Clardy's Corner - 9/14

Something few fans ever experience is a sideline view of a Stanford Football game. As close as The Bootleg tries to bring you to Saturday afternoon action, with its cast of characters, you have to be at ground zero to truly understand what transpires. Troy Clardy has been on the sideline numerous times, including last Saturday at Navy, and shares some of that experience with us...

Normally during Stanford football games, I hang out up in the radio booth.  Ted Robinson stands on one side of me, while Bob Murphy sits on the other side.  It's a pretty good place to watch a football game.

Overall, there are few better places to watch football games than in the press box.  Unless you're at Husky Stadium or Sun Devil Stadium, you have a pretty good vantage point.  You're generally shielded from the elements when the weather gets disagreeable.  There's almost always a replay monitor near your seat, and sometimes you can flip around and watch other games too.  The food is free.  And even if the food isn't very good (the meat at the L.A. Coliseum press box looks like chicken but tastes like fish… or does it look like fish and taste like chicken?), it's still free.

But this past Saturday, I had a chance to take in Stanford's game against Navy from a most unusual place.  Since Mike Eubanks gave you the view of the Navy game from the press box, I'm going to give you the view from the sidelines.

Back in my early KZSU days, I was their sideline reporter.  I was getting rained on when Stanford beat the probation-ridden Huskies in 1994.  I got the grounds-eye view of Scott Frost's incredible, zig-zag touchdown run against the Ducks later that year.  I was the first to know how Mark Butterfield's ankle was holding up after he had tweaked it during the 1995 Big Game.  It was a lot of fun.

But life on the sidelines is quite different than it is anywhere else in the stadium.  If you've never been on the sidelines during a football game and you get the chance to be there, do it.  But just be warned: it's not for the faint of heart.  In the press box, there's little danger of being rained on, and there's no danger of being run over or vomited on.  Well, unless Tara Reid is in the house.

In the press box you can see everything, but there's a certain detachment from the game.  You feel somewhat removed from the game and somewhat detached from the game's emotions while sitting in the press box.

But at least you can see what's happening.  If you want to watch the game, see the plays develop, and isolate on different matchups, don't hang out on the sidelines.  Because it's all happening at eye level, and because it's all happening around you instead of in front of you, it's very difficult to accomplish those things.  If something is happening on the opposite sideline or on the other side of the bench, forget it.

And it wasn't just hard for me because I hadn't spent a game on the sidelines in a long time.  Veterans of the sideline also have problems getting a perspective on the game.  It's no wonder why one of the most common postgame quotes from coaches and players is, "Well, I have to look at the tape…"

That's true for more than the coaches and players; it's true for anyone who is on the sidelines.  As I type this, I'm taping CSTV's replay of the game, mostly because after Stanford's opening-drive touchdown, I had to call my buddies who were watching the game in Sunnyvale and ask them what happened.  They had a better view of the game than I did, and they were 3,000 miles away!  Fortunately CSTV's replay will be waiting for me when I get home, so, well, I have to look at the tape…

So on the sidelines, although there are some things you can pick up, you can't see anything.  But you can certainly feel everything.  Every emotion that goes into a football game is played out right around you.  Fans obviously tend to be an emotional lot, but no one enjoys winning more or takes losing harder than the players and coaches.

That's why I never really think twice when coaches are seen yelling at the players on the sideline.  Or when players are yelling at other players.  Or when coaches are yelling at other coaches.  If a camera catches a sideline altercation, it's all over every sportscast in America.  I never understood that.  Unless punches are being thrown, these things happen during just about every game.  It's a football sideline, not the DMV.

I was reminded of this last Saturday while I listened to the coaches barking out adjustments.  While I heard the players telling their teammates in no uncertain terms that they needed to play better.  While Walt Harris, the coaches, and the players celebrated the win all around me.  Being on the sidelines is a very intense experience.

Sadly, it was at its most intense late in the first half when Evan Moore went down with his dislocated hip.  I did not see the injury as it happened, as I was on the opposite end of the bench when the play ended.  But as I jogged to the other side of the bench to get ready for the next play, I looked up at the videoboard and noticed Evan still lying on the ground.

I got on the scene just as the trainers did.  It didn't look good.  It sounded even worse.  I could hear Evan screaming in pain as the trainers worked on him just 10 feet in front of me.  A videographer who was right in front of the play when it happened showed me a replay in his camera, and I cringed when I saw Evan's hip buckle.  Soon, Evan's parents Dan and Rosina were brought down to the sideline, and they stood by with uneasy looks of concern on their faces that I, as someone who has no children, couldn't even begin to fully comprehend yet.  Eventually, Evan was loaded onto a straightboard and whisked away from the field, his parents close behind.

I don't know yet how that entire scene unfolded during the TV broadcast, or even how it may have looked from the stands, but I can promise you that the sobering scene most of the fans saw couldn't possibly compare to the reality of being right there while a young man lay in serious pain, doctors furiously worked to make things better, and his parents were left to hope and pray for the best.

Another parent made her presence felt on the sidelines during the game.  When Babatunde Oshinowo was injured in the second half, his mother Lola moved down from her seat in the Stanford rooting section, took an empty seat in the front row of the stands behind the Cardinal bench, watched while the trainers checked and re-taped his ankles, and talked with her son until he was summoned back to the bench and, eventually, back into the game.  Thankfully her son's injuries weren't anywhere near as dire as Evan Moore's was, but it was still a powerful scene to watch unfold right in front of me.

These are the kinds of things that happen on the sidelines during a football game.  The lows can be pretty low, but the highs are unbeatable.  So while I still need to watch the tape to see exactly how Stanford beat Navy, I don't need a tape to tell me the price that the players and coaches had to pay to get that victory.  I got to witness that first-hand.


RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS

What's this?  We might have a running game?  Big props to Anthony Kimble and Jason Evans for their work last week.  Evans' 28-yard pickup in the second quarter is an early candidate for Stanford's Run of the Year…

By the way, when the season is over I hope we have many candidates for Stanford's Run of the Year…

I couldn't believe Navy actually threw 29 passes, and I really couldn't believe they threw for 248 yards.  Hopefully Navy's passing success is a result of Stanford gearing up to stop Navy's option attack…

Anyone watch the game on HDTV?  Who was the female sideline reporter for their broadcast?  Wow…

The best sign I saw at the stadium on Saturday came from a fan in the front row of the north endzone: "We miss U Walt… How much 2 come back 2 Pitt?"  Boy, times have changed in western Pennsylvania, no?

So I pop in my tape of the cal-Washington game on Sunday evening, and who should I see reporting from the sidelines but Stanford alum and former ESPN reporter Scott Walker!  Keep making us KZSU Sports geezers proud, Scott…

Joe Ayoob actually looked like a confident quarterback last week against the Huskies.  Against the Hornets he wasn't throwing with confidence.  His sideline passes didn't have any zip on them, and his deep-out passes came up short.  Even though he still had some rocky moments, Ayoob made some major strides against UW…

Watch out for cal roverback Donnie McCleskey.  He was all over the place last week…

No, Marshawn Lynch is not playing both ways.  Lynch wears the same number (and, frighteningly enough, seems to have the same body type) as cal's starting middle linebacker Desmond Bishop.  Lynch is good, but he's not that good!

I didn't see UW quarterback Isaiah Stanback against Air Force, but I thought he looked good at times against cal.  He has the athletic ability, and from what I saw he seemed to be gaining confidence in his passing abilities.  Too bad he doesn't have an offensive line in front of him, or much talent at the skill spots to help him out…

Every time I flipped back to the Washington State-Nevada game on Friday night, Wazzu was kicking extra points.  Not a good night for the Wolfpack…

Former U$C quarterback and current New England Patriot Matt Cassel caused a bit of a stir recently when he revealed that Matt Leinart has a bodyguard.  I don't see what the fuss is.  I mean, if you had to walk around that campus and that neighborhood every day, wouldn't you have a bodyguard, too?

Of course, the sexy pick this weekend will be for UCLA to beat the struggling Oklahoma Sooners at the Rose Bowl.  I'd like to agree with that, but shutting down San Diego State and Rice is one thing… bottling up Adrian Peterson is quite another…

TV programming note… the Stanford Cardinal Farm Report is back on FSN Bay Area.  Check it out this Saturday morning at 8:00 A.M.!  You'll see the highlights from Stanford's win over Navy, catch up with special teams and outside linebackers coach Tom Quinn, and check out a couple other new features on the show.  Enjoy…

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… uh-oh, the Irish are for real.  Say what you want about their quality of competition (the woefully underachieving Pitt Panthers and the overrated Michigan Wolverines), but they out-physicaled two good programs on national TV in back-to-back weeks.  If you haven't yet, do yourself a favor and watch that Notre Dame defense…

Nat a Pac-10 thought, but… uh-oh, Vince Young made his biggest plays against Ohio State not while on the run, but while in the pocket.  Is it too early to declare him the Heisman Trophy frontrunner right now?

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… who switched Herm Edwards with Rich Kotite?  Heck, who switched Mike Shanahan with Wade Philips?  Yikes…


PAC-10 PICKS

I picked cal to beat Washington by 24; they won by 39.  Looks like dbf98 owes me a car wash.  Heck, looks like he might owe me a vacuum and a detail, too!

Last week & this year: 1-0 (straight-up), 1-0 (ATS).
Last year: 25-7 (straight-up), 15-17 (ATS).

-- Got a comment on this column, on Stanford sports, or on anything else that's on your mind? Drop me an e-mail at troyc@thebootleg.com. The best e-mails will end up in next week's E-Mailbag!

Troy Clardy is a host and reporter for the Stanford Cardinal Farm Report, airing Saturdays on FSN Bay Area.


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