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College Football Mailbag (cont.)

Posted: Wednesday October 24, 2007 11:24AM; Updated: Wednesday October 24, 2007 4:56PM
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It's been hailed as "the definitive guide to the current state of college football." Order Stewart Mandel's Bowls, Polls and Tattered Souls: Tackling the Chaos and Controversy that Reign Over College Football.

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You may think that criticism of your grammar is needless nitpicking, but twice in the past few weeks, you've used the word "tenants" when you meant "tenets." Jordana would never approve.
--Michael Kalk, Austin, Texas

Jordana, if you haven't figured out by now, is about the most laid-back Crush a man could ever hope to imagine. If she was cool with that whole "call-or-else thing," I'm guessing she'd let a couple grammatical flaws slide. But to you, sir, I do apologize, seeing as I am (allegedly) a professional writer who should know better.

Minnesota (1-7) is considerably worse than recent previous seasons. Now that they've lost to a I-AA team, do you think they're regretting firing Glenn Mason, who did not do all that bad considering what he had to work with and around?
--Frank, Columbus, Ohio

Ah, yes. It's appears "Ole Miss/Clemson Syndrome" has reared its ugly head once again.

For those unaware of this often debilitating condition (once known as "Auburn/Clemson Syndrome, but renamed once Auburn decided it liked Tommy Tuberville after all), it's described on page 105 of a recently released college football book as "the phenomenon by which fans of historically second-tier programs delude themselves into thinking that one isolated period of greatness -- Clemson's 1981 national title season -- is more representative of their team's rightful place in the sport's hierarchy than its other hundred or so years of football." Ole Miss took over Auburn's naming rights in 2004 when the Rebels ran off their most successful coach in 30 years, David Cutcliffe. His replacement, Ed Orgeron, is one heck of a recruiter, but he's also gone 8-22 in his three seasons to date. I'm guessing many of the same Rebels fans that got sick of attending the Independence Bowl would gladly take a trip to Shreveport next year.

With the Gophers, it's not that their era of greatness was isolated -- Minnesota has in fact won six national championships -- it's that it ended nearly 50 years ago. Watching how badly the Gophers are floundering now makes me appreciate even more just how remarkable it was that Mason took that program to seven bowl games in eight years. I don't blame Minnesota fans for tiring of him. He's a grating person to begin with, nevertheless one whose program was stuck in neutral those last few years and who never ceased to find ways to lose games in the most gut-wrenching fashion imaginable. But it's one of those "be careful what you wish for" situations. It's way too early to form any kind of opinion about Tim Brewster, but no matter the coach, the odds of the Gophers reassuming a regular spot at or near the Big Ten basement are far greater than those of reaching the Rose Bowl anytime soon.

How many losses would every BCS team have to have before you think an undefeated Hawaii would deserve to play for the championship? Two? Three? Four? Five? I know it won't happen, I'm just curious how the media perceives the WAC in comparison to the monopoly conferences. Thanks.
--Mike Nicholas, New Orleans

I'm going to go with four, seeing as Auburn already has three losses, and I'd put the Tigers in the title game before Hawaii. But I don't think it's the WAC that's most holding the Warriors back. The voters had enough respect for the league last year to vote undefeated Boise State as high as eighth in the final BCS standings and fifth after the bowls. The problem is Hawaii's atrocious non-conference schedule. Boise State helped itself tremendously by trouncing an Oregon State team that went on to win 10 games.

Hawaii, on the other hand, has managed to play a weaker non-conference schedule (Northern Colorado, UNLV and Charleston Southern) than conference schedule. Washington, which was supposed to be the big test at the end, is 2-5. I realize it's not entirely the Warriors' fault, that Michigan (among others) backed out, but they don't factor that in to the BCS standings.

Incidentally, between Boise State's success last season and the growing reality that there may not be any truly elite teams this season, this would have been the perfect year for a non-BCS team to take that previously unthinkable step. If, say, TCU had beaten Texas (presuming the 'Horns themselves finish with a good record) and finished undefeated, and by the end of the season every major-conference team had a loss or two, I think there would have been significant sentiment to include the Horned Frogs. Unfortunately this Hawaii team -- one that needed overtime just to survive 2-5 Louisiana Tech and 3-5 San Jose State -- does not fit that bill. The Sugar Bowl, on the other hand, is not out of the question.

USF No. 1 in your power rankings? You see how that turned out. I now know that you are an idiot.
--Forrest White, Lake Wales, Fla.

There's that word! Gosh, I missed you, buddy. We went too long without you.

Stewart, whatever you do, please don't make my team No. 1 in your power rankings. I don't want them to lose!
--Barry, Minneapolis

Good thing my "new" No. 1, LSU, has a bye this weekend.

And I take it your team is not the Gophers.

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