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Cavalcade Of Whimsy: Targeting, Charlie Strong & What College Football Needs


The fun of getting targeted, more cameras and angles, and analyzing Charlie Strong, in this week’s Cavalcade of Whimsy.


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Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

I threw 88 times for 734 yards and five touchdowns against Oklahoma and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.

Yeah, fine, so the result of not being able to tackle might be Oklahoma-Texas Tech, but it’s worth it

Please, SEC offices in Birmingham, explain how Speedy Noil wasn’t “defenseless” with a guided-missile special teams blaster bearing down on him at 437 mph with a hit that knocked his brain back to College Station?

There are enough examples now of defenders really and truly going out of their way to not blow up the other guy by hitting him and the head. It’s this simple – you can’t avoid helmet-to-helmet collisions on running backs and when it comes to interior blocking, but other than that, don’t hit the other guy in the head. It’s just not that hard.

However …

This also applies to Michigan State if it needs a big play in the final moments again this week

If you want to propose an exemption on the targeting rule when it comes to rugby-style punters, please.

You can’t have it both ways, punters. We’re all for the roughing-the-kicker rules to protect you, but as soon as you start to run and give the impression that you might take off, you’re fair game. It’s not fair to ask a defender to try figuring out if you’re running or not, and they should be allowed to blast the David Pocock out of you if it’s not 1-2-kick.

”Maybe it’s something really cool that I don’t even know about. You know, and uh, and I started feeling … what? What, I thought we were in the trust tree in the nest, were we not?”

As soon as you hear any football-type say, “I’m old school,” whatever comes next out of his mouth is going to be moronic roughly 96% of the time.

Let me help with this whole targeting thing that some just can’t seem to grasp. You’re cool with the chop block rule, right? Of course it’s not okay to hit a guy’s leg when he’s unable to protect himself or do anything about it. The targeting rule is the same thing, only with the brain.

A guy can’t do anything about his brain sloshing around in his head and smashing up against the inside of his skull, except for not playing football, of course.

Two words: Les Miles. Two more: Just sayin’.

“I don’t have any doubt that Charlie is a fine coach. I think he would make a great position coach, maybe a coordinator …. I think it is a kick in the face.” – Texas booster Red McCombs in 2014 after the hiring of Charlie Strong.

Strong came to Texas after taking Louisville to a 12-1 2013, and with a 23-3 record and a Sugar Bowl win over his last two seasons with the program.

But now, the guy you really want just got pantsed by a miserable SMU team, should’ve lost to Tulsa, and couldn’t handle the Navy option attack. And with the world on the line last year, lost to UConn.

At the end of the day, no matter how you arrived at your conclusion, yeah, Strong isn’t getting the job done. But if hiring him was a “kick in the face,” at the immediate moment, bringing in Tom Herman has to be considered a swift boot to the cash and prizes.

In honor of the Miami-Notre Dame week and the phantom 1988 Cleveland Gary fumble, which, if called correctly, would’ve ended up giving the Hurricanes the national title.

For years I’ve ranted and raved about how ridiculous it is that there aren’t cameras on the goal line to come up with a definitive shot of some of the game’s most important plays. Now I want to expand that.

It didn’t turn out to matter, but Texas A&M’s Ricky Seals-Jones made a brilliant sideline catch against Alabama, and the officials blew the call and the replay because they didn’t have the right shot and angle.

al-franken-2It’s 2016. I want a camera on the sideline. No, three cameras on the sideline. I want cameras on the goal lines from several different spots. I want cameras on every hashmark and every first down marker. I want every official to be wearing a camera on top of his head, on his belt-buckle and on his shoes, all while holding an extended selfie-stick with a camera at the end. I want cheerleaders and dance teamy type girls, along with the horny creepy old guys who watch them, all with cameras. I want the band to finally earn its keep by holding cameras. I want cameras in the mascot heads. I want the vendors to serve up mealy hot dogs, flat soda, and melt-the-sun temperature hot chocolate all equipped with cameras. I want every single fan to stop texting smiley-face winking emojis and use their phones as cameras. What I want out of each and every one of you is a hard-wired camera on every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area. I want the TV cameras covering the game to be equipped with an extra camera, like an Alex Lifeson double neck guitar, and with a GoPro attached on top of that, just in case. I want helmet cams, shoe cams, towel cams, taped-finger cams, Gatorade bucket cams, hand-warmer cams and jock cams – actually, that we can skip.

I want the football itself to be a prolate spheroid-shaped camera.

And I want every shot, every angle, every look, intravenously-beamed Matrix baby farm style into Mike Pereira, so that he and his absolutely gorgeous 66-year-old just-the-right-amount-Just-For-Men gray hair that I aspire to achieve one day, can properly analyze over 637,514 angles of the exact same 2nd-and-7 dropped pass, just so we can all go on about our lives certain, beyond every possible shadow of every possible doubt, that every call is correct.

”The system is rigged, folks, the system is rigged”

Look, sad emoji schools who are all ticked off that the Big 12 didn’t take you, don’t act like the jilted girlfriend trying to prove that the love used to be there by texting a photo of the cutesy stuffed cuddle bear you once got as a present during more happy and hopeful times.

Don’t send out your Big 12 Expansion Presentation to the media now that it’s over, and don’t lament about what just happened.

It’s business. It’s a stalled deal that could very quickly spark back up again on a whim. Houston, Cincinnati, USF, UCF, Memphis, BYU, UConn, and all the other schools that got the it’s-not-you-it’s-me press conference, don’t cut off the head of Mr. Snuggles and send it to the guy who’s staying in his current confining-but-comfortable relationship.

Thing I’m sort of grumpy about, but not really, especially considering who might get screwed because of it and also considering it’s almost certainly not going to happen.

Now Penn State is deep in the Big Ten title chase.

Without getting way too into the specifics, because the Nittany Lions beat the Buckeyes, if Penn State and Ohio State both win out, and if Michigan’s only loss is in Columbus, there will be a three-way tie for Big Ten East title.

If that happens, it’ll come down to the fifth tie-breaker – overall winning percentage.

The tie-breaker used to be the College Football Playoff rankings and which team is higher, which makes a whole lot of sense, except that the CFP doesn’t release its rankings until Tuesday, and obviously, the East team playing in the Big Ten title game needs to know the results immediately so it can prepare.

This year, the No. 5 tie-breaker would knock out Penn State because of its loss to Pitt earlier in the year, meaning Ohio State would go to the B1G title game thanks to the win over the Wolverines – as long as that’s Michigan’s only loss.

Here’s the only reason why this matters. This is just further evidence that there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever for a Power 5 team to ever, ever, ever, ever play a decent non-conference game.

Michigan beat Colorado and Ohio State beat Oklahoma, so there’s no real beef, but what if – for example, and pretending the teams involved actually won their games – there was the same problem in the West, and Northwestern’s non-conference schedule was Western Michigan, Illinois State and Duke, while Wisconsin played LSU and Nebraska played Oregon? Or what if Purdue had a dream year with a non-conference slate of Eastern Kentucky, Cincinnati and Nevada?

Take this idea to other leagues, and Baylor, you go on being Baylor.

You know there’s a problem when Ohio State comes across as the good guy

Penn State, there’s no good way to really do this except to just keep on moving without saying anything.

It’s impossible to not like Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin. He’s a nice guy, he’s got the right personality, and considering everything the program is still trying to deal with, he’s the perfect face of the franchise. With all that said, he tried way too hard to attach some greater meaning on the giant upset on Saturday night.

No, beating Ohio State won’t do anything to heal anything.

As long as there are still ceremonies to honor Joe Paterno, and as long as there are still truthers who refuse to accept how the horror of all horrors actually happened, nah, beating the Buckeyes still doesn’t matter.

And if you’re watching at that hour, like I was, either 1) you’re in a bar, or 2) you’re not, and it’s time for a life reboot. I fall under the latter category.

Pac-12, you’ve got to figure this one out.

You’ve got a fantastic product. If you’re not the most entertaining conference in college football, you’re close to it.

You’ve got 12 teams ranging from not-totally-miserable to College Football Playoff-worthy, but 1) enough with the ridiculous late-night games and 2) you’ve GOT to figure out this Pac-12 Network thing with DirecTV.

Oregon vs. Cal was gripping theater throughout, and it turned out to be one of the best games of the weekend. And it ended at around 3:30 am EST.

For people like me, the timing of the Pac-12 games couldn’t be better, because they stand out on their own late into the night and early morning and I can focus on them more, but more people need to be exposed to the league. It’s just that fun.

Speaking of fun.

Blurb about team you haven’t watched and aren’t going to watch, even if I tell you to, until it plays in a really big bowl game, and then you’ll feel like there was a party going on and you skipped it to watch some show about zombies.

You want the textbook example of how to build up a program? Welcome to Western Michigan.

The football team wasn’t all that bad in 2011 with a 7-6 season and a fun Little Caesars Bowl loss to Purdue, but the offense sputtered in 2012 in the 4-8 campaign, and it was time for a change.

In came P.J. Fleck, who was way-too-31-year-old-young for the job with an old team that needed to be totally remade. 2013 was about as awful a season as WMU could’ve possibly have had, losing to Nicholls State and with the lone win coming against a miserable UMass team.

The Broncos went 1-11 with one of the nation’s worst offenses, worst defenses and worst special teams, as Fleck looked way out of his league as he threw freshmen like QB Zach Terrell and WR Corey Davis to the wolves.

Four years later, and now the Broncos are sixth in the nation in scoring, second in turnover margin, 12th in total offense, 29th in total defense, and with terrific special teams.

8-0, Western Michigan will beat Ball State, Kent State and Buffalo, all leading to a showdown against Toledo for the MAC West title and a real, live shot at a New Year’s Six bowl spot.

This week’s reason why the Big 12 should’ve considered me for expansion …

I, alone, am responsible for the spike in TV ratings in the greater Chicagoland area for the Big 12 and the Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech shootout on Fox. With my watching the Sooners & Red Raiders, while also watching Game 6 of Dodgers-Cubs, I singlehandedly moved the market rating from a 0.0 to a 0.0, with the .0 flickering like the clock at the end of LSU-Auburn.

The sure-thing, 100%, rock-solid lock, sell the house, sell the kids, no doubt about it picks of the century for this week

I had to get cocky. I had three sure-thing picks ATS – and went 3-0, you’re welcome – but I just HAD to go with Arkansas getting +9.5. No way, no how the Hogs were going to be blown out that badly by Auburn. It was a brilliant pick. The system was rigged. No way I got that pick wrong.

Straight Up: 17-10, Against the Spread: 17-9-1

1. Auburn (trying to buy the tech stock after the bubble burst) -3 over Ole Miss
2. Utah +11 over Washington (hellz yeah straight up)
3. Florida State +4.5 over Clemson

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item …

The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world

1) Overrated: The Heidi Game
Underrated: ABC and Fox Chicago stations turning away from Ohio State-Penn State and Oklahoma-Texas Tech, respectively, for Cubs postgame coverage in order to do lots and lots of interviews with stupid drunk people on the street.

2) Overrated: The setting for GameDay (but not the show itself)
Underrated: Verne Lundquist going out in style

3) Overrated: BYU going for a fake punt in a lost season with absolutely nothing to lose considering it’s already locked into the Poinsettia Bowl

Underrated: Boise State

4) Overrated: The stronger, tougher UCLA promised to us all this offseason
Underrated: Utah’s Joe Williams running 29 times for 332 yards and four scores

5) Overrated: Florida vs. Georgia
Underrated: Still calling it the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

Sorry if this column sucked, I wasn’t my fault …

I thought it was a good, but Arizona State head coach Todd Graham called it “chicken(bleep)” in the post-column handshake.