Welcome to the first edition of the tentatively-titled "Beaver Beat", and a hearty GFY to everyone reading this at home. This column will be a weekly feature throughout the college football season, and likely on through basketball season and any other time there's something to gripe about. If you're on Mozilla, set your browser to open up BeaverFootball.com every Tuesday, and you'll see a new group of musings and mutterings. If you're on Internet Explorer, now might be a time to step away from the computer and ask if you're really making the right choices for your life.
Ideally, this column will be fan-driven, with your insights being an added sideshow to all of my rambling. If you would like to contribute and get your name in lights, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see what we can do. If not, trust me, I have enough hot air to last us all.
We'll have analysis of games, upcoming and recent, when the year starts. But for now, here are some thoughts in the offseason:
With 16 days left until the opener against Eastern Washington, the latest grist for the rumor mill is coming from a familiar source for Beaver fans: Disciplinary actions.
And yet, I'm really not that concerned. Perhaps going through the Dark Age of sheep-rustling and Guardsman-hassling has desensitized me, but the latest stories have yet to get my hackles up too high. Here's the latest:
Joe Rudulph has been suspended for ON-the-field behavior this time. Well, that's a start (NOTE: Can someone please check to make sure a "Sapp, Gabriel" was not anywhere near practice last week? Thanks.). All sarcasm aside, from what I've read, Rudulph is genuinely repentant for his actions last fall, and is making the most about his second chance.
SILVER LINING: Though it's frustrating to see Rudulph gone, I'm at least happy that it appears to be a result of TOO MUCH fire on the field rather than causing trouble off of it. If harnessed right by Riley, one would hope it would step his game up.
Next up, Anthony Crosby and Marcel Love are suspended indefinitely, and probably will not play football this year. Love probably would've been gone anyway (we'll get to that in a second), but Crosby will hurt the receiver depth. NOTE: "Depth". From the sounds of it, JUCO transfers Shane Morales and Chris Johnson are turning into capable threats, and the receivers should be average or better if starters Sammie Stroughter and Wheat-Brown can stay healthy.
Oh, and did I mention that the original story was that Crosby and Love beat up their drug dealer? The Oregonian and Gazette-Times were good enough to pass along this information. Only problem was that it was false. Good thing they've always been so good about reporting the WHOLE story (*cough* Cabbie-gate *cough*)
SILVER LINING: Crosby will probably be back on the team next year, and Love would've likely been gone anyway
Speaking of Mr. Love, congratulations on ruining your second chance…or would this be your third? After being in academic peril for the second straight fall camp, one would have to question just what it would've taken for Marcel to get the picture. If someone offered to pay me up to $30,000 a year to play the game I love a dozen times, I'd probably at least show up to class and do the work. But I'm not Mr. Love. Maybe he and Keston Cheatem can swap stories sometime.
Next, Ruben Jackson is still in academic limbo, but SILVER LINING: According to quotes in local papers, he fully expects to be playing this year. I'll trust him on this one, for all of our sakes.
Finally, coming down the chute are rumors that Jeremy Perry might be suspended for the first two games for off-the-field actions. If true, it's too bad for the big guy, whose anger last year resulted in a momentum-killing personal foul penalty in the Stanford game. Oh, and it came after Bernard came close to gaining a gutsy, critical first down. Oh, and we ended up punting that drive. Oh, and had that drive resulted in a touchdown, it would've been enough to give us the game. Oh, and that game would've given us a bowl game. Not saying that our losing season was Perry's fault, but I am saying that he needs to realize his anger hurts the team.
SILVER LINING: We won't need Perry for the Eastern Washington game, though his presence in the Boise State game would have been a huge asset against the undersized Broncos. Also, Beaver fans would do well to remember that nothing is set in stone yet.
REALLY? PEOPLE FREAKED OUT ABOUT THIS?
We all read the message boards, so automatically our penchant for spouting crazy, misinformed rants increases dramatically. That's essentially why I have this column.
But topping the list of "Holy crap, it must be the offseason" non-issues of the year was the athletic department's decision to "ground" the cheerleading squad.
Of course, what was a simple message was made into something much bigger when one of Bobby D's underlings decided to say…something. I don't really recall it even making sense, I just remember people getting ticked at the words coming out of her mouthpiece.
For some, this was the last straw. "First, you take away our chainsaw? Then you took away our fireworks? Then you gave us Air Supply? And now you GROUND OUR CHEERLEADERS???" The sound of keyboards crashing on foreheads was heard around the world. "1" buttons everywhere were being worn out as people tried to exclamation point their anger to the world. CAPS LOCK became a way of life. Sarg1 was spotted climbing a bell tower. The end was near.
Then, quietly, when no one was looking, the Pac-10 GROUNDED ALL CHEERLEADERS FOR EVERY SCHOOL. Turns out that instead of being a cataclysmic sign of Oregon State abandoning the game day atmosphere, the athletic department was just being proactive. Confusingly so, but still.
Which brings us to this week's New Rule: If it's the offseason and you're whining, it probably doesn't matter. Please step away from the keyboard if your heart rate rises above 900 beats per minute because the assistant crew coach left for another school.
ACROSS ENEMY LINES
Living in Eugene, I'm treated every day to some great stories about how wonderful Oregon's fall camp is going. For example, did you know that Coach Bellotti is extremely pleased with the attendance at the voluntary team workouts in the offseason? And that while he sees room for improvement, this team has a chance to be something special? And that already his team has forgotten last year and is working harder than ever to produce this season?
As Pat Forde pointed out on ESPN.com this past week, EVERY COACH IN THE WORLD SAYS THESE THINGS EVERY YEAR. To the credit of most Duck fans I know, they've been surprisingly humble this year, especially considering last year's (yes, I'm going to say it) bloated accomplishments. It's been almost enjoyable talking football down here in Track Town.
But to help the Register-Guard, here's an excerpt for their next article about the Oregon Ducks. I expect no credit, but you do owe me one shocking expose on the secret drug habit of Jon Canzano:
"It was another (good, productive, fruitful, phenomenal, fantastic, orgasmic) practice for the Oregon Ducks, now in the thick of fall camp. Coach Bellotti said that (he was excited to see how his team is coming together, he was happy with the progress but still expected more, he saw the beginnings of something special in this team, he really misses Chico State) after watching the Ducks practice on Tuesday. "I thought (Dennis Dixon/Brady Leaf/Jason Fife) really came out throwing well today, and looks to be working hard to make things happen. On the ground, (Jonathan Stewart/Jeremiah Johnson/Onterrio Smith) ran hard and made some things happen. The defense made some plays, and we're really excited about (Patrick Chung/J.D. Nelson/Heisman candidate Brent Haberly) stepping up and making things happen. It was hard seeing (Jonathan Stewart/our amazing kick returner Jonathan Stewart/Heisman candidate Jonathan Stewart/All-Pac-10 candidate Jonathan Stewart) go down with (an ankle tweak/an ingrown toenail/what he claims is the Bird Flu), but I feel confident that he'll be back soon, ready to make things happen"
Most Duck fans I've talked to are expecting a year with around 8 wins, which is what I'm hearing from most Beaver fans, too. Neither team is pumping itself up too much, which makes me feel good about the chances of both sneaking up on a lot of people this year.
THE POLE OF POWER
Finally, we'll end with how I see the Pac heading into Week One. This is partially a gauge of the potential I see in each team, and partially a reflection on how much I think they'll realize that potential:
1. Cal (They're going to be scary good this year with Lynch back)
2. USC (Does it even matter that they don't have a returning quarterback? I can't name hardly anyone on this team, but if I wanted to find out, I'd just go back and look at all of the five-star recruits over the past four years. Or the list of felons or shady business deals in SoCal.)
3. Arizona State (God I hate these guys. I think they'll lose a lot of games, but they're one of those teams that you just can't put anywhere else)
4. Oregon (Will we see the return of the great Seattle Bowl-era pass defense? I hope!)
5. Oregon State (Orange-colored glasses? You betcha! We can go higher, but it would take any of the teams above to take a tumble)
6. UCLA (Good talent, but nowhere near last year. Which means Karl Dorrell may actually have to do some coaching. Pray for the Bruins.
7. Arizona (I like Tuitama, and I hate Stoops.)
8. Washington State (Does anyone care anymore?)
If I've missed anyone, it's because they don't matter, aside from their stadium plans and hopeless aspirations.
(Curtis Haley does not have any experience with football, and is a complete idiot. He does own a television and a computer, however. He lives in Eugene, and has been watching Beaver football his entire life. Praise Allah.)
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