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The Greatness Of Saban, Deshaun, Harbaugh & The Process: Cavalcade Of Whimsy


From the expected greatness of Week 1, Nick Saban, Deshaun Watson and Jim Harbaugh, to the big issue about the process, it’s the 2016 opening week Cavalcade of Whimsy


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2016 Cavalcade of Whimsy College Football Party Platform

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

I didn’t make the trip to Sydney, so I wrote this from the Bristol offices and passed on the savings to you.

I could be wrong about this, but according to the good people at ESPN during that Hawaii-Cal game, this might just be the greatest weekend of sports and entertainment in the history of your life and any lives that might come after.

This epic Week One of games had better be awesome, because it might just suck the soul out of the rest of the season.

Yeah, of course it’s fun to have Alabama vs. USC, LSU vs. Wisconsin, North Carolina vs. Georgia, Clemson vs. Auburn, Notre Dame vs. Texas, Ole Miss vs. Florida State, UCLA vs. Texas A&M, Kansas State vs. Stanford, and Oklahoma vs. Houston to kick things off, but for the losers of those nine games, that’s sort of it. None of those teams can realistically lose another game the rest of the way if they want a shot at the College Football Playoff.

However, it’s going to be up to the College Football Playoff committee to take a stand and not let a loss against a non-conference powerhouse be a deathblow come early November. It can’t and shouldn’t penalize the teams that didn’t schedule some dopey FCS school.

Because of these games – and Ohio State vs. Oklahoma in Week Three, and the several showdowns against Notre Dame, and the late-season SEC vs. ACC rivalry dates – and considering we’re WAY overdue for a conference championship upset – there will almost certainly be at least two multi-loss Power 5 conference champions.

And as last year showed, that one extra loss can be an absolute killer.

Michigan State started out last year against Western Michigan. Oklahoma started out against Akron, and Clemson against Wofford. All three had good non-conference games later – and Alabama started out against Wisconsin – but so did Stanford, scheduling Notre Dame at the end of the regular season.

Had the Cardinal scheduled Northwestern State to open the season instead of Northwestern, they would’ve been in the CFP. They didn’t, and they got punished for it.

It all has to be kept in mind …

Because we want our children – and all college football teams in this nation – to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.

I spent a good part of my offseason locked into the non-stop coverage, the press conferences and the media events across the country.

Now that the dust has settled and what’s done is done, and with the inevitably historic outcome playing a huge role in our daily media cycle that’s steamrolling into November, it’s sort of hard to argue the key points after the fact.

Along the way, there was enough controversy to forever change the voting process. There was a committee chair resignation, plenty of arguing, and even though they were being ridiculous, there were the vocal few that wouldn’t stop their desperate pleas for change.

Oh sure, looking back on it now, it was totally delusional to think that a win in California by a true independent was going to change the final outcome – especially for an independent that has ties to the establishment in order to dip a toe in the waters of mainstream acceptance – because, as expected, all that matters is who’s going to win in Florida.

It’s still important to keep in mind the strides made and the way a movement could influence how things are done from here on. Yeah, the status quo system has worked well so far, but this year it’s being put to the test. And now, because of the current circumstances, I’ve come around.

Even though it’s way too late, I’m feeling it …

Notre Dame probably should’ve been in the 2016 College Football Playoff.

The CFP committee isn’t bound by anything, being able take any four teams it feels are the best in college football, but as soon as the Irish lost to Stanford for their second defeat of the season, it was effectively over.

There should’ve been more of a debate.

Clemson, Michigan State and Alabama were no-question locks, but Oklahoma lost to the same Texas team that got lit up by the Irish 38-3 in the season opener. The Sooners lost to a team that finished with a losing record, while Notre Dame lost 24-22 on the road to a Clemson team that was the unquestioned No. 1 in the CFP rankings as the only unbeaten Power 5 team, and lost in miraculous fashion to the eventual Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champion on the road at Stanford.

Weren’t those two, two-point road losses to Power 5 champions more impressive than winning the Big 12 and losing to Texas?

Yup. And a Clemson vs. Notre Dame rematch in the Orange Bowl might have been more entertaining than what we got.

”All I know is, I finally got enough money that I can buy my way out of anything. I can do anything I want when I get my money later.”

Ooooooh, the NCAA is going to expand its investigation of Ole Miss … OOOOOOH.

Big Ern

Look, NCAA. It’s over. It was a nice run, but ever since Penn State showed the world how to really do up a scandal – and with the gutless way the NCAA allowed the Nittany Lion program to watch TV and get its phone back after being put in time out – players getting a few extra perks they should probably be receiving anyway just doesn’t matter.

Nobody cares.

If players get cash, cars, gifts, perks, or any other benefits the NCAA deems as “improper” – whatever.

Academic issues? Yeah, absolutely. That goes right to the heart and integrity of a university – there can’t be any improprieties in the classroom. But everything else that doesn’t involve breaking an actual law – go for it.

So, NCAA, you go on and stamp your form, sonny, and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth, I don’t give a (bleep).

And neither does anyone else.

It’s all cute and fun – until you lose to Michigan State and Ohio State

Shhhhhh. If you listen quietly, you can probably hear someone is pretending to be mad that Jim Harbaugh is doing something creative.

Every coach I talked to this offseason about Harbaugh had the same reaction. There was always a smile, a chuckle, and a look as if to say, “I’ve got my own issues to deal with.”

It’s okay to enjoy this whole Harbaugh thing. And yes, it’s okay to have fun doing this whole college football coaching thing.

But if he was really on his mess-with-mind game, he’d do his press conferences wearing a Make America Great Again hat.

No matter what side of the Colin Kaepernick debate you fall on, and no matter how passionate you are about whatever position you might have, merely by the fact that everyone’s talking about it, he wins.

Changing the way we use the term offensive football …

I’d like to thank the college football world for the easiest handling of a horrific scandal ever. Baylor might have needed a kick in the khakis to finish it off, but unlike most controversies that revolve around firing a head coach, more people went to see Ben-Hur than complained about Art Briles getting canned. Consider this a step in the right direction.

Fortunately, nothing else has gone wrong with Fighting Irish football over the era, besides a death, an academic scandal, and a little scuffle on an August weekend.

In today’s far more aware and far smarter climate when it comes to sexual assault cases and sensitivity towards victims of violence, would Brian Kelly still be the head coach at Notre Dame if the 2010 Elizabeth Seeberg tragedy happened this offseason?

Frank Beamer didn’t hold any pizza parties, though

Virginia Tech entered the 2000 season as the cool team with the cool guy.

The Hokies were coming off a national championship loss to Florida State, and while they might have lost the battle, and Seminole receiver Peter Warrick was the star, everyone came away talking about the electrifying performance from Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick.

While his team started the season only ranked 11th, Vick was on every preseason magazine cover and was everyone’s big interview as the next-big-thing sports superstar. Slowly, he got the Hokies back into the national title discussion with a hot 8-0 start before getting hurt just before the showdown – and loss – to Miami that killed his Heisman hopes.

Tech would go on to a terrific 11-1 season, and Vick went on to become the No. 1 pick in the 2001 NFL Draft with an unconventional skill set of speed and arm the pro ranks had never seen. Who’d they close out season beating in the Orange Bowl?

Clemson.

Who ended up playing for the national title that year? Oklahoma vs. Florida State.

Fast-forward to the start of the 2016 college football season, and the similarities between Vick’s Hokies and Deshaun Watson’s Clemson Tigers are eerily similar.

Oklahoma and Florida State could absolutely end up playing for the national title, Watson could absolutely be the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft after everyone came away from a national title loss talking about the losing quarterback, and Clemson could be every bit as fantastic as it was the previous year – and still come up just short.

I’ll give it up to Clemson fans – usually I get ripped to shreds when I keep picking against a football powerhouse to do big things. Instead, Tiger lovers seem to take pity on me, just like I do while watching America’s Got Talent.

Yeah, I think Clemson’s going to lose to Georgia Tech and Florida State on the road. Yeah, I think Florida State, overall, is probably better, and yeah, I think Louisville’s going to shock the world and win the Atlantic. But I’m prepared to be very, very wrong, and I’m happy to be just that if the team turns out to be the fun juggernaut it has the potential to become.

I’ve been asked what I’m most looking forward to seeing this season, and it’s this Clemson Tiger offensive machine with the jaw-dropping skill players they’ve got in place.

Just stay healthy in time for the Florida State game, Deshaun.

Yes, 2013 Auburn, I’m aware of your work.

If Alabama wins the national championship again this season, college football should just stop playing until Nick Saban retires.

This Crimson Tide team is, as always, as talented as anyone, but at some point there will be that one extra loss on the wrong day. Going 10-2 in Tuscaloosa might as well be going 0-12, but that’s what life has been like for the really, really good other SEC teams since Saban has taken the program on this ride.

This is the year, and this is the time for not only someone else in the conference to win it, but for that team to really be better than Alabama.

It’s going to happen at some point, and if it doesn’t, then the debate really is over and Nick Saban really will be the greatest head coach of all-time.

Donate to the Louisiana disaster relief fund

I didn’t invent the it’s-not-you-it’s-me line, and I didn’t invent Post-It Notes. But I’ve been front and center for way too long on the You Shouldn’t Play College Football More Than You Have To line when it comes to top NFL prospects for almost two decades. I’ve more than earned my street cred to go here …

Leonard Fournette, you go for it this year for LSU.

It’s stupid that he has to play one more year in college rather than getting ready to be the new superstar for the Dallas Cowboy offense, but I do get the idea that that while money is everything, it isn’t worth it if a guy like Fournette will spend the rest of his life wondering if he could’ve been the one to lead his absolutely loaded home state school’s program to a national title, especially considering all the problems in the region over the last year.

So here’s my deal going into this year. I won’t rant anymore about how Fournette is taking an unnecessary multi-million dollar risk by continuing to play for a pittance, as long as we all can agree that he’s allowed to do what’s best for him and his financial future by quitting college football – Jaylon Smith on line 2 – if LSU loses two regular season games.

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

Unlike South Florida on its application and pitch to the Big 12, I know how to spell research. But maybe it’s reasearch in Tampa, sort of like it’s spelled centrefold in the UK.

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

1. Iowa -27.5 over Miami University
2. Georgia -3 over North Carolina
3. Missouri +10 over West Virginia (but WVU straight up)

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item …

The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world

1) Overrated: Usain Bolt … Underrated: Ashton Eaton

2) Overrated: Josh Rosen, the player
Underrated: Josh Rosen, the interview

3) Overrated: first amendment (as written over the last few days by too many puffy-chested click-bait writers)
Underrated: First Amendment

4) Overrated: Whining about the announcers not actually being at the game
Underrated: Watching live sporting events from couch in between naps

5) Overrated: Willy Wonka
Underrated: The Waco Kid

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

The SEC Network thing isn’t enough for me, and now I’m busy working on my baseball career. I’m off to my Venezuelan winter ball club.