Former Boston College and NFL great Doug Flutie won the 1984 Heisman Trophy (edging out former Ohio State running back Keith Byars), played 12 years in the NFL and has worked as a football analyst for ABC, ESPN and currently NBC Sports. Flutie is currently touring on behalf of the Capitol One Cup, an award given to the best men’s and women’s NCAA Division I college athletics programs in the country.
Flutie spoke with The Lantern on the phone Tuesday about the Capitol One Cup, the Heisman Trophy and the BCS matchups.
The Lantern: How do you think things are going to end up in the Capitol One Cup this year?
Doug Flutie: “There’s some perennial programs … Right now Colorado is leading on the men’s side and what Providence and Connecticut on the women’s side. It’s early and the national championship picture in football pulls a lot of weight, 60 points. Whoever gets that head start in football, like Alabama a year ago, gets the big start. Stanford and Florida are perennial powerhouses throughout. North Carolina and I think UCLA won it last year so there’s certain programs who are always very consistent throughout and that’s what it’s all about.”
TL: You mentioned the national championship in football. What are you thoughts on the BCS title matchup between No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Auburn?
DF: “I think Florida State has as good an opportunity as anyone to knock off an SEC team. Auburn has almost been a team of destiny this year. It’s been amazing the way they’ve won football games. Bottom line is they can run the football on anyone the way they do it. It’s basically your triple option with phenomenal athletes and the ability to throw the ball as well. So that’s dangerous. I think their defense is a little suspect, I think you can move the football and score points on them and I think this is the year the SEC goes down.”
TL: Do you have an idea who you are going to vote for to win the Heisman Trophy this year?
DF: “I’ve already voted, we’re not supposed to disclose who we voted for but I will say this. (Florida State redshirt-freshman quarterback) Jameis Winston is the frontrunner. It’s pretty unanimous across the country that he’s the frontrunner. Everyone else, and I said this a little while ago, everyone else that’s been in the conversation is a legitimate contender for that No. 2 spot. They’re all interchangeable. And because of the off the field issues with Jameis Winston, there’s a percentage of voters that I’m sure will not vote for him. That would be the biggest variable in the equation and if that were to happen in large numbers, any one of the guys could win. That No. 2 spot. It would take a real high percentage of the voters not voting for Winston for that to happen, but if it were to happen, it’s just crazy to think that everyone else is going to be all bunched together.
TL: How do you think voters are going to react to the off-field issues regarding Jameis Winston?
DF: “The other aspect of that is that I was very thankful it all got cleared up beforehand, before the voting and had that hovering over his head. Very similar to what Cam Newton had going through during his Heisman run. It’s amazing how these young men can deal with all these off-field issues and continue to play and perform.”
TL: What are your thoughts on the rest of the BCS matchups? Starting first with the Rose Bowl Game between No. 4 Michigan State and No.5 Stanford.
DF: “Michigan State-Stanford. There will be more hitting in that game than any other game I’ve ever seen. How physical Michigan State can be. Stanford is what I consider the most physical team in the country when I talk about BC lining up in three tight ends and hammering the football, Stanford kind of invented that. I would favor Stanford, although Cook has gotten better as the year’s gone on. I saw him against Notre Dame first hand and Michigan State’s offense really struggled that day. They couldn’t do anything.”
TL: What about the Sugar Bowl between No. 3 Alabama and No. 11 Oklahoma?
DF: “I think ‘Bama dominates that game. I just think Auburn and the way they run the football and the way they do it, gave them an opportunity against ‘Bama. ‘Course they got a little fortunate to win the game. Oklahoma is not a powerhouse this year. They’re a good football team but I think they’ll have trouble matching up with ‘Bama.”
TL: What about the Fiesta Bowl between No. 6 Baylor and No. 15 Central Florida?
DF: “Baylor can light up the scoreboard. Baylor’s just…they’re impressive offensively. They’ve had three different quarterbacks starting with RGIII, Florence and now Bryce Petty that it doesn’t matter who they plug into their system. Art Briles is an exceptional offensive football coach. Baylor’s proven at different times this year they could play defense when they had to. I’m going Baylor, I would say Baylor.”
TL: And last but not least, how about the Orange Bowl between No. 7 Ohio State and No. 12 Clemson?
DF: “I think Ohio State has something to prove now. They’re a little ticked off about not playing for a national championship. I think they control Clemson. Now Clemson’s fast, they are fast. They can throw the deep ball, everything else. I think Ohio State gets them.”
TL: Next year college football is headed to a playoff system. Do you feel like the timing is right? Is it good for the game?
DF: “Oh absolutely. Every year, every year for the last few years we’ve always seen the top four or five teams that everyone would say, ‘Oh they should be in the national…if Oregon would have played instead of Notre Dame they could have knocked off ‘Bama.’ There’s always four to six teams that we all feel would have a chance of winning a national championship. At least four are going to be in it, I think eventually that might end up going to eight some day. I love the form of a playoff and going after it that way.”
TL: Nov. 30 was a particularly exciting day for college football, especially down south when Auburn won in thrilling fashion against Alabama on a more than 100-yard missed field goal return for a touchdown as time expired. Does an exciting finish as that speak to the greatness that is college football?
DF: “No doubt about it. I mean that, and the play at the end of the Georgia game. The amazing and you think back to the Texas A&M–Alabama game of a year ago. All the different games coming down to the wire and different ways games are won, No. 1 the athleticism is just amazing. The kid taking 108 yards, 9 yards, whatever. Long passes that are caught off deflection and running with the football. I love college football, it’s why all of us love it. Last weekend, so much was on the line for everyone playing in the conference championship games and it just comes to a head the last couple of week of the season. Everything becomes clear what is at stake and that’s what made the Alabama–Auburn game so great. What was as stake as well as it being a great football game.”
TL: Just to wrap things up, you’ve been successful in football all your life — as a college player, an NFL player and finally now as a broadcaster. What would you say would be the most rewarding part of your career?
DF: “I think relationships that you make throughout the years and the lasting…being able to be a part of, with a group of guys, especially your college buddies were the one you were closest to, that you were a part of history. You look back and say, you had these relationships with these guys for 20, 30 years whatever, and you’re a part of a landscape of what’s going on now. Of building for us, building a Boston College program. We had that one moment that a lot of people will remember, it was a great play. And we’re always going to be attached to it in one way shape or form. And that’s why I’m in the broadcasting now is that you’re still around something that’s bigger than yourself. Something that’s going to go on forever that everyone loves. You’ve got a small piece to that history.”