Phil Caldwell

Sports Blogging With a Grin

Posts Tagged ‘Pac12

Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners May End Up On Outside Looking In

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Originally published September 21, 2011

All month college football fans have been tantalized by the prospect of two arrogant and yet hated college football programs potentially ruining their conference. Rolled eyes have accompanies all these rumors of recent meetings and scary goings-on behind closed doors and oil wells.

Texas and Oklahoma. Sort of the Ma and Pa of college football in a creepy inbred sort of way.

Storied programs? Yes, but perhaps not made of the fabric we out west would like to see in our snooty football league.

Letting these two join the Pac-12 would be like building a chicken-roamed trailer park square in the middle of Beverly Hills. Who wants this riff-raff in our neighborhood?

Two misinformed, yet self-righteous programs under the illusion that the rest of the country is dying to have them join. Just like an unwanted party guest who shows up with a drunken siliconed-induced fake-blond on his arm, even though his invitation was “lost in the mail.”

First of all, there’s the Texas Longhorns. Nobody cares nearly as much about the Texas Longhorns as the Texas Longhorns care about the Texas Longhorns.

Stadiums full of unruly fans showing up in ripped shorts and cowboy boots, grazing fries and duds on their 20 foot grills midst a hootnanny of down-South country music. Kick up the crap y’all, here comes painted-on jeans and tattooed loose women. Yeeehaw!!

This is a program with its own television network, gotten from backstabbing the Big 12 a mere 18 months ago during another edge-of-your-seat yet disturbingly similar potential Big 12 breakup caused entirely by—ahem—the Texas Longhorns.

The regents of the University of Texas used the insecure league to wrest control of full TV monies, similar to the Notre Dame deal with NBC, with the one exception being that people across the nation actually care about Notre Dame.

But the Texas Longhorns in Florida or Portland?

Not so much, unless you count replanted uncie and auntie’s lawn party of similar decrepit Longhorn fans throwing eggs at the neighbors and puking on your nicely kept lawns.
And then there’s the Oklahoma Sooners. Fans in these parts fondly remember Oklahoma for their idiot fans parading a horse-drawn wagon onto the field in the 1984 Orange Bowl, or the big Brian Bosworth scandal in which Bosworth bilked the Seahawks out of $11 million soon before being steam-rolled by Bo Jackson on Monday Night Football with Howard Cosell.
But Oklahoma in Seattle? I don’t think so.
We still haven’t forgiven this cow-infested area for ripping off the Sonics in typical flat-topped fashion of deceit and lies, so you really think we’re about to cave in on the sanctity of the beloved Pac-12 for this group of paid amateur athletes?
No we’re just fine with the way things are, and being as we just allowed the admission of two other storied yet un-kosher programs into this league with far more class, you really think we need all the gun racks and flat-red GMC pickups in these parts?

That’s why we have the Oregon Ducks, to serve those uncouth yet rare needs for the uneducated and stupid.

Nope, if it were up to me, I’d pass on the dusty tornado division where showered women are as rare as Texas rainstorms in July, and opt instead for local programs that continually screw up the BCS Bowl picture in December.

How about the bucking Broncos of Boise State, along with someone like the Hawaii Warriors as potential members for a new super Pac 16 conference? Oh sure, Boise would have to lose that cornea-searing blue field they’re so proud about, but you’d think they’d be willing to trade up for big-time tradition.

And Hawaii? Are you kidding me? How many of us would rather hit the beaches of Waikiki on a road trip than the dusty Motel Six located across the interstate from local tractor bone yards? Who cares a

bout the money these programs would bring? I’m talking vacations during November.

Sand. Long honey-blond hair over firm and tanned bodies. Surfer-dudes with surfer-chicks on big curling waves. Sounds a bit more appealing than aging wind-leathered motorcycle mamas with grizzled skin and hairy pits.

For that matter, Oklahoma State and all the other Texas programs need not show up either. I’d much rather have San Diego State and/or BYU in the Pac-12. There is no comparison for road trips in San Diego vs road trips in Texas.

After all, the Pac in the Pac-12 stands for “Pacific,” as in “Pacific Ocean.”

Nope, y’all schools back there in Hicksville need to either work things out with the Big 12, or start your own league of saw-toothed students and Hooters-employed cheerleaders. Out west we do things a bit differently and we don’t need all the Texas arrogance riding in here like a posse on steroids.

You too Oklahoma. Take it elsewhere. You’ve already burned your bridges out here in the west with that last NBA dog and pony show that we’re still ticked off about!


Read more from the same author:

Auburn vs Oregon: Cockroaches and Flying Insects Killed from ESPN’s pregame coverage!


Boise State vs Utah in Las Vegas: Broncols Defeat Utes for Absolutely No Reason


Is Bleacher Report Losing It’s Cutting-Edge Freshness and Going Corporate?

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I may end up getting myself cast off Bleacher Report for good with this rant, but what the heck.  Taking risks are what makes life exciting!

As a writer for Bleacher/Report,

Bleacher Report is one of the great stories of the “new journalism” era.   It is a place where young writers trying to get started, can advance up the writer chain with a “points system.”   It’s great.

It’s also a place where some of us older guys finally have the freedom to cut loose and write what we really feel.  There’s none of the business politics holding us back that is so rampant and routine at every single newspaper in the country. B/R is a young company started by young guys, most of whom don’t even know about the battles common, where writers have daily punching bouts with their editors.

Sadly things are changing at Bleacher Report, but it was bound to happen.  It cannot be avoided.

A couple weeks ago I wrote a totally sarcastic and absolutely hilarious (<–note witty sarcasm) article about the Texas Longhorns.  Now I’m not a Longhorn-hater particularly, but I found it interesting how Texas just may find themselves on the outside looking in when all these new NCAA football leagues are finalized.  Nobody wants Texas in their conference, because of the reputation they enjoy as being fiscal bullies with special rules.  I wrote a nice long, sorta fast-moving piece about that very subject.

Well after about 2500 reads in a couple days, an Oklahoma fan got all offended.  He said it was because I was hostile to women in the piece because of a quip (I said something like Sooner women have leather skin and tend to lose the razor in places where we’d prefer they keep using it).  Something like that.  Totally me horsing around like I do when I write.

Well the article got pulled.  And although the reason given was that the B/R staff (who will remain nameless) felt the content was “trollish,”  because I was flipping too much crap at Texas and Oklahoma fans. I felt it was because this guy didn’t like me making wise cracks about his favorite team.   In other words, I was giving them too hard a time with my article, and we can’t have that. We can’t offend these very important people of higher-ups at institutions.   We can’t have guys taking shots at other football programs just for fun.  Especially when it’s at the Oklahoma Sooners (all stand up and salute please).  You can’t take cheap shots at the Oklahoma Sooners you idiot.  Do you know how many big bucks are there are down in the flat-lands of Oklahoma?!?  Ever hear of oil wells?!?

Which is interesting, because what attracted all of us veteran writers to Bleacher Report in the first place, was the fact that here was a new website that was sorta “Wild-Wild-West.” Unlike crusty old newspaper editors, here you could write anything, and you didn’t really have to worry about your editor pulling the piece, because you took cheap shots at a sacred football institution that just happens to have a whole bunch of wealthy alumni, some of whom provided start-up funds for your site.

That’s precisely what was so attractive about Bleacher Report!  Fans could be fans.  Fans could bait the other team’s fans, raging debates would break out, insults would fly, and it was one big tailgating party in print.  A hootenanny of epic proportions.  But we’re all having harmless fun here so what’s the big deal??  College football teams.  We don’t know these guys other than their names.  Why NOT take cheap shots?!  This is where cheap shots live and breathe.  College football forums by college football fans.

See that was what was so cool about Bleacher Report, and the concept of the site.  That’s what got B/R the hits in the first place.  B/R was doing this sports thing from a new young angle, that hadn’t been seen in the more traditional media.  And guys like me, who have long-since gotten over the notoriety of seeing our names in print, could sorta air it out here, like we can’t everywhere else.  But that’s what made Bleacher Report so unique.

Now it appears, Bleacher Report is maturing (unlike me), and we’re now seeing a bit more hesitance to allow classless boobs to write wise cracks.  They’d like to see this more traditional.  Lose the T-shirts, let’s go back to the white shirts and ties and sell life insurance.  This isn’t the Boston Red Sox, this is the NY Yankees.  Corporate-style media, so now it’s time to stifle these undisciplined punks, and let’s get this group of renegades house-broken and back to the confines of semi-boring reading material without jokes.

Now I totally understand why Bleacher Report feels the need to tighten up the writing standards (ie: more profits from more exposure, which you can’t do if you’re taking cheap shots at the Texas Longhorns).

But I would argue you’re also killing the freshness and the attraction that led many of your readers to the site in the first place.  Fans like to argue and pop off about their teams.  But now suddenly we can’t write certain things about certain teams?  Really?!

Let’s go back to my Texas example again.  Do I hate Texas?  Well no, I didn’t.  But now that my article got pulled because some of my funnies got Texas alumni sideways ….. well let’s just say cheap shots may have to find their way back to the between-the-lines method, like we’ve done for years in the traditional print media.  You can still get your shots in, but it’s not like the NY Media anymore.  Nope, now it’s like the Duluth, Minnesota media, where everything is polite and politically correct and unoffensive.

Me quipping to the B/R staff during this exchange “Well it looks like the Big12 isn’t the only place where Texas gets special rules.” probably didn’t earn me an invite to the B/R Christmas Party at the end of the year, either.

“Hey you punk!  You can’t say Texas is like an uninvited guest showing up with a plastic blond on his arm while everybody else rolls their eyes!!  This is Texas!!  The Texas Longhorns!!  Everybody LOVES the Texas Longhorns!!  And if they don’t, we’ll have them censored so fast it will make the critic’s keyboard melt!”

My point is that yes, I admit it, some of my stuff can be crass and tends to tease certain groups of fans.  But that’s why we read Bleacher Report.  It was different than all the other boring CBS.comand stuff.  That’s precisely what made it so attractive to your readers, and yet now it appears the goal is to kill that freedom and go back to stuffy frowning editors refusing to let us write witty and cheap-shot rhetoric.

Now what fun is that??!

Pac12 Expansion: Forget Texas! Four Teams That Should Be on the Radar

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AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 10:  The Texas Longhorns mascot Bevo XIV attends the NCAA game against the BYU Cougars on September 10, 2011 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  Texas defeated BYU 17-16. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Imag

Erich Schlegal/Getty Images

With all the talk this week of the Pac-12 Conference adding schools in Texas and Oklahoma, count me as one college football traditionalist that hates the idea.

Not so much the idea of expanded conferences and 16 team divisions. That could work, and could be fun. It’s this idea of expanding the Pac-12 into states and regions that have nothing to do with the tradition of the west and it’s on-going insecurity of being snubbed by the east.  It’s what fuels the passion for many of our teams!

Having the name “Pac” in the title suggests west, as in Pacific Ocean, but Oklahoma and Texas suggest “flat dust storms, lots of cows, and too many tornado’s!”  Not exactly tourist attractions that would motivate fans from out west to visiting games.

For Texas and Oklahoma fans on the other hand, it would mean finally something to live for.  Something to yearn about as you sit sizzling in triple digit heat during the dog days of summer waiting for football.  The prospect of visiting cities where sun glasses don’t melt off your face.

Pristine with snow-capped mountains!  The Pacific Northwest with it’s water, Utah for it’s skiing, and Southern California with it’s warm climates and white sand beaches.

Texas and Oklahoma?  Nobody goes to Texas and Oklahoma, we go through Texas and Oklahoma, as fast as we can in most cases!

Nope, the new conference should be based on localized tradition.  It’s what sets college football apart from the professional leagues. Natural rivalries work best when they are from similar regions!

Four teams that could help improve all of this in the Pac-12, instead of stretching it to areas of the country that are far removed from the west!


Boise State

BOISE, ID - NOVEMBER 19:  Kellen Moore #11 of the Boise State Broncos throws a long pass over Anthony Williams #91 of the Fresno State Bulldogs at Bronco Stadium on November 19, 2010 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

They have that putrid blue field that they just love so very much there in Boise. The rest of us, not so much.

Entire flocks of Canadian Geese have dropped dead from the sky after flying over it.  A fluorescent bluish hue that induces headaches and extreme dehydrating diarrhea to most fans, especially when viewed on television for several hours.

But there is hope.  It could be changed back to normal field grass green for the right deal.

Well membership in the Pac12 is the right deal!

Boise State is constantly on the outside looking in come the end of the season.  No matter how many games they win in a row, when it’s all over the pundits doubt their strength of schedule.  Pac12 membership would change all of that.

Even with their uniforms rivaling Oregon in terms of cornea-searing designs, membership in the Pac12 ends the debate.  If they win here, they’d be in.

Some question the academic strength, but the school is up-and-coming according to recent publications, and who can argue with the football team’s performance over the past decade?

The team is flat-out good. They are consistently ranked in the preseason Top 10, which is more than you can say about 10 of the current Pac-12 football teams.

Two years ago, Oregon learned how difficult road games to Boise State are, when the bucking Broncos of Boise State did what the rest of the teams in then Pac-10 could not do: they beat the hated Ducks.

The team is a natural rival to four separate teams in the Pac-12. Student-fans could drive to the games, just like all the other traditional NW teams, unlike long airplane trips required for Texas and Oklahoma.

Furthermore, the skiing and recreational activities in Idaho are just a trifle better than they are in Texas and Oklahoma!

Alumni provides the money for football programs due to how they travel, and most sane alumni would rather it be Idaho than the barren plains of the south-Midwest!


HONOLULU - SEPTEMBER 02: Levi Legay #53, Shane Austin #10, and Jett Jasper #82 of the University of Hawaii Warriors and other team members rush out of the tunnel to take the field in their season opener against the University of Southern California Trojan
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Not exactly the mecca for stellar football programs, but the Hawaii Warriors of the WAC are an attractive choice for all Pac-12 teams, evidenced by the number of preseason games scheduled against them year after year.

And although the stadium and fan support leave much to be desired, it’s still Hawaii.  It’s warm when it’s raining sideways in the north, and rival fan bases would thus flock to the islands for these annual games.

In terms of potential tourist dollars for Hawaii, the Pac-12 offers by far the most lucrative deal.

Allowing the Warriors in the Pac-12 could wreak havoc for teams who routinely overpower the islands in terms of recruits. But Hawaii, already with a consistently potent offense that gives visiting teams fits, the defense would likely also evolve into a powerhouse manned mostly by locals

Nationwide, what kid wouldn’t dream of playing football mixed with surfing lessons in the offseason?

And with their uniforms already among the coolest-looking in college football, they seem to be the most logical of the sub-west teams to convert to the big time!


AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Ross Apo #11 of the BYU Cougars catches a second quarter touchdown pass by Jake Heaps against the Texas Longhorns on September 10, 2011 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Erich
Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

Ever since BYU ripped off the national championship from the University of Washington in 1984, Husky fans have had it out for Utah’s most elite Mormon institution.

And why not? BYU consistently has put out teams that can play with anyone. Just last week we saw the arrogant and pompous Texas Longhorns barely manage to squeak out a one-point win against this team of upstarts from one of the most beautiful areas in the United States.

Brigham Young University makes sense from a rivalry perspective too. The Utah Utes have played the Cougars 87 times, making these two teams not only one of the longest rivalries in the nation, but also a natural rivalry that the Pac-12 so dearly loves.

And lets not forget that NFL greats Steve Young and Jim McMahon are grads of this school, as is 1990 Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer. Danny Ainge played basketball at BYU, as did golf’s Johnny Miller and Mike Weir.

BYU is a proven athletic power that could easily keep up in the Pac-12.

San Diego State

SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 20:  Running back Ronnie Hillman #13 of the San Deigo State Aztecs carries the ball on a five yard touchdown run in the second quarter against the Utah Utes at Qualcomm Stadium on November 20, 2010 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The fourth nominee may be surprising, but San Diego State provides the rivalry for Hawaii that would need to happen for this to be feasible, and they just so happen to be located in an area attractive to most traveling fans.

Playing their first football game clear back in 1921, the Aztecs, like their former WAC rivals the Hawaii Warriors, have wreaked havoc on larger schools who foolishly scheduled them for “warm up” games.

Already this year they pulverized WSU with a 42-24 thrashing, and have jumped out to quick 3-0 start with victories over Army and Cal Poly too.  And with so many high schools in Southern California with so many blue-chip recruits, rising to the top of the heap of a new Pac16 would be merely a matter of time.

Furthermore there is no better place for frigid fans in the North to visit, than the city of San Diego.

With it’s pristine beaches and near-perfect fall weather, San Diego State would help the Pac-12 cover the entire state of California, and is the logical choice for the 16th member of the new Pac-16!


6 of 7


Potential Divisions

HONOLULU - SEPTEMBER 02: Ronald Johnson #83 of the University of Southern California Trojans is taken down by Po'okela Ahmad #40 of the University of Hawaii Warriors during first half action against the University of Southern California Trojans at Aloha S
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

With four teams located in the West, the new Pac-16 could be divided as follows:


Washington Huskies

Oregon Ducks

Oregon State Beavers

Washington State Cougars

Colorado Buffalos

Boise State Broncos

Utah Utes

BYU Cougars


USC Trojans

UCLA Bruins

California Bears

San Diego State Aztecs

Stanford Cardinal

Hawaii Warriors

Arizona State SunDevils

Arizona Wildcats

Read more from the same author:

Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners Need Not Apply for Membership in the Pac12

Written by PhilCaldwell

September 20, 2011 at 9:45 am

Oregon Ducks and Phil Knight – Is Nike Giving Them a Recruiting Advantage?

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CORVALLIS, OR - DECEMBER 4: A fan holds up a copy of a mock front page after game between the Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Corvallis, Oregon. The Ducks beat the Beavers 37-20 to likely go on to the BCS Championship game at the Tostitos Bowl on January 10, 2011. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)Steve Dykes/Getty Images

With former University of Washington president Mark Emmert taking over the reins of NCAA rules enforcement this fall, and Husky rival University of Oregon playing in the BCS championship, a murky situation is emerging way out in the wild Pacific Northwest.

How can the NCAA slap USC with sanctions when Oregon has a alumni buying spectacular locker rooms and practice facilities for the Ducks? Isn’t this far worse than what went on at UW during the early 1990’s? How is Oregon’s situation different from SMU in the mid 1980’s, when the NCAA felt the death penalty was justified?

More importantly, if the NCAA does decide to look into the Oregon matter, howls of protest will erupt from Eugene accusing Emmert of “conflict of interest,” since his good buddy (who he hired), Scott Woodward, is still the AD at rival school UW, with a new lengthy contract extension.

But if he doesn’t investigate, many will argue that Oregon is routinely doing things more heinous than schools who have had the book thrown at them, since the alumni have brought down more than one institution.

Either way, it’s a mess that is going to get far worse, especially with Oregon now in the BCS championship game.

Last month released a statement about a new college basketball arena for the Ducks, including the statement, “Thanks in no small part to counting among its alumni both Nike founder Phil Knight as well as vice president for design and special projects Tinker Hatfield.”

106654174_crop_340x234Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Missing this week were statements originally in the post, claiming that Nike and UofO go together like “ham on a burger.” Signifying a cozy relationship between a private corporation and a public university that few other institutions enjoy, or ever have enjoyed.

They are indeed interesting statements considering how Nike and Phil Knight has oft been accused by jealous Pac-10 rivals, as being “the best owner in college sports.”

And for good reason. With new football threads being introduced last week as the latest in Oregon’s new tradition of different jerseys and helmets for every game, questions are growing louder about whether a university should be using unpaid college football players as models for new sports gear?

Do the financial gifts showered upon the athletic department of this formerly sports-hapless institution, signify a recruiting advantage not available to competing universities?

If we go back and study the language of the NCAA, it says point blank that the duty of the NCAA is:  “…to ensure fairness in the recruiting process, the NCAA also seeks to control recruiting excesses. Recent examples include prohibiting college football coaches from arriving at high school football games in helicopters to impress potential recruits and restricting the nature of entertainment during official visits.”

In my recent article What could be done with money spent? , I suggested that Nike may be spending upwards to $1.3 million over what other programs spend on uniforms, each year.  But what about the other “donations” that Phil Knight bequeaths upon the University of Oregon?

105254381_original_crop_340x234Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The reported on July 29, 2009, that Knight donated $100 million for the new Duck basketball arena.

Last Sunday, Ron Bellamy of The Register-Guard reported that a new six story University of Oregon Football center would be constructed.

To quote the article:  “The L-shaped, stand-alone, six-story structure, which will be “unsurpassed in the country,” according to a UO news release, will be entirely financed by donors Phil and Penny Knight.”

At the heart of the facility is a centralized football operations center that will include nine dedicated football position meeting rooms, two team video theaters, offense and defense strategy rooms as well as a larger conference suite for the entire coaching staff.

The centralized area will be flanked by office and locker facilities for coaches, staff and student-­athletes, the release said.

From the sounds of it, this facility is superior to that of many professional teams. Especially when we hear:

“Additional amenities will include a players’ lounge, a recruiting center to host prospective student-athletes, dedicated areas to accommodate professional scouts, a media interview room as well as an advanced video editing and distribution center.”


Also included in the project are two turf practice fields and an improved grass practice field for the football program.”

Are fantastic locker rooms with flat screen tv’s and six story practice facilities an advantage when it comes to recruiting?  Do we really need to discuss this?

What teams do when recruiting athletes is a huge deal and usually noticed by all.

For example, when Steve Sarkisian first arrived at UW early in 2009, there was a big huge near-controversy when Jeremiah Tofaeono, a high school lineman from Las Vegas who eventually committed to Utah, claimed that during his recruiting visit to the University of Washington, UW gave him and all the recruits “jerseys with our names on them, and then we ran out onto the field through the tunnel”

A smoke machine had allegedly been involved too, giving UW a huge recruiting advantage that resulted in this year’s team barely winning half its games after several blow-outs.

Nevertheless there was a big humongous stink made about it, especially when others noted what Jim Moore of the Seattle PI, brought it up in his column in June of 2009.  Moore concluded that the Huskies didn’t actually give out jerseys with their names on them, but he was still ticked off about a perceived advantage the Huskies may have had.

This is how touchy the recruiting process has become.  But perhaps some of this is the lingering effects of what had happened a decade and a half earlier in Seattle, with this same institution?

Does Phil Knight’s donations give Oregon a recruiting advantage?

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In 1992, after National Champ UW beat Sanford for it’s 22nd win in a row, the Seattle Times ran a story that eventually lead to the storied University of Washington steamroller being belted with NCAA sanctions that some say still hinders it’s ability to recruit to this very day.

To quote  “The story detailed how UW’s star quarterback Billy Joe Hobert received loans from an Idaho scientist named Charles Rice.  A month later, The Los Angeles Times began its own series of articles, attacking the integrity of the Washington’s football program. Speculation ran wild across America as to whether under Don James, Washington was an outlaw football program.

On August 22, 1993, following a six-month investigation, the Pac-10 Conference put Washington on a two-year bowl probation.  They also docked the Huskies 20 scholarships and $1.4 million in television revenue.

The punishment was the most severe in conference history.  The Pac-10’s report detailed 24 allegations referencing Hobert, Husky boosters and manipulated expense reports by student hosts.

But the Pac-10 also stated that “there was no evidence that the University of Washington set out to achieve a competitive advantage” (Husky Football in the Don James Era, p. 273).

The investigation determined that Charles Rice wasn’t a booster, and had no connection to the University of Washington. The Pac-10 did say that although Rice’s loan was inappropriate because it was predicated on Hobert’s projected NFL earnings, it was “inconclusive” whether Husky coaches should have known about its existence.

106463606_crop_340x234Harry How/Getty Images

The Pac-10 cited a booster in Southern California for instances of paying Husky players for minimal or non-existent work in a summer jobs program  (Husky Football in the Don James Era, p. 272).”  But again, the school knew nothing about it nor could they have.

The report listed among the terrible despicable Husky advantages, were huge recruiting advantages like  fruit baskets given to recruits and pretty $2 T-shirts. Compare that to the hundreds of millions in facilities that Knight is funding at Oregon, and it makes the “major violations” at UW seem absurd.

After NCAA hit the Huskies with sanctions, the immediate response most University of Washington fans voiced was the same typical response most fans of winning programs have, when the program is caught with it’s hand in the cookie jar:

“The rest of the Pac10 can’t beat us, so instead they penalized us with trumped-up charges.”

But it wasn’t only Husky fans saying this. Former Washington State coach Jim Walden, a rival of James’s, expressed his thoughts.

“It’s almost like police brutality that the conference would go beyond the law,” he said.  “They put the death penalty on Don James, one of the most highly respected people in our profession” (Husky Football in the Don James Era, p. 273).

Indeed the same noise can be heard from Southern California today as the reality to the Reggie Bush situation takes hold this month.  Bleacher Report’s own featured reporter BillN, writes in his article  10 Reasons , that the NCAA arrived with a pre-determined outcome long before the evidence was heard, and sites at least nine other reasons why the NCAA and their penalty scheme is blatantly hypocritical.

106463718_crop_340x234Harry How/Getty Images

Obviously he is right, since the sole purpose of the NCAA apparatus is to keep amateur athletes unpaid while those they labor for, reap hundreds of millions in profits from television contracts and paid attendance.

Yet when compared to advantages being showered upon the University of Oregon by Phil Knight, the Reggie Bush situation at USC seems fairly minor. How can an institution be zapped with two years of bowl bans and dozens of scholarships lost, when Oregon has one it’s alumni’s showering millions on the athletic facilities?  How is that fair?!

Meanwhile, Oregon fans mutter about Auburn’s Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. But they too could find themselves in hot water, if the track record of what happens after a program finds success, is repeated in Oregon’s case.  Especially when a deep south team is involved, where football takes near-religious priority.

In Eugene, the Ducks and Phil Knight carry on without a worry, announcing astounding new uniforms for the title game while alumni stick out their little Duck chest feathers in pride.

More spectacular athletic facilities are being built and bragged about, to replace the already-spectacular locker rooms adorned with large high def flat screen tv’s.  Recent recruits site the uniforms,  and the stuff, as the main reason they committed to the University of Oregon Ducks.

Meanwhile the rest of the Pac10, and perhaps the rest of the country, wonder how this cannot be a huge recruiting advantage? It represents a blessing from the NCAA, the same NCAA that many feel unjustly punished USC, UW, SMU, and many other schools over the past four decades.

Written by PhilCaldwell

December 18, 2010 at 11:31 am

Oregon’s Obnoxious No. 1 Ducks Eek Out Unimpressive 2-Point Squeeker vs.Cal

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BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 13:  Darron Thomas #1 of the Oregon Ducks motions for a first down that clinched their game against the California Golden Bears at the end of the fourth quarter at California Memorial Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Saturday night the California Bears showed up at a packed out Memorial Stadium, trying to out-ugly the Oregon Ducks by wearing headache-inducing all-yellow uniforms.

Duds that made them look like a misguided burlesque vegetable act of dancing bananas, or something disturbingly hideous like that. Just perfect for games played in fog, or for hunting birds in thick forests, or even stopping traffic,.  But not-so-much for playing football on tv.

Not-to-worry.  This was the Oregon Ducks being entertained tonight, a uniform-challenged team in their own right that routinely shows up in color combinations that can kill grass.

But tonight the Ducks actually looked surprisingly presentable, with green pants and white shirts with white helmets.  Normal green too, not that zeon lime Seahawk color that leaves spots in your eyes.

The Ducks and Bears played a brutal defensive battle tonight on a warm evening in the Bay Area, with Oregon barely managing to hang on to a two point lead for the entire last quarter and a half.

The Ducks scored a total of zero points after the first few minutes in the second half while being dominated by California’s defensive line for all but the last drive.

Ironic if not somewhat amusing, because before the kickoff, tv pundits were speculating that “this might be the best college offense in the history of the game.”

106814471_crop_340x234Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

And while the statement was enough to make most viewers urp up blood, soon the pundits looked foolish as Oregon limped out of the gates with two straight fourth and twos. The first successful, but the second stuffed, giving the Bears a first down at the 50 yard line with just over three minutes played.

With the Ducks looking nothing like the hyped up super-team, the Bears immediately set off on a six play TD scoring drive of their own that consumed all of two and a half minutes.

After an errant pass play up the middle, the Bear’s Shane Vereen cranked off a nifty 34 yard run to the Duck’s 17.

Four running plays later, all Vereen, the Bears were up quickly seven zip.

A quick three and out later, and the Bears once again had the ball at their own 27, but fizzled after seven plays that left them with a fourth and one at their own 48.

A very short & high punt later, Oregon was in business from their own 19.

Oregon ran a quick six play drive using their traditional hurry-up offense with a mere 10-15 seconds between plays.

Didn’t work.  They stalled and punted, giving the Bears the ball at their own 12 with three minutes left in the first quarter. But the Bears too, stalled after seven plays, and punted back to end the first quarter.

Oregon had been shut out in the first quarter for the second straight week, hardly justifying the hype that had been poured upon them before the game. This was the best offensive team in college history?  Seriously?!?

The second quarter started mostly the same way, with both defenses taking over.  A quick three and out, a punt, and the Bears had the ball at their own 20 before they too went three and out.

Followed by an Oregon four play dead end drive, yet another punt back to California, who promptly went five plays before punting back again.

This had gotten pitiful!  Hoards were seen daydreaming about which color to paint their bathroom ceilings.

Oregon followed that by going three and out,, getting as far a the California 42.  Their punt pinned the Bears on the 3 yard line..

California, still leading 7-0 with half of the second quarter burned,  went another ugly three and out, finally punting from their own end zone.  This time the Duck’s Cliff Harris woke up the crowd by racing 65 yards for the first Oregon touchdown.

Before the Bears knew what hit them, Oregon had jammed a two point conversion down their throats for an unimpressive but effective 8-7 lead with 6:34 left in the first half.

After a kickoff and a 28 yard return, California got the ball and gained a first down with the help of a questionable pass interference call, but then three plays later punted once again. This time out of bounds to make sure Harris didn’t burn them again with another return.

Oregon took over from their own 35 and with a bit of momentum, managing to drive the ball to the California red zone with a nifty 16 play drive before ending the first half on a rare missed 37 yard field goal that hooked left.

Thus at the half it was a rather unimpressive 8-7 Duck lead.  A defensive battle yes, but hardly the kind of offensive fireworks that everyone had promised!

Oregon’s total offense had amassed a paltry and embarrassing 68 yards, their lowest total at halftime all season.

Perhaps the football gods were getting even for the Ducks running up the score on the hapless Washington Huskies the week before?

The start of the second half saw the Ducks kick off returned by the Bears to their own 20.

On the first play of the second half, throwing from the shotgun, California’s backup-turned-starting quarterback Brock Mansion, hit Keenan Allen with an ugly knuckle ball for a short gain over the middle.

106812319_crop_340x234Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

But on the second play of the second half, he fumbled the ball causing squealing from the friendly crowd, which Oregon jumped on at the 29.

Only the fifth lost fumble for California all season.

Oregon’s QB Darron Thomas immediately hit Jeff Maehl for a one play TD drive, their 31st touchdown drive in less than five plays this season.  Seven points in 30 seconds after it had taken them the entire first half to score eight.

15 to 7 Oregon with 14:29 left in the third quarter.

Certainly not the light show that the proud and delighted Oregon fans were expecting.

A kickoff, and quick three and out, and Oregon had the ball again at midfield.  But six plays later and another missed field goal from 48 yards, and California was back in business.

The Bear’s next nine play drive stalled at their own 41 when Marvin Jones dropped another ball that he should have caught, and once again California punted.

Oregon had the ball on their own 12 yard line.

For the first big California play of the game since their opening drive, Derrick Hill slapped the ball out of a throwing Oregon QB Darron Thomas’s hands, which the Bears jumped on in the end zone for a touchdown.

106812362_crop_340x234Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

15-13 Ducks with 9:11 left in the third quarter.  That would be it for scoring.

California tried a two point conversion, but Manson’s pass sailed over Marvin Jone’s head on the left side. No good,

Oregon responded with a three and out, finished when DJ Davis’ caught ball came up three yards short near midfield on the Duck’s own 47.

Oregon punted, California took over on their own 10, and took the ball all the way to the Duck 10 yard line on a 14 play drive, aided by a knucklehead Duck pass interference and another face mask personal foul.

End of the third quarter.

At the beginning of the fourth things were looking better for the Berkley boys of California.  Their kicker, the sensational Georgio Tavecchio, had not missed from 24 yards in over three years.  And he didn’t this time either, drilling it.

But a weird illegal motion call against the Bears forced them to re-kick, and this time he hooked the 29 yarder left for his first miss in his collegiate career from that distance.

Still 15-13 Ducks.

An offensive effort uncharacteristic for both teams, especially the Bears, who prior to this game had averaged 47 points per game at home all season.

Which team should be BCS #1?

  • TCU

  • Boise State

  • Auburn

  • Oregon


Total votes: 337

The Ducks took over and drove it to the California 36 in a ten play drive that ended on an incomplete pass on fourth and seven. Five plays later, California punted it into the end zone.

Oregon took over at their own 20 with nine minutes left, and this time took their time between plays while driving it clear down to the Bear five yard line on 18 plays, to run out the game clock, taking knees to end the game.

A surprising gesture from a team who ran hurry-ups with a huge lead the week prior.

The Ducks won the game by two points.

California came away knowing they could have won had they merely made one more defensive stand.

Oregon is now 10-0 for the first time in their history, facing Arizona next week before finishing the regular season with the civil war game against the despised and hungry Oregon State Beavers.

The same Beaver team that lost today as Washington State broke a 16 game Pac10 losing streak by surprising them in a rout 31-14.

Meanwhile California, now 3-4 in the conference and a disappointing 5-5 overall, faces Stanford next weekend and finishes at Washington in what could be their last chance at a bowl game.

Oregon is still #1, but could be in trouble with this week’s BCS polling since Auburn rolled over conference rival Georgia 49-31.

(Hey kids! Don’t miss last week’s adoring Oregon piece against UW!) 


(Boise State Football:  Why They Should Never Be Allowed in a BCS Title Game)

Written by PhilCaldwell

November 14, 2010 at 12:10 pm