oregon pac-12

Oregon might very well be a playoff team

Mon, 11/09/2020 - 10:25am
Cliff Pfenning
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College athletics have been affected significantly this year by the global pandemic known as COVID-19, but Saturday showed off the college football world hasn’t changed much: the South and East Coast still run the world and Oregon fans can pretty much just hold their breath in relations to getting a spot in the four-team College Football Playoffs.

No. 1 Clemson lost to No. 4 Notre Dame in double overtime, but, of course, Clemson didn’t have its normal starter - Heisman candidate Trevor Lawrence due to pandemic protocol - so Clemson should still be a candidate for that top four teams if he were back in the line-up.

The second-best team in the Southeastern Conference, or, in this case the Atlantic Coast Conference, is always going to be better than the champion from the Pac-12. That’s how the weekend worked.

At least, that’s how this weekend worked. The Pac-12 wasn’t even going to play a season a month ago, then decided to give it a whack. So much is uncertain these days. But, the SEC and Clemson/Notre Dame commitment, that’s gold.

So, Oregon has some work to do if it hopes/expects a chance to compete for the national championship. And, why else play, of course, if you have a $100 million practice facility?

The Ducks did a fairly good job of showcasing their talents in the 35-14 win over Stanford Saturday at Autzen Stadium. Actually, very good starting with quarterback Tyler Shough, who ran for 85 yards on just 11 carries. His decision-making on hand-offs up the middle that turned into runs around the left end looked like national championship-caliber material.

Running back CJ Verdell’s ability to squeeze through small holes looks impressive, and the Ducks’ cadre of receivers led by DJ Johnson and Jaylon Redd did great work as well. On offense, Oregon looked great.

On defense, holding the Cardinal to 14 points was a good effort, although that was solely because of four missed field goals. Ouch. The Ducks gave up more than 400 yards of total offense, and forced only two punts. The team has just three tackles for loss. Stanford had a 32-28 edge in time of possession.

There’s work to do on defense, although it can be argued when the pressure hit the D did force those field-goal attempts.

Overall, it was a good win, setting up another chance for a good win at a potentially-pesky Washington State squad, and so on to the conference championship game - hopefully against USC and the Los Angeles media market, on Dec. 18 - primetime, a day ahead of the major conference title game bonanaza the following day.

All five of the major conferences have title games, so the idea that only conference champion teams should be among the four will be hyped-up this year in that there’s fewer games and weeks to promote some second-place division team such as often does within the SEC.

Oregon has a pathway to the College Football Playoffs, it just needs to play its way there by winning seven consecutive games, basically in the manner it did with Stanford on Saturday.

 

Oregon should stay in the Pac-12

Mon, 03/30/2020 - 10:59am
Cliff Pfenning
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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.

 

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