.
Maryland ... No more Middle Tennessee on the schedule.
NC State ... That Russell Wilson realizes just how boring baseball really is. 
Wake Forest ... An overtime win and about 13 more total points against Baylor, BC, Navy, Miami, and Georgia Tech.

ACC Coastal
Duke ... That no bigger name program wakes up and realizes that David Cutcliffe might just be the best head coach in the ACC.
Georgia Tech ... That no bigger name program wakes up and realizes that Paul Johnson is the best head coach in the ACC.
Miami ... That all the superior talent, speed, and athleticism translates into wins.
North Carolina ... An offense half as good as the defense.
Virginia ... The recruiting of Al Groh and the production of George Welsh.
Virginia Tech ... Darren Evans and Ryan Williams in the backfield at the same time.

Big 12 North
Colorado ...  More money to be able to buy out Dan Hawkins.
Iowa State ... A phone call from Jim Delaney.
Kansas ... That Turner Gill does to Nebraska what his Nebraska teams did to Kansas.
Kansas State ... Fewer FCS games.
Missouri ... More receivers where Jeremy Maclin and Danario Alexander came from.
Nebraska ... One fewer second and three more feet to the left.

Big 12 South
Baylor ... A safe and sound Robert Griffin knee.
Oklahoma ... More consistent wins outside of the State of Oklahoma, and a Norelco for Landry Jones.
Oklahoma State ... That T. Boone has enough money to make Oklahoma and Texas a little bit worse.
Texas ... That Bama gets the copy of Wining National Titles For Dummies, written by the 2005 Ohio State Buckeyes. 
Texas A&M ... Consistency on defense to match up with the explosion on offense.
Texas Tech ... Fewer fat little girlfriends.

Big East
Cincinnati ... More Central Michigan coaches when Butch Jones leaves for West Virginia.
Connecticut ... A drama-free 2010 with a few more close wins.
Louisville ... Charlie Strong to get just a few of the players to work with that he had at Florida.
Pittsburgh ... Written proof that Mardy Gilyard is out of eligibility.
Rutgers ... Tom Savage ends up having a career as cool as his name.
South Florida ... That the defense hits as hard as Jim Leavitt does.
Syracuse ...  That, magically, Steve Wojciechowski has a year of football eligibility available.
West Virginia ... More pins for the Rich Rodriguez doll.

Big Ten
Illinois ... That Harold Hill, er, Ron Zook brings in one more big recruiting class for the next head coach to win with.
Indiana ... That Darius Willis really is as good as he appears and Ben Chappell can take advantage.
Iowa ... A healthy Ricky Stanzi and a running back with two legs that aren't busted up.
Michigan ... Said like Cready ... I wish ... you had ... more time (to practice).
Michigan State ...That Mark Dantonio really is the best of the former Cincinnati head coaches.
Minnesota ... A team that looks as good as its stadium.
Northwestern ... That the team plays with half as much intensity as Pat Fitzgerald coaches.
Ohio State ... A USC/SEC-free season.
Penn State ... A real, live non-conference game.
Purdue ... That Danny Hope's tenure is as successful as the first year was fun.
Wisconsin ... A plus-2 turnover margin against Ohio State.

Conference USA East
UAB . That the 2010 team plays half as well as Joe Webb played this year.
UCF ... A bowl opponent its own size.
East Carolina ... That someone notices, or cares, that the Pirates are the two-time defending Conference USA champions.
Marshall ... A coach who gets the Herd to a bowl game and then wants to coach in it.
Memphis ...  That Larry Porter gets half as much talent as he had to work with at LSU.
Southern Miss ... Another running back who can produce like Damion Fletcher.

Conference USA West 
Houston ... A defense that can hold someone to under 200 rushing yards per game.
Rice ... The Mr. Peabody wayback machine to go back to 2008.
SMU ... That June Jones not forget that Shawnbrey McNeal might be the team's best player.
Tulane ... The Bob Toledo of the late 1990s.
Tulsa ... Gus Malzahn.
UTEP ... A November win that means something.

Army ... A wee bit more patience before Rich Ellerson does for Army what he did for Cal Poly.
Navy ... That no one wakes up and realizes that Ken Niumatalolo isn't just keeping Paul Johnson's program rolling.
Notre Dame ... That the Irish fans realize that the program needs a five-year plan and not a five-minute one.

MAC East   
Akron ... That Rob Ianello was the reason the Notre Dame offense was so potent.
Bowling Green ... A running back who steps up when Tyler Sheehan and Freddie Barnes are gone.
Buffalo ... That Jeff Quinn was the reason why the Cincinnati offense was so potent.
Kent State ... One more year with a healthy Eugene Jarvis.
Miami Univ.... A reset button for the Mike Haywood era.
Ohio ... That Frank Solich not get offered a different stepping-stone job.
Temple ... Two more years of Bernard Pierce before he proves to be good enough to leave early for the NFL.

MAC West
Ball State ... A copy of the 2007 Ball State regular season team video, Cardinal Football ... Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now.
Central Michigan ... Another coach worthy of being the next Cincinnati head man.
Eastern Michigan ... The How-To Win In The MAC manual from Turner Gill and Al Golden.
Northern Illinois ... A November road win.
Toledo ... A 2010 that was as thrilling and as exciting as the first five games of the 2009 campaign.
Western Michigan ... That this little Central Michigan dominance thing has left along with Dan LeFevour and Butch Jones.

Mountain West
Air Force ... A hot chick on the program's arm so it can get into the Mountain West VIP lounge.
BYU ... More 25-year-old players!
Colorado State ... A witness who got the license plate of the truck that ran over the program over the last few months of the season.
New Mexico ... The realization that getting a Ron Zook protégé might not have been the way to go.
San Diego State ... A text containing the ten-day forecast for the greatest San Diego area sent to every top recruit currently living in the Northeast part of the country. 
TCU ... That Gary Patterson doesn't wake up tomorrow morning and realize he should be coaching at a much, much bigger program.
UNLV ... The realization that if you think Dennis Franchione is the answer, the question might not be worth asking.
Utah ... That Orrin Hatch actually wins his BCS congressional battle.
Wyoming... A visit from Trinny and Susannah to work on the color scheme of the uniforms.

Pac 10
Arizona ... Nothing. Arizona State's Kyle Williams gave the Cats their gift a bit early.
Arizona State ... That Dennis Erickson be the offensive head coach that made him Dennis Erickson.
California ... All that NFL talent to start to produce at the collegiate level.
Oregon ...  A pair of Reeboks.
Oregon State ... The Rose Bowl to be wrapped up before the Civil War.
Stanford ... Another few bells and whistles added to Jim Harbaugh's $70,000 bathroom to keep him around an extra year.
UCLA ... Nothing. Joe McKnight is helping to provide all the gifts Rick Neuheisel will need.
USC ... Another coat of Teflon. 
Washington ...That Jake Locker plays more like the prospect that has the pro scouts drooling and less like the actual Jake Locker.
Washington State ... Mike Price! 

SEC East
Florida ... That Urban Meyer doesn't make John Brantley, a potentially big-time NFL prospect, all spready.
Georgia ... The realization that the window slammed shut last year.
Kentucky ... The realization that Rich Brooks might have been the best coach in America in 2009 considering what he had to work with.
South Carolina ... For Steve Spurrier to start doing some of that Ball Coachin' that made him such a legend..
Tennessee ... A butt that can cash all the checks that Lane Kiffin's mouth is writing.
Vanderbilt ...  Three offensive touchdowns in a single game.

SEC West
Alabama ... That ESPN doesn't call the 2009 Tide the Greatest Team In The History Of The Planet in some mythical tournament.
Arkansas ... That Ryan Mallett doesn't fully understand the complexities and nuances of what the 2011 NFL collective bargaining agreement might be..
Auburn ... That Gus Malzahn sticks around for a long, long time.
LSU ... The Time Trap: The Classic Book on Time Management. Available new from $3.27 on Amazon.
Ole Miss ... For Houston Nutt to not be in the rumor mill for every job opening, and for Nutt to go out of his way to keep his name out of any job searches.
Mississippi State ... More cowbell.

Sun Belt
Arkansas State ... To change the nickname to the Red Bulls and get some dough for it.
Florida Atlantic ... To be able to at least put a fence around the State of Boca Raton.
Florida International ... A Luther Campbell created song with the chant, "The FIU, it's all about the FIU." This would go along with the tagline, "It's a Golden Panther thing, and you wouldn't understand."
MTSU - A little more help around Dwight Dasher to finally bring the program a Sun Belt title.
North Texas ... For all that fancy Southlake stuff to finally kick in and produce wins.
Troy ... More chances to show what it can do against the big boys.
Louisiana-Lafayette ... That everyone starts to call the school Louisiana and leaves off the Lafayette. 
Louisiana-Monroe ... A meaningful win over the second half of the season to finally get to a bowl game.
Western Kentucky ... An FBS football program.

Boise State ... The opportunity.
Fresno State ... For the team to play as well against Nevada as it does against someone from a BCS league.
Hawaii ... A fight song as good as Notre Dame's.
Idaho ... That Boise State soon becomes the state's other program.
Louisiana Tech ... To have enough success to make bigger programs come calling for Derek Dooley.
Nevada ... A pass defense half as good as the running game.
New Mexico State ... For DeWayne Walker to quickly show why he was in line for some much bigger gigs.
San Jose State ...  For Mark MacIntyre to be the defensive head coach that Dick Tomey was supposed to be.
Utah State - For a few more players as good as Diondre Borel and Robert Turbin.

- Dec. 22, Part 1 - Ten reasons why Alabama will win the national title