The Beaver Beat (October 3, 2007)

Last week, your intrepid reporter took the week off to travel to Oakland for work. Along the way, he found a hotel lobby, a TV and one of Dennis Dixon's high school coaches. The writer of the Beaver football column was rooting for the Ducks, and the former coach of Oregon's starting quarterback rooting against them. I DIDN'T watch the Beaver game. All in all, it made for a pretty good Saturday.

Some of you might be thinking: "If he didn't watch the game, how can he expect to give any analysis?" It's pretty easy, actually. I saw all I had to in the score updates.

4th Quarter. 10 minutes left. 14-12, OSU. Everything's looking good.

I check back about ten minutes later. Five minutes left in the game, OSU is now trailing 33-14.

Well, that's the season. How many days until baseball starts?

It doesn't matter how it happened. I still only have a basic understanding of what happened in those lost five minutes. To be honest, I don't care. Against Cincinnati, it was a dropped punt, then a blocked punt, then interceptions. Against ASU, it was just interceptions. Maybe the secondary decided to sit down on the field and start smoking hookah. Again, I just don't care.

I spent the first few weeks of this column talking about the concerns with this team, then countering them with the rays of hope that we can feel as Beaver fans. But in the past two weeks, it's become apparent that the rays of light that we see are swallowed up by the black hole that is our self-destructive, lackluster, unimaginative, slow, lethargic defense. Greg Laybourn? Interceptions. Cornerback interceptions? Mediocre offensive line and receiver play.

The Pac-10 is as deep as it has ever been. This is not hyperbole. The Pac-10 has never had as MANY talented teams with as MUCH talent and as GOOD of coaching. Washington is one of the scariest teams to play every week – they haven't even won a conference game.

In fact, since some rich Stanford booster apparently bought them a pulse over the offseason, and since Wazzu and Arizona were SUPPOSED to suck, OSU now has sole possession of the "Most Disappointing Team in the Conference" award for this year. OSU was supposed to be the 5th best team in the conference. Now 5 wins will be a stretch.

So here's a quick primer to surviving what is sure to be a long year:

*DO NOT stop going to the games. This is what's called being a "bad fan". It is, however, acceptable to start missing games because of commitments that originally weren't as important. That wedding your wife was wanting you to attend with her? Gosh, I guess if it's important to her, you WILL go after all.

*DO NOT start calling for the heads of the head coach and quarterback. This is called the "Rule of 2006". The team's offense is anemic, but it's not an institutional issue. The program is in reasonably good shape – a rebound next year isn't unlikely. Support the leaders while the kinks are being worked out, or risk, again, being labeled a "bad fan".

*DO always leave yourself a little bit of wiggle room in case the impossible happens, and the team turns it around. Selling your season tickets would be breaking this rule. Buying a closet full of Duck stuff and chanting the Oregon fight song all day would also be breaking this. Declaring the team a complete lost cause, followed by a turnaround, would make you look very, very stupid. Always keep up a minimal amount of support. Example: "Man, our offense is at Pettibone levels, our secondary sucks and we won't win five games. I guess they could turn it around, though."

*DO enjoy the games you can attend. Remember the USC game last year, where you didn't think we had a shot of winning, but still rooted hard, and had an aneurysm when the Beavers actually pulled it out? Now EVERY game can be like that. Hey, if the team loses, they were supposed to, right? At least Gundy threw that touchdown pass. And if they win? Well, look out world, because if the 2007 Beavers can squeak out a 3-point win over the Huskies at home, the 2008 Beavers are a championship contender in the making. Your intrepid reporter will be making a point to run at the goal posts after the Stanford game.

*DON'T boo. Period. You think the team's bad now? Wait until all the good recruits choose other schools where the fans support the players.

*DO buy season tickets next year. There are two exceptions: Some catastrophic event happens, followed by a ridiculously bad response by the athletic department (Think Mike Riley leaving, Pete Carroll offering to come to Corvallis, and the Beavers picking Jay John as the new head coach instead), or the AD being completely tone deaf and raising prices to insane levels despite the 2-9 season.

Football season comes around for a couple of months every year, and we spend the rest of the time waiting for the season to start. Sure, the team might not be very good, but that doesn't mean you can't sit back and enjoy the season. Watch the new standout players, wait to see if there might be a late season turnaround, eat a Beaver dog, have a beer and take in the game.

After all, it could be worse. You could be a Notre Dame fan.

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Curtis Haley writes "The Beaver Beat" weekly. thebeaverbeat@beaverfootball.com

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