Tag Archives: Oregon Ducks

There’s no loyalty anywhere these days

Loyalty, shmoyalty …

I’m going to rant briefly about a college football coaching change that just chaps my hide.

It occurred out yonder in Eugene, in the state of my birth, Oregon. Willie Taggart signed on a year ago to coach the Oregon Ducks, which plunged from college football elite status to doormat in the span of one season.

The university fired head coach Mark Helfrich and brought in Taggart, who had coached at the University of South Florida. Coach Taggart didn’t exactly return the Ducks to elite status in his only season, but he did coach the team to a 7-5 record and an upcoming bowl game in Las Vegas against Boise State.

Then it happened. Jimbo Fisher was hired to coach Texas A&M, leaving an opening at Florida State, which in the state of Taggart’s birth. FSU called the first-year Oregon coach, offered him a lot of money … and then it happened.

Taggart took the FSU money and ran back to Florida.

One and out. Taggart moved his young family all the way from Florida to Oregon. Now he’s moving them all the way back.

I’m not angry that Taggart went for the bigger money; hey, he wasn’t getting paid chump change in Eugene. I’m angry — as a diehard Ducks fan — that he couldn’t commit to rebuilding a once-premier football program.

Coach Taggart broke a lot of Oregon Ducks fans’ hearts when he skedaddled back to Florida. Mine is one of them. I didn’t play ball at Oregon; I didn’t even attend college there. I am just a native Oregonian who had high hopes that this coach would lead this team back to the level of success it had enjoyed over the past decade.

It’s a sign of the times. Companies have no loyalty to employees who dedicate their careers to the folks who pay them. Neither do employees have loyalty to their employers. When the employee — in this case a top-dollar football coach — decides to bail, his departure affects young student-athletes who commit their own future to a man who’s no longer around.

Loyalty? Hah!

Hey, let’s settle down in Aggieland

One game does not a college football season make.

Listen up, Texas A&M University football fans — and at least one regent. The Aggies’ epic meltdown this past weekend in Los Angeles against UCLA shouldn’t by itself spell the end of head coach Kevin Sumlin’s tenure.

A&M System Regent Tony Buzbee, a Houston lawyer, has posted a demand on Facebook that Sumlin get the axe.

I don’t know all that much about football. I have no idea how much Buzbee knows. Maybe he’s a gridiron guru in disguise.

The Aggies were leading the Bruins by 34 points. Then the Bruins stormed back. UCLA won the game 45-44. The Aggies and their fans/boosters are understandably stunned and staggered.

Buzbee posted this on Facebook:

“But tonight I am very disappointed and I have to say this. Kevin Sumlin was out-coached tonight, which isn’t new. He recruits well, but can’t coach the big games, or the close games. Our players were better tonight. Our players were more talented tonight. But our coaches were dominated on national TV, yet again. I’m only one vote on the Board of Regents but when the time comes my vote will be that Kevin Sumlin needs to GO.

“In my view he should go now. We owe it to our school and our players. We can do better.”

I will stipulate that I am not an Aggie. I didn’t attend college in Texas. I have no dog in this fight. I don’t follow Texas college football all that closely. My own gridiron loyalty lies way up yonder, in Oregon, my home state and where I attended college. I’ve been cheering — and of late jeering — the Oregon Ducks for many years.

Buzbee, though, got his undergrad degree at Texas A&M. So he feels it, man.

I’ll conclude with this: If the Aggies choke again in their next game or in the game after that, then I’d be willing to listen to gripes about Coach Sumlin. Until then, let the man do his job and let the student-athletes play their hearts out for him.

U of O Ducks set a lasting fashion trend

oregon-duck-1024x986

Say whatever you want about how far the University of Oregon’s football fortunes fell during this past season.

I believe they’ll be back. They have a new coach, Willie Taggart, and some good young talent coming up.

But … today we’ll talk briefly about my beloved Ducks’ football fashion trend.

They have created something of a gridiron monster. Other college teams have been experimenting with uniform changes the way the Ducks began doing it a couple of seasons ago. Some of the outfits have been, well, embraced while others have been scorned.

Texas Tech trotted onto the field this year wearing black uniforms, rather than the traditional red jerseys and white pants. Ohio State has monkeyed around with different uniform combos. Baylor did as well. There have been others.

Now we’re seeing at least one pro team suiting up in colors that bear little resembles to tradition. Did you notice the Seattle Seahawks’ get-up the other night? It was kind of a lime green ensemble. Social media posts indicated fans were none too happy with that color scheme.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Ducks — with lots of money to spend on frills such as weekly uniform changes — need to get back to the basics of blocking and tackling. I am confident they’ll rediscover their winning ways.

It’s still fun to await their wardrobe when they take the field each week. I’m fascinated by the trend the Ducks have set.

I’m now waiting for the University of Texas Longhorns to take the field in something other than burnt orange and white. Go ahead. I dare you.

Ratings tank for Democratic debate … who knew?

debate stage

Why is anyone surprised that the TV ratings for the Democratic Party presidential debate headed for the tank?

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley duked it out in Des Moines, Iowa. CBS carried it and by many accounts, the big winner of the event was John Dickerson, host of “Face the Nation” and the moderator of the debate.

I’ll offer a couple of theories on the ratings tumble.

First, the identity of the eventual Democratic nominee is pretty well known. It’s likely to be Clinton, the former first lady/U.S. senator/secretary of state. She stumbled a couple of times in Des Moines, but she did very little to harm her status as the prohibitive favorite to face whomever the Republicans nominate next summer.

Second, and this is probably the more telling reason, the debate was up against some late-night college football games.

I hate to acknowledge this, but a football game between two competitive teams is far more exciting than watching three politicians try to out-insult each other.

(A point of personal privilege here: I was in and out of the debate, tuning in finally to the final quarter of the Oregon-Stanford game that Fox was broadcasting. Oh yeah: the Ducks won it with a last-second defensive play in their own end zone. Go Ducks!)

Sure, the debate shed some light on important policy positions.

But there were no surprises. There was even less drama.

Hey, if it had been Republicans debating opposite those football games — even with their carnival atmosphere — I’m pretty sure football would have won those ratings, too.

 

 

 

 

Pro football rookie is ‘too good to be true’?

There is a story making the rounds that suggests a “new normal” among prospective professional athletes.

It’s that some pro scouts, team executives and analysts just cannot believe that a possible star athlete doesn’t carry any baggage, that he’s got to have something wrong about him.

Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy this past season while playing quarterback for the University of Oregon.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/marcus-mariota%e2%80%99s-lack-of-red-flags-was-a-concern-for-nfl-teams/ar-AAdGE3A

He’s a fine young man. He’s devoted to his family. He finished his college education, earning his degree at Oregon. He’s the proverbial Boy Scout.

Then we hear that Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich reports that some National Football League analysts and scouts were spooked by the absolute absence of any skeletons in Mariota’s closet.

As Larry Brown writes in MSN.com: “The NFL is so used to finding at least something wrong with players that they balk when they can’t dig up any dirt.”

OK, Mariota isn’t perfect. He got a speeding ticket in Eugene, Ore., during his final year at Oregon.

But that’s it. Apparently.

Are we going to believe now that NFL general managers, scouts, coaches — maybe even the fans — demand that their star athletes punch out women, abuse drugs, steal things or launch into profanity-laced rants on national television?

The Tennessee Titans thought enough of Mariota to draft him No. 2 overall.

I’m going to go with the Titans’ judgment on a young man who certainly looks like the real thing.

Let humans play and officiate these games

An astonishing event occurred Sunday as I watched a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver get robbed of a near-touchdown after an “official review” of a play near the end zone.

My opposition to instant replay hardened.

How can that be? It’s because we’re surrendering to technology the ability to make split-second decisions in the heat of competition.

Dez Bryant caught a pass from Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and fell toward the end zone. He had possession of the ball. The Green Bay Packers saw it differently, which is understandable, given the intensity of the game at the moment. They called for a review. Then they got the play overturned. Bryant’s catch was ruled an incompletion.

I am not going to argue here whether the Cowboys were robbed.

It’s just that because I remain a bit of a stodgy, old-fashioned kind of guy on some things, I hate that officials who call these games are being second-guessed by technology.

Hey, the game is played by human beings. Last time I looked, we humans can and do make mistakes. Do officials who run football, baseball, basketball and hockey games make mistakes? Sure. What percentage of all the thousands of calls they make during a season are wrong? Oh, maybe a fraction of a fraction of 1 percent? Maybe?

It might be that I don’t have enough of a stake in some of these games to get worked up over whether an official blows a call. Yes, I have my favorite teams. Did I mention I’m rooting huge for my Oregon Ducks tonight in the College Football Playoff championship game against Ohio State?

Whatever. These games belong to human beings. Fans deserve top-quality entertainment. The players deserve to be treated fairly. Coaches deserve respect for the tough job they do.

High-tech gadgets are fine. I’m all for them. I own a few myself and I’m getting used to operating some of them.

However, when it comes to watching athletic events, I prefer to leave the human factor alone.

Let the athletes perform to the best of their ability and let the officials call the game to the best of their ability as well. They get it right almost all the time.

How in this world did we play these games before the arrival of instant replay?

What to call college football's big game?

I might be breaking some new ground here, but a thought occurs to me regarding the Big Game set for Monday night to determine the best college football team in the country.

The game doesn’t have a catchy name. You know, like the Super Bowl?

My Oregon Ducks are going to play the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first-ever college football playoff championship game. It needs something catchy.

Let’s flash back for a moment to the first Super Bowl, played in 1967. It wasn’t even called the Super Bowl. It carried the clunky name of “AFL-NFL Championship Game.” The American Football League champs that year were the Kansas City Chiefs; representing the National Football League were the Green Bay Packers.

The Pack won 35-10 at the Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, which was about two-thirds full for the biggest game in pro football history.

The AFL and the NFL played three more interleague championship games before the leagues merged in 1970. But someone came up with the name “Super Bowl” in time for the 1968 game between the Packers and the Oakland Raiders.

I’m open for suggestions on what to call the college football equivalent of the Super Bowl.

Heck, college basketball has its March Madness and its Final Four; Major League Baseball has its World Series; college baseball has its College World Series; hockey fans know the title series of their sport simply as the Stanley Cup.

The NCAA has come up with a marketing winner with this college football playoff. It figures to smash TV-viewing records Monday night.

So … let’s give college football’s big game a name to make it — and us — all proud.

Oh, before I forget: Go Ducks!

 

Still waiting on explanation for Seminoles' departure

The media have reported — as they should — on the crummy conduct of three University of Oregon football players who chanted “No means no” while celebrating the Ducks’ win over Florida State in the semifinal game of the college football playoffs.

The chant was aimed at FSU quarterback Jameis Winston’s alleged sexual assault a couple of years ago.

Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich has said the players will be disciplined for their demonstration.

Good.

Now … what about the Seminoles’ conduct at the end of the game? Three-fourths of the team left the field before the final gun sounded to end the game, which ended with a 59-20 score in favor of the Ducks.

It’s customary for the coaches to meet at midfield, hug each other’s neck, shake hands and congratulate each other for a great game. The players do it, too.

It didn’t happen that way New Year’s Night in the Rose Bowl. The Ducks took congrats from a few FSU players. One of them was Jameis Winston, the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner, who hugged the 2014 Heisman winner, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. The two young men exchanged kind words.

Not a word — that I’ve heard, at least — has come from FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher about the conduct of his players.

Isn’t there a code of sportsmanship and decorum that’s supposed to be followed here? Has that code been lost on players who got walloped on the field, but who then haven’t learned how to take their defeat like grown men?

And what kind of leadership are they getting when their head coach doesn’t own up to his players’ disrespectful behavior?

 

Looks like the Buckeyes belonged after all

I’ll be candid. I was one of those who thought a team other than Ohio State should have rounded out the four-school playoff bracket to determine the best team in college football.

My favorite for the No. 4 seed was Baylor.

It didn’t happen. Ohio State got in, I guess, on the strength of its schedule.

I’m no expert on this, but it appears that the selection committee that picked the Final Four got it right.

OK, so I’m basking a bit in the glow of my Oregon Ducks’ big win over defending national champ Florida State in the Rose Bowl. Oh, did I mention it was a serious beat-down of a very good football team — by an even better football team?

Well, I digress.

Ohio State finished off the night of playoff football by defeating the top seed, Alabama, which was representing the vaunted Southeastern Conference, where loyalists proclaim it to be the premier football conference in the nation.

Maybe it is. However, on New Year’s Night, the Crimson Tide failed to do the one thing it needed to do, which was score more points than the Buckeyes.

The No. 1 seed proved to be, well, quite mortal.

I am not going to try to dissect what happened in the Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes outplayed the Crimson Tide on the one night that it counted. And on that night — last night — Ohio State proved that it belonged in the Final Four.

What now? Well, Ohio State will play the Oregon Ducks for the national championship.

You know where my heart lies. Go Ducks!

***

And while I’m on the subject of the Ducks, take a look at John Canzano’s excellent column in The Oregonian about the post-game press conference featuring college football’s two most recent Heisman Trophy winners. I believe it will explain a lot why the Ducks belong in the playoffs, too.

http://www.oregonlive.com/sports/oregonian/john_canzano/index.ssf/2015/01/canzano_jameis_winston_vs_marc.html#incart_maj-story-1

 

Sportsmanship lacking on both sides

Collegiate student-athletes must lose with class and they must win with it, too.

The Oregon-Florida State college football playoff semifinal game was fun to watch — particularly if you’re an Oregon Ducks fan, as I am. The Ducks blew out the Seminoles 59-20, ending FSU’s 29-game winning streak and dispelling the notion that the Ducks aren’t tough enough to play at this level of collegiate football.

The end of the game, though, produced some decidedly unattractive behavior.

With about a half-minute to go in the game, about two-thirds of the Seminoles walked off the field toward their locker room. They didn’t stay to shake the Ducks players’ hands, wish them well, congratulation them on the game they played. They skulked off the field, shaken by the battering they had taken.

You need to lose with class, yes?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/02/oregon-jameis-winston-no-chant_n_6405182.html

Then came the Ducks’ display of bad manners. About three Oregon players began some kind of chant about “No means no,” referring to FSU quarterback Jameis Winston’s off-the-field trouble involving a woman who accused him of raping her. Winston was never charged with a crime.

Second-year Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich said the players would be “disciplined internally,” adding that their conduct reflects poorly on the school and the football program.

Yes, you also need to win with class.