Fumble fiesta

1st and 10: Utah vs. BYU-for keeps

As much as I wanted to make this a money vs. God issue, and believe me, I really wanted to make this about money and God, it just isn’t fair to say that Kyle Whittingham’s decision to snub BYU for the U’s head coaching position was solely about either.

What it really boiled down to was BYU’s complete ineptitude at signing a head coach, as seen twice now over the past four years. The Cougars’ first epic failure was a blatant example of ignorance, betrayal and nepotism. They passed on Norm Chow, the coach they had been grooming under the legendary Lavell Edwards, and to whom they allegedly promised the job, for Gary Crowton, the childhood friend of then-Athletics Director Val Hale.

An episode of “Where Are They Now?” would reveal Norm Chow leading USC’s offense to its second consecutive NCAA title chance, and Gary Crowton wearing a different blue vest, handing out smiley face stickers to the patrons of Wal-Mart (perhaps).

The Cougars’ most recent fumbling attempt at hiring a head coach is even more astounding. Their most coveted candidate is none other than Norm Chow, to whom they allegedly offered more than $1 million per year to lead the LDS Church’s team. When it became apparent that Chow wasn’t interested, they sought Kyle Whittingham, a Provo local, former player and former grad assistant, just itching to coach for his alma mater. All BYU had to do was not insult him. But instead they offered him less than half of what they offered Chow, then rushed him into a meeting of top LDS Church officials for immediate approval.

How about some contract negotiations before throwing the man’s faith back in his face? Much like this year’s Holy War, all the U had to do was outlast the bumbling Cougs and throw up some decent numbers, and Whittingham was sold.

Of course the fact that he’s going to make more money than Urban did in his tenure at the U probably helped.

2nd and 5: Cal vs. Texas-for justice

Seriously, who wouldn’t skip his or her own wedding to watch this game? Almost everyone who isn’t lying to himself or herself realizes that Cal is the better team, but got snubbed by a bias in the polls, specifically the coaches poll, which is kept secret.

Why not just let the teams play a game next weekend for the right to play in the Rose Bowl? It’s time for university presidents to stop pretending that NCAA athletics have academics as a top priority and make it an all-out financial extravaganza. Think about how much money could be made on this game. Sponsors would be leaping at it like it was the Super Bowl, and the television rights could be sold for an insane amount of cash.

Not to mention Cal boosters would probably drop a hefty sum to see their team play in this game.

On a side note, has any team been screwed worse than Cal in recent years? Going from facing Big Ten champ Michigan in the Rose Bowl to facing Big 12 loser Texas Tech in the not-even-close-to-consolation bowl. Ridiculous. “Sorry sir, we ran out of the filet mignon, so we made you a grilled cheese instead.” Utah vs. Pitt looks like the National Title Game in comparison, even though Pitt is your average cheeseburger.

3rd and 1: Division I vs. Division I-AA

How is it possible that the NCAAs second-string football league has an infinitely better system to decide its champion than the NCAAs first-string league? DI-AA actually has a playoff system that pits the top 16 teams against each other to crown an outright champion every year.

Meanwhile, Division I-A bumbles with the BCS like the Cougar front office trying to hire a head coach. It makes no sense. All it would take to repair the system is a uniform 10-game schedule for all teams, an eight-game playoff pitting the eight best teams regardless of conference affiliations, decided by an open polling of a press senate, and then a series of consolation bowl games for the deserving teams that miss the playoff.

Sure there would still be controversy over who should make the playoffs, but that sort of controversy is unavoidable in NCAA football. At least eight teams would have a chance to win the title, instead of just two, opening the ever-popular Cinderella element. Not only would this system legitimize the champion, but it would allow teams like the Utes to legitimize their efforts, and that would shut the mouths of Trev Alberts, Chris James, John Saunders and a million other college football snobs once and for all.

That might be exactly what they’re afraid of.

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