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ASK CFN - Where Are The Texas Titles? (3/12)
Texas QB Chris Simms
Texas QB Chris Simms
Posted Mar 12, 2010

Why hasn't Texas won more national titles since 1970? There's one main reason and it wears Crimson and Cream. Is Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy the better pro prospect? Explaining the three-technique lineman, ACC expansion success, the ultimate realignment, and more in the latest ASK CFN.


March 12

Fire over your questions, comments, and baskets of mini-muffins to

- ASK CFNs 1/22 - Bowl Matchups | 1/29 - Being Boise State 
2/11 Part One - Greatest QB Ever | 2/11 - Comparing soccer and college football 

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.)

By Pete Fiutak

Q: Draft analysis time … All but guaranteed that Gerald McCoy and Ndamukong Suh go Top 2? There is NO way that the Rams take another DT in the first slot and pay him $50 million. That would be 3 DT's in 4 years (eg Chris Long and Adam Carricker). DTs don't win super bowls. Maybe the Rams have awful management, but I am a Skins fan (and yes Albert is a great player) but if Washington doesn't get an OL, it doesn’t matter if Haynesworth, Suh, McCoy were all on the D-Line, they would still lose. - Justin

A: In theory you’re right which is why Sam Bradford is the hot choice to go No. 1, but if he isn’t a Super Bowl caliber player then the plan doesn’t work.

The thing to remember about this draft is that it might be the last one with the mega-rookie salaries. In all the labor negotiations going on right now, the one area both sides are expected to agree on is some sort of rookie salary cap. That means the $40 million you might have to shell out this year for Bradford as the No. 1 overall pick could be $10 million next year for a quarterback who might be every bit as good a prospect. So if you’re St. Louis and you take a hard, honest look at your team, you want to spend the big coin on the surest thing possible this year, expect to be a little better in 2010 and be 5-11 or 6-10, and then get your quarterback like Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett, or Andrew Luck (if any of them slide) in the 2011 draft at a much lower price.

St. Louis needs pieces to the puzzle, and while Bradford might be good, he’s not a sure-thing by any stretch. If the Rams take him and he’s not the be-all-end-all, then they’re in Screwed City being stuck with a ton of bad paper and the franchise is set back another five years. Take a lower-risk defensive tackle like Suh or McCoy and make him the cornerstone of the defense for the next ten years, and go get your quarterback somewhere else.

Q: Make your call … Gerald McCoy or Ndamukong Suh. The better prospect is ... ? - AF

A: Suh. There’s no knocking McCoy, who has a Pro Bowl career ahead of him, but the scouting types who keep insisting that McCoy is a better interior pass rushing prospect must have different game tapes than I do. Forget about the Big 12 Championship against Texas and Suh was still one of the most active and disruptive defensive tackles in college football history. Yeah he was asked to do different things than McCoy was, but he’s the bigger of the two, proved at the Combine to be far, far stronger, just as fast, and almost as quick on his feet. The 23 reps on the bench by McCoy is being blown off as no big deal, but to me that’s an issue and it proves he’s a one-gap-only defensive tackle while Suh can play on the nose or anywhere else on the front line. I can do more with Suh than I can with McCoy, but that’s not to knock the OU star. Both players are going to be fabulous.

Q: Sorry for being an idiot, but with all this draft talk, what does it all mean when a player is a one-gap, two-gap, or three-technique lineman? - MM

A: A lot of pretentious analysts (ring, ring ... it's for me) like to use the goofy terms just to sound smart by trying to make this harder than it really is. And no, you’re not an “idiot” in any way since most fans (and many announcers and analysts) don’t know this stuff.

To put this as simply as possible, a one-gap tackle is generally not as strong as a two-gap tackle but is more athletic and is a better pass rusher. In a one-gap scheme, it’s the lineman's job to handle the gap between the guard and the tackle and try to outquick the O linemen by shooting through it. The two-gap tackle, generally a bigger, stronger player, will line up on a lineman and will be responsible for the gaps on both sides of the blocker. This is usually referring to a nose tackle.

The gap between the guard and the center is the A gap, the one between the guard and the tackle is the B gap, and the one between the tackle and the tight end on one side and the tackle and space on the other, is the C gap. A three-technique tackle is one who works that B gap and lines up close to the guard, and he’s supposed to be a quick interior pass rusher. A four-technique lineman will be on the B gap and will be closer to the tackle, while the five-technique lineman is the speed rusher who lines up on the outside of the tackle and goes around the C gap.

Confused? Think of linemen like your woods in golf. The bigger ones have the lower number, so the driver might be the 0 or one-technique and lines up in the middle, and the further you get away from the center, the higher the number, and generally, the smaller and quicker the player. For example, the five-wood would be the five-technique player and would be the speed rusher on the outside.

Q: if you were the emperor of college football, how would you determine how many and which teams played at the highest level, which teams would be in which conferences, how many games each team would play and how the best team would be chosen annually? - Josh, Tampa

A: I’d rather be a ruthless dictator or a czar (I’m old school and refuse to acknowledge the more fashionable spelling of tsar) who takes over the gig via violent overthrow rather than being born into it.

What I’d like to do to the FBS is what I foresee college football doing within the next ten years. Eventually, the big wigs are going to want to chop off the dead wood and make it a tighter D-I that includes a playoff.

When doing stuff like this I tend to try to live in the world of the possible which means all the current teams in the BCS have to stay. The 65 current BCS programs are in, Notre Dame makes the cut, and I’d keep Boise State, BYU, Colorado State, East Carolina, Fresno State, Houston, Memphis, Nevada, San Diego State, Southern Miss, TCU, UCF, UNLV, and Utah. That would make for 80 teams which I’d divide into eight conferences with the champion of each going into a playoff. Think about it for a moment; an eight-team playoff of all conference champions (heavy sigh) with the bowl system still in place for all the teams that don’t play for the title … like it is now.

Q: Is it just me or did College Football Gameday suck this year? I kind of chalked it up to my busiest semester ever and not having time to watch. Also, I think Desmond Howard sucks and he played a bigger role this year (plus I'm an Ohio State Fan). But I have always made time to watch 2 hours (or 1.5 a couple years ago) of Gameday in the morning and I really didn't care when I missed it this year. Also, Corso is starting to lose it. Would Desmond ever take over for him? Would that be a disaster? - JJ

A: I’m sort of a GameDay apologist because I’m such an unabashed fan of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, but I see what you’re getting at and you’re not alone. I’m hearing this more and more, but I also think it’s part of a growing weariness of all things ESPN more than a problem with GameDay.

I still like the show, but it has become overrated compared to the wrap-up show with Rece Davis, Lou Holtz, and Mark May. The night show is just as entertaining as GameDay, doesn’t have the profile and puff pieces, and it’s more informative. It’s goofy, but it still captures the excitement of the Saturday. But I digress.

Desmond Howard tries hard, but he doesn’t add enough to the mix and wouldn’t come within 100 miles of the set if he wasn’t Desmond Howard. The show would be far better and far tighter if May, one of the few ex-jocks on ESPN who has become a real, live, broadcasting talent and not just an empty talking cliché (cough … ALL THE NFL COUNTDOWN “ANALYSTS” … cough), was on the set adding his views and insights. Corso doesn’t really add much analysis-wise, but the head gear thing still works and he provides a nice ying to the rest of the show’s yang.

There are also problems when the star analyst, Herbstreit, has to temper his thoughts a bit on the biggest game of the day because he’s calling it and he wants to avoid a conflict of interests. It’s also an issue when the guys are doing promos with Urban Meyer, Pete Carroll, and Nick Saban, because then it invites the idea that they’re too buddy-buddy with people they should be using a critical eye to analyze.

Even with all the issues it’s still the best thing ESPN does, but you’re right in that the show has grown a tad stale and doesn’t quite have the must-watch relevance of past years.
I’m going to do a bigger opinion piece on this in a few days

Q: Considering that the ACC expansion hasn't exactly be a glaring success, do you foresee the ACC changing anything? The divisional format currently used is peculiar. Do you see the ACC ever going to a more traditional North/South format? - TH

A: I don’t know if I’d say the expansion didn’t work. I'd say the ACC didn’t get a whole bunch of luck.

Think about it. If Miami and Florida State had been close to the killers they were in their respective heydays, the ACC would be phenomenal. While the two won’t get back to the unattainable levels they were at roughly a decade ago (no, Nole and Cane fans, they won’t), if they get stronger, the league should be stronger with Virginia Tech always good, Georgia Tech and Clemson getting better, and as long as Butch Davis is around, North Carolina will keep growing. Of course, the ACC isn’t the SEC, but the conference has made gobs of money and has attained a higher national profile. Now, to make things better, here’s how I’d change the divisions. What it is now …

Atlantic: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, NC State, Wake Forest
Coastal: Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech

How I’d change it …

Atlantic: Boston College, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Coastal: Duke, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Wake Forest

I’d move Florida State and Miami to the same division. The original thought was that they’d have to be split up with the hope for two matchups per year with one in the regular season and one in the title game. That hasn’t exactly gone as planned, so now there’s no reason to not put them together in the same division. To balance things out, I’m moving Virginia Tech to the Atlantic to join former Big Easter Boston College, and I’m also moving Virginia to keep the rivalry with the Hokies. I’m also moving Georgia Tech to balance out the power a bit and to make the natural geographic rivalries even stronger, Wake Forest is going to the Coastal so it’ll be with neighbors North Carolina, Duke, and NC State. The moves wouldn’t make the ACC stronger overall, but they might make more sense and they might crank up the interest level a bit.


A: Not to go Donny Trump on you, but who’s your fired?

You’re not missing any, and you have to remember that being a “national champion” is somewhat subjective considering there have been several outlets giving the honor over the history of college football. I was sort of shocked that there weren't more.

Matt Leinart was close to pulling off the threezy when Arizona lost in the final seconds to Pittsburgh two years ago. Roger Staubach has a Heisman and a Super Bowl, but not a national title, and the same goes for Desmond Howard, Mike Garrett, Jim Plunkett, and Marcus Allen.

Q: If the Texas Longhorns are the crown jewel of the college football world with the money, the coaches and an unsurpassed recruiting base, why in the wide world of sports have they won just one national championship since 1970? Please explain it to me like I'm a six-year-old. - TL

A: Fine, you’ll have to wait for your Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! but I’ll get you some milk and a squishy pretzel first. I’ll try to explain Texas better than I explain things to my six-year-old daughter, who looks at me like I sound like an adult in a Peanuts cartoon.

My die-hard Texas fan friends would have several excuses for you from some bad years of coaching, some bad luck in the system, the problems with everyone raiding the state for talent, and the inability to come up with the big win at the right time. I’d start by challenging your notion that Texas is the crown jewel of college football since 1970 (it's probably low on the top ten list of crown jewel college football programs over the last four decades) which points to my No. 1 reason why it has only one national title in the last 40 years: Oklahoma.

Of course the Sooners went through some lean times, but they’ve been national title-level dominant far more than Texas. From 1971 to 1976 OU didn’t lose the Red River Rivalry, tying the Longhorns once, lost to the tremendous Earl Campbell-led team in 1977, and after a rough patch in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, went from 1984 to 1988 without a loss. And then when things got tough and Texas went on a run in the 1990s, those Longhorn teams simply weren’t national title good. Remember, Texas didn't return to the juggernaut status it's at now until Mack Brown took over.

Since 2000, OU has a 6-4 edge with the four Texas wins coming in 2009 (national title appearance), 2008 (would've played for the national title if it wasn't for a technicality), 2006 (was in the national title chase until Colt McCoy got hurt late in the loss to Kansas State and wasn't right in the following game against Texas A&M), and 2005 (national championship). The losses to OU cost Texas a national title appearance in 2004 (instead of Oklahoma, who played USC), almost certainly in 2003 (instead of Oklahoma, who played LSU), and possibly in 2001 (over Nebraska, who played Miami).

There has also been a shift in the balance of power in college football over the last few decades from Texas to Florida. While there’s still a ton of talent in Texas, Florida has become just as powerful, if not more so, when it comes to cranking out talent which meant Miami, Florida, and Florida State were able to rise up and own the world for a while. Of course, there’s also the problem of Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and everyone who recruits nationally, coming in and taking away several great prospects, but that’s changing a bit as Brown is getting just about everyone he wants.

And then there’s the basic problem of trying to win a national title; it’s just not that easy. Ohio State is a superpower of the highest order and it only has one national title since 1970. The same goes for Michigan. Of course, Texas should have had more considering what a monster it is, but there will be more to come. I sort of take the NCAA basketball tournament belief when it comes to football national titles. If you can keep cranking out great team after great team, eventually the breaks will go your way and it’ll be your year.