Clardy's Corner: Maybe The Last Time

When it comes to watching Christian McCaffrey in a Stanford uniform, the Card's bowl game could be the last time. May be the last time, Troy doesn't know. We do know that it's the final Clardy's Corner of the season!



Even though I've been able to watch Stanford greats like Andrew Luck, Toby Gerhart, Shayne Skov, and countless others, the one who still stands out to me the most after all these years is Troy Walters.

The big plays. The amazing catches. The uncanny knack for getting open. The skill to come through in the clutch. The capacity to lift his team, sometimes almost single-handedly. The ability to pack so much talent, will, and guile into one compact frame. Plus, he had the greatest first name one can possibly have. What wasn't to like?

Over 23 years of following and covering the Cardinal, Walters has been my favorite player. Now he may have to share some space on my personal mantle, and make room for the latest great Number 5.

I don't know for certain if last Saturday marked Christian McCaffrey's final game at Stanford Stadium. And I'm not going to use this space to tell McCaffrey what he should do with his life. That's not my place. And I would be shocked beyond belief if my opinion on the matter had any direct bearing on his decision-making, anyway.

If he returns next year for his final season of eligibility, great. If he moves on to the pros, great. If he announces he's transferring, we'll, then I'd have a problem. (thank goodness that's not even a remote possibility)

With 204 rushing yards, 271 all-purpose yards, and two touchdowns against Rice, McCaffrey put the wraps on a sneaky-great season. Entering this week, McCaffrey is still the FBS leader in all-purpose yards. This despite teams not kicking to him anymore.

Over the last five weeks, he rolled up 991 yards rushing and scored ten touchdowns. Before 2007, that rushing total would have landed squarely in Stanford's top ten rushing performances for a single season.

He also finished with the fourth-highest single-season rushing yardage total in Stanford history, even though he missed one game due to injury and was not a big factor in two others.

Who else could have pulled off such boffo numbers and huge performances in such a quiet fashion? But when the bar is set to impossible, as McCaffrey's seemed to have been entering this year, being superb is merely met with a shrug.

What a season. What a career. And if this is it, it was a pleasure to watch.

Granted, McCaffrey hasn't officially announced anything yet, so hopefully this doesn't seem like I'm pushing McCaffrey out the door. David Shaw already (jokingly) accused a reporter who asked about Bryce Love's potential impact as the Card's top running back next year of doing just that after the game on Saturday. But while it's too early to call McCaffrey's era at Stanford a wrap, given his prodigious accomplishments, it's not too early to look at whether he belongs among the Cardinal's all-time greats.

Is he the best Number 5 of all time for Stanford? That case can already be made. At the very least, he's right up there with Walters. Glyn Milburn was right before my time, but it seems that the two certainly compare quite nicely. That's definitely your top three right there, but in what order?

(by the way, I mused about this on Twitter late in Saturday's game. Props to Bootleg contributor Mark DeVaughn, who also offered up Brian Johnson, Pete Sauer, and Teyo Johnson -- the 2001 version -- into the mix. Hard for me to argue those. 2001 Teyo was a beast. Back to the Corner...)

Is McCaffrey the best player of all time for Stanford? Man, that's a lofty list. Now you get into Elway/Plunkett/Luck/Nevers territory. Obviously, it's tough to compare different eras, different positions, and the like. All I'll say here is that, at the very least, he's in the conversation.

Is Christian McCaffrey's career down to one final year, or merely one final game? I don't officially know the answer there. Either way, I want to thank McCaffrey for representing Stanford Football at its very best, both on and off the field.

Is there anything more that can be said about Christian McCaffrey? Or does he keep coming up with new ways to impress and amaze us every week? Actually, both things can be true. It's also true that McCaffrey has now matched -- if not surpassed -- Walters as my favorite Stanford player that I've seen with my own eyes.

It's not the Heisman, but it's something, right?

********** ********** **********

An item that I felt needed some separation from the Random Pac-12 Thoughts...

During the spring, I was in Eugene doing a lacrosse game for the Pac-12 Network. Afterwards, my broadcast partner met with a friend of hers whose husband worked for Oregon football. He offered us a tour of the football complex, right next door to Autzen Stadium. Since I had plenty of time before my flight back to the Bay Area, and I was super curious to see what all the fuss was about, I tagged along.

So my broadcast partner and I checked out the facility -- which looks like something Darth Vader would build, inside and out -- with the Duck football staffer, his wife, and their three small children in tow. They had just bought a house in a neighboring town, and were super-excited about the future. Why not? The kids were cute little bundles of energy, they loved Eugene, and Oregon football was sure to be trending upward for years to come.

I've been thinking a lot about that family this week, especially now that Mark Helfrich has become the first Duck head football coach to be fired since 1976.

Seems like an odd and cruel turn for Helfrich, who was just coaching in the national championship game two years ago. And yes, this was season was an awful disappointment in Eugene.

If the Ducks' woeful defense was the only problem, that would be one thing. But Oregon's 17-year sellout streak at Autzen came to an end this season. The Ducks no longer have the market cornered on cutting-edge football and space-age facilities. Worse, it looks like Oregon's program has been surpassed by Washington State and -- most galling of all to Duck fans -- Washington.

Earlier this month, hot-shot recruit Elijah Molden chose the Huskies over the Cardinal and the Ducks. As a Stanford fan, you may have been disappointed. But Duck fans were apoplectic. Not just because Elijah is from the Portland area, and not just because Oregon actually finished third on his list, but also because Elijah's father is one of the greatest defensive players in Oregon Duck history. (remember Alex Molden? I'm sure Andre Kirwan does...)

Those factors sealed Helfrich's fate. But while I feel for Helfrich, I suspect he'll be fine. The other coaches will likely be OK, too. I'm much more concerned about the support staffers who are also being thrown out on the street, who don't have massive buyout clauses in their contracts, and who have families that also now face equally uncertain futures.

This is why, as a member of the media, I don't publicly call for coaches to be fired. I didn't do "fire the coach" radio in my sports talk days, and I won't do "fire the coach" Corners. Never have (not even when Stanford was in that position), and never will. If you're looking for that kind of stuff, others may gladly oblige you, I'm sure. Not me.

Even though letting Buddy Teevens and Walt Harris go were the right moves to make at the time, I took no joy when those events happened. And as Duck fans dance in the streets, I'm thinking back to the family I met last spring in Eugene. While Helfrich gets paid thanks to his buyout clause, I wonder what cost that family will be paying.

********** ********** **********

RANDOM PAC-12 THOUGHTS

The fans who actually came to Stanford Stadium last week were rewarded by being allowed to come down onto the field after the game. There, they took pictures, hung out with the players and coaches, tried to get in the shot behind Christian McCaffrey while he did an interview for the Pac-12 Network, and saw the stadium from a perspective that few get to see. Despite the weather, no one seemed in a real hurry to leave, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. It was a nice touch, a nice way to thank the fans who showed up on a rainy evening during a holiday week against a lackluster opponent...

Wait a minute...the Wildcats rushed for how many yards against Arizona State?

Cal's defense had allowed 40-plus points nine times this season. Nine times! Last week, UCLA mustered just ten points against that crew. For a team that had spent its offseason toughening up its image, the Bruins sure laid down...

Not a Pac-12 Thought, but... as that controversial fourth-down unfolded in overtime in Columbus, I didn't think Ohio State made it. But I don't know for certain that they didn't. ABC's camera angle was not definitive enough to overturn the first-down call. Without indisputable evidence, I can't definitely say that Michigan got a raw deal there...

Not a Pac-12 Thought, but... for what it's worth, my top four right now: Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, and Washington. In that order. The Wolverines didn't show me that they didn't belong in that mix last week, and I have fewer questions about Washington than I do about Clemson. I'm sure your top four varies...

Not a Pac-12 Thought, but... it's official: SEC is Alabama and everyone else. Much like the Pac-10 was a decade ago, when it was USC and everyone else. Or like the AFC East has been for over a decade now, where it's the Patriots and everyone else...

Not a Pac-12 Thought, but... I suspect your friendly neighborhood 49ers fan spent his Sunday evening frantically digging through his closet to see if his old Raiders gear still fits...

********** ********** **********

The end of the regular season marks the final Corner of the year. Is it me, or did this season go by faster than it normally does? This 15th season of Corners was a blur, but it was also blast. Thank you as always to Jim and Lars, and to R.J. But, as you know, the biggest thanks go to you for reading, sharing, and responding to these every week!

********** ********** **********

PAC-12 PICKS

Colorado vs. Washington (-7) (Pac-12 Championship Game, Friday). There's a lot to like about the Buffs. But I can't shake the feeling that the Huskies secondary will be the best unit on the field. They make the difference. I like Washington by 10.

Last week: 4-1 (straight-up), 3-2 (ATS).

This year: 35-10 (straight-up), 22-20 (ATS).

Last year: 30-15 (straight-up), 23-19 (ATS).

********** ********** **********

The 2016 season marks Troy Clardy’s 24th year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. Troy also calls baseball, softball, soccer, and lacrosse games for the Pac-12 Network, and was the sideline reporter for the Stanford football radio network's broadcast of the 2016 Rose Bowl. In its 15th 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, follow him on Twitter @TroyClardy, or Like him on Facebook.






Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com(sign-up)!


The Bootleg Top Stories

Follow\r\n@TroyClardy\r\n\r\n

\r\n

Even though I've been able to watch Stanford greats like Andrew Luck, Toby Gerhart, Shayne Skov, and countless others, the one who still stands out to me the most after all these years is Troy Walters.

\r\n\r\n

The big plays. The amazing catches. The uncanny knack for getting open. The skill to come through in the clutch. The capacity to lift his team, sometimes almost single-handedly. The ability to pack so much talent, will, and guile into one compact frame. Plus, he had the greatest first name one can possibly have. What wasn't to like?

\r\n\r\n

Over 23 years of following and covering the Cardinal, Walters has been my favorite player. Now he may have to share some space on my personal mantle, and make room for the latest great Number 5.

\r\n\r\n

I don't know for certain if last Saturday marked Christian McCaffrey's final game at Stanford Stadium. And I'm not going to use this space to tell McCaffrey what he should do with his life. That's not my place. And I would be shocked beyond belief if my opinion on the matter had any direct bearing on his decision-making, anyway.

\r\n\r\n

If he returns next year for his final season of eligibility, great. If he moves on to the pros, great. If he announces he's transferring, we'll, then I'd have a problem. (thank goodness that's not even a remote possibility)

\r\n\r\n

With 204 rushing yards, 271 all-purpose yards, and two touchdowns against Rice, McCaffrey put the wraps on a sneaky-great season. Entering this week, McCaffrey is still the FBS leader in all-purpose yards. This despite teams not kicking to him anymore.

\r\n\r\n

Over the last five weeks, he rolled up 991 yards rushing and scored ten touchdowns. Before 2007, that rushing total would have landed squarely in Stanford's top ten rushing performances for a single season.

\r\n\r\n

He also finished with the fourth-highest single-season rushing yardage total in Stanford history, even though he missed one game due to injury and was not a big factor in two others.

\r\n\r\n

Who else could have pulled off such boffo numbers and huge performances in such a quiet fashion? But when the bar is set to impossible, as McCaffrey's seemed to have been entering this year, being superb is merely met with a shrug.

\r\n\r\n

What a season. What a career. And if this is it, it was a pleasure to watch.

\r\n\r\n

Granted, McCaffrey hasn't officially announced anything yet, so hopefully this doesn't seem like I'm pushing McCaffrey out the door. David Shaw already (jokingly) accused a reporter who asked about Bryce Love's potential impact as the Card's top running back next year of doing just that after the game on Saturday. But while it's too early to call McCaffrey's era at Stanford a wrap, given his prodigious accomplishments, it's not too early to look at whether he belongs among the Cardinal's all-time greats.

\r\n\r\n

Is he the best Number 5 of all time for Stanford? That case can already be made. At the very least, he's right up there with Walters. Glyn Milburn was right before my time, but it seems that the two certainly compare quite nicely. That's definitely your top three right there, but in what order?

\r\n\r\n

(by the way, I mused about this on Twitter late in Saturday's game. Props to Bootleg contributor Mark DeVaughn, who also offered up Brian Johnson, Pete Sauer, and Teyo Johnson -- the 2001 version -- into the mix. Hard for me to argue those. 2001 Teyo was a beast. Back to the Corner...)

\r\n\r\n

Is McCaffrey the best player of all time for Stanford? Man, that's a lofty list. Now you get into Elway/Plunkett/Luck/Nevers territory. Obviously, it's tough to compare different eras, different positions, and the like. All I'll say here is that, at the very least, he's in the conversation.

\r\n\r\n

Is Christian McCaffrey's career down to one final year, or merely one final game? I don't officially know the answer there. Either way, I want to thank McCaffrey for representing Stanford Football at its very best, both on and off the field.

\r\n\r\n

Is there anything more that can be said about Christian McCaffrey? Or does he keep coming up with new ways to impress and amaze us every week? Actually, both things can be true. It's also true that McCaffrey has now matched -- if not surpassed -- Walters as my favorite Stanford player that I've seen with my own eyes.

\r\n\r\n

It's not the Heisman, but it's something, right?

\r\n\r\n********** ********** **********\r\n\r\n

An item that I felt needed some separation from the Random Pac-12 Thoughts...

\r\n\r\n

During the spring, I was in Eugene doing a lacrosse game for the Pac-12 Network. Afterwards, my broadcast partner met with a friend of hers whose husband worked for Oregon football. He offered us a tour of the football complex, right next door to Autzen Stadium. Since I had plenty of time before my flight back to the Bay Area, and I was super curious to see what all the fuss was about, I tagged along.

\r\n\r\n

So my broadcast partner and I checked out the facility -- which looks like something Darth Vader would build, inside and out -- with the Duck football staffer, his wife, and their three small children in tow. They had just bought a house in a neighboring town, and were super-excited about the future. Why not? The kids were cute little bundles of energy, they loved Eugene, and Oregon football was sure to be trending upward for years to come.

\r\n\r\n

I've been thinking a lot about that family this week, especially now that Mark Helfrich has become the first Duck head football coach to be fired since 1976.

\r\n\r\n

Seems like an odd and cruel turn for Helfrich, who was just coaching in the national championship game two years ago. And yes, this was season was an awful disappointment in Eugene.

\r\n\r\n

If the Ducks' woeful defense was the only problem, that would be one thing. But Oregon's 17-year sellout streak at Autzen came to an end this season. The Ducks no longer have the market cornered on cutting-edge football and space-age facilities. Worse, it looks like Oregon's program has been surpassed by Washington State and -- most galling of all to Duck fans -- Washington.

\r\n\r\n

Earlier this month, hot-shot recruit Elijah Molden chose the Huskies over the Cardinal and the Ducks. As a Stanford fan, you may have been disappointed. But Duck fans were apoplectic. Not just because Elijah is from the Portland area, and not just because Oregon actually finished third on his list, but also because Elijah's father is one of the greatest defensive players in Oregon Duck history. (remember Alex Molden? I'm sure Andre Kirwan does...)

\r\n\r\n

Those factors sealed Helfrich's fate. But while I feel for Helfrich, I suspect he'll be fine. The other coaches will likely be OK, too. I'm much more concerned about the support staffers who are also being thrown out on the street, who don't have massive buyout clauses in their contracts, and who have families that also now face equally uncertain futures.

\r\n\r\n

This is why, as a member of the media, I don't publicly call for coaches to be fired. I didn't do \"fire the coach\" radio in my sports talk days, and I won't do \"fire the coach\" Corners. Never have (not even when Stanford was in that position), and never will. If you're looking for that kind of stuff, others may gladly oblige you, I'm sure. Not me.

\r\n\r\n

Even though letting Buddy Teevens and Walt Harris go were the right moves to make at the time, I took no joy when those events happened. And as Duck fans dance in the streets, I'm thinking back to the family I met last spring in Eugene. While Helfrich gets paid thanks to his buyout clause, I wonder what cost that family will be paying.

\r\n\r\n********** ********** **********\r\n\r\n

RANDOM PAC-12 THOUGHTS

\r\n\r\n

The fans who actually came to Stanford Stadium last week were rewarded by being allowed to come down onto the field after the game. There, they took pictures, hung out with the players and coaches, tried to get in the shot behind Christian McCaffrey while he did an interview for the Pac-12 Network, and saw the stadium from a perspective that few get to see. Despite the weather, no one seemed in a real hurry to leave, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. It was a nice touch, a nice way to thank the fans who showed up on a rainy evening during a holiday week against a lackluster opponent...

\r\n\r\n

Wait a minute...the Wildcats rushed for how many yards against Arizona State?

\r\n\r\n

Cal's defense had allowed 40-plus points nine times this season. Nine times! Last week, UCLA mustered just ten points against that crew. For a team that had spent its offseason toughening up its image, the Bruins sure laid down...

\r\n\r\n

Not a Pac-12 Thought, but... as that controversial fourth-down unfolded in overtime in Columbus, I didn't think Ohio State made it. But I don't know for certain that they didn't. ABC's camera angle was not definitive enough to overturn the first-down call. Without indisputable evidence, I can't definitely say that Michigan got a raw deal there...

\r\n\r\n

Not a Pac-12 Thought, but... for what it's worth, my top four right now: Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, and Washington. In that order. The Wolverines didn't show me that they didn't belong in that mix last week, and I have fewer questions about Washington than I do about Clemson. I'm sure your top four varies...

\r\n\r\n

Not a Pac-12 Thought, but... it's official: SEC is Alabama and everyone else. Much like the Pac-10 was a decade ago, when it was USC and everyone else. Or like the AFC East has been for over a decade now, where it's the Patriots and everyone else...

\r\n\r\n

Not a Pac-12 Thought, but... I suspect your friendly neighborhood 49ers fan spent his Sunday evening frantically digging through his closet to see if his old Raiders gear still fits...

\r\n\r\n********** ********** **********\r\n\r\n

The end of the regular season marks the final Corner of the year. Is it me, or did this season go by faster than it normally does? This 15th season of Corners was a blur, but it was also blast. Thank you as always to Jim and Lars, and to R.J. But, as you know, the biggest thanks go to you for reading, sharing, and responding to these every week!

\r\n\r\n********** ********** **********\r\n

\r\nPAC-12 PICKS\r\n

\r\nColorado vs. Washington (-7) (Pac-12 Championship Game, Friday). There's a lot to like about the Buffs. But I can't shake the feeling that the Huskies secondary will be the best unit on the field. They make the difference. I like Washington by 10.\r\n

\r\n

Last week: 4-1 (straight-up), 3-2 (ATS).

\r\n

This year: 35-10 (straight-up), 22-20 (ATS).

\r\n

Last year: 30-15 (straight-up), 23-19 (ATS).

\r\n\r\n********** ********** **********\r\n\r\n

The 2016 season marks Troy Clardy’s 24th year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. Troy also calls baseball, softball, soccer, and lacrosse games for the Pac-12 Network, and was the sideline reporter for the Stanford football radio network's broadcast of the 2016 Rose Bowl. In its 15th 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, follow him on Twitter @TroyClardy, or Like him on Facebook.

\r\n

\r\n




\r\n

Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com(sign-up)!

","mobileBody":" Follow @TroyClardy

Even though I've been able to watch Stanford greats like Andrew Luck, Toby Gerhart, Shayne Skov, and countless others, the one who still stands out to me the most after all these years is Troy Walters.

The big plays. The amazing catches. The uncanny knack for getting open. The skill to come through in the clutch. The capacity to lift his team, sometimes almost single-handedly. The ability to pack so much talent, will, and guile into one compact frame. Plus, he had the greatest first name one can possibly have. What wasn't to like?

Over 23 years of following and covering the Cardinal, Walters has been my favorite player. Now he may have to share some space on my personal mantle, and make room for the latest great Number 5.

I don't know for certain if last Saturday marked Christian McCaffrey's final game at Stanford Stadium. And I'm not going to use this space to tell McCaffrey what he should do with his life. That's not my place. And I would be shocked beyond belief if my opinion on the matter had any direct bearing on his decision-making, anyway.

If he returns next year for his final season of eligibility, great. If he moves on to the pros, great. If he announces he's transferring, we'll, then I'd have a problem. (thank goodness that's not even a remote possibility)

With 204 rushing yards, 271 all-purpose yards, and two touchdowns against Rice, McCaffrey put the wraps on a sneaky-great season. Entering this week, McCaffrey is still the FBS leader in all-purpose yards. This despite teams not kicking to him anymore.

Over the last five weeks, he rolled up 991 yards rushing and scored ten touchdowns. Before 2007, that rushing total would have landed squarely in Stanford's top ten rushing performances for a single season.

He also finished with the fourth-highest single-season rushing yardage total in Stanford history, even though he missed one game due to injury and was not a big factor in two others.

Who else could have pulled off such boffo numbers and huge performances in such a quiet fashion? But when the bar is set to impossible, as McCaffrey's seemed to have been entering this year, being superb is merely met with a shrug.

What a season. What a career. And if this is it, it was a pleasure to watch.

Granted, McCaffrey hasn't officially announced anything yet, so hopefully this doesn't seem like I'm pushing McCaffrey out the door. David Shaw already (jokingly) accused a reporter who asked about Bryce Love's potential impact as the Card's top running back next year of doing just that after the game on Saturday. But while it's too early to call McCaffrey's era at Stanford a wrap, given his prodigious accomplishments, it's not too early to look at whether he belongs among the Cardinal's all-time greats.

Is he the best Number 5 of all time for Stanford? That case can already be made. At the very least, he's right up there with Walters. Glyn Milburn was right before my time, but it seems that the two certainly compare quite nicely. That's definitely your top three right there, but in what order?

(by the way, I mused about this on Twitter late in Saturday's game. Props to Bootleg contributor Mark DeVaughn, who also offered up Brian Johnson, Pete Sauer, and Teyo Johnson -- the 2001 version -- into the mix. Hard for me to argue those. 2001 Teyo was a beast. Back to the Corner...)

Is McCaffrey the best player of all time for Stanford? Man, that's a lofty list. Now you get into Elway/Plunkett/Luck/Nevers territory. Obviously, it's tough to compare different eras, different positions, and the like. All I'll say here is that, at the very least, he's in the conversation.

Is Christian McCaffrey's career down to one final year, or merely one final game? I don't officially know the answer there. Either way, I want to thank McCaffrey for representing Stanford Football at its very best, both on and off the field.

Is there anything more that can be said about Christian McCaffrey? Or does he keep coming up with new ways to impress and amaze us every week? Actually, both things can be true. It's also true that McCaffrey has now matched -- if not surpassed -- Walters as my favorite Stanford player that I've seen with my own eyes.

It's not the Heisman, but it's something, right?

********** ********** **********

An item that I felt needed some separation from the Random Pac-12 Thoughts...

During the spring, I was in Eugene doing a lacrosse game for the Pac-12 Network. Afterwards, my broadcast partner met with a friend of hers whose husband worked for Oregon football. He offered us a tour of the football complex, right next door to Autzen Stadium. Since I had plenty of time before my flight back to the Bay Area, and I was super curious to see what all the fuss was about, I tagged along.

So my broadcast partner and I checked out the facility -- which looks like something Darth Vader would build, inside and out -- with the Duck football staffer, his wife, and their three small children in tow. They had just bought a house in a neighboring town, and were super-excited about the future. Why not? The kids were cute little bundles of energy, they loved Eugene, and Oregon football was sure to be trending upward for years to come.

I've been thinking a lot about that family this week, especially now that Mark Helfrich has become the first Duck head football coach to be fired since 1976.

Seems like an odd and cruel turn for Helfrich, who was just coaching in the national championship game two years ago. And yes, this was season was an awful disappointment in Eugene.

If the Ducks' woeful defense was the only problem, that would be one thing. But Oregon's 17-year sellout streak at Autzen came to an end this season. The Ducks no longer have the market cornered on cutting-edge football and space-age facilities. Worse, it looks like Oregon's program has been surpassed by Washington State and -- most galling of all to Duck fans -- Washington.

Earlier this month, hot-shot recruit Elijah Molden chose the Huskies over the Cardinal and the Ducks. As a Stanford fan, you may have been disappointed. But Duck fans were apoplectic. Not just because Elijah is from the Portland area, and not just because Oregon actually finished third on his list, but also because Elijah's father is one of the greatest defensive players in Oregon Duck history. (remember Alex Molden? I'm sure Andre Kirwan does...)

Those factors sealed Helfrich's fate. But while I feel for Helfrich, I suspect he'll be fine. The other coaches will likely be OK, too. I'm much more concerned about the support staffers who are also being thrown out on the street, who don't have massive buyout clauses in their contracts, and who have families that also now face equally uncertain futures.

This is why, as a member of the media, I don't publicly call for coaches to be fired. I didn't do \"fire the coach\" radio in my sports talk days, and I won't do \"fire the coach\" Corners. Never have (not even when Stanford was in that position), and never will. If you're looking for that kind of stuff, others may gladly oblige you, I'm sure. Not me.

Even though letting Buddy Teevens and Walt Harris go were the right moves to make at the time, I took no joy when those events happened. And as Duck fans dance in the streets, I'm thinking back to the family I met last spring in Eugene. While Helfrich gets paid thanks to his buyout clause, I wonder what cost that family will be paying.

********** ********** **********

RANDOM PAC-12 THOUGHTS

The fans who actually came to Stanford Stadium last week were rewarded by being allowed to come down onto the field after the game. There, they took pictures, hung out with the players and coaches, tried to get in the shot behind Christian McCaffrey while he did an interview for the Pac-12 Network, and saw the stadium from a perspective that few get to see. Despite the weather, no one seemed in a real hurry to leave, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. It was a nice touch, a nice way to thank the fans who showed up on a rainy evening during a holiday week against a lackluster opponent...

Wait a minute...the Wildcats rushed for how many yards against Arizona State?

Cal's defense had allowed 40-plus points nine times this season. Nine times! Last week, UCLA mustered just ten points against that crew. For a team that had spent its offseason toughening up its image, the Bruins sure laid down...

Not a Pac-12 Thought, but... as that controversial fourth-down unfolded in overtime in Columbus, I didn't think Ohio State made it. But I don't know for certain that they didn't. ABC's camera angle was not definitive enough to overturn the first-down call. Without indisputable evidence, I can't definitely say that Michigan got a raw deal there...

Not a Pac-12 Thought, but... for what it's worth, my top four right now: Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, and Washington. In that order. The Wolverines didn't show me that they didn't belong in that mix last week, and I have fewer questions about Washington than I do about Clemson. I'm sure your top four varies...

Not a Pac-12 Thought, but... it's official: SEC is Alabama and everyone else. Much like the Pac-10 was a decade ago, when it was USC and everyone else. Or like the AFC East has been for over a decade now, where it's the Patriots and everyone else...

Not a Pac-12 Thought, but... I suspect your friendly neighborhood 49ers fan spent his Sunday evening frantically digging through his closet to see if his old Raiders gear still fits...

********** ********** **********

The end of the regular season marks the final Corner of the year. Is it me, or did this season go by faster than it normally does? This 15th season of Corners was a blur, but it was also blast. Thank you as always to Jim and Lars, and to R.J. But, as you know, the biggest thanks go to you for reading, sharing, and responding to these every week!

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PAC-12 PICKS

Colorado vs. Washington (-7) (Pac-12 Championship Game, Friday). There's a lot to like about the Buffs. But I can't shake the feeling that the Huskies secondary will be the best unit on the field. They make the difference. I like Washington by 10.

Last week: 4-1 (straight-up), 3-2 (ATS).

This year: 35-10 (straight-up), 22-20 (ATS).

Last year: 30-15 (straight-up), 23-19 (ATS).

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The 2016 season marks Troy Clardy’s 24th year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. Troy also calls baseball, softball, soccer, and lacrosse games for the Pac-12 Network, and was the sideline reporter for the Stanford football radio network's broadcast of the 2016 Rose Bowl. In its 15th 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, follow him on Twitter @TroyClardy, or Like him on Facebook.






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