College

Gov. Brown should address Covid-19 burnout

There's 33,000 cases but only 58 deaths among residents 59 and younger
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

As the Pac-12 Conference moves to within a week away from starting its football season, there’s an elephant in the room of public debate - actually several elephants - in regards to public welfare and the Covid-19 pandemic. 

These elephants relate to sports in numerous ways, including fans in attendance at events. They're very toxic topics to get into, and Gov. Kate Brown would do the public some great service by addressing them, especially if it were in a town hall format.

Oregonian sports columnist John Canzano would certainly love to have the mic first and ask about the denial to grant the University of Portland and Portland State basketball programs the ability to practice and play games regardless of having fans in attendance. She's full-on said "no" even though Canzano has promoted they're the only two Div. I programs in the entire nation that are not openly practicing and preparing for games.

Perhaps Merritt Paulson, owner of the Timbers and Thorns, could ask about the reality of Phase 3 conditions for having fans at games. Both of those teams have been hit hard by the pandemic, but they at least have some TV revenue to help them survive. The Portland Winterhawks do not, and without fans in attendance they will not play this season, and might simply fold as a business.

I'd jump in and get to the first elephant, which involves Phase 3. In order for teams to have an audience, there needs to be a cure or a vaccine for COVID-19. So, what if there isn't one and what we've been able to do as a state - still under 700 deaths after seven months, is as good as we can do?

The logic behind this question is simple.

The 1918 Spanish Flu that killed more than 600,000 Americans in about 18 months by most reports, did not have a cure. Or a vaccine. And, it killed more than 50 million people across the globe. But, around 1920, it just ended. That might read like something America’s worst-ever President might say or tweet, but if you search online for “spanish flu cure” that’s what you’ll find. There wasn’t one. It just stopped being a threat to daily life and the US went back to chasing bootleggers instead.

The second elephant involves the vaccine. What if it shows up, but nobody gets it? A survey of 1,000 residents produced for the state showed that only about 40 percent of Oregonians would definitely get the vaccine. Half the residents surveyed said they weren’t sure what they would do, which is what happens with the flu vaccine every year - everyone does not get it. 

The third involves prosperity and simple public burnout. When the virus truly arrived publicly as a serious threat - March 11 with the positive test of Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert, many leaders began immediate preparations for a tsunami of cases and deaths.

Gov. Brown personally took action to turn the state fairgrounds in Salem into a 250-bed facility to handle overflow patients because one estimate had the state with as many as 75,000 cases in just two months. That’s a tsunami of cases. After seven months, though, the total number of cases has just passed 40,000, and total deaths above 650.

One factor keeping both those numbers down definitely has to do with the significant reaction to the potential tsunami: instructing the public to stay indoors, and closing most non-essential businesses such as restaurants, canibus shops, bowling alleys, gyms, salons, etc. With less contact, the virus has largely been kept in check within the state. How long that needs to go on, though, moves right into public burnout, and a key for that is the fourth elephant - the virus impacts a particular part of the populace much more than the overall population: men and women older than 60.

Information from both the CDC and Oregon Health Administration shows that 91 percent of the deaths attributed to the virus in Oregon were among the 60-and-older age-group. 

According to the most recent weekly report released by the OHA Oct. 21, of the 39,794 cases reported, 33,289 were from among residents 59 and younger - 83 percent of positive tests. The number of deaths for that group was 58. For seven months. That’s from more than 750,000 tests.

Younger people are not affected as decisively by the virus. In closing all those small businesses, though, their opportunities for prosperity are.

The burnout from numbers like this is in the focus on the spread of the virus. Super-spreader is a term associated with how many people might get the virus from an event, such as a football game, even if the people least likely to catch the virus and die are the ones at the game. Avoiding the risk those fans might catch it and pass it along even without knowing they ever had it in some cases is currently worth keeping everyone away from the event in the first place. But, for how long?

And, there's a big question about the connection between published testing/case results and actual deaths, in that they are not connected. The number of residents who die from COVID-19 in the state is a hard fact not related to the number of tests conducted. Cases, meanwhile, is a soft fact related entirely to the number of tests conducted. As more tests are conducted, the number of positive results will increase, but the number of deaths is not related to the number of tests or positive tests in any way.

The number of positive tests and deaths would very likely go up were society to return to more of a pre-March 11 lifestyle, which leads to the fifth elephant - is the return to the more prosperous lifestyle worth the risk of an increase in deaths? 

Again, if this reads like something the President might say or tweet, ponder that even a con man might say something that follows data and logic even though they’re literally farting into the wind when they say it just to prove they can make the wind change at will, not realizing their assistant just turned their body so the flatulence would magically float away with the wind.

"The virus will just magically end."

But, that's what history actually says happened to the 1918 pandemic.

The herd immunity that gets brought up regularly, well, that’s what national news media is involved with as it avoids addressing any of these elephants. It just focuses on the number of cases and the number of deaths, two figures that have a lot of extra perspective about them that goes unnoticed. 

The sixth elephant, well, that might be the biggest one of all here - evictions. The moratorium on evictions has to expire at some point, and when it does, there's going to be a huge demand for media time to cover all the heartbreak being passed around just the Portland area. Without more access to a pre-outbreak lifestyle, evictions are going to hit the state much harder than the pandemic itself.

Gov. Brown would do the public well to address these elephants as demand for more lifestyle increases.

With football season about to return to the state and plenty of fans yearning for a seat at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. Or Reser Stadium in Corvallis, most fans would likely have no problem wearing a mask, except, maybe, when the Ducks or Beavers face third-and-two on their opponents’ 18.

The public should have a voice in reassessing Phase 3 requirements for larger gatherings, because there’s good logic to suggest those requirements may never get met.

 

Beavers get coaches excited

OSU holds its second scrimmage, two weeks before opener
Staff Report

Oregon State's football team kept its preparations for its season-opener on track Saturday with two hours of scrimmage work at Reser Stadium.

The Beavers, who open at home against Washington State Nov. 7, worked their No. 1 offense against their No. 1 defense for three drives, and the offense scored on all three with junior quarterback Tristan Gebbia at the helm. Gebbia tossed two touchdown passes to freshman Zeriah Beason.

“He didn’t miss much out there,” head coach Jonathan Smith said to media afterward. “I think he played as well as he has all camp.”

The scrimmage was the final one before the opener.

Gebbia's play helped turn the tables on the defense from its first scrimmage. A week earlier, the defense shredded through the offense to establish itself as the dominant part of the team. Not so Saturday.

Running backs Jermar Jefferson, B.J. Baylor and Connor Morton performed well behind an inspired offensive line that caught Smith's attention.

"I was pleased with that group today," he said. "We're making real progress there."

Sophomore Everett Hayes went 3-of-5 on his attempts, hitting from 38, 44 and 52 yards, while missing from 37 and 50.

The Beavers are aiming to move forward from last year's campaign, which had them basically one play away from a bowl game before finishing at 5-6.


Ducks call off practice due to positive tests

Five players test positive, causing team to scrub second scrimmage
Staff Report

Out of extreme caution, Saturday's Oregon football practice inside Autzen Stadium was canceled due to five positive antigen tests within the program.

These are the first positive tests within the football program since daily testing began. All five are asymptomatic, in isolation and being monitored by medical staff.

The health and safety of UO student-athletes is and will continue to be the athletic department's top priority. Local health authorities have been notified and contact tracing is in process.

"I wish I had answers to some of the questions you might have; I don't," UO head coach Mario Cristobal said during a previously scheduled conference call with media timed for after the scrimmage. "I just wanted to provide you with transparency, let you know exactly where we are today.

"The scrimmage was canceled; tomorrow we are testing the entire team again, which is normal policy anyway, and (conducting) follow-up PCR tests for the other guys that had tested positive as well. And then from there we'll see what the next steps are."

Oregon hoops leads national rankings

The senior class signings are No. 1 according to ESPN
Staff Report

In spite of all the challenges college athletics have had to handle this year, the prospects of coming seasons have not stopped, and the Oregon men's team has assumed a special place in national respect - it's recruiting class of current high school seniors is ranked No. 1 by ESPN.

Staff writers Jeff Borzello and Adam Finkelstein named the Ducks No. 1 earlier this week, topping all the traditional recruiting powers such as Duke, Louisville and Kentucky.

“Recruiting didn’t skip a beat, despite coaches not being able to see prospects in person and being forced to conduct recruitments entirely via phone and video," the duo wrote. "The 2021 class is still relatively on pace with previous classes, as 70 prospects in the ESPN 100 are already committed. So we have a strong idea of how the top recruiting classes in the country are going to stack up.”

Oregon coach Dana Altman has enticed two of the top centers in the nation - Nathan Bittle and Franck Kepnang, rated No. 2 and 4 among centers. Another signee, Johnathan Lawson, is among the top forwards. All three are rated at 47th or higher in overall Top 100 recruits.

 

Oregon, Oregon State open at home

The seven-game schedule begins Nov. 7, ends with Dec. 18 championship game
Staff Report

Oregon's two members of the Pac-12 will begin their football seasons at home, the conference announced Saturday.

Oregon will play host to Stanford, while Oregon State plays host to Washington State.

Whether fans will be allowed in their respective stadiums has not been revealed.

After cancelling the season in August, the conference voted last week to play a seven-game season and took a week to create a schedule. The annual Civil War is set for Nov. 27, midway through the schedule. Both schools are scheduled for just three home games.

The seventh game of the conference schedule includes the championship game, set for Dec. 18 - a Saturday. Teams that do not qualify for the title game will play their seventh game the preceeding Friday.

Oregon is the defending champion and lone team from the conference ranked in the Top 25 - at 14.

2020 SCHEDULE

NOV. 7

Stanford at Oregon

Washington State at Oregon State

NOV. 14

Oregon at Washington State

Oregon State at Washington

NOV. 20.

UCLA at Oregon

NOV. 21

Cal at Oregon State

NOV. 27

Oregon at Oregon State

DEC. 5

Oregon at Cal

Oregon State at Utah

DEC. 12

Oregon State at Stanford

Washington at Oregon

DEC. 18

Conference championship

Oregon opens rebuilt Hayward to its teams

The recently finished track and field stadium gets athletes touch
Staff Report

Hayward Field is finally going to get its stamp of approval from the athletes set to use it most.

The track and field and cross country teams were scheduled to visit the stadium's insides Friday - the first time the athletes would be allowed to see the spaces they'll use during training and competition. The stadium, which was razed and completely rebuilt, has been off limits other than the track and outer concourse until today.

Some athletes had been training at the stadium since late summer, but the cardio and strength equipment they used had been moved to the concourse so that the unveiling would be held when all the team's athletes were back on campus.

Oregon had expected to have athletes use the stadium in spring, but the COVID-19 outbreak changed those plans.

Hayward Field had been set to hold the Olympic Trials in summer, but the outbreak moved the 2020 Olympics to 2021. Hayward Field is still set to host the Olynmpic Trials.

Seating, which had been roughly 8,500 prior to the construction, seats 12,650 spectators, but can be expanded to more than 25,000.

Oregon has not released a schedule for cross country or track and field.

 

Ionescu, Sabally catch league's eye

Oregon's two standouts are among top jersey sales
Staff Report

The University of Oregon women’s basketball team had quite an impact on the WNBA this season, regardless of wins and losses.

Sabrina Ionescu and Satou Sabally, the top two picks in the league’s draft, were among the top 10 most popular jerseys sold this season through the WNBA store.

Ionescu, who plays for the New York Liberty, was No. 4, and Sabally, who plays for the Dallas Wings, was No. 10.

They were the only rookies among the top 10, which was led by Seattle’s Sue Bird.

TOP SALES WNBA.com

1. Sue Bird, Seattle Storm

2. Diana Taurasi, Phoenix Mercury

3. Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks

4. Sabrina Ionescu, New York Liberty

5. Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx

6. A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces

7. Breanna Stewart, Seattle Storm

8. Elena Delle Donne, Washington Mystics

9. Courtney Vandersloot, Chicago Sky

10. Satou Sabally, Dallas Wings

 

 

Are the Pilots really grounded?

Terry Porter needs to let Tony Broadous sell him on the future
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

In following sports, it’s the job of media to do just that - follow sports from when it happens. Very rarely does that involve actually lobbying for an outcome, especially in regards to coaching.

But, there’s an opportunity to do just that within the college coaching community in Oregon, and we’re going to take that on. I’m going to take that on with regards to the University of Portland and men’s basketball coach Terry Porter and Portland Community College coach Tony Broadous. It involves the challenge of Porter taking a look at Broadous as an incoming assistant coach and possible successor to his role as head coach. That would be one of the most unique and exciting stories in college basketball in the upcoming year for a program that currently has one of the most unexciting outlooks.

So, coach Porter and the UP athletic department, please take a look at this, and meet with this guy because this is truly exciting and you desperately need that - excitement. And so does sports media.

This stems from a story last week about Porter being supported by the athletic department to finish out the fifth and final year of his contract from 2016. That’s after four years of losing records and only seven combined wins in West Coast Conference play - finishing this season with 15 consecutive losses. Were the social conditions different it’s not hard to think UP and Porter would have gracefully parted ways, and the Pilots would be scouring the land for a new coach. But, that didn’t happen and in the upcoming year it’s also not hard to see the program as everyone being on a one-year contract, other than a few scholarship players. The team might have three returning starters, but none of them averaged more than 12 points per game, and most of the team will have some junior college background or be coming directly from a junior college. The team is likely to have only one player viewed as a three-star recruit coming out of high school from a five-star scale.

Of the 350 NCAA Div. I programs, the Pilots will probably be No. 350 in expectations for the coming season, and you cannot recruit high school standouts at No. 350. Men’s basketball is the most fluid sport in the NCAA so a new coach next year will be able to put together a decent team in a summer, but that coach is also very likely to be a couple good seasons away from jumping to a better situation with more money involved.

Enter Tony Broadous, a lifelong Portlander with community connections who got very good reviews - excited reviews - from the story I wrote after UP announced its commitment to Terry Porter. For a little insight on why the UP program has gotten to where it is, Terry Porter does not know Tony Broadous, even though he’s only two miles away from the UP campus. You would think that when Porter got here in 2016, he would have gone directly to Broadous on Day One and bought him lunch at the Chapel Pub or at least a mocha at Dutch Bros., and asked what the lay of the land is, especially because he had no college coaching experience. That didn’t happen, and still hasn’t happened even though junior college players are such a key part of the UP roster.

Broadous, who had just finished year four in 2016, took the Portland program from a winless season to a conference title in just two years, so he’s got skills in recruiting and coaching. That’s with a program that had never even been to the conference playoffs before he got there. And, it’s the excitement involved that makes this plan at least worthy of a look on Porter’s behalf.

If Broadous can sell Porter on himself and a vision for where the program might go if he’s involved, well that takes the team from No. 350 to at least 300 in terms of “hey, pay some attention to UP this season.” If he’s brought in as an assistant for recruiting, and is able to land, say at least two three-star recruits, well then a year of grooming within the Div. I environment might very well lead to an opportunity to get to No. 250 in his rookie season as head coach. That’s probably where Porter was in his rookie season in terms of national interest. In terms of local interest, that would happen immediately, and that’s something that leads to a crowd and more recruiting juice.

If Mark Few can sell Spokane, Wash., across the world, Tony Broadous should be able to sell Portland, If he can’t in a season, he’s not the guy. But, if he can, then Disney+ will be paying attention, because it loves an underdog and that's what going from a former NBA coach to community college coach in a year involves. Maybe Porter could move into an administrative role within the athletic department? He’s a classy guy, and represents the school well. It just hasn’t happened on the court.

So, where we started is sports media longing to cover stories that have drama and intrigue in them, and this is one that at least deserves a burger or a mocha from Porter. Will he take on that challenge? That would be two classy guys talking about what might be, and that’s what college athletics is about. Even if it's takeout and from six feet apart.

The University athletics department has not responded to requests for comment.

 

Concordia already planned to ride into sunset

The Cavaliers women's soccer team was still playing in Spring
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

Concordia University had already planned to close before the national emergency of COVID-19 arrived, but the women's soccer team at the school hadn't altered its plans in spite of not having a season to look forward to. They still had spring and they were using it, even with a plan to play the University of Portland on its home field.

And, the school's alumni were ready to celebrate, too, with an April 4 gathering.

Those plans were all dashed with the governors decisions relating to public gatherings, but the history of the program will live long into the future with 22 consecutive winning seasons and 14 straight NAIA tournament appearances. The Cavs won the national title in 2014 after playing in three other finals.

Coach Grant Landy talked about the program and what he'll leave behind as the school closes just as society locks down in the year's inaugural episode of No Pity City PDX.

NO PITY CITY PDX

GRANT LANDY COACHING RECORD

NAIA 1997-2014 / 330-62-23

        Champions 2014

        Finalists 2004, 2008, 2011

        Semifinals 2003, 2006, 2009

 

 

 

 

 

Are college student/athletes really just assets?

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

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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