Clardy's Corner: The microbrew edition

I like beer. And I like football. If you're reading this Corner, odds are pretty high that you like both of those things as well. But do you really need one to enjoy the other?

Maybe I'm the wrong person to ask, because if I'm at a football game, 99 times out of 100, I'm working. I need be spending my time during the game spotting trends and watching out for intricacies that tell the true story of each contest. Obviously, watching football can be quite hard to do through beer goggles. Also, stumbling into a press box after downing an adult beverage or eight is a good way to get a credential revoked.

I'll still crash a tailgate or two before a game, but if you offer me a beer, I'll politely decline and ask if you have any Pepsi instead. Now, after the game? Sure, I'll crack open a brew, enjoy myself responsibly, and have a good time. But before the game, I'll just stick with the EANABs, thank you.

So perhaps I'm not the right person to be talking about this, because I can separate beer from football with no problem at all. I have to. But I suspect that, to many people, beer and football go together like Sofia Vergara and tight dresses.

Sometimes I think people just use football as an excuse to get drunk and act a fool. Let's face it: you've seen That Guy at the stadium. He's the one who's bobbing and weaving all around the place. Yelling obscenities. Picking fights. Causing other fans to glance around nervously and look for the text number to stadium security. Throwing up on himself and others. In general, making a total jack*** of himself.

If you've been to a football game, you've seen That Guy. You may know That Guy. Some of you may even be That Guy.

And if he's got a few of his buddies with him and they're all in a similar state, sometimes there's no telling what can happen. In extreme cases, you have the mayhem at Candlestick Park that marred the preseason game between the 49ers and Raiders.

These days, it takes a lot of time, energy, and money to actually go to a football game. It's not easy. You have to fight traffic, pay big bucks for parking, pay bigger bucks for a ticket, overpay for a boiled hot dog and a Dixie cup of soda, deal with some drunken moron who just doesn't know how to act, watch your team lose, and then fight traffic again.

Why go through all of that? It hardly seems worth it sometimes. Especially in the NFL, where it just seems so much easier to kick back at the house, fire up your 60-inch HD plasma TV, invite some buddies over, drink whatever you'd like (and not have to pay through the nose to do it), flip on the NFL RedZone channel, and call it a day. The experience of watching a game at home, many times, seems to be better than actually making the effort of heading to the stadium itself.

I've heard the stories of the old days at rickety Stanford Stadium, back when you could buy a beer, sit in the stands, and watch the Cardinal while enjoying a cup of brew. That, obviously, was a long time ago. I also remember seeing some folks suggest that the atmosphere at Stanford Stadium had been irreparably damaged once beer sales were discontinued. I also remember some even going as far as to suggest that they wouldn't return to Stanford Stadium unless beer was sold there again.

Granted these comments were made back during the Walt Harris era, when watching Stanford Football forced many of us to reach for a bottle. But still, I remember thinking, "Really? Is beer really that integral and critical to your enjoyment of a football game?"

Oliver Luck is a man who thinks many fans would say yes to that question. He is the athletic director at the University of West Virginia, about 80 miles south of my front door. You may have also heard of his son, Andrew.

Oliver's 16 months on the job have not been controversy-free, from the Mountaineers' mad scramble in the musical-chair dance of conference realignment to his botched head-coach-in-waiting arrangement between incumbent Bill Stewart and upstart Dana Holgorsen. But Luck's most controversial decision in his tenure so far may have been to endorse beer sales at home football games in Morgantown. The university approved the move this past summer, and now you can pay $7 for a macrobrew or $9 for a microbrew while singing "Country Roads" at the top of your lungs.

Some were skeptical about selling beer in a place where a sizable portion of the contingent wouldn't be of legal drinking age. Others were nervous about the idea because Mountaineer fans have a reputation of being, shall we say, a bit rowdy (especially when couches and fire are involved). But by most accounts, beer sales inside the stadium have not had an adverse effect on fan behavior in Morgantown.

I can think of one big and obvious reason why West Virginia voted to allow beer sales at its home football games this year. Actually, I can think of 500,000 to 1.2 million big and obvious reasons. That's how many dollars the school can make this season by selling beer. As always, you have to follow the money.

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but many universities, especially public ones, are seeing their funding sources dry up, and the search for revenue is becoming more and more critical by the day. In this new world, and with the kind of dough that it may bring in, beer sales may be the wave of the future in collegiate athletics.

That will be music to some fans' ears. So maybe the days of beer being sold at Stanford Stadium again are closer to returning than you might think. But would your experience at Stanford Stadium be that much better because of beer? Would beer sales really make that much of a difference? That's for you (and perhaps the university) to discuss and decide.

Of course, the best way to improve the atmosphere at the stadium is to improve the quality of the product. Fortunately we've had the chance to discover this for ourselves. And I'll be honest... at season's end, I wouldn't mind trading in the beer for champagne.

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RANDOM PAC-11 THOUGHTS

Hmmmm…given how my picks went (more on that later), maybe I should take a week off from the Pac-11…

Not a Pac-11 thought, but… when I watch Oklahoma State play, I see what Arizona wishes it was right now…

Not a Pac-11 thought, but… against Pitt last weekend, Notre Dame's offensive coaches totally ignored Michael Floyd, arguably the best receiver in college football. Floyd made three catches in the first four plays, but after that, he didn't catch a pass until Notre Dame's final drive. He didn't have a pass thrown his way for 47 minutes of game time. And even though Pitt's defense did a great job containing him, Notre Dame didn't seem interested in finding ways to get Floyd the ball. No motion, no screens, nothing. I couldn't believe it. Instead of becoming a very rich man last weekend, Floyd became an invisible man. If Notre Dame wants to make that same mistake on November 26, I'm all for it…

Not a Pac-11 thought, but… I'll tell you one player who is getting richer by the week: LSU CB Tyrann Mathieu. Big-time players make big-time players in big-time games. Based on his performances against Oregon and West Virginia, no college player may be bigger proof of that maxim this year than Mathieu. That guy is well on his way to becoming a millionaire…

Not a Pac-11 thought, but… everyone marveled at the passing numbers Tom Brady put up in the first three weeks of the year, and rightfully so. But almost everyone conveniently forgot that Brady was putting up those numbers because he had to, thanks to that porous Patriot secondary. The former Michigan QB is going through the same thing current Michigan QB Denard Robinson experienced last year. He's playing like Superman (and getting the credit for it) while his defense is playing like Jimmy Olsen (and largely escaping the blame for it)…

Not a Pac-11 thought, but… isn't there something just inherently cool about seeing the Jets and the Raiders at the Oakland Coliseum?

Not a Pac-11 thought, but… could Andew Luck be handing off to Toby Gerhart next year? If the Minnesota Vikings keep coughing up games like Cheech & Chong at Snoop Dogg's house, he could be…

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CLARDY'S CORNER INBOX

Got a nice note in my Scout.com inbox from AN88, who had these thoughts on last week's Corner:

"I'm so annoyed to hear of spoiled Cardinal fans. Many of them, as have you and I, have lived through many years of drab/dreary/frankly bad Stanford Football, and have only in our wildest dreams ever thought a three-year run of success like we are now experiencing would happen in our lifetimes. …To see some of these same folks bemoaning blowouts as mundane is sad. But by the same token, it shows where the program now is. Having folks' expectations raised isn't necessarily a bad thing. But as long as folks keep things in proper perspective, I'm okay with the greater expectations."

I wouldn't necessarily call Cardinalmaniacs "spoiled", and that wasn't my intent. But I do think that some folks expect every game this year to be like Big Game last year. But while they may be "expecting" those kinds of performances, I don't sense they feel "entitled" to them. There's a difference.

U$C, Texas, almost every program in the SEC...those fans, I think feel entitled to blowouts and BCS bowl games every year. That makes them spoiled. I don't think we're at that point. But in some weird kind of way, I'd kinda like to be!

Got a thought on this Corner? Drop me a line either at my Scout.com inbox (username: troyc)... or e-mail me at troyc@thebootleg.com...

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PAC-11 PICKS

Horrid. I just had a horrid start. At least I got the one game right that I got the most grief for on the BootBoard Plus (take that, Rocky17!)…

Arizona @ U$C. The Wildcats gave up 415 yards rushing last week., and this week they face Marc Tyler, who ran the ball well against the Sun Devils. Unless U$C's secondary takes the day off, I like U$C by 12.

Oregon State @ Arizona State I challenge you to convince me that the Beavers can win this game. Any takers? I didn't think so. I like Arizona State by 17.

Washington State @ Colorado. The Cougars have the league's most prolific passing offense. The Buffaloes have the league's stingiest pass defense. Still, I have a funny feeling Wazzu might not Coug this one. I like Washington State by seven.

Washington @ Utah. Husky QB Keith Price is coming off his finest performance, but this time he faces a Utah defense that always gets after it. When in doubt, go with the defense…and the home team. Unless you have a funny feeling. I like Utah by nine.

Last week: 1-3 (straight-up and ATS).
This year: 1-4 (straight-up), 2-3 (ATS).
Last year: 23-13 (straight-up), 16-20 (ATS).

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Troy Clardy is in his 19th year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. In its 10th season of Cardinal commentary, Clardy's Corner appears Wednesdays during the college football regular season on TheBootleg.com. You can also check him out online at TroyClardy.com, or e-mail him at troyc@thebootleg.com.


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