From the Cheap Seats: Reasons to beat Oregon

Let's face it: Everybody who hangs out here is pretty much worthless this week. If the U.S. economy depends to any significant extent on Stanford football fans, it is time to buy gold. None of us are going to be getting any work done this week.

At times like this, those of us who write "columns" around here are supposed to think of something clever to say. But there is no hope of that, at least from me. Instead, all I can think of is how much I want Stanford to beat Oregon on Saturday. That has to be the most obvious statement on earth, because everybody who hangs out here desperately wants Stanford to win.

So this is all I can contribute: Since none of us are going to get any work done anyway, let's start a list of the reasons we want Stanford to beat Oregon. I am willing to contribute the first dozen:

1. The Good of the Country: Hey, I am all about being a Stanford fan, but I am an American too. Happily, my love of country and my love of Stanford lead to the same desire—seeing Stanford, not Alabama, playing in the national championship game. (Of course, I realize that beating Oregon does not put Stanford into the national championship game, as there are plenty of tough games after this Saturday and plenty of BCS ridiculousness to thwart us. But losing to Oregon guarantees that Stanford is not in the championship game and makes an LSU versus Alabama rematch all the more possible.) Can the poor people of this country be expected to sit through another "SEC Classic" snoozefest of a field goal kicking contest? Things are tough these days for lots of folks in our good nation. Let's not put those poor suffering millions through that again.

2. The Good Guys Should Win, at Least Every Once in a While: Just in case it is not clear, let me say it in plain language so apologists for _._._. and similar programs can start to take shots at it if you wish--"the good guys" play in Cardinal uniforms. Since the 1960s, as far back as the NCAA website documents (according to my colleague who did the research for a presentation on NCAA enforcement), Stanford's athletic program has been on probation a grand total of zero times. Stanford is the toughest FBS school for athletes (and, by the way, others) to enter. It has one of the highest graduation rates in the country. We do it the right way. College football is in a cesspool right now. We need the good guys to win.

3. Dream On! (a.k.a. "We may never pass this way again"): Since very early in January, just after the last Orange Bowl, we Stanford fans have been dreaming the impossible dream of seeing our beloved Cardinal in the national championship game. We have made the appropriate sacrifices to the woofing gods and worried ourselves sick about a potential upset that would spoil our chances, hoping we could get to the Oregon game intact. While we are not exactly intact, we are undefeated so far. So we are all still dreaming the dream. To keep dreaming beyond Saturday night, we have to beat Oregon. This is a crazy dream, beyond our wildest imaginations just a few years ago. But we want to keep dreaming.

4. The Rodney Dangerfield Factor: Stanford has gone undefeated against the spread, which means (essentially) that our team has outperformed expectations in every single game. Still, we have to see an SEC team that just lost a home game ranked ahead of us in the BCS. Still, we have to see a string of pundits pick Oregon to beat us. As Rodney would say, we don't get no respect—no respect at all. Wouldn't it be fun to see all of those folks explain away yet another Stanford win?

5. Keep Our Bandwagon Jumpers on the Wagon: For years, I have said that "there are only about 46 truly passionate Stanford sports fans, but we all get together regularly at this website called The Bootleg." If we are going to stay relevant, we need more than 46 fans. We need some folks like those I saw at Stanford Stadium the past two years, who do not exactly look like Rhodes Scholars. Sure, there are a lot more important reasons to win (see supra and infra), but let's stay relevant to those outside our alumni and traditional fan base. [Just once, I would like to pick through the college hats at a truck stop and see one with a Stanford "S." If we keep winning, that just might happen. After all, you can find Fresno State hats in those truck stops, now that they have won the College World Series.]

6. I am Willing to Try (Just About) Anything Once: Over the years, no program outside the Pac-10/12 has done so much to ruin my life as a sports fan as Oklahoma. I cannot stand them. I would root against them in a tiddlywinks match. But I am willing to try almost anything (that is legal) once. Even passionately rooting for the Sooners against Oklahoma State. I would not be proud of it, but I would be happy to do it.

7. I Have Had It Up to Here with Them: For a long time, I pointed to Oregon as another Pac-10 school that I respected. But I have had it with them. Those ridiculous uniforms. Phil Knight's money—the part that did not go to Stanford's Biz School. (I never said this was rational. But using that money for a Biz School seems much easier to defend than using over $20,000 to pay for a recruiting videotape. Yeah, right, guys.) Rap sheets. Smashing Chris Owusu's head in a blatant violation of a rule designed to protect players, then celebrating it. Chip Kelly's smugness. But the last straw was their performance against Auburn last year. What happened to the speed merchants who played against Stanford? I decided then and there to never root for them again. (But see item six for an example of my willingness to relax my principles.)

8. Chris Deserves It: Speaking of Chris Owusu, our guys should win for him. What has happened to him, due to an unwillingness to enforce the rule against shots above the shoulders, is an outrage. And Oregon started the outrage. Despite all that happened to him, Chris kept going over the middle, displaying tons of courage. Since Oregon started it, beating them in Chris's honor would be especially sweet.

9. Chris Deserves It, II: Chris Hernandez. Ryan Garko. Brooke Smith. Michelle Smith. Pat Mitchell. Brevin Knight. Candice Wiggins. Leah Nelson. Dozens of others. Make that hundreds. I loved rooting for those kids. But I saw every one of them end their Stanford careers in heartbreak (often in person). I am guessing a few of them might be watching on Saturday. Wouldn't it be fun to think of them smiling at the end of one of the biggest games in Stanford history?

10. Bobbkkk and Goat Man and Lots of Others Deserve It: How about those loyal Stanford fans who have stuck by the Indians and Cardinal through thick and thin for many a decade? That kind of loyalty--or foolishness or whatever it is--deserves a reward.

11. Mini Deserves It (Last Chance Edition): Our son, Mini(Wyo)MizzouCard, can only clam a couple of decades—actually, a bit less than that. But he has been a loyal Stanford sports fan his entire life. He has sat beside his dad long enough to beg his mom to get a hotel room Saturday night so I won't embarrass myself in public at some place like a sports bar. [Mini, Mrs. (Wyo)MizzouCard, and I will be in Colorado Springs, watching Mega (not) play against Air Force. Silly, perhaps, on the day of the biggest game in Stanford football history, to go watch our son not play. Only a fellow parent could understand. So we will be watching the most anticipated game in our fandom in some motel room.] The best days Mini and I have had during his years growing up have been our long road trips to get to remote venues to watch Stanford play assorted sports in the post-season. As some of you know, every single one of those trips resulted in Stanford ending its season in a loss. Despite all that, every time Stanford gets into an NCAA tournament, Mini looks to see if Stanford is playing "near" us, so we can take another one of those trips. He is now a senior in high school, so we are at the end of that phase of our lives. It sure would be fun to be jumping for joy in that hotel room on Saturday. The kid has earned it.

12. What the Hell—We All Deserve It: You have earned it, too. We all have our stories of heartbreak as Stanford fans, even though we root for one of the most successful sports programs in history. In football, in particular, we have endured the unendurable. We kept coming back when only a fool would come back. But we are fools. Fools enough to want at least another week of that impossible dream. (By the way, the people who love us deserve it, too. You and I are going to be awfully difficult to live with, for an awfully long time, if things do not go well on Saturday.) It is going to be a very emotional day on Saturday. I am almost certain yours truly is going to end up with tears in his eyes. Let's hope they are the happy ones, like the ones after triple overtime in L.A.

That is just one fan's start to this list. Feel free to add your reasons. With a bit of effort, we can get a few dozen items on the list. After all, we have nothing better to do until kickoff.


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