Cavalcade: More Big Ten Issues, Jerry & More

More Big Ten issues, Jerry Neuheisel, Jim Harbaugh, in the latest Cavalcade

Cavalcade of Whimsy

September 16

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- 2013 Cavalcades 
- Aug 26 Josh Shaw, playoff talk, and there's a new network?  
- Sept 2 - College Football's big new problem  
- Sept 9 - The impossible: defending the Big Ten 

Cavalcade of Whimsy
- Part 2 - The new star players you need to know now  

Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault … I deferred to the second half, but also decided to give the ball away to start the column, too. UCLA scored on me, and I lost.

But keep the hair … Jerry Neuheisel, if you ever have a chance to get a big, carry-off-the-field moment like that again, take the mouthpiece out. On second thought, complete 23-of-30 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns again, and lead UCLA to another brand-name win, and you do whatever you want.

”Remember, it's just a bad dream, fatboy.” … The Big has dishonored itself and dishonored the Power 5. I have tried to help it, but I have failed. I have failed because you have not helped me. You people have not given the Big Ten the proper motivation. So, from now on, whenever the Big Ten (bleeps) up, I will not punish it, I will punish all of you. And the way I see it, ladies, you owe me for one jelly doughnut of a college football weekend! Now, get on your faces!

The Big Ten was a way-too-easy punching bag all of last week after failing miserably on the big stages, and embarrassing itself on the smaller ones, but in a way, this last Saturday was even worse.

There was no shame in Michigan State losing at Oregon – about 126 other teams probably lose that game. Michigan’s loss to Notre Dame was a stunner in its ugliness, and Ohio State’s loss to Virginia Tech stunk, but it went so much further than that, so much deeper in terms of national perception. And then came this weekend.

It’s easy to claim a conference is good or bad depending on what happens at the top, but the real measure is at the midsection. Wisconsin hung around with LSU, and Michigan State can play with anyone, but the Big Ten’s problem is Iowa losing to Iowa State. It’s Minnesota not even looking like it belonged on the same field as TCU. It’s Illinois proving that there’s almost no improvement whatsoever in the Tim Beckman era in a blowout loss to a Washington team that got shoved around by Hawaii and Eastern Washington. It’s losing AGAIN to the MAC, this time Indiana getting tagged by a Bowling Green team that got its doors blown off by WKU. It’s the mid-level Big Ten team (Maryland) losing at home to the mid-level Big 12 team (West Virginia), and giving up a 694 yards in doing so.

It’s Virginia Tech faceplanting against East Carolina one week after looking like the Week 1 Seattle Seahawks in Columbus. It’s the Northern Illinois team that stuffed Northwestern cold having problems stopping a normally-punchless UNLV offense the next game. It’s Central Michigan getting absolutely destroyed by Syracuse a week after beating Purdue by 21.

You get one more shot at this, Big Ten. Iowa at PItt, Bowling Green at Wisconsin (seriously, Big Ten, this MAC problem has to stop), Maryland at Syracuse, Rutgers at Navy, Utah at Michigan, Indiana at Missouri, Miami at Nebraska. Running the table would save face - really - especially if IU can shock Mizzou and if Nebraska looks fantastic against the Canes.

Big Ten, this is your season. There are many like it but this one is yours ...

Harbaugh vs. Urban? Oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please oh please …
Michigan fans, here’s the big question. Are you willing to sacrifice this season for a shot at Jim Harbaugh? With the San Francisco coaching/front office situation growing more and more dysfunctional by the minute, 1) would you be happy for the 7-5 step back if it means getting one of the elite coaches in all of football, bluster and all, and 2) if your Wolverines go 10-2, or have a great rest of the year, do you still want Harbaugh over Hoke? Could you possibly be that program that wins big, but still goes for the upgrade? If there continues to be issues with the Niners, and if Michigan is anything less than stellar, this could turn out to be one of the most interesting coaching situations in a long, long time.

There’s no truth to the rumor that Pat Haden ran onto the field with the student body … I only half joked that the biggest loser in the USC-Stanford game was reality, considering the Pat Haden jog took away all of the focus from what happened on the field. Stanford totally dominated the game, doing a great job of getting the ball on the green, and then four-putting. The Boston College loss wasn’t an all-timer of a shocker like it's been played up as, but it has to be a bit of a concern for USC fans not quite sure about the start of the Seven Win Sark era – Chris Petersen is 3-0, and Steve Sarkisian isn’t. Giving up 452 yards on the ground and getting whipped by a mobile quarterback looks and sounds very 2013 Texas. Boston College isn’t Auburn, and Arizona is coming up soon after Oregon State and Arizona State.

Or just be Notre Dame, go 12-0, and keep all of the money for yourself … Sorry for repeating myself - be in a Power 5 conference, win it, go undefeated or have one loss, and you’re going to be in the inaugural 2014 College Football Playoff. I keep saying that, but several readers are challenging the notion. Looking historically and projecting forward, if you’re in one of the now-Power 5 conferences and you’re the unbeaten champ, you’re in no matter what. If you have one loss and you win the title, you’re almost certainly in unless that one loss sucks. So, how many Power 5-like conference champions finished with one loss or fewer in the BCS era, and which ones wouldn't have gotten in?

- Baylor last year – the 49-17 Oklahoma State debacle took care of that – with Florida State, Auburn, Michigan State and Alabama almost certainly in had there been a playoff.

- In 2008, Penn State and USC each won their respective conference championships and finished with one loss. USC likely would’ve been in, Penn State out, with Big 12 champ Oklahoma and SEC champ Florida along with a Colt McCoy Texas team that sufered on miraculous Michael Crabtree loss.

- Before there was a Big Ten championship game in 1998, 10-1 Wisconsin probably would’ve been left out despite tying Ohio State for the conference title – the two didn’t play. SEC champ Tennessee, ACC champ Florida State, and loaded Ohio State and UCLA teams would've gotten the call.

There might have been something quirky in 2012 with a one-loss Kansas State getting passed over for a two-loss Stanford, but for the most part, a one-loss Power 5 champ likely would’ve missed out just three times in the BCS era. So as long as your one loss isn’t miserable, and as long as a second SEC team doesn’t lose on a miraculous late missed field goal return for a score, you’re probably okay. But again, just win the conference title and have one loss.

Being an unbeaten Big Ten team is a miracle enough … Either James Franklin is the greatest head football coach in the history of mankind, or he left a burning building at Vanderbilt. The best way I’ve heard Franklin described is as a used car salesman who’s selling Ferraris - the act might be a little over-the-top, but it really, really works. It hasn’t been beautiful so far, but his Nittany Lions are 3-0, and Vanderbilt is a horrendous 1-2 needing everything in the bag to get by UMass. The Commodores are looking around the SEC table and looking at who the sucker is, and looking around the roster trying to figure out who the quarterback should be. Meanwhile, Penn State is being talked about as a possible player in the East now with an NFL quarterback in Christian Hackenberg and a run defense that's stuffing everyone cold. However ...

Yup. You are, and you continue to be, Penn State … I don’t care what your argument is, and I don’t care which lazy-ass national figures, obviously sick of dealing with the Joebot truthers, have shut down the critical thinking portions of their brains to go with the far easier "yay, football!" aspect. The student rally and celebration after the NCAA lifited the postseason ban on Penn State – lowlighted by the chants to get the JoePa statue back – was just plain sad. NCAA, it’s okay to change your mind on this and reverse it right back until 5,000 Penn State students gather to protest against the other students.

Women who wear Rice jerseys to Baltimore Ravens games vs. Penn State student statue protesters. Discuss. … Okay, so let’s see if I’ve got this straight. Running back punches fiancée and knocks her out cold – motivated and coordinated anti-violence movement, running back booted off team, suspended from league. Great.

Quarterback involved in controversy surrounding dogs and sport-fighting in a cruel and unusual manner – massive public outcry and eventual incarceration. Sure.

Running back beats the living crap out of his child with a stick, bruising his genitals, torso and head, doesn't deny it, defends it as a form of discipline – tradition! Get back out there you fantasy football superstar, you.

Seriously, NFL? If pictures surfaced of Ray Rice’s wife that looked anything like the ones released of Adrian Peterson’s four-year-old child, and it came out that Rice reportedly had a “whooping room” and “likes belts and switches,” at this point, Roger Goodell would be packing up his office in ten minutes if he failed to do anything with any teeth. The same would've gone for Michael Vick if there were pictures of whipped and beaten dogs published back in 2007. It’s so sad and depressing that it has to be said, but after all the responses and comments over the last several days, yes, the world should be just as outraged about a defenseless four-year-old child being beaten - no matter what part of the country you're from - as it would be if he was a dog.

“Mister Trouble never hangs around/When he hears this mighty sound/’Here I come to save the day!’/That means that Mighty Roger is on his way” … Here’s how this plays out. Rick Spielman and the Viking brass look like a slew of bumbling idiots, falling back on the “legal process” excuse - even though Peterson has already been charged – so they can keep their Hall of Fame running back rolling, and then, in a big chance to salvage his reputation, in swoops The Commish to make a big, bold statement that the NFL has a zero tolerance policy against child abuse. It’s a layup, no one will argue against him, and the Ray Rice issue subsides.

One more, and then I’m done. Promise. … Really, America, you needed the video of Rice punching his then-fiancée to go into an anti-Goodell lather? How do you think she got that way when Rice was shown dragging her out of the elevator? I'm not defending Goodell, and I'm aware that there's a lot more to it than this, but he admitted he screwed up, he changed the NFL's policy and set the tone in writing, and Rice is gone.

Speaking of picking on the weak and defenseless … Wait for it – I’m going a long way for a payoff.

I’m sorry, Sun Belt Conference. I like you. I enjoy your work. I love doing the research on each of your schools and writing up the previews in the offseason, and I geek out way too much watching your teams play. But you have to be better so I can look more pretentious at parties by putting on my “Did you see the Sun Belt?” hat and start bragging you up.

Granted, the league has been an easy farm system for Conference USA lately and lost a slew of key programs, but Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State are still the stars, ULM isn't bad, and Georgia Southern can ball. Troy used to make a lot of noise, and ULM was a big national story a few years ago for a little while, but now the league is trying to build itself up with Idaho, New Mexico State, Georgia State, Appalachian State, and some others who are just trying to navigate the waters of life as an FCS program.

There was hope. ULM came up with a 17-10 shocker over Wake Forest on the opening Thursday night of the season to help the league on the way to a 3-0 start before the first Saturday hit. Georgia Southern pushed NC State in a 24-23 loss, and there were some big blowouts over some sad FCSers for six non-conference wins after the first weekend. Going into Week 4, the Sun Belt is only up to nine following an 0-9 lost weekend. It’s one thing to be a paycheck date for LSU, like ULM was, and it’s another for Troy to lose to Abilene Christian and for Idaho to lose at home to Western Michigan. Meanwhile, the two stars that were supposed to be a bit more dangerous, ULL and ASU, lost to Ole Miss and Miami, respectively, by a combined score of 97-35.

So that means the Sun Belt has exactly two wins this season over FCS teams.

And that one ULM win over Wake Forest? That equals the Big Ten’s number of wins over teams from the Power 5 conferences.

Week One of my never-ending quest to … uh, wait a minute ... thanks! … I’ll always come running if Steve Sarkisian texts me, but unlike the members of the real committee, I have no integrity, I can be swayed by pie, and I might have to recuse myself at times just because I want to say the word recuse. However, I’m beyond honored to have been delivered the envelope from the man in the white gloves to be a part of the College Football Playoff media mock session in October down in Dallas. I’ll wear pants.

By the way ... Check me out Ray Crawford and Doug Chapman on the call of Florida Atlantic at Wyoming on, 4:00 ET.

Part One would’ve been better … the clock hit zero before I got the snap off, but the officials didn’t catch it, I got the touchdown pass, and I beat Kentucky in three overtimes.

- Part 2 - The new star players you need to know now  

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