Tag Archives: college football

Pac-12 goes out swinging

Let’s talk a little college football … shall we?

The Pac-12 in reality is now down to just the Pac-2: Oregon State and Washington State. All the other schools have bolted to other conferences and will play tackle ball with their new colleagues beginning this summer.

However, the Pac-12 is going out on a high note, with one of the former Pacific Coast teams, the Washington Huskies, preparing to play next week for the national collegiate championship against the Michigan Wolverines.

The rest of the teams that played in bowl games have done fairly well. The Pac-12 stands at 3-3. My Oregon Ducks took care of business 45-6 against Liberty University in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day. On the flip side, the Oregon State Beavers got walloped by Notre Dame in the Sun Bowl, 40-9, which is no disgrace given Notre Dame’s legendary football tradition.

Where do we stand? Oregon is joining the Big 10, along with Washington, USC and UCLA, next season. The Ducks and Beavers still will play their annual rivalry game. Other Pac-12 schools are joining the Big 12, but it’s not clear where OSU and WSU will end up.

For now, my Pacific Northwest loyalty compels me to root for the Huskies to defeat the Wolverines and bring home the national championship trophy to the NW.

Besides, Oregon’s two losses this year were to the Huskies, so if the Ducks are going to live with those losses, then they should take solace in knowing that they lost only — by a total of seven points in both games combined — to the national champs.

Bye, bye … Pac 12

My old-fashioned sports sensibilities are being dealt a body blow by none other than the football conference I’ve been following since I was a kid growing up on the West Coast.

I heard last night that the universities of Oregon and Washington are jumping from the Pac 12 to — get ready for it — the Big fu**ing 10! They join USC and UCLA, which already have made the leap. Which schools stay in what’s left of the Pa 12? Oregon State, Washington State, Cal and Stanford. Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Arizona State all have leaped into the arms of other athletic conference suitors.

The conference that will welcome those two former Pac 12 football powers now will become the Big 18, or some such ungodly number.

I am a Ducks fan. I didn’t attend the school in Eugene, but I have followed the Oregon Ducks since I was a boy.

Now, why is this such a big deal to this traditionalist college football fan? Because the Rose Bowl — the so-called Granddaddy of Bowl Games — is played every New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif. And it used to feature the winner of the Pac 12 vs. the winner of the Big 10. Therefore, the Big 10 becomes the hated conference of the enemy.

The NCAA has managed to make a mess out of traditional football rivalries already. They allowed Texas A&M to join the SEC, removing the annual Texas-Texas A&M football rivalry game — played on Thanksgiving — from the schedule. That will change because Texas is now set to join the SEC, which will enable the Longhorns to hook up once again with the Aggies.

West Coast college football fans used to revel in the Rose Bowl game. In recent years, the Ducks have enjoyed modest success in the big game, beating Wisconsin twice, losing to Ohio State and Penn State once each. The NCAA has placed the Rose Bowl among the games to determine the college football championship and in 2015, the Ducks pummeled Florida State (from the ACC) en route to the NCAA championship game, which they lost to Ohio State.

The Pac 12 as we West Coast natives have known it soon will not exist. The four schools remaining will seek to join other athletic conferences.

It’s all about the money, man, and it is ruining what I formerly thought was a sport so steeped in tradition that it couldn’t be sullied by the great American dollar.

Silly me.


Is this a ‘super spreader’?

My thoughts as I watch a pretty good college football game this afternoon are turning away from the game itself.

It’s a contest between the universities of Florida and Alabama. They’re playing the game in Gainesville, Fla..

The stadium is packed with fans. The CBS TV network cameras routinely scan the crowd to show us images of cheering fans. Why, they’re just happy as the dickens watching the game.

However … and I consider this a pretty big deal: I am not seeing any masks on faces of young folks packed shoulder to shoulder. I don’t know what the stadium seats; I am guessing it’s something north of 80 grand.

Oh, wait! This is Florida, right? The state is governed by a no mask-mandate “hero,” Republican Ron DeSantis, who’s been threatening President Biden with all kinds of reaction if the feds keep insisting that states do what they must, which is to protect the people who live there.

I want to add that Florida — along with Texas, where I live — is among the states most vulnerable at the moment to the delta variant of the COVID virus that has sickened so many millions of Americans. Oh, and it’s killed more than 600,000 of us, too!

A part of me is glad to see some semblance of “normal” returning to our lives. A bigger part of me worries about events such as college football games played in stands packed with individuals, many of whom haven’t been vaccinated against the killer virus.

I do not intend to pick on Florida exclusively, although it is tempting, given the way DeSantis has conducted himself by denying local governments the option of taking extra measures to protect their constituents against the pandemic.

Sports venues across the land are filling up these days with fans. They whoop, holler and scream their delight, often right into the faces of the individual sitting next to them.

Didn’t some medical experts tell us that one can get sick by exposing oneself to the virus in that fashion?

Hmm. I think this the “new normal” for sports fans seeking to watch a football game: thinking of the consequences of those who might be doing what they must to guard against a potentially fatal affliction.


Football game = diversion

I do enjoy the occasional welcome diversion from the issues of the day. One of them came across my sight this afternoon.

The Oregon Ducks played the Ohio State Buckeyes in a college football game in Columbus, Ohio. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 3 in the nation; the Ducks came in as the No. 12-ranked outfit.

The Ducks won the game in the stadium they call “The Shoe.” It was filled with 100,000 or so screaming fans. Dare I say they weren’t wearing masks? Oh, what the hey … I’ll save that one for another time.

I am an Oregon native. I didn’t attend the U of O, but I cheer for them when they show up on national TV. I did so today, alarming Toby the Puppy when it appeared near the end of the game the Ducks would win.

We all need to have our attention yanked away from those things that dominate the TV airwaves, or the printed pages of newspapers, or our computer screens.

My wife and I rolled out early this morning to attend a 9/11 commemoration at a fire station in Princeton, Texas, where we now live. It was a wonderful event. They played “Taps.” They hoisted the flag and then lowered it to half-staff. The deputy fire chief delivered some heartfelt remarks about the heroism we all witnessed 20 years ago today when the terrorists attacked us.

Then we went about our day.

I took some time away from scouring news sites for matters on which to comment. I just cheered for my favorite college football team.

Dang! It was great to see the Oregon Ducks win a huge football game in front of the whole nation.


It’s official: I will ignore the return to ‘business as usual’

I am in dire need of a haircut. I miss cutting into a medium-rare steak at a nice restaurant. I want to return to the gym and to my daily workout regimen.

All of that is going to wait for the foreseeable future, no matter what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declares as he seeks to reopen the state for business.

He said hair salons are back in business. Gyms will reopen in a few days. Restaurants have been open for a few days now, although the governor ordered ’em to operate at 25 percent of capacity.

Fine. Go for it, y’all. I am staying away. I do not like seeing the news about infection and death rates continuing to climb in Texas, and in North Texas, where I live along with some members of my family. The picture isn’t any prettier in the Panhandle, where the rest of my family and many of our friends reside.

I haven’t checked in on the Golden Triangle, where my wife and I still have many dear friends.

From what I have read, polling suggests most Texans and other Americans believe as I do, that governors are acting too hastily to reopen their states. They are putting too much emphasis on the economy and not enough of it on the health of the people they represent.

Gov. Abbott has moved too quickly to suit my sensibilities. I am glad he had the good sense to close Texas public school classrooms for the rest of the academic year.

And what in the world is going on with our Texas public universities? They want to return to in-person classwork this fall. I’m OK with that … but Texas A&M, the University of Texas and Texas Tech University systems plan to play football. Are they going to play those games in empty stadiums? Yeah … good luck with that.

You may count me as one Texas resident who wants to see a substantial and recurring decline in the infection and death rates before I make my return to what we used to think of as “normal.”

Hey, maybe I can make a fashionably late entrance.

For now? I am out.

He’s got it wrong: student-athletes already ‘get paid’

I believe Kyler Murray is a fine young man, apart from his being a first-class quarterback for the University of Oklahoma who has just been named the latest winner of the Heisman Trophy, signifying that he is the best college football player in America.

However, the young man is mistaken when he says college athletes should be paid.

Murray said this: “I feel like we bring in a lot of money to the universities … we put in a lot of work. Some guys don’t have enough money to bring their families to the games … so I feel like athletes should be compensated for it.”

Murray is far from the first person to make the argument. I just believe he is as mistaken and misguided as all the others who have said the same thing.

Already paid

Where do I begin?

I’ll start here. Student-athletes already are “compensated” for their efforts. Granted, they don’t receive weekly paychecks, but many of them get a free college education in the form of full-ride scholarships.

I consider that a form of payment. Think about the ramifications. Student-athletes are allowed to receive a free education that presumably prepares them for life after their playing days are over. To suggest, therefore, that these athletes should become “professional athletes” defies the very principle of providing scholarships that help them fulfill the “student” portion of the term “student-athlete.”

Whether a student-athlete cracks the books and actually studies when he or she is not blocking/tackling/throwing TDs, or shooting hoops or hitting home runs is up to the student.

If they don’t cut it in the classroom, they ought to become academically ineligible to participate in whatever sport for which they are being “paid.”

How do you ‘prepare’ for NFL draft?

I do not understand this development, so someone might have to explain it to me.

Will Grier, a top flight quarterback for West Virginia University is the latest top-tier athlete to forgo a football bowl game to “prepare for the National Football League draft.”

Let’s ponder that for a moment. The Mountaineers are going to play a game against Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl.

Grier received a scholarship to play football in Morgantown, W.Va. The school paid for his education. The school’s fans packed the stadium to watch Grier play QB. So now he wants to exhibit his loyalty to the school by skipping the team’s final game of the year?

To prepare for the NFL draft? What in the world do these guys do to prep for a draft? Spare me the excuse that they are seeking to prevent career-ending injury; that event could happen at any time of the year.

Royce Freeman, a running back at Oregon, stiffed the Ducks a year ago. So did Christian McCaffrey at Stanford a couple of years before that. These high-profile athletes occasionally bail on their schools to, um, get ready to be drafted.

I keep circling back to a series of questions: What in the world do these fellows do to prepare to have their name called as a member of an NFL franchise? Do they run wind sprints in their front yard? Do they practice blocking and tackling in the garage? Do they, um, memorize play books?

Moreover, is there no more loyalty to the schools that shell out good money to pay for their education?

Portland State vs. Oregon: Oh, the quandary

You might be aware from this blog that occasionally I have written about University of Oregon football. The Ducks ascended to NCAA gridiron elite status, only to fall dramatically two seasons ago.

They went from heroes to zeroes virtually overnight.

I didn’t attend Oregon. I attended Portland State University, in the downtown district of my hometown of Portland, Ore. However, since the Ducks were winning a lot of football games and twice played for the national collegiate championship — losing to Auburn in 2011 and Ohio State in 2015 — I have become a Ducks fan. Hey, I’ll cop to being somewhat of a fair-weather fan.

Now, though, comes the quandary. Portland State’s Vikings — who compete on the Division I-AA level — are traveling 100 miles down Interstate 5 to Eugene next Saturday to play the Ducks.

What do I do? I know. I’ll root for the Vikings, understanding that they likely are going to get clobbered by the Ducks, who are showing some signs of life after a miserable season and then a rebuilding year in 2017. The Ducks have a new coach, Mario Cristobal, who went to Eugene as an assistant to one-and-done head coach Willie Taggart, who left Oregon after a single season to return to his home state of Florida to coach Florida State University.

But dang! I would love to see Portland State score an upset. Is it impossible? I direct you to what Appalachian State did to the University of Michigan, in the Big House in Ann Arbor, just a few years back. ASU on Sept. 1, 2007 handed the Wolverines the upset of the ages before a crowd of 109,000 stunned and shocked Michigan fans.

As the saying goes: That’s why they play the game.

Feeling a friend’s bowl game ‘pain’

A friend of mine, a native Texan, posted this message on Facebook the other day:

If you want to know the extent to which college football has strayed from the primrose path I thought would never end, here’s this year’s Cotton Bowl match up:
1. Neither team from Texas
2. Neither team from the old Southwest Conference.
3. Neither from even the Big 12.
4. Cotton not grown anywhere near these two universities.
5. Game no longer on New Year’s Day.

What’s our sports world coming to?

I feel his pain. The Cotton Bowl matchup this year features the University of Southern California vs. The Ohio State University.

It strikes me that the Cotton Bowl will involve teams that used to play exclusively in the Rose Bowl, which used to invite  the champions from the Big 10 to play the champs of the Pac 12.

And … speaking of the Rose Bowl — the game I watch with great interest, given that I grew up on the Pacific Coast — has an, um, interesting matchup as well.

The University of Georgia will play tackle football against the University of Oklahoma. Georgia comes from the Southeastern Conference; Oklahoma hails from the Big 12.

There’s a glimmer of good news to report. At least the Rose Bowl will be played on New Year’s Day.

But I get my friend’s angst over the jumbling of these bowl dates and the matchups that have not a damn thing to do with intercollegiate football tradition.

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!