Thursday, September 29, 2011

Opinion: In The Hands of Man


“Everything is good as it leaves the hands of the Author of things; everything degenerates in the hands of man.”

The statement has much power; and much truth. Athletics are an incredible method which can bring much positive light into our world. The understanding of teamwork; a collective effort between a group of individuals to reach a shared goal. When approached from the right frame of mind, all sport can provide an incredible array of value to each individual and society in general. Physical activity is fundamental not only to a healthy body, but also a healthy mind. Far too often, as we enjoy those things that bring us together, we forget the root importance of the original concept. Sport, from its conception is good, but degenerates in the hands of man.

Not only can sport be good for the individual body and mind, but it can also become a collective source of societal unity. We all believed in miracles once upon a time; and miracles happened. But miracles, too, can degenerate in the hands of man.

Many Duck fans recall, almost with a badge of honor, the late 1970's when football in the state of Oregon was not much more than an afterthought. There were endless seasons where a successful season was defined not by total wins, but by Civil War performance. There were glimmers of hope. In those glimmers, dreams were born. Dreams that seemed more like fantasy became a reality. But did that reality degenerate in the hands of man? Some say yes. Some say no.

Seastrunk Suspended by Oregon Prior to Transfer?

Tennessee Provided Illegal Extra Benefits

Over the last two weeks, I have referenced that Will Lyles may have provided extra benefits to athletes with whom he had a "mentoring" relationship.

This week Yahoo Sports released details of a specific extra benefit Seastrunk received through Lyles in the form of $1500 worth of plane tickets for he and his mother to visit Tennessee unofficially.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

In The Shadows of Greatness Part III: Character and Integrity

John Walls with his mother
In July of 2004, just two months in to his battle with leukemia, John Walls had already begun to show just how much difference one person can make.

While John was undergoing intense chemotherapy in an attempt to rid his body of cancerous bone marrow, he had received some particularly painful news; none of his family were marrow matches. Realizing just how difficult a bone marrow transplant was without donors, John and his family organized a bone marrow donor drive in Wilsonville.

These drives are critically important to young people, like John, searching for a bone marrow match that might save their lives. Donating bone marrow is not as simple as donating blood. The procedure is considerably more difficult to the donor. As each of us strolls through our lives focused on so many things we feel important, we walk by people every day that may someday need our help. We just do not know it yet.

You will hear people talk around football teams about overcoming adversity. There is merit on the football field, or any place where competition occurs, to teaching life lessons to athletes competing in sports. The young men we cheer for on Saturdays learn how to persevere through pain; through disappointment; through adversity. They learn this through athletics.

Though the lessons are very important, they are meaningless without practical application. John Walls had spent his life around athletics and had learned incredible integrity. The one thing we all take for granted, though, is what role adversity might play elsewhere. While we are focused on our own problems and how to solve our daily travails, we are failing. No matter how well we seem to solve our own difficult circumstances, we are missing out.

On July 13, 2004,even as he was waging war against a body rebelling against him, John's family had a bone marrow donor registry drive organized in Wilsonville. Over 100 people showed up that day to add their name to the registry as marrow donors. Considering the size of Wilsonville, this was an incredible number. We will never know how many people those 100+ donors may have helped, but we do know that without John's presence, this would not have happened.

When I write to John the next day, here is what I told him:

John, keep up your amazing strength and spirit. It's what
you have inside your heart and mind that determine where you
will go... for over 100 people to show up in your honor
yesterday just shows how strong your presence in Wilsonville
is... there is so much support and love here...

Muhammed Ali was the guest of honor at the All Star game
last night and it reminded me of something he once said
about what makes a champion...

Champions are made from something they have deep inside
them-a desire, a dream, a vision.

John, you ARE a champion so keep that dream; that vision
that you have deep inside yourself... never lose the focus
on what your goal is... to kick AML's butt... you can do it
with the heart of a champion and the courage of a gladiator
you can come out on top... always, always BELIEVE


Just a couple of weeks later, as fall football camp opened up for Wilsonville High School, John was really starting to hurt; he was missing his first football season. Not yet 15 years old and a sport he had loved for so long was taken away from him; he was handling it as best he could, but he still wanted to play.

I communicated frequently with John through his website. AS he was feeling the pain of missing football for the first time, I tried my best to offer some solace in his battle.
John,

There may be no glory in the battle itself, but there WILL
be glory in the victory. I know your mom talks about how
wonderful this community is....it's the reason many of us
moved here and the reason we all stay.

There are so many people that make this community the palce
it is and without them, we would all be in trouble. John,
just remember that to win the tough games, you have to keep
battling. When the legs get tired and your focus starts to
wane, that's the time to bear down and re-energize your
focus onto your goal. Right now the goal is kicking AML's
butt to the curb.

Trust in your dreams and make them your goals.

As always LiveStrong and STAY Strong!

Live Strong and Stay strong

Three days after this, John went into remission. We were all in shock, had he beaten leukemia in just three months? That is a difficult question to answer in the moment. With all of our hearts, we all wanted to believe that the battle was over; John had won. But reality has a way of slapping you in the face if you become too complacent. Remission is not victory, there was still a LONG fight ahead for John and the rest of his family.

John Walls just before completing chemo, 2004
Even in remission, the doctors knew that a treatment plan must be carried out in full. John continued with chemotherapy through that football season. In November of 2004, in remission, John Walls completed his last round of chemotherapy. The team was less than two weeks away from their first state championship in football; and John had been the teams spirit the entire season. He was just as much a part of that championship team as every other player.

John began to see a return to normalcy, and he was excited.

It is trivial, in most cases, to compare anything like a game to real life. John was facing real struggles. Yet, we must keep in mind that even on the field, the lessons that can be taken away are critical. One of the most amazing aspects of John's battle with leukemia was the incredible community support John and his family received.

It seems that the only time people band together is in the face of tragedy or in times of accomplishment. What can be learned from both instances might be how important a social community still is to our existence. In The Aesthetic Beauty of Football and Social Capital and Football I addressed this concept. John's story shows how the concept becomes reality; one person, one community at a time. I also wrote about Strength Coach Jim Radcliffe in a piece called Strength In All the Right Places

Though those articles were specific to football, there was, hopefully, a life lesson; one of great importance. John's story, though far from over, brings those three concepts together. John's story shows how the beauty of sport and social nature of our existence can combine to create a better existence. But without strength in the right place, it is all meaningless.


The beginning paragraph of David Calmers' "The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory:" states:

Conscious experience is at once the most familiar thing in the world and the most mysterious. There is nothing we know about more directly than consciousness, but it is far from clear how to reconcile it with everything else we know. Why does it exist? What does it do? How could it possibly arise from lumpy gray matter? We know consciousness far more intimately than we know the rest of the world, but we understand the rest of the world far better than we understand consciousness.

What is it about John Walls that made the difference in so many lives? Simple: he had strength in the right place. We applaud strength and speed on the field. But strength of character, integrity and strength of mind are the strengths that make a difference int he world. At only 14 years old, John Walls displayed a strength of character, integrity and mind that many adults lack.

Let us learn from John. With every cheer, remember John's courage. With every bad moment, remember John's battle. As we leave the stadium, remember John's strength. John Walls knew what he was facing and yet he fought with every fiber of his being. He did not let his mind take over; he was able to control his consciousness with a singular determination to beat leukemia.

Every day, I am reminded of this battle. I wear a Livestrong bracelet that has been on my right wrist since May 2004. Each time I look down, I am reminded of John's strength and courage. Nothing can take that away.

At the end of every note I wrote to John, I ended with Live strong and STAY strong. That has a practical application to our lives and our fan-ship. Stay strong in your integrity.

Next up: A Return to Normalcy

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

QUACK BACK: Volume V

DUCKS VOLLEYBALL CONTINUES ROLL


This past weekend, the Women's Volleyball team continued their early season success by sweeping Colorado and Utah on the road. The Ducks dominated both matches 3-0 moving their season record to 11-1.

The Ducks are ranked #15 in the nation and sit alone atop the Pac-12 standings with a league record of 4-0. They continue a four game road trip this weekend with matches against Washington and Washington State before returning home for a pair of crucial matches against 4th ranked Cal and 6th ranked Stanford.


JAMES RUNS TO MORE RECORDS

LaMichael James
In Lamichael James' two plus years playing running back for the University of Oregon, he has put himself into very heady company. Already the all-time leading rusher in Oregon history, James added a few more records to his resume this past Saturday.

With 288 yards on 23 carries, James surpassed the single game record of 285 set by Onterrio Smith against Washington State in 2001. Adding to that, James also surpassed Derek Loville for most career rushing touchdowns. Truly an impressive week for James which was capped by being named Pac-12 player of the week.

FOOTBALL ROUTS ARIZONA

Duck Fans Celebrate
While LaMichael James was running over around and by the Arizona Wildcats defense Saturday, the rest of the team did much of the same. Kenjon Barner returned from injury to score three touchdowns (2 rush, 1 receiving). Finishing out the offensive fireworks, Darron Thomas accounted for four touchdowns of his own with two more passing touchdowns to go along with 2 rushing touchdowns. James once again leads the nation in rushing with 604 Yards.

Next up for the Ducks a Thursday night home game against Cal. Join us at the Official Duck Sports Authority Tailgate!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lyles Hurt His Own Players

Two weeks ago, I wrote a story titled "Did Will Lyles Help or Hurt Players?" In the article I mentioned that a source inside the athletic department had confirmed that Lache Seastrunk had received impermissible benefits through Will Lyles. Today, Yahoo Sports confirms with a specific example of an unofficial trip to Tennessee which was paid for by Tennessee coach Willie Mack Garza through Lyles.


This was not the only trip funded by Lyles. If you read through the recruiting stories you will note that Evelyn Seastrunk also visited USC and LSU on unofficial visits. In addition to those visits, she was present for the official visit to the University of California at Berkley.


In questioning whether Lyles helped or hurt, the fair point was brought up about the impact that this might have on the players. To his credit, Lyles attempted to minimize the impact on Seastrunk by asking that Seastrunk be given immunity from any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, Oregon officials were aware of the extra benefits received through Lyles and were advising him to pay back the amount he received two-fold.


It should be further telling that the NCAA has not yet ruled on the hardship waiver after the transfer.


In the past few months we have seen several cases where athletes received money through mentors, specifically Sharif Floyd of Florida and Damiere Byrd of South Carolina. Due to extenuating circumstances, Floyd had a four game suspension reduced to two games while Byrd served a full four game suspension. And that appears to be the magic number; four games.

Lache Seastrunk transferred to Baylor after one season in Eugene. He arrived on campus the week of Baylor's first game. After his arrival on campus and admission into Baylor University, paperwork was submitted to the NCAA asking for a hardship waiver of the NCAA transfer rule that would have allowed Seastrunk to play this season. There were some insiders who thought there would be news of the waiver request last week, but as of this moment nothing has been determined by the NCAA.

Late last week, in private conversations, the possibility was raised that there would be no "official" word of the hardship waiver until after Baylor's fourth game; that there was a four game suspension in place and that the waiver would likely be granted after the four game suspension was completed. That may still be the case; time will tell.

But this brings us back to the intent of the original article; did Lyles help or hurt the players with whom he was working? All along, Lyles has professed he simply did not understand all of the rules and that he had good intent. Now, however, there can be no doubt that Lyles knew this was a violation. Even the least knowledgeable on NCAA bylaws knows that schools cannot wire money to "mentors" to pay for unofficial visits.

The innocent "dupe" label must now be stripped away from Lyles. He was never innocent in this and his intent was never pure. Lyles admits he kept the extra $53 from this transaction. What else did he receive and keep? That is a fair question to ask now.

How did Lyles pay for the trips to LSU, Auburn (three unofficial visits), USC and the official visit to Cal? How did Lyles pay for the trip he took to Hawaii to watch Seastrunk play in an All-Star game? As a scout, he received just $36,000 for his own scouting service. Where did he get the rest of his income? These are all fair questions now.

This also brings new light back to Gary Campbell's statement when Evelyn found out Oregon would not pay for her to visit during Seastrunk's official visit.

Evelyn Seastrunk was very high on LSU for Lache; he had a cousin that attended LSU and the family was from Louisiana. There is no word how they afforded a trip for Evelyn, Lache and Lyles to go to the LSU camp. But we know that she later became contentious with Oregon Running Back Coach, Gary Campbell, when he would not fly her to Oregon for Lache's visit.

I don’t know how he got there, but I know Lache’s mom didn’t come to Oregon and she was pissed at me because we didn’t bring her up here and everything. We couldn’t do it and we told her there was no way that we could bring her in. We didn’t do that and I don’t know what other people did.” Campbell said.

There are still a LOT of layers to uncover with this story. Will Lyles has a new story every time someone asks for more information. At this point in time, what I have been told is that Oregon did not pay for any trips for Lache Seastrunk or his family. Time will tell, though, the real truth. One thing I think can be said for certain, Will Lyles knew he was violating NCAA rules when he accepted money from a coach for an unofficial visit.

To smugly say he was only trying to help these young men is now a joke. To blatantly violate NCAA rules knowing that if caught, those very players would be ineligible in no way helps anyone but Will Lyles. When this is all over, Will Lyles does not have to give anything back. Will Lyles is not suspended. Will Lyles took away the dreams of young men for one reason: money.

It is time for the NCAA to re-write the rule book regarding scouting services. This time, there should be a department created responsible for overseeing recruiting and scouting services. As part of their responsibility, the department should create a registry of acceptable services. No university should be permitted to purchase services from any provider not on the list.

It is time to clean up the mess. Will Lyles says he didn't know the rules. This incident proves he most certainly did know the rules. Will Lyles did not care about any of the players he "mentored." If he cared, he would never have put them in this position. He would have done the research and made sure to keep them away from NCAA violations.

Sadly, it looks like Lyles cared about no one other than Will Lyles

Monday Morning Quarterback

Saturday night in the desert saw a lot of great highlights and, as always, some teachable moments for the Oregon Ducks football team.

HIGHLIGHTS:

- LaMichael James, staying in the game longer than some thought he should, surpassed Onterrio Smith's record for rushing yards in a single game with 288.

- James also surpassed Derek Loville for the school record in career rushing touchdowns.

- His Saturday night performance in Tucson vaulted James from 13th in conference history to 6th most rushing yards.

- Darron Thomas now has 12 touchdown passes on the season against just 1 interception.

- The Ducks defense recorded five sacks against Nick Foles; more than he had been sacked in the Wildcats first three games combined. It was also more than the Oregon defense had recorded combined in their first three games.

 COMMENTS from the boards:
          
Originally posted by ZookDuck69:
Darrin Thomas rushing his way down the field. Opens the way for LMJ for the TD. That's more like it!

Originally posted by guy_mamac:
LMJ seems to be on another level tonight.

Originally posted by ZookDuck69:
One thing I'm seeing tonight is LMJ hitting the hole with authority. Nice to see him not dancing as much. Either he's seeing the hole better OR the O line is actually making some holes. Either way, I like it.

Originally posted by AZQuackHead:
Dion doing his best kenny rowe impression, I love it


Originally posted by Tony DiFrancisco:
Loved to see that last sack by Turner.  3 man rush and that OL got owned. 4 sacks in the 1st half

Originally posted by Uduck10:
Not happy with our Defense whatsoever. We need to get our Corner situation figured out and fast. Happy with the offense though!

Originally posted by GOAT*75:
Not sure whether it is the "scheme" or the players themselves, but if the Ducks can't defend the pass better than they did tonight, Luck is going to light them up BAAAAAAAD!  How about playing some press coverage?  Jeezo!!

Originally posted by ducks39:
I wonder if people realize that we played them better this year than last year... on the road... we held Foles to fewer passing yards (2010:448; 2011 398) gave up a little bit more on the ground (2010: 58; 2011:82) gave up slightly more points (2010: 29; 2011: 31) less total yards (2010: 506; 2011: 480). We got to him more in this game than last year (2010: 3 sacks; 2011: 5).

On offense we rushed for more yards (2010: 389; 2011: 415) threw for less (2010: 148; 2011) had less total yards (2010:537; 2011:516) but scored more points (2010:29; 2011:56).

I think that the difficult part is that the Ducks were HAMMERING Arizona and allowed them to, momentarily at least, get back in the game. They were at home, made some good half time adjustments and made a nice run... fro the most part, playing AT ARIZONA we played them better this year than last...

This was a dominating 25 point win, on the road, against a Pac-12 opponent with one of the best QB's in the country. Are there some things to work on? Sure. But there always are....


COMMENTARY:

This game actually went better than most people had projected. Most observers had speculated that Arizona would make the game interesting early and that the Ducks would pull away late. Instead, the Ducks pounded Arizona most of the first half and came out a little flat in the second half before eventually pulling away in the 4th quarter.

The glass half empty fans might point out all of the drops that Arizona had... drops happen to every team. It is the adversity that all teams must overcome. Oregon also had it's share of drops, balls thrown to Will Murphy and LaMichael James come to mind. James also bobbled a ball that, had he caught the ball cleanly, he might have had a significantly longer gain. Dropped passes do not define the performance, the ability to overcome those drops does. Arizona could not overcome drops. Not because they were not offensively capable of doing so, but because the Ducks defense made stops when they needed stops.

Was this the "prettiest" defensive game ever? Certainly not. However, this was a better defensive performance than the one the 2010 Ducks provided against Arizona. This was a road game in a hostile environment. There is reason to believe that this team is getting better every week.

Leading up to the game, some were of the mindset that the Ducks needed to focus on the pass and forget the run... and we see why they are not coaches. Had the Ducks approached the game in this manner, Arizona would have gashed the Ducks defense early with the running game. Rather than focusing on stopping the pass first, the Ducks did exactly what they always do; stop the run and try to make the team one-dimensional.

Give credit to Nick Foles, he played mistake free football. This is an NFL caliber QB who played a very good game. And yet the Ducks still sacked him more than he had been sacked in the previous three games combined.

All in all, when you can get a 25 point road win in the Pac-12, you take it, get on the plane and smile. It won't always be that easy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

3 and Out: Three Plays That Made the Difference


ONE: 
1st Quarter: 15:00-14:05

The first 5 plays of the game. These set a tone and completely changed the Arizona game plan. Darron Thomas carried the ball on four of the first five plays and completed a pass to Rashaan Vaughn on the other. Thomas had 33 yards rushing before LaMichael James got a touch. That threat kept Arizona more honest on defense the rest of the night.

TWO:
2nd Quarter: 5:12

Arizona punts and LaMichael James, catching the ball with a full head of steam returns the punt 51yardsto the Arizona 28. Threee plays later, James scored to make it 35-3 Oregon.

THREE:
4th Quarter 13:00

After clawing their way back into the game and possibly turning it into the shootout many had expected, trailing 42-24, Arizona was driving again getting as far as the Oregon 6 yard line. Knocking on the door for another touchdown, on a 4th-and-6 play, Foles dropped back to pass, with no one open, Foles scrambled trying to keep the play alive before being sacked by Dion Jordan for a 16 yard loss. LaMichael James would get 70 yards on the next two plays, both runs, getting the Ducks in position for the points that would close the door on Arizona's comeback efforts.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday Primer

Today should bring a little more clarity to the Pac-12 race as conference play begins in earnest. There are several intriguing match-ups today. There are three early games and two late games. Utah and Stanford have a bye week. Your early morning preview:



Colorado @ Ohio State (-15.5)

12:30 PM, ESPN2/ABC

Game Thoughts: Colorado has looked better this season than the past few seasons. Ohio State has taken a definite step backwards this year. However, playing back in "The Horseshoe," Ohio State will be looking to get a sour taste out of their mouths.

The Pick: Ohio State


UCLA @ Oregon State (-2.5)

12:30 PM, Fox College Sports

Game Thoughts: Both teams come in needing a victory. UCLA shocked Oregon State on the road in 2010 with a close 17-14 victory. Both teams have had some trouble settling on a quarterback this season, but Oregon State, the slight favorite has the home field.

The Pick: Oregon State


California @ Washington (-3.0)
12:30 PM, Fox College Sports

Game Thoughts: Neither team has looked overly impressive early in the season with Washington struggling to close victories over FCS Eastern Washington and WAC opponent Hawaii. Washington comes off of a tough loss at Nebraska. California has played a little better with wins against Fresno State and Colorado. California has an edge with better defensive performance early in the season.

The Pick: California


USC @ Arizona State (-3.0)
7:15 PM, ESPN

Game Thoughts: USC has won a couple of close games against Minnesota and Utah and sailed to an easier victory over Syracuse. Arizona State has been up and down early this season with a big overtime win against Missouri and a loss to Illinois. USC's defense has performed better early this season than they did last year. Arizona State is susceptible to a good passing game.

The Pick: USC


Oregon (-14.5) @ Arizona
7:15PM, ESPN2

Game Thoughts: Arizona has struggled mightily against Oklahoma State and Stanford the last two weeks and now faces a third straight top 10 opponent. After a season opening loss to LSU, Oregon bounced back with dominating wins over over-matched Nevada and FCS foe Missouri State. Arizona, though, has not played well on defense in any of their three games, including giving up a 77% completion percentage to FCS team Northern Arizona. They have been one dimensional on offense with the passing game accounting for nearly 87% of their total offense.

The Pick: Oregon

Friday, September 23, 2011

Don't Buy What the Big 12 is Selling

Sometime during the first break-up of the Big 12 in 2010, just as the walls were crumbling down around the conference, Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M, mostly for political purposes, came together to "save" the conference from implosion. As the medicine for the ailing conference Commissioner Dan Beebe was able to negotiate a promised television deal and allowed Texas their own Longhorn Network as part of the revamped financial structure for the conference.

Fast forward 15 months and the same problems that plagued the league in June 2010 are still causing problems. In 2010, after a last minute deal involving a wide array of business interests both inside and outside the Big 12 conference, we heard Joe Castigliano, Oklahoma Athletic Director tell the world, "We’re going forward with the belief that we’ll stay together. Probably argue that this group will be closer than it’s ever been, but time will tell. The conference will examine the contractual relationships that would bind us together.”

Later, to show the newfound unity of the reduced Big 12, we learned that the exit fees for leaving would now be even higher as proof that the conference was on solid footing.

As the Big 12 negotiates their new strategy for saving the conference just more than a year later, we are, once again being told that the new terms of the deal will create stability by enforcing even stricter terms on teams leaving. Yahoo reports that the remaining nine teams in the conference have "'agreed' to give a six-year grant of their first- and second-tier television rights to the Big 12 for the next six years. That means all revenue from the top television games—shown currently on networks owned by ABC/ESPN and Fox—would continue to go to the Big 12 even if a school bolts to another league."

Um, excuse me? Isn't this what we were told last year? Weren't we told in 2010 that the teams remaining had agreed on a  deal that would handcuff the teams together for at least 6 more years? Yeah, to quote Dr. Phil "how'd that work out for ya Big 12?"

If they stay together, good for them, it keeps regional rivalries somewhat intact. Strong conferences are good for college football. Unstable conferences? Well, we see what that does, turns the whole world of college athletics upside down.

But anyone who thinks that these new "handcuffs" are going to keep the league stable are kidding themselves. You cannot make people happy by obligating them to a failing relationship.

If a man is running around having affairs and his wife discovers the affair, can he force her to stay with him simply by making leaving unattractive? Sure. But will she be happy while doing so? Absolutely not! More importantly, if part of the terms that he offers her for staying include allowing him to continue the affairs, how likely is she to say "wow, thank you so much for staying, please, have as many affairs as you like!"? Not likely at all to say such a thing.

Yet, here the Big 12 is telling the world that they have resolved their differences and will now be stronger than ever. And we are supposed to believe this story? Haven't we heard this all before? Of course we have.

The real root of the problem is the root that almost tore the conference apart in 2010; it is the root that caused Texas A&M to bolt for the SEC; it is the root that caused Oklahoma to look for a new conference to call home. The root is simple, one school receives a proportionally larger share than any other in the conference.

Today, Texas, magnanimous as ever, agreed to share in tier 1 and tier 2 television rights without the weighted share that they are currently receiving. Oklahoma also agreed to a change in this policy which will cost them some money.

What was Texas unwilling to compromise on? Yep, The Longhorn Network. On Thursday, Deloss Dodds, Texas Athletic Director, said that the network is non-negotiable.

And therein will lay the future crumbling of the Big 12. As other schools find out that there is very little interest in their own individual networks and that there is no way for them to ever make up the difference in the monetary gap, they will get antsy. And, there will be another fracture in the conference. The next time may be the final death knell of the conference.

What about that "handcuff" that will tie the teams together for 6 more years? Simple. The deal will say that the conference will retain the rights to the television monies of schools for the entirety of the contract. So how will the schools get around this handcuff? Disband the conference. You cannot pay money to a conference that does not exist. POOF, problem solved.

As long as Texas gets their own special deals, the Big 12 is doomed to fail. As Castiglione said after the near break-up in 2010, time will tell.

Breaking Down Arizona Matchup: The Defense

Tonight we take a look at the two defenses as we head towards a Saturday night match up between Arizona and Oregon in Tucson.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES:

Justin Washington
Arizona: The Wildcats are led by returning sophomore Justin Washington. Washington started nine games as a redshirt freshman in 2010 recording 46 tackles. Included among those tackles were 11.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks and a blocked kick. Washington was selected as a first team freshman All-American for his efforts. He is joined in the starting lineup by Sione Tuihalamaka. Sione made four starts in his redshirt freshman year. Both are undersized at 278 and 280 respectively. Through the first three games the Wildcats are giving up 173 yards rushing per game. That number is somewhat misleading, however, as the Wilcats held FCS opponent Northern Arizona to 80 yards on 33 carries. Against Oklahoma State and Stanford, the average rushing yards per game jumps to 219.5. 

The DT's have had little luck pressuring passers as the Wildcats allow an average of 300.3 yards per game through the air. The tackles have no sacks and just 1.5 tackles for loss.

Taylor Hart
Oregon: The Ducks list Taylor Hart and Isaac Remington as starters. They are both also a little smaller, but match Coach Azzinarro's style with both standing in at 6'6" tall. The Ducks defensive line has been maligned for much of the season as they have allowed 214.3 yards per game on the ground including 283 to a Nevada team that the Ducks beat handily. The Ducks, though, are deep at defensive tackle rotating in the much larger Ricky Heimuli (6'4", 321) and Wade Keliikipi (6'3", 300).

The Ducks have had been better at stopping the pass, however, allowing just 145.0 yards per game passing. 

Edge: Even

Neither of the teams have been particularly effective against the run. Both Arizona and Oregon do not use their defensive tackles as pass rushers. The Duck defensive tackles may have some advantage as the Arizona running game has been particularly weak at 55.0 yards per game. Nonetheless, this is still a draw between the two units.

DEFENSIVE ENDS:

C.J. Parish
Arizona: Arizona lost both of their starters from 2010 (Brooks Reed, Ricky Elmore) to the NFL draft. They also lost a primary backup (D'Aundre Reed) to the draft as well. That leaves them with two former junior college transfers C.J. Parish (6'2" 245) and Mohammed Usman (also 6'2" 245). Parish missed most of the 2010 season after suffering a concussion early in the year. Usman played sparingly until the final 3 games of the season last year. The two have combined for 3 TFL's and 2 sacks so far this season. 

Terrell Turner
Oregon: Oregon returns a veteran group at defensive end this season. Terrell Turner (6'3" 265) mans one side of the line while former Arizonan Dion Jordan (6'7" 240) takes the other side of the field. As with the tackle position, though, the Ducks have a deep rotation at defensive end. Brandon Hanna is the primary backup at defensive end. Hanna leads the group with 12 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 very athletic INT.

Edge: Oregon

Based on production and experience, the edge here goes to the Ducks. There has been a little more productivity and the Ducks have more game experience at the position.

LINEBACKERS:

Paul Vassallo
Arizona: Arizona uses a 4-2-5 scheme and has both of their starting linebackers from 2010 returning this year. Led by Will LB Paul Vassallo (102 tackles, 8TFL's, 2 Sacks) the linebackers are very experienced. The other returning starter recorded 44 tackles, 1 sack and an interception in his 12 starts last season. This year, Earls and Vassallo are numbers two and three on the team in tackles respectively. Earls has 23 tackles including 3 TFL's while Vasallo has 20 tackles and 1 TFL. Neither has recorded a sack yet this season.

Dewitt Stuckey
Oregon: The Ducks have had to replace two starting linebackers now playing in the NFL (Matthews, Paysinger). Add in the fact that the Ducks are likely without starting WLB Michael Clay again this week and the Ducks linebacker corps contains two first year starters. The return of Kiko Alonso from suspension helps this unit immensely, but they are still inexperienced. Like everywhere else, the Ducks play a lot of different people at the position and have very capable backups, including Boseko Lokombo who has scored two touchdowns in his short career. That includes his fumble recovery for a TD on the Ducks trip to the desert in 2010 against Arizona State. Joshua Kaddu, who started all 13 games last season brings some experience to the linebacker unit with Dewitt Stuckey the other starter.

Stuckey leads the LB corps with 14 tackles and 1 TFL. Alonso, in 2 games has 11 tackles and 0.5 TFL while Kaddu has 11 tackles and 1 sack. Lokombo has 10 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 1 67 yard interception return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery. Watch for emerging freshman Rodney Hardrick who made an impression with 3 tackles and 2 TFL's last week.

Edge: Arizona 

The Wildcats have the experience and the productivity from their two former JC transfer linebackers. Though the Wildcats have been gashed in the running game, the linebackers are doing their job; making tackles.

DEFENSIVE BACKS:

Trevin Wade
Arizona: The Wildcats lost Adam Hall to injury this season, but bring back some experienced starters in Trevin Wade and Robert Golden. Marquis Flowers a 6'3" 200 pound safety replaces the departed Adam Hall while Golden mans the other safety position. Wade has two years starting experience, but not a lot of interceptions to show for the experience. On the other side of Wade is a redshirt freshman Jourdon Grandon. Opposing QBs have picked apart the secondary for the Wildcats to the tune of 300 yards per game. Of course, it bears mentioning that two of the three QB's Arizona has faced will likely be playing on Sundays next year. That being said, the Arizona secondary allowed Northern Arizona's QB to go 20-26-179 with 1TD and 1INT. Shaq Richardson is their fifth defensive back. He recorded 26 tackles, 7 passes defended and 2 interceptions in 2010.

John Boyett
Oregon: The Ducks returned virtually their entire secondary from a year ago and it shows. Anchoring the secondary is 3 year starter, John Boyett from his safety position. Boyett is a hard hitter with a nose for the ball. While Boyett anchors the secondary, Cliff Harris locks it down. Though Harris was suspended for the first game this season, he has been slowly worked back into the mix while freshman Terence Mitchell filled in for Harris gaining valuable experience. Eddie Pleasant, a former linebacker, fills the other safety position. Across from Harris will be Anthony Gildon. Gildon, who leads the team with three passes defended, was a starter last season until an ankle injury hobbled him for the rest of the year. 

As a unit, the Ducks are giving up only 145.0 yards per game through the air and are filled with All-America candidates in Boyett and Harris.

Edge: Oregon

It is no secret that the Ducks have had a lot of very talented players in the defensive backfield and this year is no different.

OVERALL DEFENSE:

Arizona: The Wildcats have faced two top 10 teams in a row and given up plenty of yards both through the air and on the ground. They are anchored by  a new starting defensive tackle and two new starters at defensive end. Their is some stability in the middle, but the Wildcats have been unable to stop the passing game and running game.

Oregon: Much has been made of the Ducks struggles to stop the run, but there is a little bit of mis-perception. Only one of the three teams had a good day carrying the ball. Though all three gained yards, LSU and Missouri State averaged 3.6 and 3.4 yards per carry respectively. The Ducks are significantly better at stopping the pass than Arizona.

Edge: Oregon 

SCORE PREDICTION: Arizona will score some points; likely more than the 14 and 10 points they have mustered the last two weeks. The question is, will they be able to outscore Oregon? The Ducks have balance on offense and have had success against the pass on defense. Oregon's defensive weakness, stopping the run, is also Arizona's offensive weakness as their running game has been nearly non-existent. Nick Foles is an NFL caliber QB and his arm will keep the team in the game for a while. However, this Arizona team is not as good (yet) as last years team. They may get there by the end of the season, but right now, they just do not have the firepower.

Final: 38-24 Oregon 


 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

On Notice: An Interesting Development

SOUTH CAROLINA ALLEGATIONS

Lost in all of the realignment talk this week is a notice of allegations. Surprised? Did the NCAA go from inquiry to allegations in less than a week? No. This was a notice received by the South Carolina Gamecocks.

In a trend that the NCAA has seemed to crack down on this past season, this involves (mostly) impermissible housing benefits. What started as a single incident at LSU with Akiem Hicks has gone around the nation to Boise State and now back to South Carolina. This is a startling trend as it appears many places may be arranging for athletes to get significantly reduced living costs.

In LSU’s case, there was one player. In Boise State’s case there were 63 players involved and nearly five thousand dollars. South Carolina is accused of arranging for 10 of it’s football players and two members of the women’s track team to stay at an exclusive hotel for 25% of the regular cost (based on NCAA determination of a normal cost for the 2 room suites that the athletes stayed in). The total value of these extra benefits is $47,000. The compliance department at South Carolina were aware of the arrangements and signed off on the housing. That helped to bring about a “failure to monitor” allegation against the Gamecocks.

In addition to the housing extra benefits provided to the players, there were players who received over $8,000 in extra benefits from Student Athlete Mentoring Foundation. The President of the company, Steve Gordon, and treasurer Kevin Lahn are both South Carolina graduates who paid these benefits to several players. Among the benefits provided was funding to freshman receiver Damiere Byrd for an unofficial visit. Byrd is currently serving a 4 game NCAA suspension for accepting $2,700 in extra benefits. In total, the NCAA has accused South Carolina of providing $55,000 in extra benefits.

How, exactly, does this deserve mention in an Oregon blog? Simple, it is clear from the level of these violations that the amount of extra benefits provided to South Carolina far exceeds the payment Oregon made to Will Lyles and Complete Scouting Service. Yet, the media seems more intent on the issue surrounding Oregon and their use of recruiting services than they do about this growing problem of extra housing benefits. Extra housing benefits started with Reggie Bush. Schools got smarter, but the benefits still violate NCAA bylaws.

What Oregon is being investigated for, at this point, is nowhere near the level of these extra benefit investigations. There is no indication, yet, that Oregon provided a dime in extra benefits to players. It is clear from the manner in which the NCAA has proceeded that this investigation has been centered on Will Lyles and whether Oregon willfully paid for access to players. So far, every person I have spoken with (save for one person whose service was canceled by Oregon in favor of Lyles) denies that this was the intent of the payment. There is no indication from family, friends or coaches that any recruit who visited Oregon was provided with any extra benefits.

What does this mean? Well, for those that are still worried, look no further than the punishment handed down to Boise State. Wait for the punishment handed to South Carolina. Their allegations include tens of thousands of dollars (in South Carolina's case) to dozens of players (in Boise State’s case) across a several year period. While Boise State received somewhat harsh penalties, they were nowhere near the level of Southern California. If history is an indication, expect in the neighborhood of 2-3 scholarship reductions for 2 years as well as probation and other minor penalties to come South Carolina’s way in the future.

This will bode well for any potential sanctions against Oregon. Though it looks very slimy on the surface, the alleged violations by Oregon are not nearly as significant as those at Boise State and South Carolina. The violations they committed were not nebulous and there was no gray area in the definition. The athletes received housing at considerably under the prevailing rate for the room.

BRIAN BERGER-CHIP KELLY UPDATE

Last week, Brian Berger, 750 The Game host of “The Sports Insider” alluded to “more information” about Chip Kelly. In doing some research and contacting a few sources, including athletic department personnel, here is the only thing I can conclude; Berger’s reference is not going to be some “shocking” revelation.

Currently there is a story being developed regarding Terelle Pryor’s recruitment. Because Oregon was involved late in attempting to have Pryor come out for a visit, Chip Kelly, Pryor’s primary recruiter, will be mentioned in the article. Though it is doubtful there will be much to talk about from a violations standpoint as Pryor never actually visited Oregon.

Members of the coaching staff and athletics department are still very confident that Oregon has not violated any major rules. President Lariviere has stated privately that Chip Kelly’s job is not in jeopardy.

What, then, could Berger be alluding to in his statement? What I have been told is that the big time boosters, outside of Pat Kilkenny and Phil Knight, have said that when the recruiting story first broke, there was unanimous support that Chip was safe regardless of outcome. Recently, however, these boosters have said that, while they support him currently, if a darker truth than what we have been led to believe comes out, that Chip no longer has 100% support of the boosters.

This is not big news, really. It has been speculated for a while now that if Kelly is found to have committed violations along the lines of Jim Tressell boosters and fans would support a change in leadership.

Unfortunately, like many stories surrounding the Oregon football program, Berger will turn it into more of a faction of boosters that want him fired; and he will say it is presumed that there is a deeper problem. This is not true. Do not buy what Berger sells as it is simply an exaggeration of what is happening.

As previously stated, other coaches currently on staff still fully believe that there were no major violations. University of Oregon President Lariviere stated that Kelly’s job is safe.

At this point, based on ongoing investigations into other programs and the penalties handed out recently to LSU and Boise State, there is even more reason for optimism for Oregon fans. The recruiting service scandal does not rise to the level of $55,000 in extra benefits at South Carolina. The scandal is not as pervasive as the multiple year, 63 players provided extra housing benefits at Boise State. Barring unforeseen violations discovered in the process of this investigation (which I am told there is nothing major by sources inside the athletic department), any violations found to have occurred will incur less than the penalties at Boise State.

At this point, I think it is fair to say that Oregon fans once on the edge of their seat expecting bad news and the NCAA hammer to fall can take a deep breath and enjoy the rest of the season. Anything that might be coming down the pike will be minor in comparison and should not affect recruiting much, if at all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Breaking Down Arizona Matchup

Let's take a brief look at the Arizona team then break it down. Today we focus on offense, tomorrow defense and a score prediction.


OFFENSE


QB: 

Nick Foles
Arizona: Nick Foles returned for his senior season and has looked exceptional so far. Even in losses, Foles is completing a high percentage of passes without a single interception. In games against top 10 opponents when his team was behind and the world knew he was throwing, he still went 61-84-637-2-0. That is a whopping 72.6% completion rate. As expected he was dominant against Northern Arizona.


Darron Thomas
Oregon: Darron Thomas has been equally impressive the last 2 games, but against significantly inferior competition. Over that span Thomas went 24-34-501-9. That's right 9 touchdown passes in 2 games with a very impressive 70.5% completion rate. Against the best defense any Pac-12 team will see this season, Thomas went 31-54-240-1-1. Considering the incredible talent along the entire defense for LSU, this may be the best performance a QB sees against LSU all season.

EDGE: Arizona

I will give a slight edge here to the Wildcats. Nick Foles will be a pro next season and has played well even when behind against top 10 teams. However, this is a very close battle.

RUNNING BACK:


Keola Antolin
Arizona: The Wildcats have a very good "slash" type runner in Keola Antolin. Unfortunately for Arizona, the Wildcats have been behind a lot over the past 2 weeks and, playing catch-up, resorted to a lot of throwing the ball. The Wildcats have been winging it all over the field. In the first three games Antolin has carried the ball 28-118 with 1 TD. Against Stanford, he was able to break free with 9-62. As a group, through three games they have carried the ball 52-233-2 TD's. Their overall rushing numbers are brought down by QB sacks, but the RB's are still averaging only 77.7 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry.



Lamichael James
Oregon: What a contrast. Oregon is led by returning Heisman Finalist and Doak Walker winner, LaMichael James. James has cemented himself as the all time leader in several categories at Oregon. He struggled some against LSU, but that is going to happen with a lot of running backs this year. Overall, James is 52-320-5 TD's an average of 7.1 yards per carry. The running backs overall are 106-729-5 TD's.

EDGE: Oregon

This one isn't even close. The Ducks have depth beyond belief at running back.


WIDE RECEIVERS:

Juron Criner
Arizona: Arizona is led by senior Juron Criner who most Duck fans remember. He has been a thorn in the Ducks side for the last few seasons. Criner, who missed the Oklahoma State game following an appendectomy has caught 12-199-2 in his two games this season. Dan Buckner, a 6'4", 220 lb receiver out of Plano, TX has emerged as a capable second threat. Against Oklahoma State he caught 10-142 with a TD. He also led the team in receiving against Stanford catching 4-71. Criner, though, is their deep threat. With their combination of receivers, they have the ability to stretch the field as well as catch tough balls over the middle.



LT
Oregon: The Ducks have been a mixed bag at receiver so far this season. Lavasier Tuinei; LT leads the team with 14 catches for 162 yards. The next two leading receiving threats are running backs De'Anthony Thomas and Lamicahel James with 10-153-2 and 9-144-1 respectively. Junior College transfer Rashaan Vaughn made an impact against Missouri State with 2 catches for 64 yards.

EDGE: Arizona

Based on production the edge here goes to 'Zona. Criner is a known commodity and Buckner has really stepped up so far this season.

OFFENSIVE LINE:

Arizona OL
Arizona: The Wildcats are breaking in an entirely new offensive line. Their depth chart shows two redshirt freshmen starting at the tackle spots. They are teamed up with a sophomore and two juniors. The starters average 298 across the line. The line has struggled opening holes for running backs as well as protecting the QB. On the year, the Wildcats are averaging only 4.5 yards per carry and have given up 7 sacks for 53 yards lost.


Mark Asper
Oregon: Oregon also broke in 3 new starters but have fared considerably better so far this season. The running game struggled early against LSU, but there were holes there and the Ducks gained more than double what everyone else has been able to gain against LSU. The line has allowed only 1 sack so far this season for a loss of 4 yards; and that was backup QB Bryan Bennett. The line for Oregon is just as stout averaging 302 pounds.

EDGE: Oregon

Though the line has been somewhat maligned early this season, they have done their jobs well; opening holes for running backs and protecting quarterbacks. The Duck offensive line has made some noticeable mistakes, but they are certainly working better as a group than Arizona at this point in time.

TIGHT END:

Dan Buckner
Arizona: The Wildcats do not list a TE position on their depth chart instead listing 4 starting Wide Receivers. Their roster shows 4 tight ends and a couple of H Backs, a tight end hybrid position. None of their listed tight ends have any receptions this season. However, Dan Buckner, a Wide Receiver has a tight end build and certainly fills that role to a degree.




David Paulson
Oregon: Though he has been largely absent from the first 3 games, David Paulson is one of the better tight ends in the Pac-12 conference. He is a sure handed receiver with decent speed for a tight end. On the season, Paulson has 4 catches for 26 yards. He is backed up by true freshman Colt Lyerla who has one less catch than Paulson, but has made his 3 receptions count for 53 yards and 3 touchdowns. Lyerla is still working on his blocking and knowledge of the position, but his athleticism makes him a threat any time he is on the field.

EDGE: Oregon

Though there is not much productive capacity for comparison, Oregon actually utilizes a tight end and has a returning All Pac-12 player in Paulson. I would expect Oregon to get him involved in the game plan this week and use some new sets to take advantage of the skills at this position.


OVERALL OFFENSE:

Arizona: Arizona has been very productive through the air averaging 364 yards per game. The running game is a different story as the Wildcats average a mere 55 yards per game. That amounts to a total of 419 yards of total offense per game. Even against a weak opponent, Northern Arizona, the Wildcats only mustered 75 yards rushing on 20 carries.



Oregon: While Oregon's numbers do not look as gaudy as last season, the Ducks are deeper and faster at nearly every position this season. The offense has been working out some kinks early, but the Oregon offense is still extremely potent. Through the air, the Ducks appear to be ahead of where they were early last season even with the loss of Jeff Maehl. That is mostly the result of Darron Thomas being more comfortable this season. Listed as a running back, De'Anthony Thomas made an impact catching quick passes against LSU to open the season. Overall the passing game is averaging 278.7 yards per game while the running game averages 254 yards per game for a total offense of 532.7 yards per game.

Edge: Oregon

In The Shadows of Greatness Part II:

Fighting Together


John Walls with George Crace during 2004 Championship Season
When adversity strikes the member of a group, the group has only two choices; fragment and fall apart, or grow closer together and make the whole greater than the sum of it's parts.

John Walls was in 8th grade when he was diagnosed with leukemia yet many expected him to play varsity as a freshman; he was that good. More importantly, as Wilsonville was still a fairly small, tight knit community in 2004, the high school players knew John and they knew his father Ned. Ned Walls is a hard guy to miss. Ned played offensive line at Central Washington, stands around 6'3" and weighs in the neighborhood of 300 pounds. As a police officer, his presence was known to all in Wilsonville.

John could either become a distraction or a motivation. In life, you just never know which way people will respond; especially high school kids who sometimes find it difficult to face the concept of mortality. Empathy is a difficult task for young teen-aged boys to grasp.

I am reminded that the Ducks faced a similar adversity. On July 13, 2008, heralded defensive back recruit Todd Doxey, on an outing with his team mates, jumped into the McKenzie River. Also not worrying about human frailty, Doxey was not using a flotation device. Just a few hours later, Doxey was pronounced dead at McKenzie Willamette Hospital in nearby Springfield.

This was a stunning blow to many of his team mates that could have ripped apart the fabric of the team. In mid 2008, many people thought maybe the team had lost focus. The Ducks floundered a bit during the middle of the season as it struggled to find it's identity. Nonetheless, by the end of that season, the Duck football team began to gel finsihing the regular season with a blowout victory over arch-rival Oregon State. The victory spoiled the Rose Bowl Dreams of Beaver players and fans.

The win did something more, though, it taught a team what it could do when faced with adversity.

A large core group of Doxey's signing class were vital components in two consecutive Pac-10 Championships. The team that went to the Rose Bowl and the National Championship Game were heavily influenced by the class of 2007. Players like Casey Matthews, Kenny Rowe, Terrell Turner, Drew Davis and Jeff Maehl were all members of that signing class. They drew together through adversity... but none would ever forget their fallen team mate.

Maehl pays tribute to Doxey after scoring. (Getty Images)
Maehl, who had become very close with Doxey, has Todd's name, date of birth and date of death forever tattooed on his arm. Every time you saw him tap his side and point to the sky after a touchdown? That was a direct sign to Todd Doxey. Todd's last words to Maehl were "God is on my side." Maehl points to his side to honor Todd Doxey.

The 2004 Wilsonville Wildcats were in a strange place. They were including a team mate who could not play in all of their preparations. John was as much a part of that team as anyone; but there was a difference, John's number was on their helmets; the season had been dedicated to John and his fight.

I once told John of the perfect analogy from the 2004 Tour de France:


Wow... if today's stage at the Tour de France isn't the
PERFECT analogy for so much that happens in life. It was,
quite literally, an uphill battle. Because he was the
leader, Lance started last in this uphill time trial; two
minutes behind the 2nd place rider.... Lance passed him
going up hill.... when he did the other rider (an Italian
named Basso) looked over but Lance kept his focus on what
was MOST important... what was ahead of him... he didn't
even glance at the other rider... he ended up demolishing
everyone in the stage all but assuring himself of the
overall win...

With the same grit, stamina, attitude and belief, John, you
can win your race...

Live strong, STAY strong and always believe!

The Wilsonville football team approached the season with a similar focus and determination. Their coach, George Crace, did a masterful job of reminding them of the humility that kept them grounded while directly confronted with human frailty every day. Every day they put on their helmets they were reminded that their friend; their team mate, was fighting a much more difficult battle than they could ever face. No opponent on the field could ever be as fearsome as John's opponent. And John was fighting like a mad man; like a full back ramming his way into the end zone, John was determined to beat leukemia.

Much like Oregon used adversity to grow stronger and reach heights no one knew possible, Wilsonville also reached a major plateau. The school did not exist until 1995. In 2004, Wilsonville capped off a perfect season with a 37-13 victory over arch-rival Sherwood in the State Championship game. They won with John Walls by their side.

In remembering Todd Doxey and the impact his death had on the team, Danny O'Neill said "His [Doxey] death affected the other players in a very deep way. I think myself and others were surprised by the response of the players, not just at the memorial service. Jeff [Maehl] still talks about it. Todd Doxey is not the first player to die in a program [but] not all programs have responded in such a way."

Two teams faced with a similar circumstance, both achieving extraordinary heights in honor of their team mates. But John Walls was alive to fight, his number forever emblazoned on the helmets of his team mates; and his fight would be incredible.
Wilsonville Helmet with John Walls number

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A SCREECHING halt to Expansion?

That sound you just heard? It might be screeching tires, or it might just be the Pac-12 putting the brakes on expansion.

From the beginning, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has preached equality. In selling the Los Angeles area teams on the concept of Expansion 2010, Scott was able to garner a major concession from the two power brokers: equal revenue sharing. In doing so, Scott laid the groundwork for the most lucrative television deal in college football history. Along the way, the then Pac-10 flirted with the concept of a Pac-16.

During an 11th hour bargaining session, Texas took a concept gleaned from their discussions with Scott and tried to get rich on their own. They brokered a deal that temporarily salvaged the Big 12. However, in order to make that deal, they were able to convince nine other schools (after the defection of Colorado to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big 10) that they deserved a larger share of the pie. They were further able to convince the league that, though the Big 10, SEC and Pac-12 now all had their own league-wide networks, the Big 12 did not need one; only Texas would need a network. How they were able to convince people of this is beyond me, it just does not make sense.

Fast forward a year, and the Big 12 is about to implode all because Texas felt it deserved a larger share of the pie. They squeezed everyone out. And that angered some folks in College Station. So much so, that they decided to leave and let everyone else fight amongst themselves.

This set off a frenzy. Texas, being Texas, though, continued to look for a partner willing to let them keep their own network while taking an unequal proportion of the conference television money. What they have found; no one is willing to sell their souls to the Texas Longhorns. First the ACC told them thanks but no thanks. Now the Pac-12 has told them they are not interested in their bloated expectations.

At this point, Texas is left scrambling to mend fences. The conference they have nearly destroyed for two consecutive years is in shambles. Oklahoma was set to leave taking Oklahoma State with them. Missouri, they were likely gone too leaving four teams with nowhere to go...

Where does the conference go from here? Your guess is as good as mine. They probably look to add 3 teams with the promise of better paydays to get back to 12 teams. My guess would be looking to add BYU and two of their old Southwest Conference members, Houston and SMU. But as long as Texas gets a bigger share of the revenue pie, these problems will continue. Until Texas is willing to cede control of the Longhorn Network over to the Big 12, the Big 12 is going to lack any stability. At this point, Oklahoma's demand for a new commissioner is a prudent move; the times have passed Beebe. What the conference should have done last year is looked for a conference network that allowed a Texas Sports Network but not controlled by the Longhorns. Instead, they gave the keys to a Lamborghini to a driver so enthralled with speed that they forgot to look for other cars. What resulted is a crash of almost epic proportions.

QUACK BACK: Volume 4

FOOTBALL ROUTS MISSOURI STATE

With a final non-conference game against Missouri State, the Ducks head into Pac-12 play with confidence, but questions. With the season opening loss, most observers had considered the defensive performance to be a very good effort. The last two weeks, however, have seen the Ducks "D" susceptible to the run.

Nonetheless, after Missouri State marched down the field for a score, the Ducks answered with 56 consecutive points to dismantle the Bears.

Along the way, fans witnessed an Autzen Stadium record 90 yard touchdown run by the incomparable LaMichael James. James, now just a single rushing touchdown shy of tying Derek Loville for the career school record, put on a show for the hometown fans rushing for 204 yards on just 12 carries.

AJ Jacobson and John Copp share their thoughts on the performance with their Grades and Analysis. A very fair take on the overall performance Saturday.

Alex McDougall got some GREAT in-game photos take a look at the Oregon-Missouri Game Photos.



Oshay Dunmore
RECRUITING BUZZ

The Missouri State game saw a few more visitors, both official and unofficial as Brett Bafaro made another trip down for the game this time joined by Oshay Dunmore, Stephen Amoako, his twin brother Eric and standout 2013 Running Back Thomas Tyner. It appeared all enjoyed the atmosphere as they were very vocal after they returned home about how much they enjoyed their trip.

Check out the recap from Oshay Dunmore's official visit. As for the Amoako twins, Eric had this to say about his trip "I love Oregon though! Can't wait to live here!"

Recruiting is just starting to really pick up. The Ducks have 8 commitments already and the class is expected to be a full class of nearly 22-25 kids, stay tuned to Duck Sports Authority for all your recruiting news!

VOLLEYBALL TEAM STILL ON A ROLL

The Oregon Volleyball team moved to 9-1 on the season with a sweep over the weekend of Arizona and Arizona State taking Arizona out 3-0 and easing by Arizona State 3-1. The successes have taken the Ducks to #15 in the national rankings.

This week, they head to Colorado and Utah as part of a 4 game road trip before returning home for home matches with Cal and Stanford.

OTHER NOTES:

*-Women's soccer fell to 5-4-2 with  disappointing 2-1 loss to Florida International. The Women continue their season this weekend with a Friday night home match (7:00 PM) against Utah.

*-Fall Golf Kicked off this week as well with the men and women both playing in tournaments.

*-Cross Country has it's next meet October 1st.

And that should about cover it for the week that was in Duck Sports.

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