Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pac-12 One and Done?

With the finally official Texas A&M move today, is the Big 12 finally going to crumble from within?

The speculation is already beginning that the Big 12 is one member away, now, from crumbling. Some believe that Oklahoma, which, by the very nature of it's relationship with Oklahoma State would almost assuredly include them in any proposed move, is about to jump ship and seek admission to the Pac-12.

This would allow Texas to save some face and not be the "team that destroyed the Big 12." At this point, that is all Texas has in this fight, a chance to save face. After all, it was their greed that nearly destroyed the conference a year ago; and it is their greed that has ultimately destroyed the conference forever. Texas, you see, has been humbled. A year ago, Texas fancied itself the new Notre Dame. A team with enough tradition, fan-base and fervor to go out on their own; but they still liked the benefits of being in what amounted to a cupcake walk towards a National Championship Game.

Unfortunately, along their path to surefire riches beyond belief, Texas found out that, outside of Texas, there was not a real demand for their new Longhorn Network. A year ago, the musical chairs that Texas played with conference politics was never really about leaving the Big 12. It was always about getting their own network and ensuring that the revenue was not distributed equally. In the ever changing landscape of college football, the best method of ensuring your place at the top is to have more money than the "other guy." Texas had successfully held the rest of the Big 12 hostage. Save for the departure of Nebraska, the Big 12, and Texas, had little concern over losing Colorado. Their hubris in believing that they could control the conference to their favor is likely the downfall of the conference.

Now, just a little over a year after the college football foundation was almost swarmed under by a tidal wave of realignment, it appears that the "Super Conferences" may come sooner than expected. And, when the dominoes start to fall, expect some major changes. College football conferences as we know them will be a thing of the past. There is a very real likelihood that the Pac-12 will be the Pac-16 by next year. And, if that happens, if the Pac-12 is a simple "one and done" conference before expanding again, expect the rest of the college football landscape to be drastically altered.

Good or bad, this change is going to happen. Probably just sooner than we thought. Hang on, folks, this may get a bit bumpy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thoughts on Oregon-LSU Game

Okay, here they are, the long anticipated thoughts on Oregon-LSU. What's that? No one was waiting in anticipation for these thoughts? Oh, well, let's try that again then.

Okay, here they are, the long delayed thoughts on the Oregon-LSU game.

We have heard considerable talk about the rebuilt Offensive Line against the stout Defensive Line of LSU. And there is validity to that thought process. Pundits have hearkened back to the opening game in 2009 as evidence of what the Oregon offense looks like with a rebuilt offensive line. The problem is, that those are two very different scenarios.

2009 OL vs. 2011 OL


It has been well chronicled just how little playing experience the 2009 offensive line had entering the Boise State game. Combined the unit had a total of 19 starts under their belts in the previous season. Carson York was coming off of a redshirt season in which he did not play. Bo Thran had 4 starts the previous season as did Jordan Holmes. C.E. Kaiser was the “veteran” of that group with 10 starts to his name. They were truly an inexperienced line. What's more, due to the lack of quality depth in 2008, there was not a whole lot of game experience for that group, period. They just had not seen much action.
Carson York (Photo Courtesy


Contrast that true lack of game experience in 2009 with the group entering the season in 2011. Two of those players, York and Asper each have more individual starts than the entire 2009 squad (Asper 24, York 23). A third starter, Darrion Weems started 8 games last year and appeared in 3 more games as the unit's top reserve lineman. A fourth starter this season, Ramsen Golpashin saw action in all 13 games last season. He has been in the pits against the likes of Auburn. He has seen fire as well. That leaves one, glaringly inexperienced lineman, Center Hroniss Grasu.

Certainly there is always concern when you graduate offensive linemen. However, these Duck linemen are not as inexperienced as that 2009 group. Considering two of those starters against Boise State are still stalwarts on the 2011 OL (York, Asper) line, the offesive line in 2011 is in considerably better shape than it was in 2009.

Furthermore, the quality behind the starters is significantly better as well. Nick Cody and Ryan Clanton are the top two backup linemen. Nick appeared in 10 games last year and Clanton would start for many other Pac-12 teams.

This Offensive Line will fare considerably better than the 2009 version.


Nick Fairley (Photo Courtesy
Many people point to the last two bowl games as “proof” that Oregon struggles in big games. Unfortunately, this is a much too simplistic method to analyze the outcomes of those games. There are two very important factors for those games that came into play. The first one is discussed here, Defensive Linemen.

Looking first at Ohio State; lost in the discussion of that game is that the Ducks out-rushed the Buckeyes (UO 33-179-5.4 ypc; Oh. St. 51-153-3.0 ypc). The Buckeyes success was not as much that they controlled the running game; they controlled the passing game. Masoli went 9-20-81 yards and 1 INT that day; a miserable performance.

From a rushing standpoint, though the Ducks did not put up some crazy video game number, it's not as if Ohio State was throwing the Ducks for a loss on every other play. Lamichael James' total yards lost were 9. Masoli also lost 9 yards (James had 79 yards gained, 9 yards lost for a net of 70 on 15 carries; Masoli gained 18 yards and lost 9 for a net of 9 on 6 carries).

You see THERE is the difference in that game; the Ducks circa 2009, were heavily reliant on the running threat of Masoli; if you bottled him up, then the others were not running wild. Ohio State bottled him up and, simply put, Masoli's arm could not compensate.

Looking at Auburn, well, two words, Nick Fairley. Without Nick Fairley, Auburn is not in Phoenix. Without Fairley, Auburn could not have beaten the Ducks. That can be said confidently as he was directly responsible for at least 9 points (Ducks safety and at least 1 TD the Ducks did not score).

LSU does not have a Nick Fairley. More importantly, Darron Thomas has proven time and time again, that his arm is most certainly capable of overcoming adversity in the running game. The Ducks no longer rely on the QB to be the person running the ball to make a defense honest.

Sam Montgomery (Photo courtesy
In fact, LSU has a very young defensive line. The one player who was a difference maker for them last year is a 245 pound defensive end. Sam Montgomery , in the first 5 games of 2010 recorded 18 tackles and 6 sacks before a knee injury ended his season. But he is young (sophomore) and aggressive. Duck fans should understand that an aggressive DE is a good thing, not a bad thing. Aggressive defensive ends play a pivotal role in the zone read. There are some new wrinkles in the playbook which are specifically designed to take advantage of this aggression.

On the other edge, they have a rotation of guys with different specialties as defensive ends.

As Montgomery told

"Kendrick (Adams, the other projected starter) has really caught up to the game. He has the athleticism of a receiver. He can really get off the edge. Lavar (Edwards) has the key role of keeping everybody calm. He's the wise old man. Lavar has been in the system for four years. He knows how to practice.
(Barkevious ) Mingo is nothing but a speedy guy. He is learning how to play the run. Chancey (Aghayere) is the run-stopper. He knows how to hold the edge."

The depth at defensive end is impressive, but each has an area of weakness that can be attacked. Certainly none of them compares to Cameron Heyward of Ohio State at defensive end.

As for the defensive tackles, LSU is extremely young up the middle with a true freshman (Anthony Johnson) and a sophomore (Mike Brockers ) as their projected starters. Johnson was the #1 rated defensive tackle in the nation by in the 2010 recruiting class and stands 6-4, 294 pounds while Brockers, who has put on 45 pounds since his arrival in 2009, now stands 6' 6” and weighs 300 pounds. The defensive tackles are certainly talented young men, but they are not yet Nick Fairley.

Does this mean that the LSU defense will be pushovers? Certainly not, that defense is always one of the best around. However, to point to the inexperience of the Oregon Offensive Line and use that as the barometer for how this game might turn is a little bit lazy. The current Oregon Offensive Line is nowhere near as inexperienced as the 2009 OL was in their first game. Comparatively speaking, this year's OL are grizzled veterans! And they will be going up against young, talented aggressive defensive linemen. There is no significant size advantage nor experience advantage for LSU in this game. This changes the tone of the “inexperienced OL of Oregon versus the elite defense of LSU.” The Duck OL actually has more starting experience than the starting DL of the Tigers.


Okay, this factor will be brief. Even had LSU played Jefferson in this game, as talented as he is; he is not Terrelle Pryor; he is not Cam Newton. The LSU offense will be nowhere near as dynamic as Auburn was last year or Ohio State the year before.


There will be no score prediction here, only a look at some of those factors which many others have used as a reason that the MIGHTY SEC will, once again, trounce upon the lowly Pac-12 school with the gimmicky uniforms and even more gimmicky offense. It should be established by now, that those factors are a little bit of a myth. Concepts taken out of context to garner nice headlines and “click-throughs.”

In reality, the Duck OL is not “rebuilt” like the 2009 group. In reality, this LSU DL is nowhere near as accomplished, at this point in time, as either Ohio State or Auburn were when the Ducks faced them. In reality, the LSU offense is nowhere near as dynamic and explosive as any of Boise State, Ohio State or Auburn. It should be noted here that Oregon held all three of those schools below their season average for points. Expect that trend to continue.

The only conclusion offered here will be that Oregon most certainly has the tools to beat LSU. The Oregon offense should be able to move the ball relatively well against the inexperienced LSU defense. The Oregon Defense should be able to contain a depleted offense that was not very dynamic in the first place.

This Dallas trip could be just the beginning of another magical season for the Ducks.

Social Capital and Football

To build bridging social capital requires that we transcend our social and political and professional identities to connect with people unlike ourselves. This is why team sports provide good venues for social- capital creation. (Putnam, 2000: 411)

Sport and social capital is a result of this proposition and others like it that suggestively position sport as an institution capable of creating substantial social capital. Even a cursory examination of public discourses that relate to sport and leisure reveals that politicians, academics, sport administrators, policymakers, journalists, athletes and commentators are convinced the idea that sport is a vehicle for the creation, development and maintenance of social capital is, at the very least, intuitively correct.

So begins the introduction to the book Sport and Social Capital (2008, Nicolson, Hoye). The book seeks to take a deeper, examined look into the connections between sport and what the authors call “social capital.” Social capital is defined as a sociological concept, which refers to connections within and between social networks. This concept details the importance of social connections and the crucial role cooperation and confidence play to attain economic results which benefit a collective rather than individual.

The explosion of college football over the last twenty years might be directly tied to this concept. Many commentators speculate about the lack of social interaction over this time frame, yet, at the same time, college football has exploded in popularity. Are the concepts of less personal social interaction and explosion of college football related?

I think the answer is yes.

As technology has advanced, our ability to communicate with one another has increased tremendously. While in South Dakota coaching, I was able to speak with family every night and see them through Skype, a free online video cam centered conversation. Skype is but a small fragment of our communicative ability. Look around, you will likely see men, women and children on a cellular phone. Twenty years ago, cellular phones were for the wealthy. Not so today.

At restaurants, you are likely to see husband and wife, sitting together, on their cell phones. Technology has advanced far beyond simple mobile phone calls to having these hand held, small devices, also act as portals to the internet. This has been a boon to instant information. However, it has had a negative side effect; less personal interaction. That same husband and wife sitting together, transfixed on their portable devices barely speak to one another.

To create an illusion of interaction, there are many great tools we use. This has expanded to websites that allow us to communicate with a wide array of people with a few “keystrokes” on a keyboard. First there was MySpace, an online “social networking” site. This allowed people to create connections based on many factors. Facebook has changed the way we communicate to not only our friends, but with others that might share a common interest and little else. With “status updates” people frequently broadcast their feelings on broad subject matter to hundreds, even thousands of people at a time.

This is not really interaction, though. Human beings are inherently social by nature. While social networking allows us to feel connected to others briefly, it does not give us that one-on-one, face-to-face communication that we deeply need to maintain our social bonds.

Enter sports.

As discussed in the Aesthetic Beauty of Football, sport has an appeal to people for many reasons. Certainly people are attracted to a wide variety of different sports for a multitude of reasons. On a more basic level, however, people are seeking others with whom they can share a common bond. The appeal of college athletics is that there is a built-in bond. We all grow up in the shadow of a major university. Most of us know someone who went to the same university. In smaller cities, like Eugene, this becomes a community. We feel a part of something when we share this common bond. Though I may like to lift weights and read philosophy with my free time; be more liberal in my political views. Steve, my long time “seat neighbor” at Autzen differs in just about every facet of his personal life. He is more conservative, works in an entirely different industry than myself and is not the avid power lifter like myself. Yet, after securing the Rose Bowl berth in 2009 with a victory over Oregon State, there we were, sharing high fives and hugging like two long time best friends. Form a football standpoint, we probably are like best friends. I have watched two young men who sit behind me grow from grade school kids to college graduates. Though you only see these people six or seven times a year, you feel like you know them.

Tailgating has become a natural off-shoot of this social bonding. To further enhance relationships built around a sport, we gather, prior to each game, to share talk of our common interest (football), food, drink and laughs.

So, while our daily lives seem to become less and less about personal interactions, our outside interests become more and more about seeking out people with similar interests. This is a great explanation for the existence of fan-centric websites devoted to a team and its fans. We desperately reach out to find others with common interests. We are so busy living our hectic lives; commuting long distances to work; working excruciatingly long hours; desperately striving to maintain what we have worked so hard to build; that we need the diversion. As we enjoy our diversions, we seek company. While it has been said that misery loves company, it can also be said that joy seeks company.

Think for a moment; when something brings you joy, do you really want to be alone? Or would you prefer to share that joy with others? I believe we want to share that joy with others. And, Saturdays at Autzen allow us that ability.

The growth of college athletics is directly tied to our diminishing personal contact on a daily basis. As our daily lives become more and more void of positive personal contact, our love of sport, particularly college sports, grows ever stronger.

And, in this, I find no reason to fear that growth. Embrace this as it only shows we are human. We seek social contact. Human beings are, at their core, social animals. Don't believe me? Look around this Saturday. People you have never met will interact with you after a great play simply because you share an affinity for a particular university.

For my part, people I have never met will come to a parking lot, eat food, drink beverages and laugh as we discuss Oregon Football.

This is proof, to me, that there is hope for the future.

Monday, August 29, 2011

COUNTERPOINT: Oregon HAS won big games; ascended to college football elite


In Ken Goe's analysis of the the Oregon Ducks under Chip Kelly, the average reader and casual fan might read along, nod their heads and agree with the assertion that Chip Kelly has never won a “big game.”

Setting aside, for a moment, the platitude of Chip Kelly referring to “every game as a Super Bowl” is this actually true? Have the Ducks been unable to win a big game during Chip Kelly's tenure as head coach of the Oregon Ducks? I will say that the answer is, unequivocally, no, this is NOT true. The Ducks have won a few big games during the Kelly's reign as Head Coach.

I am not going to sit here and attempt to convince ANYONE that every game is the Super Bowl. Every game IS important, but every game is not the Super Bowl, Rose Bowl or even Peach Bowl. In the 2010 season, the Ducks flew all over the field with ease in dismantling New Mexico and Portland State in lopsided home victories. There were no Super Bowl's those days, only very valuable information about key players to a National Championship contender.

Let us look, now, at 3 “big games” the Ducks actually won, contrary to Goe's assertions, these games WERE on a national stage and most certainly mattered.

I. USC @ Oregon, October 31, 2009

Lamichael James-Photo Courtesy Register Guard
Many people forget, due to Oregon's complete dismantling of the Trojan aura, that USC came in to this contest ranked 6 spots higher in the polls than Oregon. At this time, USC had a loss to the unranked, unheralded Washington Huskies, yet still stood there ranked #4 in the nation while Oregon, after losing it's season opener at Boise State had rebounded to move up to #10 in the polls.

At the time, the Trojans had won, or shared, the conference title every year since 2002. ESPN GameDay was in town; the game was to be broadcast at 5PM Pacific time; this was a national broadcast with national appeal. USC had cache, pedigree and history. Oregon had only cache.

Forgotten in the final score is the fact that USC did take an early 3-0 lead. As late as 3:00 left in the first half, this was a tie game. At halftime, the game was still close and seemed competitive. The second half, though, told a different story as the Ducks ran circles around, over and through a USC defense that had never given up the kind of yardage Oregon amassed that evening. The loss was historic on many levels. Not only did Oregon completely dismantle the aura of invincibility surrounding the Trojans, they also handed Pete Carroll the worst loss during his tenure as USC coach as well as the worst defeat USC had suffered since 1997. En route to the convincing victory, 2 different rushers went for over 160 yards (James, 24-183; Masoli 13-164).

This game was big; it had national implications and the Ducks won the game. convincingly.

II. OSU @ Oregon, December 3, 2009

Duck Mascot Celebrates Civil War Victory, 2009
For the first time in the 115 year history of The Civil War, the winner was guaranteed a spot in the Rose Bowl. It became a de facto Conference Championship game. Though Oregon State had suffered some early season losses, they came in ranked #16 in the nation. This game is a true rivalry game and you can never discount the underdog in rivalries.

The game did not disappoint. Oregon State did their best to contain the Ducks. People may forget that the Beavers had several leads during this game, including leading the Ducks late in the third quarter.

After a breakaway 52 yard TD run by LaMichael James with 1:20 left in the third quarter and a field goal by Morgan Flint gave the Ducks a 4 point lead with 10:00 left, the Beavers were methodically moving the ball down the field getting as far as the Oregon 21. A huge sack by Kenny Rowe and subsequent incompletion by Sean Canfield gave the Ducks the ball back with 6:09 left in the game.

The game still had a long time left. A 30 yard gain by recently reinstated Legarette Blount got the Ducks out of the Oregon State side of the field. However, the game was not fully determined until 2 BIG 4th Down conversions helped the Ducks run out the clock and earn their first Rose Bowl berth since 1995. This was the first time that the Ducks had needed a methodical rundown of the game clock to secure victory.

On a cool December Thursday night, with a national audience looking on, the Ducks had propelled themselves to the Rose Bowl with a tough Civil War victory. They did not back in to the game. Without this win, there is no 2010 Rose Bowl for the Ducks. This was a very large win.

The 2009 season provided two very big, very important wins. Without these wins, the Ducks are not 2 time defending Pac-10 champions. These were both national games with the college football world watching. The Ducks did not disappoint.

III. Stanford @ Oregon, Saturday October 2, 2010

A Flock of Ducks-Photo Courtesy Register Guard
Once again ESPN College GameDay was in Eugene for a battle between two top 10 teams. This time, Oregon's opponent was the high flying Stanford Cardinal. Coming in undefeated and ranked # 9 in the country, many predicted Stanford to end the Ducks winning ways in 2010 much the same way they did in 2009.

Lost in the potential run to a National Title game was how Stanford ran over Oregon in 2009 en route to a win over the eventual Pac-10 Conference Champions. Though Toby Gearhart was gone, the 2010 Stanford team was actually a more complete football team. Andrew Luck, the all everything QB for the Cardinal would finish second to Cam Newton in the Heisman trophy voting. The team was filled with athletes on both sides of the ball.

Many expected Oregon's pace to wear down the Cardinal early. That was difficult to do, though, as Stanford jumped to a very quick, surprising 21-3 lead. There was a collective groan through the Duck Empire when Stanford scored it's third TD of the first quarter.

After Oregon cut the lead to 21-10 on a 29 yard pass from Darron Thomas to Jeff Maehl, Duck fans feared the worst. Stanford was about to get the ball back and the Ducks had not shown much ability to stop Andrew Luck and the Cardinal. And then, Chip Kelly does what he does best, he gambled. Kelly ordered an onside kick and the Ducks recovered! After securing that kick, the Ducks marched 54 yards in 7 plays and just under 2:00 scoring on a 5 yard TD run by LaMichael James to make it a game again.

By the end of the day, after staggering out of the gates to a 21-3 deficit, Oregon turned on the jets outscoring Stanford 49-10 in the final three quarters of the game; including 28-0 in the second half. Along the way, the Ducks cemented their position as the best team in the Pac-10 conference in 2010. This victory would also help propel them to the first ever #1 ranking in school history a few weeks later.

The win was significant on several levels. Stanford was a top 10 team that had beaten them in their previous meeting. They were a “power” team that was supposed to be able to manhandle the Ducks on both sides of the ball. Stanford had the best QB in the conference, a Heisman runner up and sure-fire #1 pick when he declares for the NFL draft leading the way. Andrew Luck had a very good game. During the 2010 season, Luck threw for 32 TD's and 8 interceptions. Two of those interceptions came against a very under rated Duck defense. As LaMichael James sprinted to a clinching 76 yard touchdown run, Jerry Allen uttered the most prophetic words as the Ducks had indeed made a STATEMENT, STATEMENT, STATEMENT.

Without victory in this game, the Ducks do not play Auburn in Phoenix. Without this victory, Oregon likely plays elsewhere while Stanford rolls to a National Championship Game. Stanford went on to finish 12-1 culminating in a 40-12 beat down of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Certainly, on a national stage, against a team headed to an Orange Bowl victory, Chip Kelly and the Ducks had proven that they could win the big game.


To say that Oregon cannot win on a national stage is disingenuous at best. Oregon, over the last 2 seasons, has won plenty of games; some even on this, so-called, national stage. The aforementioned games were all critical national games which share one thing in common; Duck victory. If the Ducks lose either to USC or Oregon State in 2009; if they lose to Stanford in 2010, the Duck BCS bids are non-existent. Those wins propelled them to prominence.

Certainly Duck fans would have preferred to have celebrated a victory over Ohio State in the 2010 Rose Bowl. And, not a fan I ran into in Phoenix is content with suffering a close loss. Duck fans would love nothing more than to win a big time bowl game this season. Duck fans would be ecstatic with a victory over LSU this week. However, to say that Chip Kelly has not won on a national stage is just flat out wrong. Anyone can pick three losses and say “see, cannot win the big game.” Look at the bigger picture, though, and you will see Chip has won just as many “big games” as he has lost. But that doesn't paint the picture some want to sell.

Here at The Other Side of Duck, however, we show you a different perspective. Chip Kelly has won big games on a national stage with huge implications. Sometimes, though, you run into a player that simply takes over a game. Ask Pete Carroll about Vince Young.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

QUACK BACK: Volume 1

There were quite a few news stories this week surrounding Duck Athletics. Here is a quick Quack Back to three for the road.


Photo Courtesy
Much like the Kamikaze Kids did to UCLA, the Oregon Women's Volleyball team pulled off, perhaps, the most stunning accomplishment in the history of Oregon Athletics by dismantling a four time defending National Champion Penn State team 3-1. To do this AT Penn State is even more incredible. Penn State had a 94 match winning streak at home. They had not lost a regular season match since 2004.

A big congratulations to Jim Moore and the Oregon Women's Volleyball team for this incredible accomplishment!


Photo Courtesy Nike
This week also saw the release of the Nike Pro Combat Uniforms for the Cowboys classic. The uniform release generated quite a buzz across the Oregon fan base as well as the internet search databases. Aside from the obvious aesthetic appeal of these uniforms to their intended audience, the young men who play college football, it should also be noted that these uniforms are scientifically advanced as well.

With the hype around the design and the ever changing Oregon uniform combinations, do not look past the advances of the uniform design. Specifically, the Hypercool top with mesh inserted cooling zones; Hyperstrong Compression shorts with integrated padding and lightweight materials designed for speed.

While fans may long for a bit of nostalgia, one thing is certain, the uniform designs will not likely remain stagnant for long. As long as there are young men assisting the designers of these uniforms, there will be changes. The Ducks own Brian Jackson has taken an interest in uniform design as well. In fact, he spent some time at Nike over the summer meeting with a Jordan designer. The future is not yet written, but Oregon seems to be remaining at the cutting edge of uniform design.


Photo Courtesy
The end of fall camp brought about the speculation of football depth chart questions. One thing fairly certain is that Hroniss Grasu has won the day as the starting Center for the University of Oregon football team. Sprinkled in were very few surprises. Many of the positions, to Oregon fans seemed resolved. What we learned in camp is that Ricky Heimuli and Wade Keliikipi, when healthy, likely start at Defensive Tackle positions, but are backed up by Taylor Hart and Isaac Remington very capably. In the other two areas most fans concerned themselves with, the Offensive Line and Wide Receiver positions seem to have settled themselves well.

In reality, though, Duck fans learned last season that starting is not really relevant to what the Ducks do on both sides of the ball. What is most critical to the Ducks success is not who starts the game, but just how deep the Ducks can go into a rotation of players to keep the team fresh for a second half barrage. With the abundance of talent on both sides of the ball for the Ducks, do not expect this to be a problem in 2011.

That's it for Quack Back this week. It is game week for Oregon. Oregon takes a trip to Dallas this week for its highly anticipated season opener against LSU. Football season is upon us Duck fans.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Manufacturing Consent and it's Impact on Oregon Athletics

Note: This is the piece I mentioned last week. It is quite long, is opinion in nature and does tie back in to Oregon sports and the purpose of this blog in the first place. It uses extensive quotes of Noam Chomsky. I do not ascribe, personally, to all of his political leanings. However, I find the content of his Manufacturing Consent fascinating. It is applicable to what I have to say here. Not all will agree with this viewpoint, do not let that affect your enjoyment of future Duck articles here on The Other Side of Duck. I felt that this was a unique concept for a sports blog. Enjoy!

The world of journalism is seemingly living oblivious to their manufactured consent.

The petty attacks began on a Sunday. I had completed an interview and posted a story. The article was the culmination of countless hours of dialog, back and forth messaging and relationship building. Yes, I had built trust with a family and friends looking for a deeper story. From the beginning of the quest, I was as honest as possible about my original intent: there was none other than investigating a story from a different angle.

The original articles were simply a result of requests by fellow Oregon football fans for a place they could read my thoughts in a coherent string rather than intermittent thoughts on a message board. There was never a request, by me, my family or friends to have this be anything more than me sharing thoughts. A “blog” in today's world, is really nothing more than an on-line journal. The original entries represented a collection of thoughts in journal form.

It exploded from there as the information was passed along to a radio station, then began to get wider distribution. Unlike newspapers, radio programs and television stations, I was not “promoting” the subject matter. I was simply gathering the facts I had access to and providing that compilation to others who were likewise interested in the subject.

Then came a lucky break; having learned of some facts not widely known, I contacted the principles and asked questions. The answers I received were then chronicled in a third article. When the third article was released, there were more requests which I fulfilled as graciously as possible. I expected that the third would be the last in the series; hoped may be a better word! Then, less than two weeks later, word began to leak that the subject of the original stories, Lache Seastrunk, was considering a transfer from the University of Oregon. Once more, the story became news.

Out of respect to the family and friends of Lache, I asked for, and was granted an exclusive interview with Lache Seastrunk. The interview was not the result of some mythical friendship, but respect for the manner in which I treated the subject from the beginning. The interview and final article should have allowed Lache Seastrunk to move on with his life in a graceful manner.

But then, traditional media became somewhat inflamed by the response from other fans. One particular journalist took to insulting my own credibility. It was a rather petty and snide comment that many of the people who enjoyed the article took offense to; a twitter war of the words began on Sunday shortly after I posted the article.

I have never talked to Lindsay Schnell. I have never emailed her; never commented on one of her stories. Yet, Sunday night, within three hours of the story being posted she had this to say:

“It's good to hear all sides of a story, but I hope everyone realizes that Scott Reed has basically no credibility & is clearly NOT objective”

Why exactly does a “respected” journalist feel the need to bash a person who is just presenting his own thoughts on a blog? There are answers, and answers she probably is not even aware of. Most will slough it off as professional jealousy because this was the second time in less than a month that I had been able to get an interview that no one else could land. That in itself, might have been understandable, but to publicly criticize goes well beyond professional jealousy.

Traditional journalists are trained to protect their institution. It is not well recognized, but protecting their job is vital to their continuation. In the “internet era” anyone can get their thoughts out to the masses very easily. Most newspapers have adapted decently and made their online versions as available and instantaneous as any individual. Breaking news stories are posted within minutes of their beginning; newspapers have gotten very aggressive in being able to respond quickly to world, national, regional and local stories as the break. Gone, though, are the days where paying subscribers fund news organizations. In the 1970's and 1980's, television stations relied heavily on advertising revenue for their survival. Newspapers, though, were able to be more objective in their reporting as their funds were subsidized by paying subscribers. That has all changed.


The Profit Agenda

Harold Laswell once said: “Dogma is a defensive reaction against doubt in the mind of the theorist, but doubt of which he is unaware.”

Lindsay Schnell is a relatively young journalist, still seeking to ensure the protection of her livelihood. She falls under Laswell's quote. Her reactions are against her own doubt, a doubt which she doesn't even recognize. As she grows in the profession and works toward advancing within a traditional news organization, the doubt will grow, and the awareness of the doubt will continue to dissipate.

Laswell continues on, “In what's nowadays called a totalitarian state, military state or something, it's easy. You just hold a bludgeon over their heads, but as societies become more free and democratic you lose that capacity and therefore you have to turn to the techniques of propaganda. The logic is clear—propaganda is to a democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”

What is Laswell referring to when he talks about propaganda? Simply put, he is referring to traditional media; they are the propagandists. At the lower reporter level, though, they are unaware. They are unaware because they are still blinded by an idealism of being the next “Woodward and Bernstein.” What they missed in Journalism school, though, was the underlying elitist mentality that was taught. Traditional journalists are taught to believe that, because they seek truth, they are better equipped to disseminate information.

Schnell shows her naiveté with another quote:

“Who is objective & has cred(ibility)? How about everyone who works for a real organization & doesn't have an agenda. Goe, Moseley, Schroeder, etc.”

Does Schnell really believe that these traditional, so-called, “real” organizations do not have an agenda? If so, she is much worse than just naive. But I will leave that for the reader to determine. In reality, Schnell works for The Oregonian; and The Oregonian has an agenda. First and foremost, the agenda of The Oregonian is to generate revenue and profit. In order to succeed, the newspaper must appeal to a wide variety of interests. Schnell, though, does not determine what is appealing, she simply submits her work to an editor who deems it's appropriateness before the story is released.

The Oregonian is part of a much larger conglomerate owned by Advance Publishing. All told, this organization owns 76 newspapers as well as multiple other magazines (including The Sporting News, GQ, Vanity Fair, Allure, Vogue, Golf Digest and a host of other “lifestyle” publications). Advance Publications is a media giant. Advance Publications, Inc., is a privately held communications company that, directly or through subsidiaries, owns Condé Nast Publications, Parade Publications, Fairchild Publications, American City Business Journals, the Golf Digest Companies; Advance Publications' subsidiaries also have extensive interests in cable television, as well as in Internet sites which are related to its print publications.

The Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Advance is Samuel Newhouse, Jr. who is rated as the 47th richest person in America with a net worth of 6.6 billion dollars. He and his brothers inherited the business from the father, Samuel Newhouse, Sr. Neither graduated from college, but both are native New Yorkers and considered philanthropic in their support of Syracuse University. In fact, Syracuse School of Communication is fully titled “S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.” The school was founded with a gift in 1964 and named for publishing magnate Samuel Irving Newhouse Sr. In 2003, his sons provided an additional gift of $15 million to the school.

Let's not pretend, though, that the gift is purely philanthropic. Journalism has merged into large conglomerates and they answer to ONE thing: profits. The Newhouse family did not create tens of billions of dollars of wealth by angering their Board of Directors. And this is where the news business gets tricky.

When you start from the bottom of the food chain, the “beat” reporter answers to their departmental editor who answers up a chain to the main Editor in Chief and Publisher. The Oregonian Editor is Peter Bhatia, a Stanford graduate. He answers to his Publisher, N. Christian Anderson III, an Oregon State Graduate. These men, of course, answer to the Corporate office which answers to their Board of Directors. The directions of newspapers are determined by corporate objectives.

Further clouding the control newspapers have over content, is the control they manufacture over beat reporters. In many cases they are young, hungry and idealistic. But they have large debt to pay just like every other college graduate and, like the rest of us, need to pay their bills.

Very telling is this tweet from Schnell:

She is correct, columnists do have editors. But editors are expected to maintain content not based solely on journalistic integrity, but on what they are told is policy. Policy from a corporate level is not related to journalism. It is about what content will generate the readership that then allows the company to rake in advertising dollars. Do not get me wrong, here, either, I am not against a company making profit. However, when a company's profit is at the expense of news, we must be wary of the content that is presented to us for our knowledge.

The Political Agenda

Further complicating the profit motive is the political agenda present in all media. Whether they like to admit to this motive is irrelevant, it exists. Noam Chomnsky tells us

We're talking primarily about the national media, those media that sort of set a general agenda that others more or less adhere to, to the extent that they even pay much attention to national or international affairs.

Now the elite media are sort of the agenda-setting media. That means The New York Times, The Washington Post, the major television channels, and so on. They set the general framework. Local media more or less adapt to their structure.

And they do this in all sorts of ways: by selection of topics, by distribution of concerns, by emphasis and framing of issues, by filtering of information, by bounding of debate within certain limits. They determine, they select, they shape, they control, they restrict -- in order to serve the interests of dominant, elite groups in the society. (Chomsky, 1992)

And this is the issue at hand with any and all criticism or critique from local media; they are merely responding to a challenge of the agenda as set forth by major media and followed along by local media. This is a very clever indoctrination into the belief that this is not actually the case.

To start with, there are two different groups, we can get into more detail, but at the first level of approximation, there's two targets for propaganda. One is what's sometimes called the political class. There's maybe twenty percent of the population which is relatively educated, more or less articulate, plays some kind of role in decision-making. They're supposed to sort of participate in social life -- either as managers, or cultural managers like teachers and writers and so on. They're supposed to vote, they're supposed to play some role in the way economic and political and cultural life goes on. Now their consent is crucial. So that's one group that has to be deeply indoctrinated. (Chomsky, 1992)

It is critical to the success of this model that journalists be deeply indoctrinated. It is fundamental that they not know they have been indoctrinated. Their idealism is key to the illusion that they are unbiased reporters working in a world where the truth is the ultimate objective. But it is not. The ultimate objective is far from what is truth. It's all about which part of the truth sells. Further belaboring this point is that the other eighty percent of society is, for the most part, desensitized.

Now there are other media too whose basic social role is quite different: it's diversion. There's the real mass media-the kinds that are aimed at, you know, Joe Six Pack -- that kind. The purpose of those media is just to dull people's brains.

This is an oversimplification, but for the eighty percent or whatever they are, the main thing is to divert them. To get them to watch National Football League. And to worry about "Mother With Child With Six Heads," or whatever you pick up on the supermarket stands and so on. Or look at astrology. Or get involved in fundamentalist stuff or something or other. Just get them away. Get them away from things that matter. And for that it's important to reduce their capacity to think. (Chomsky, 1992)

This is you and me; we are the ones that, typically, mass media aims to distract. Certainly I am not going to sit here and tell you that existence itself is some conspiracy theory of a few wealthy elite. However, what we call news is most certainly a controlled effort to maintain a certain “status quo” in this nation. There are very large publications, like The New York Times which some argue is the most important newspaper in the world. The Oregonian, for that matter, can be considered the most important newspaper in Oregon. At a state level, The Oregonian plays an extremely important role in shaping the perception of the current world on the part of the politically active, educated classes. Oregon history is what appears in The Oregonian archives. In 100 years, when most of us are gone, Oregon history will be to the future what The Oregonian says. With that comes a heavy burden the editors likely feel.

Because of this deep burden of presenting history, it is of the utmost importance that to ensure history is shaped in an appropriate way certain things appear, certain things not appear, certain questions be asked, other questions be ignored, and that issues be framed in a particular fashion. To be clear, it is critical to note that this has nothing to do with liberal or conservative bias.

What does this have to do with sports? Simple, sports is a very pivotal component of the aforementioned indoctrination system. Sports offers us something to pay attention to that is, in the long run, of little true importance. Sports keeps us from worrying about those things that truly matter in our lives; things that, without a preoccupation, we might consider the idea of doing something about. Think for a moment the amount of intellectual capacity everyday people use towards sports. Hell, I am doing it here! Listen to a call-in radio program and it is incredible to see the intelligence that is used by ordinary people in discussions of sports as opposed to political and social issues. These callers have the most exotic information and understanding about all kind of esoteric issues. The press most certainly has a lot to do with this.

Expanding upon this thought, the press needs to keep fans focused on a topic if they are truly shaping history. In the case of Oregon athletics, there is no doubt that local press has been shaping the history of Oregon for quite some time. Because Oregon has experienced unprecedented success in the sport most vital to a university, football, the history or Oregon athletics is inexorably tied to this success. The opinion makers recognize the need to divert attention to them, so they can continue to shape the rest of history. This is where negativity comes in to play.

Without a negative tint to Oregon athletics, Oregon fans might be inclined to start looking at the rest of history that The Oregonian is beginning to shape. Duck fans become very incensed whenever we see something negative about our team. Fans like me spend all of their free time looking for proof that these opinion shaping pundits are incorrect. We spend our time debating how to “quiet” these pundits. We think of exotic plans to boycott their paper, diminish their value. Does it really matter?

So what we have in the first place is major corporations which are parts of even bigger conglomerates. Now, like any other corporation, they have a product which they sell to a market. The market is advertisers -- that is, other businesses. What keeps the media functioning is not the audience. They make money from their advertisers. And remember, we're talking about the elite media. So they're trying to sell a good product, a product which raises advertising rates. And ask your friends in the advertising industry. That means that they want to adjust their audience to the more elite and affluent audience. That raises advertising rates. So what you have is institutions, corporations, big corporations, that are selling relatively privileged audiences to other businesses.

Well, what point of view would you expect to come out of this? I mean without any further assumptions, what you'd predict is that what comes out is a picture of the world, a perception of the world, that satisfies the needs and the interests and the perceptions of the sellers, the buyers and the product.

Now there are many other factors that press in the same direction. If people try to enter the system who don't have that point of view they're likely to be excluded somewhere along the way. After all, no institution is going to happily design a mechanism to self-destruct. It's not the way institutions function. So they'll work to exclude or marginalize or eliminate dissenting voices or alternative perspectives and so on because they're dysfunctional, they're dysfunctional to the institution itself.

Now there are other media too whose basic social role is quite different: it's diversion. There's the real mass media-the kinds that are aimed at, you know, Joe Six Pack -- that kind. The purpose of those media is just to dull people's brains. (Chomsky, 1992)

This is The Oregonian. They are here to dull our brains. The reporters? Most of them are completely oblivious to their role. Most reporters are simply trying to create their own lives. They are, as stated before, idealistic. Any of those that enter into the system who have a divergent point of view are likely to be excluded at some point of their career. No institution will create the mechanics of their own self-destruction. Successful institutions do not function in this manner. Schnell, and her colleagues are willing participants in this system as designed. They have an institution to protect and will give their entire being to exclude, minimize or eliminate altogether dissenting voices and alternate perspectives because they are dangerous to the institution itself.

Now, to eliminate confusion, all of this has nothing to do with liberal or conservative bias. According to the propaganda model, both liberal and conservative wings of the media -- whatever those terms are supposed to mean -- fall within the same framework of assumptions.

In fact, if the system functions well, it ought to have a liberal bias, or at least appear to. Because if it appears to have a liberal bias, that will serve to bound thought even more effectively.

In other words, if the press is indeed adversarial and liberal and all these bad things, then how can I go beyond it? They're already so extreme in their opposition to power that to go beyond it would be to take off from the planet. So therefore it must be that the presuppositions that are accepted in the liberal media are sacrosanct -- can't go beyond them. And a well-functioning system would in fact have a bias of that kind. The media would then serve to say in effect: Thus far and no further. (Chomsky, 1992)

This is the state we find ourselves in as we read through The Oregonian. Most of the writers are unaware of the role they play. They simply do what they are told; write stories they know will get printed and let the editors shape the news how they see fit. This does not, though, reduce their culpability. These writers are intelligent people who have the capacity to see the manner in which their opinions have been skewed to shape perception, yet they are unable or unwilling.

Certainly the media will not agree with this theory. They will say Chomsky is nothing more than an anarchist who is beyond just a liberal. And, they would be right in their characterization of Chomsky as an ultra-liberal. But that does not change the truth of this matter. That is just another diversion from the truth. They will turn your head by focusing on an extraneous factor. After all, if you are focused on your disdain for Chomsky's political leanings, you will be less likely to see whether his concept of manufacturing consent is real or imagined. And, isn't that exactly what Chomsky predicts?

When it comes to Oregon athletics, just remember, these writers are part of a bigger issue. It is not they who shape the opinions that appear in the paper; it is the editors in response to publishers and their conglomerate owners. It is business that shapes their opinions. They just do not know it.

Our love of Oregon athletics shall not be diminished simply because a few writers are following their editorial policy. Yes, sports is a diversion. We are diverted for a reason and that is okay. The writing of a few writers following corporate directives cannot and should not diminish our love of Oregon athletics. Nor will I allow the rantings of a young, impressionable reporter to silence my voice. There is another side to the stories they write. I do not need an editor or publisher to “approve” my content. This is not as much a defense of my writing as a critique of traditional media's approach to constant criticism of dissenting voices. I am a dissenting voice. I am not a “professional” journalist, but that does not diminish the point of view I have. In fact, my status as an outsider strengthens my point of view!

The readers have also been insulted throughout this process. By insulting my writing, traditional media have also insulted the readers. They are saying, in effect, since my opinion does not matter, the reader is wasting his or her time reading what I have to say. Understand, seeking out divergent opinions is a GOOD thing. If we let The Oregonian or The Register Guard be the sole source of our knowledge, we play into their agenda setting role. Keep reading; do not let anyone tell you which voice is legitimate and which voice is void. Be the keeper of what you consider legitimate information. The readers of this blog are capable of determining their own reasonable truth. They are entitled to opinions from both sides of the fence.

Credentials as a journalist do not change any facts I have presented nor any conclusions the reader has reached. Everyone has a bias and/or agenda in their writing. This blog is called The Other Side of Duck for a reason; to put a forth a unique perspective that few get to see elsewhere.

Read on and I will keep working hard to keep trying to let everyone see the other side.

Perspective on Saturday

With the news yesterday of Jordan Jefferson and Josh Johns' arrests for felony battery, there were many sides that spoke their mind. Regardless of how we might feel the QB change impacts the outcome of the most highly anticipated season opening game in a long time for Duck fans, it is important to remember that we are talking about the lives of two young men.

While these young men must deal with the repercussions of their actions, it is never a happy moment to see two young men make a mistake of such gravity that it could, literally, destroy everything that they have worked so hard to attain. There is the very real possibility that Jefferson may not graduate from LSU. There is no joy in his pain. And, though the alleged actions were despicable and scary, that does not diminish the anguish a young man goes through when he has to look in the mirror and realize just how much a little bit of anger, pride and/or bad judgment may end up costing.

From my personal perspective, I wish to commend the Duck fans that took the high road and went beyond how this impacted the game to being empathetic for the devastation that this action has caused so many people. Regardless of what happened that night, there are victims. This goes beyond how a football team is affected. Football is a sport where players go down to injury all the time; teams rally behind the back-ups and the season moves along.

A year ago, the Ducks were facing a season with a similar beginning. Let us not forget that not too long ago, Jeremiah Masoli was a Heisman candidate and unquestioned starting QB for the Oregon Ducks. That all changed very quickly and the Ducks entered a 2010 season with considerable uncertainty at QB. Though the timing in the Ducks case was a little easier to deal with as the two QB's vying to replace Masoli had several months to prepare and battle for the role, they still faced a dilemma similar to LSU.

When the Ducks were faced with turmoil, many fans from rival schools took great pleasure in our pain; and this caused many Duck fans quite a bit of anger. How was it, we thought, that other fans could be so callous? Let us not forget that pain; let us approach LSU's troubles with the dignity and class that we hope others show when we have troubles. Let us be better than those fans.

With Dallas only a week away, let us remember that there is never joy in the pain of young men. Everyone loses when we revel in the pain of young men.

Go Ducks!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Strength in All the Right Places

Several years ago, during Chip Kelly's first season as Offensive Coordinator for the University of Oregon, the Ducks were marching up and down the field. An historic win over the Michigan Wolverines started off the season. This was a season of promise.

As the Ducks rolled through their schedule, they faced a stiff challenge at home against a top 10 ranked Cal Bears team. The game was as exciting and close as many expected, possibly turning on a pivotal fumble near the end zone. The Ducks lost that game, but their season had plenty of promise. For the first time in a lifetime, the Ducks inched their way towards a possible national title. Many people still believe the Ducks could have won the National Championship Game that season; had they been at full strength.

Unfortunately, another trend had developed early in the season; injuries. Lost to season ending injuries were several key players on the team, including WR Brian Paysinger, RB Jeremiah Johnson and WR Cameron Colvin. Through these injuries, though, the Ducks kept playing at an extremely high level.

Then came the worst sight in recent Duck memory as Dennis Dixon, during a home win over Arizona State, fell to the ground with a knee injury. Duck fans were told it was not serious and that Dixon would play against the next opponent, Arizona. Play he did. In the first quarter, Dennis Dixon took a QB run up the middle 39 yards for a touchdown. There was relief and joy. Duck fans began to think about the impossible; a National Championship. And then the season fell apart. Dixon again fell to the ground with no contact. His season was over. By the time Civil War week rolled around, the Ducks were down to starting a fifth string QB.

Along this ride, I heard quite a few Duck fans begin to question whether the offense and/or the strength program was leading to the spate of injuries that befell the Ducks that season.

Strength Coach Jim Radcliffe (Photo Courtesy
Fast forward four years and I think many Duck fans have come to realize, the little man, Jimmy Radcliffe, a 52 year old dynamo of a man that can still outrun men less than half his age, is the reason for the Ducks continued rise to national prominence. Injuries can happen in a sport with so many strong men creating vicious physical contact. Football can be a brutal sport. Not just from the physical standpoint, but from an injury standpoint. Injuries are going to happen.

Jim Radcliffe is considered one of the top Strength & Conditioning Coaches in the nation. He has been a pioneer on many fronts and is a published expert in plyometrics. One of his pioneering methods is ice baths. After heavy workouts, the Ducks, for years, have taken ice baths. Ice is an incredible recovery assistant that most people forget is an important part of any good workout. Ice is not just for injuries.

Ice baths constrict blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity, which reduces swelling and tissue breakdown. Once the skin is no longer in contact with the cold source, the underlying tissues warm up, causing a return of faster blood flow, which helps return the byproducts of cellular breakdown to the lymph system for efficient recycling by the body. Ice baths don't only suppress inflammation, but help to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles. And this is something Oregon has been doing for years; especially during fall camp doubles days.

When Kelly took over as head coach before the 2009 season, he asked Radcliffe if he wanted to change anything about the team’s regimen. There were some ideas Radcliffe had that would fundamentally change the way Oregon prepared each week.

Now, as soon as the game ends Oregon players ice down. The benefit? The Ducks are now ready to go hard and fast on Monday. Most football teams, including the places I have coached myself, take Sunday and Monday as recovery days, then go hard on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before backing off on Friday. With after game ice baths, the Ducks are ready to go hard on Monday. Following two more hard practices on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Ducks back off on Thursday for some recovery.

What about Friday? While most teams are doing a walk through, the Ducks train hard; they ramp back up so that they are an an upswing of performance for Saturday.

"If you’re backing off on Friday, you’re really downloading when you want to be your fastest and quickest and strongest and most explosive. We want to be working back up to our peak on Saturdays,’’  Radcliffe told Ken Goe of The Oregonian. 
During his 26 years at Oregon, the program has changed significantly. Along with it, Jim Radcliffe has stayed on the cutting edge of strength & conditioning. As long as Jim Radcliffe has been the Strength & Conditioning Coach at Oregon, the Ducks have had strength in all the right places.

That is one advantage no one can take away.

University of Oregon Weight Room

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Aesthetic Beauty of Football

Football season begins in earnest this week. With the official end of "fall camp" and the beginning of game Week, we know that football will soon arrive.

Imagine for a moment, arriving at the Autzen Complex on September 10. There will be grills barbecuing all your favorite foods. Duck fans gathered to talk football, celebrate with each other the new season. They will reminisce about last year, and dream of the possibilities of the upcoming season. Football has indeed started.

What is it, though, that draws fans of every major conference, and even the "non-BCS" conferences to gather by the thousands and derive so much pleasure in the competition of others? Why is it that these loyalties to particular collegiate institutions run so deep? Deep enough, in fact, that rivalries are indeed very real.

There are many theories and I am not the first to have this discussion. The first, and most obvious is the concept of tribalism. We are often attracted to a team based on different extraneous factors. In professional sports, it is almost entirely about proximity to the team. With college sports, it is a number of different things. Either you were "raised" as a fan; went to the school; or adopted it as a favorite through other friendships. Human beings, by nature, tend to feel the need to belong to a larger group. There is safety in a group and danger in aloneness. Well, in tribal times, this was the case.

As civilization evolved, the tribal nature of our existence diminished, but our need to feel like we belonged to something bigger than ourselves did not vanish. As society has become increasingly less personally interactive through devices such as phones, automobiles, planes, cell phones and now internet technology which has made communicating without contact prevalent, fanship seems to have grown and become more intense.

Jerry Seinfeld once quipped:

“People come back from the game yelling, “‘We won! We won!’ No: they won; you watched.”

This is true of just about everyone I know. We try, sometimes with all of our effort, to convince ourselves that it is "just a game." But it's not. It is more than a game; it is an experience. It is an experience that draws people together, almost into regional clans.

But there has to be more to it than that. After all, there are plenty of other activities that could draw our attention, so why sport?

There are many other schools of thought. The most interesting to me, though, is from Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht Professor of Literature at Stanford University. In his book In Praise of Athletic Beauty, (2006, Harvard University Press), Gumbrecht proposes a different attraction. Aesthetic Beauty.

Every fan cares abut "their team" winning and Gumbrecht does not disagree with this assertion. Nonetheless, he believes that even within the most diehard fans there exists a certain amount of appreciation for the beauty of the game. Gumbrecht argues that beauty is the least mentioned of the important reasons why people love sports, and that is why it is interesting to discuss.

While every fan enjoys the thrill of victory, there is a certain amount of truth to Gumbrecht's theory. Think about it for just a moment. Deep down, fans of every sport derive pleasure not just from winning, but from some element of the sport much more profound.

Jeff Maehl Touchdown Reception, Civil War 2009
Think to an oblong football, released from the quarterback's hand, spiraling through the crisp night air at Autzen Stadium. The ball seems to hang in the air as a Duck receiver streaks down the field arriving at the exact moment the ball descends from the night sky into his waiting hands. The experience itself of watching all of these unique elements combine is a thing of beauty.

Think for a moment, have you ever watched an opposing player make a play and said to yourself "Wow, what an incredible play?" Most of us have; that is the aesthetic beauty of which Gumbrecht speaks.

I tend to believe there is a multi-factoral combination of different aspects that draw us to sports. There is the tribalism, the social connection, the aesthetic beauty and the feeling of a tangible goal at the end; victory.

As we contemplate another season at Autzen, let us enjoy all the little things that make football, though a physically tough sport also one that is a beautiful combination of strength, speed and athleticism. Enjoy the company around you, that is what makes human kind so unique. And, most of all, enjoy each moment for what it is; a beautiful distraction.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Taking the high road

So, I was going to write a little scathing article tonight, but changed my mind.

Every Wednesday, we have two different staff meetings at work. One is an Operations Meeting which is followed by a staff meeting. So, Wednesday is a little later night at work than normal. Just as I was about to head out the door, I received a message that John Canzano had called me an "internet troll and gangster" on his radio program.

Certainly as someone who had a show planned last Friday and those plans were abruptly changed, I would understand frustration. However, I believe Lindsay Schnell referred to Canzano as a "professional." As I understand it, professionals do not take personal shots at people on their radio programs or in print media; it is simply not the right message. Yet, there he was, talking personal shots at me for my role in Lache Seastrunk's cancellation on Friday afternoon.

Yes, I sent the family a message alerting them of Lache's scheduled appearance. To Lache's credit, he did not know much about Canzano; he even referred to him as Joe Canzano! So, after his family called and advised him against appearing, he canceled his appearance. Was this wrong? No, I am not a competitor of Canzano's nor a fan of Canzano, I felt it was in the young man's best interests that he be forewarned about the potential dangers.

Canzano seemingly uses interviews to then be able to say in the future "I have talked with, interviewed (insert player name here)" as a device for feeling justified in any later criticism that actions may warrant. Often, though, Canzano forgets his own stories when trying to tell a new story.

In Canzano's recent criticism of Darron Thomas, Canzano was quick to say "Can't imagine former Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon riding in a car that was street racing," as if Dennis Dixon is the paragon of true virtue and leadership. Does he not remember his story on Darius Miles? You know, the one where Canzano tried to drag Dennis Dixon's name through the mud. Let me refresh your memory with this quote from the article:

Miles and the members of his entourage, which included former Oregon Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon, spent the night moving between three stages, removing the bands and tossing the stacks in the air, sending a shower of loose bills fluttering down on the dancers.

“It’s raining!” someone shouted. At one point, a dancer had so many one-dollar bills on the stage around her, she asked a bouncer for a paper sack. Miles also had someone request a song from the DJ, according to a patron. Which is how the University of Oregon fight song ended up being played while women gyrated on stage and Miles threw dollar bills, laughed, pumped his fist and slapped backs with a former Heisman Trophy candidate before disappearing into the VIP room.

So, in one article he's hanging out with Darius Miles, a player Canzano personally tried to "take down" and in the next he is the paragon of virtue Darron should compare himself to? Which is it John, is he a guy hanging out at strip clubs saying "it's raining" while showering dollar bills down on strippers? Or is he the guy Darron Thomas should emulate.

Now, the first question I had when I read that article is, how did John Canzano know where they were? Was he already frequenting the particular establishment? Was he stalking them? Or did he have spies following Miles? But you know, it doesn't really matter. The last time I heard, strip clubs were legal in Oregon and Miles and Dixon were both of legal age when they went there. Nothing untoward happened that we know about, so who really cares?

My personal feelings are that it is this kind of "Harvey Dent-like" (Two Face) personality that made me want to advise Lache Seastrunk's family to be careful about appearing on the show. They read some of Canzano's articles and decided that Lache should avoid speaking with Canzano. That is their right and prerogative. As someone who has spoken with the family on multiple occasions and feels that they should at least know that Lache was scheduled to appear, it was my personal duty of integrity to let them know. After all, his family has ALWAYS had his best interests at heart, Canzano only has the shows best interests at heart. That's fine, that is his job and he should try to get guests on that appeal to a wide audience.

Nonetheless, there are going to be occasions where the naive are later informed of the potential pitfalls of an appearance. No one told Lache not to appear, they gave him more knowledge with which to make the decision; and he made the decision.

Did I have a role in that? Absolutely. And I will not apologize for that role. I am unequivocal in my disdain for the methods with which Canzano treats YOUNG men. If I were Mike Gundy, I would go off on him in a press conference, but I am not Gundy. So, rather than a press conference, I make my mark in other ways.

Apparently, though, Canzano feels as if being outmaneuvered makes it okay for him to stoop to childish name-calling and insults. And, that is fine, he can choose to respond how he sees fit. However, if Canzano wishes to stoop to this level, I think we can take the phrase "professional" out of his description.

The strange part about Canzano's insult, is that he is the one who sought me on facebook; friend requested me, in fact. I did not accept his request, but did, however, communicate with him. I imagine his vision of me was different than reality and he backed off somewhat.

In fact, here is one conversation which we had:

  • Update
    As I know you are concerned with my life away from Duck football, thought I would send you a copy of my thought for the day yesterday: Anger is the most unusual of emotions. I consider anger to be the opposite of love. While many would contend that hatred is the opposite of love, I say that anger leads to hatred, hence it is the anger that lies opposite of love; not hatred. No one has ever hated without an action precipitating anger that later became hatred. A man does not wake and decide he hates another. No, the man who becomes the object of hate must first wrong the man who hates in some manner. When the man is wronged, he will let that anger boil inside. With no outlet for anger, hatred is born. That becomes the outlet for anger; and it is an unhealthy outlet. Aristotle thought of anger as a virtue under the assumption that the anger would create good. The person with whom a man was angry must have been wicked, and our anger will have the reasonable man wish to be more virtuous. This is great in thought, unfortunately, in action, anger can lead to many bad things. On the other side of the fence is the Roman philosopher, Seneca who said in De Ira that a soldier needs to be able to listen to the commands of his superiors. Anger will not listen to the commands of the rational. Anger is irrational.... See More Somewhere in between, there can be some truth to both sides of this argument. Under the bar, when you are pressing more than two times your own bodyweight, you need to channel something more powerful than you have ever experienced. You’ve heard stories of the miraculous heroics. Mothers that lift thousand pound objects long enough to allow their children to escape harm. Where does this power come from? Adrenaline. When our bodies are confronted with danger, it can produce extraordinary chemical responses. One of those responses is the release of adrenaline, a powerful chemical that increases the supply of oxygen and glucose in the blood. As a power-lifter, it sure would be nice to find a way to naturally tap into that resource. Under the bar, preparing to press a weight that should not move takes a tremendous amount of physical and mental coordination. The brain has to tell the muscles what to do; the muscles have to make the movement explosively; neurons must be firing at optimal speeds. The muscles must have been trained for this; there must be proper form. Even if all of this is firing, there is one ingredient missing; adrenaline. When a man is angry, guess what his body releases? That’s right; adrenaline. Tapping into anger is a resource under the bar. As long as a person does not let the anger begin to consume him, it can create a great benefit.
  • Scott Reed
March 11, 2010
Scott Reed
  • What? No Reponse?
    All that time to seek me out and you don't respond to the message? I am so hurt and saddened... oh, wait, no I'm not. But here's another thought for the day for you: In the philosophical sense, form is the outward shape or appearance of an object. Applying that to our life, there is a philosophical form to our lives; the shape and appearance; not the actual shape of our body, but the shape of our mind; our character. As we start to learn what our own form is, we can begin to apply that form in a broader sense. When lifting weights, there is a form to the proper lifting position. This form works in conjunction with our muscles and our mind to perform the lift. When all of these things are working in unison, very special things can happen. Strength is enhanced. We become stronger in body and mind; without the underlying ever-important form, though, we will never reach our maximum potential. The same can be said in our personal life. We can have a great mind and do what others might consider impressive, but without the underlying form of our consciousness; character; we cannot fully achieve the greatness possible within ourselves. Mind, body and form; without a structure to our life, we cannot connect all three very important components. Finding that structure can be a very difficult task. Some people never find it; it is our responsibility to give that structure of character to our children. The only way to make the world a better place is to pass on everything good we learn and eliminate the bad we have learned from.
  • John Canzano
March 12, 2010
John Canzano
  • Appreciate the note, Scott. Keep on, my friend. Glad you're growing and evolving. -- JC
  • Scott Reed
March 13, 2010
Scott Reed
  • But the sad state of the origin of this email is that you assumed, simply because the only time you have seen my writing is in response to yours, that one aspect of my life is the only aspect.

    Just remember, just because the only time you see my words is in response to a column you write, does not mean that it is the only thing I care about. Far too often you deal in your own assumptions and assume yourself to be correct. Far too often, your assumptions are incorrect.
You see, I am, for the most part, a reasonable man. I speak in reasoned terms and usually maintain an even tone. I can guarantee you that Canzano can show you some less than reasonable emails. Like all humans, I certainly get angry at times. However, when approached like a man, I will be respectful until someone shows me they deserve no respect.

As late as last January, I had said to some friends, as we were strolling in Scottsdale just before the Pep Rally for the National Championship Game, that, while I still had no use for Canzano as a writer, I did feel he was a good person. Unfortunately, his own actions have led me to different conclusions just seven months later. And to think, just a few short months ago, I even offered to help with his foundation.

I make no bones, I do not think much of Canzano as a journalist. If he were a truly good journalist with no agenda, at Pac-12 media day, he would have asked Tedford the question about doing business with someone you do not know rather than wait to ask Chip Kelly. That would have been a much more pertinent question. Then he could have followed up with Kelly. Instead, he decided to wait and make the question more of a statement than anything else. He didn't ask the "tough" question, he asked the "grandiose, look at me" question.

Canzano, while finding himself in a position many would envy, is also incredibly insecure. In February, 2008, Canzano wrote an article about Darius Miles adventures in a local strip club. I made a comment in his blog under the handle "ducks39" which said:

So, I guess JC knows Darius' whereabouts 24 hours a day. I guess it is not at all possible for Darius to have worked out for 3-4 hours in the morning, taken some court time in the afternoon to work on his game, watched some film then gone to a club after all that. I mean, I guess that is entirely impossible... I guess Darius was in that strip club 24 consecutive hours.

And, apparently, Canzano knows what Darius thinks at all times because he has told us what Darius thinks.

I must admit, though, that Canzano's trench coat and fedora must have been a very effective design... after all, how could he have gotten all that good information without being spotted... the question is, were you already there and got lucky to spot Darius there??? or did you follow him in??? either way... sounds like you'd fit in better at the National Enquirer than at a true periodical...

Maybe it is time for Canzano to retire, after all, he appears to like hanging out at strip clubs waiting to spot NBA players and their entourages... maybe he could go back to journalism school, learn some ethics and become a REAL journalist... but I doubt that will ever happen...
Feeling a little miffed at the fact that I had written in response to a Blazer article (something that is rare for me as I am not much of an NBA fan) and the fact that I questioned his journalistic integrityCanzano completely changed the post to:

Posted by ducks39 on 02/15/08 at 7:30PM

JC: You're an outstanding columnist. I appreciate your viewpoints. Please keep writing the truth.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I would never write such drivel about his writing skills. But, he must feed his own ego by re-writing posts to cover criticism. Hey, his blog, his rules, I suppose. I just find it entirely unprofessional. But, hey, Lindsay tells us that he is the professional!

John, I am not going to get into a war of words with you. It would be rather pointless. But, here is the deal, John Canzano, you know my facebook page, you have my personal email address, you can contact me. If you have a problem with something I do, why not discuss it like a man? Why the need to take to the airwaves and play first grade insult games? Is that really the example you want to set for your 8 year old daughter? I sure hope not.

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