College football

The Pac-12 should hold off and own spring football

Sat, 09/19/2020 - 7:35am
Cliff Pfenning
Cliff Pfenning's picture
Last seen: 6 hours 44 min ago
Joined: 2010-07-01

In the coming week, the presidents of the 12 colleges that make up the Pac-12 conference (they're now often being referred to as CEOs), will meet to discuss restarting the football season before October ends, like the CEOs of the Pac-12s brother/sister the Big-10 have done.

When they meet, hopefully they'll move off that topic and to a better one - owning spring football.

The Pac-12 should skip fall football and own spring football as it would be the lone major conference playing at that time.

Who really cares about the national championship anyway? It's the confernence title that matters most.

The Pac-12 should skip fall football for 2020, and own spring football, getting back to the 2021 season in fall.


Are college student/athletes really just assets?

Oregon's rumored bail from Pac-12 is just bad for the state
By Cliff Pfenning,

There’s a lot of online discussions these days about the University of Oregon leaving the Pac-12 Conference for better exposure and bigger financial numbers in the Big 12 or even Big Ten, and it’s all wrong for the state.

It’s probably a good decision to the bottom line for Oregon’s athletic department, and especially its football program, but the school needs to remember it’s a public institution and there should be a lot more commitment to that than a few dollars and better positioning for the College Football Playoffs.

Yes, USC is apparently looking hard at that same move, which has social media abuzz with which other schools would bail from the Pac-12, and Oregon is either next, or right behind UCLA with Washington in there, too.

That would leave the Pac-12 with eight schools, including Oregon State, and a huge drop in revenue for each so that it would then need to add members or merge with another conference such as the Mountain West.

And, it’s all basically related to football and its four-team national championship playoffs.

The Pac-12 does just fine competitively in every sport, right up to the four-team CFP, which is an annual battle to play into ahead of a second team from the SEC. This past season, Oregon won the Pac-12 and was in the discussion for a spot until a late-season loss at Arizona State knocked it out. Even though the Ducks won the conference title game with a dominating performance, being a conference champion of one of the five Power Conferences - along with the ACC and All-American Conference - doesn’t mean anything to the CFP voting committee, which probably still would have put one-loss Alabama ahead of one-loss Oregon into the Final Four.

Is that one thing enough to leave behind the Pac-12 and sister school Oregon State?

Here’s a "no" vote on that.

A key thing to figure in is the athletes that make the school what it is. Sure, each school wants to give its athletes the best experience possible, and that revolves around money to a significant degree. But, is football the complete measure of an athletic department’s capabilities?

If the conference champion can’t compete for a spot in the CFP equally with the second-place team from the SEC or Big Ten without being unbeaten, should the entire world of college sports on the West Coast change?

College football is already crazy with how much money is delivered to head coaches - many of whom are more known in each state than, say, the governor (at least until recently).

The Athletic’s Andy Staples recently wrote this four-team move should happen into the Big 12, which would become the Big 16 (even though the Big 12 only has 10 schools and would thus become the Big 14) - what a crappy name to be part of.

The Pac-12 has tons of history that doesn’t seem to be much of a factor in these rumors, only money does. Plenty of athletes - student/athletes - love being part of the history of the conference. Winning a conference title has that flair attached to it. It’s not just a conference title, it’s a Pac-12 title with a list of former champions that goes back to 1916 for some sports - football and baseball. That would all be gone with a conference title needing wins over schools such as Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas State.

And, again, Oregon State gets absolutely lost in that, as would Washington State for that state.

Oregon State scrimps along to compete in the Pac-12, as does Washington State, but those schools compete relatively equally in many other sports - remember the national title the Beavers’ baseball team won in 2018? And 2006, and 2007?

Rumors are great for social media, especially these days where there’s no actual contests to bounce around. But, Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens would do the state a great favor by talking over this subject with media and putting the Ducks squarely in the conference it’s been a part of for more than 100 years.


College football drama lines up

Oregon's road to the college playoffs is scheduled out
Oct. 20, 2014

The SEC West may be the top college football division in the US, but does that mean two of its teams should wind up in the four-team Div. I playoffs in January?

Sportsland, Oregon co-hosts Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber debate the merits of the SEC against the rest of the college football world amid the theory that the SEC West is so tough - four of the top five ranked teams were from the division this week - that they should deserve a shot at the playoffs, even if one only had one loss, but doesn't reach the SEC title game.

After a substantial drop in the rankings thanks to a loss to Arizona, Oregon returned to the ranks of teams voters want to see in the four-team playoffs, and is sixth in the latest ESPN Power Ratings. Winning out the rest of the season pretty-much guarantees a spot in the playoffs.

But, what of Michigan State? If the Spartans win out, including the Big 10 title, and have only a loss at Oregon against them, should they get a shot at the top four over an SEC team that didn't play in its conference title game?

Also, they talk NFL, Portland Timbers and their drive to reach the playoffs, and the Trail Blazers get some attention as well. It's all recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.


SATURDAY: Mississippi at LSU

NOV. 1: Stanford at Oregon, Auburn at Mississippi, Arkansas at Mississippi State

NOV. 8: Oregon at Utah, Alabama at LSU, Ohio State at Michigan State, Notre Dame at Arizona State

NOV. 15: Auburn at Georgia, Mississippi State at Alabama

NOV. 29: Oregon at Oregon State, Auburn at Alabama, Mississippi State at Mississippi, Notre Dame at USC

DEC. 6: Pac-12 Title Game at Levi's Stadium; SEC Title Game at Georgia Dome; Big 10 Title Game at Lucas Oil Stadium; ACC Championship Game, Charlotte, N.C.


Beavers keep momentum going

OSU rolls through Washington State with another win scheduled
Oct. 13, 2013

PULLMAN, Wash. – Sean Mannion passed for a school-record 493 yards, Brandin Cooks scored three touchdowns and Oregon State scored 28 points in the fourth quarter for a 52-24 win over Washington State Saturday night at Martin Stadium.

Mannion surpassed the previous record holder, Derek Anderson, by 8 yards and broke the record with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Cooks in the fourth quarter. It was the 18th all-time between the two, making them the most prolific tandem in school history.

Mannion, who completed 34-of-51 passes and threw for four touchdowns, also found Cooks in the end zone on an 8-yard strike less than four minutes before the 30-yard score, which came with just under seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Other strikes by Mannion came on a 7-yarder to Connor Hamlett and a 7-yard pass to Kevin Cummings with a little more than a minute remaining in the third quarter.

Storm Woods scored twice on the ground, coming from 1 and 3 yards out, respectively, and Cooks rushed for an 8-yard touchdown just five seconds into the fourth quarter to represent OSU’s other scores.

Cooks’ 8-yard touchdown rush came just a couple players after a Washington State miscue on a punt attempt to end the third quarter. It set the Beavers up on Washington State’s 27-yard line and Cooks’ score gave the Beavers a 31-24 advantage.

OSU plays at Cal, which is 1-5, Saturday.

OSU broke the game open with Woods’ 1-yard rush just 1:08 after Cooks’ touchdown. Rashaad Reynolds intercepted his first of two passes in the fourth quarter to set up the touchdown.

Washington State turned the ball over five times in the fourth quarter; Reynolds intercepted two passes and caused one fumble and Sean Martin and Steven Nelson each intercepted a pass. The Beavers out-gained the Cougars, 169 to 50, in the fourth.

Cooks led the Beavers overall with 11 receptions for 137 yards, giving him 63 receptions and 944 receiving yards on the year.

Richard Mullaney also hit the century mark, finishing with 122 yards on five catches.

Mannion’s 493 yards gave him five consecutive games with 350 yards or more passing, and the junior now owns five of the 14 all-time 400-yard efforts by Oregon State quarterbacks. The 493 yards surpasses Derek Anderson’s 485 against USC in 2003.

For the year, Mannion has completed 67.1 percent of his passes for a national-best 2,511 yards and 25 touchdowns.


Oregon blasts through Huskies

Washington does well to hang within three scores of the Ducks, 45-24
Oct. 13, 2013

SEATTLE (AP) - In five previous outings this season, Marcus Mariota was wearing a baseball cap and sending in signals from the Oregon sideline by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.

When the Ducks were finally pushed on Saturday, Mariota and his teammates gave an emphatic response that added another notch to a decade of dominance over their rivals to the north.

Mariota threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns, added another 88 yards and one TD rushing, and the second-ranked Ducks beat No. 16 Washington 45-24 to extend their winning streak in the series to 10.

"Guys were able to battle. I definitely think we're a four-quarter type team, we just haven't had a reason to play four quarters," Oregon running back Byron Marshall said. "So the fact we got the first one under our belt to answer everyone's questions is good."

Mariota's passing was nearly spotless, he used his legs to make the Huskies pay when throwing options were covered, and he was easily the best player on the field. Mariota completed 24 of 31 passes, and ran another 13 times. He threw touchdowns of 4 and 3 yards to Bralon Addison and a 65-yarder to Josh Huff on Oregon's first possession of the second half. Huff had to be carted to the locker room with an apparent right leg injury in the first half, only to come back after halftime and burn the Huskies secondary.

Most impressive, Mariota answered every challenge Washington made. Twice in the second half the Huskies pulled within a touchdown. Both times, Mariota responded by leading the Ducks (6-0, 3-0 Pac-12) to touchdowns of their own. Mariota topped 300 yards passing for the sixth time in his college career.

"He was awesome. I haven't seen the stats but he played really well," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "He played really smart and very productive. A bunch of guys made a bunch of plays for him too."

Marshall added 106 yards rushing and two touchdowns and while Oregon's streak of scoring at least 55 points ended at five games, the Ducks passed their first test of the season.

De'Anthony Thomas suited up for the Ducks but it was just decoration. Sidelined with a sprained ankle the past two games, Thomas went through pregame warm-ups but never left the Oregon sideline. Turns out they didn't need him.

The Ducks rolled up 631 total yards and averaged 7.8 yards per touch against a Washington defense that came into Saturday third best in the country allowing just 3.9 yards per play and third in pass efficiency defense.

Yet Mariota gladly exposed the gap that remains between the Ducks and Huskies. Mariota hit on 13 of his first 15 passes and now has 25 combined touchdowns and zero turnovers this season.

"Marcus was huge again for us today. He was taking care of the tempo and just leaving everything on the field for us," Huff said. "We stayed with him and were able to come away with the victory."

Bishop Sankey ran for 167 yards and touchdowns of 60 and 25 yards for Washington, but the Huskies (4-2, 1-2) defense that stood stout against Stanford last week was exposed. The Huskies gave up 633 total yards. Washington was third in the country giving up 3.9 yards per offensive play, but the Ducks averaged 7.9.

Sankey was responsible for a major first-half swing that left the Huskies playing from behind. Tied at 7-7 and driving, Sankey fumbled for the first time this season on a third-down run at the Oregon 31. The fumble was forced by cornerback Troy Hill and recovered by Torrondney Prevot. Mariota went to work, and connected with Addison for a 4-yard TD and a 14-7 lead.

Washington went three-and-out on its next series holding possession for barely one minute. Oregon followed with a seven-play drive, with three plays of 15 yards or more. Marshall capped the drive with a 15-yard sprint and a 21-7 Ducks lead. Washington's Keith Price also threw an interception late in the second quarter deep in Oregon's end. Price finished 19 of 32 for 182 yards and one TD.

"I thought both of our turnovers occurred in their territory and took potential points off the board for us and gave them possessions," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.

The Huskies closed to 21-14 on the first drive of the second half when Sankey burst 60 yards on fourth-and-1, but Mariota answered by dropping his long TD pass to Huff. Washington got within 31-24 on Sankey's 25-yard TD run in the final minute of the third quarter. The Ducks answered in less than 90 seconds with Mariota scoring on a 5-yard run and he added a 3-yard TD pass to Addison for the final margin. Addison finished with eight catches for 157 yards.


Vikings drop third straight

PSU loses at Southern Utah in defensive struggle
Oct. 13, 2013

Cedar City, UT - Involved in an unlikely defensive struggle, the Portland State Vikings were undone by five turnovers, losing to Southern Utah, 17-7, at Eccles Coliseum.

PSU held the Thunderbirds to 183 yards of offense but a pair of Viking turnovers led directly to both SUU touchdowns. Meanwhile, a Viking offense that has been a powerhouse all year, had its lowest output of the season, totaling 313 yards and only one score.

The loss was the third in a row for Portland State. The Vikings dropped to 3-4 on the season, 0-3 in the Big Sky Conference. Southern Utah moves to 5-2 and into the Big Sky Conference title race at 2-1.

Neither team could move the ball in the first quarter and each team punted three times. PSU totaled only 59 yards of offense while Southern Utah gained 65.

T-Birds kicker Colton Cook finally broke the scoreless tie with a 44-yard field goal at the 13:08 mark of the second quarter. Then a Portland State fumble on the next possession set up the Thunderbirds at the PSU 18 for another score.

Southern Utah quarterback Aaron Cantu hit Fatu Moala on a 3rd-and-goal play from the 5-yard line for the first touchdown of the game. The extra point put SUU ahead 10-0 with 5:15 left in the half.

Just before halftime, Portland State got on the scoreboard, mounting a 13-play, 75-yard drive behind backup quarterback Paris Penn. With a fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line, Penn fought his way into the endzone. That closed the score to 10-7 at halftime.

The third quarter was just like the first. No offense and six punts between the two teams.

Then came the fatal turnover for Portland State. Quarterback Collin Ramirez was picked off at midfield by Tyree Mills who returned it to the Viking 1. It took three plays by the Thunderbirds, but Cantu finally punched the ball across the goal line with 6:01 remaining in the game.

Down 17-7, the Viking offense drove the ball 55 yards behind Ramirez, but were finally stopped on fourth down at the Southern Utah 20 with 3:12 to play. From there, the Thunderbirds were able to run out the clock.

Portland State used all three quarterbacks trying to find the right mix on offense. They combined to complete only 18-38 passes for 196 yards and three interceptions. The running game had 117 yards but needed 41 carries (2.9 ypc). PSU also lost two fumbles.

Southern Utah had only 64 rushing yards on 36 carries (1.8 ypc) and 119 yards passing.

However, the Thunderbirds two touchdown drives were of 18 and 1 yards, and the field goal drive went just 12 yards after a 22-yard punt return.

Jaycob Shoemaker led the Viking defense with 11 tackles. Dean Faddis made 10 stops. David Edgerson had six tackles and an interception.

GAME NOTES: Wide receiver Kasey Closs was the offensive star for the Vikings, catching five passes for 57 yards… running back DJ Adams had 17 carries for 47 yards… the seven points scored by the Vikings were the fewest in a Big Sky game since losing 14-0 to Montana State on Oct. 7, 2006… PSU was playing in Cedar City for the first time since 1993 and for the first time in a Big Sky Conference game… Portland State will have a bye next Saturday. The Vikings return to conference play on Oct. 26 when they host the University of North Dakota. Kickoff is 1:05 p.m. at JELD-WEN Field.

College football is the answer

Federal employees await a push from the real source of power
Oct. 1, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

So, if you were like me, you learned a lot about the federal government at 9 p.m. Monday night, Pacific time. That's when the federal government shut down.

My reaction was simple - what's that actually mean?

Will traffic lights still work? They will because they're managed by local governments.

Will schools still open their doors? Yes - local governments.

Will cable still operate? Yes - it's a private business.

The mail? Yes, still there because it's a business, too.

So, what's gonna happen to me?

Will I get a break from photo radar? No way.

Well, that's when the scrolling info on the bottom of my television informed me of the big ticket items:

National parks will be closed. That sucks, but it doesn't affect my daily life.

NASA will shut down. Again, bad news, but we already lost the Space Shuttle and our little guy on Mars doesn't need daily updates, so not a big issue.

Federal employees, many of whom manage the tax system, won't get paid.

And, retirement checks won't get mailed out - there's a big item for older citizens, which I'm not.

I'm basically not affected, other than to wonder if I still have to pay taxes for a government that's not officially working.

Of course I do, because Congress is still getting paid.

And, the military is still operating on foreign soil.

What really happened Monday night is the U.S. just looked stupid to the rest of the world. That's nothing against older Americans and people who operate the government - some of whom I know, but most of America isn't directly affected by the federal government.

Our Congress doesn't even care enough about the nation to pass a budget - a long-term budget, too - to keep itself operating.


Even the nations that have filed for bankruptcy have to be looking over to North America with distain.

That's when it hit me it's time for college football to step up and make the federal budget really important, because what's bad for America is bad for college football.

Yes, college football is the answer to the federal government. And, head coaches are in charge of their programs, so they should step up and make a statement for Americans.

Here's a challenge to the college football coaches of America to step aside on Saturday, or Thursday in the case of Texas, Iowa State, UCLA, Utah, Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Monroe.

Just don't coach, something that will challenge team captains and every player on the roster. Assistants should still work, although they should donate their pay to a non-profit, but the head coach, then every player, should just agree to stop.

How fast would Congress work to pass a budget? Tuesday night might happen, or Wednesday ... Thursday morning at the latest. Texas is playing, and Iowa State wants its chance to hammer the Longhorns just like BYU.

It's not just football, by the way, but college football, which is the most important part of virtually every state in the union. That's why college football head coaches are the highest paid public employee in every state but Alaska.

Pro football is a business, which is why it can shut down and the U.S. still goes about its business. Same thing with Major League Baseball, the NBA, the NHL. They can all cancel an entire season and still not affect daily life. But, not college football.

Hotels will suffer. Gas stations will suffer. Beer sales will suffer.

If college football were to stop, even for one week, every member of Congress would get voted out of office, even the people who will eventually be on the winning side because there isn't a winning side when the government stops paying itself and looks stupid to the world. Citizens might even hold Congress captive on Capitol Hill, letting members leave only when they agree to have "I stopped college football" tattoed on their foreheads.

College football head coaches are the real source of power in America, and this is their opportunity to showcase that fact on behalf of every American.

Again, here's the challenge to college football head coaches, make that statement for America:

"Congress, get back to work and pass a budget, or there will be pain. Real pain."

Chip's got the hot life at Oregon

SPORTSLAND starts with some commentary on Chip Kelly
Jan. 7, 2013

So, what if the NFL isn't willing to pay for Chip Kelly the way he wants to be paid - with unique benefits.

Maybe, what the Cleveland Browns needed was a tour of Kelly's new office, which includes a hot tub.

There's a cable network series just waiting to be made based on Kelly and his office hot tub at the University of Oregon. "Executive Hot Tub," where producers find struggling businesses with potential space and then install a hot tub.

Imagine the smiles from those business owners.

Whatever Kelly saw in his tour of the beleagured NFL teams, he apparently didn't see a reason to leave Oregon and another upcoming run at the national championship. Oregon may very well open the season ranked No. 1 or 2, which the cast of Sportsland delved into in the first episode of 2013. There's the college football world, thoughts on the most likely road team to win in the NFL playoffs this weekend, and a review of the Blazers' run at making Damian Lillard the NBA Rookie of the Year as well as Terry Stotts the NBA Coach of the Year.

Oregon and Oregon State opened their Pac-12 Conference schedules on a unique night - Sunday, and the Ducks continue to put up a solid resume for being a challenger for the conference title.

And, the Winterhawks, they're in there, too.

It's all in 49 minutes of Podcasting from Blitz in the Pearl, located in Northwest Portland.




It's celebration time for Oregon bowlers

A Rose Bowl win ends years of frustration for Ducks fans
Jan. 2, 2012

In the first part of this week's episode, it's all Rose Bowl all the time for the Sportsland, Oregon. Los and Derek get togethIer after the game to break down the Ducks' first Rose Bowl victory in 95 years and the first Bowl victory of Chip Kelly's career.

They talk about all the big stars of the game, from De'Anthony Thomas and LaMichael James in the backfield to Kiko Alonso and Lavasier Tuinei as unexpected heroes. Then they discuss the rest of the major bowls and predict the National Championship, all before debating the merits of Andrew Luck as a Number 1 pick and a sure thing. 

In Part 2 of their marathon Rose Bowl podcast, Los and Derek make their NFL playoff predictions. With all of the potent offenses in this season's playoffs, it's tough to choose just two that will make the big game, let alone one that will win it.

Finally, Derek provides his send-off and valedictions to the Oregon Ducks' 2011 Football season.

All that, plus the usual segments, including What Plucks My Duck and What Makes Your Beaver Eager, all from Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.



College players finally getting the attention they deserve

Thu, 06/02/2011 - 7:13am
Cliff Pfenning
Cliff Pfenning's picture
Last seen: 6 hours 44 min ago
Joined: 2010-07-01

With the millions of dollars flowing through the college football world, the NFL struggling to figure out how to dole out $9 billion, and the problems of both Ohio State and Southern Cal with players getting a taste of financial success while they're still in school, Steve Spurrier spoke up with the idea of paying football players.

It would be a stipend, but would be a form of payment for ... making him rich. Wednesday, he offered to pay the stipend out of his own pocket, which caused at least one media outlet to multiply $300 per game for each player into the sum of $300K for a season, which would lower Spurrier's pay from $2.8 million to $2.5 million.

At least Spurrier is addressing an issue that needs addressing - how coaches and college administrators make money off players who get paid through scholarships, which is a form of payment, but, especially in football and men's basketball, it's only a fraction of what they would should earn as part of a system that essentially turns them into professional entertainers who could be viewed as making something like minimum wage.

The University of Oregon can pack Autzen Stadium with fans and make millions for its athletic department and players will happily play for the value of an education, which they have to earn. But, where other students might have a job and make money they can spend on items such as extra entertainment or travel, or whatever, the football players are football players. They can't have jobs, so some have delved into selling things they can, like rings from successful seasons, to get extra money. This is a key to the scandal that caused Ohio State coach Jim Tressel to resign this week.

Tressel made millions coaching the football team for a university whose annual gross revenue is more than $100 million, while his players were paid an equivalent of some $25,000.

I've noticed this for quite a while - the inequity between what coaches make and what players make at the college level. There's two examples that I point out to people when this comes up. They involve Kevin Love and LaGarrette Blount.

When Kevin Love graduated from Lake Oswego and headed to UCLA, he was on the fast track to the NBA after just one season as a Bruin. And why not? College is preparation for a professional position, and when you can move up, you should move up. He did. The problem is that before he played one minute as a Bruin, you could go on eBay and buy things with his signature on it. Love's name already had value to fans/collectors, and people who got his autograph and sold it made money off him. He didn't. You could easily argue that he was increasing the value of his name for later years, but he didn't make any direct money off the sale of his name.

When he got to UCLA, the school sold jerseys with his name on the back and made money off that. He didn't, other than get free access to classes.

Blount is up there with uniforms. Even when he got suspended from the Oregon team after team violations, the University still sold jerseys with his name and number on them. Blount didn't see any of that money, other than through getting to sit in on classes he may or may not have had any interest in. The NCAA keeps up its goal of making sure the school keeps its athletes focused on their school work as part of maintaining the status quo, but the trouble with all the money isn't going away anytime soon.

What if all the college football players formed a union?


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