Clardy's Corner - 9/24

Though last weekend was a bye for Stanford football, that didn't stop a heckuva lot of interesting developments around the conference. And the direct benefit of attaching yourself to a couch during said weekend is the absorption of countless comments and quips about our conference brethren...

Since I spent all day Saturday on a couch watching Pac-10 football and engaging in sloth and gluttony, it seems like a perfect time to whip out a whole column's worth of…

RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS

A quick food tip: next time you order a pizza, try it with extra sauce. If you like your Italian food cheesy and messy (like me), it's the way to go. Best of all, since most pizza places don't consider sauce as a topping, it's free! Something to think about this Saturday as you order some grub for your Stanford-ASU watch party…

There are only two things that the media does well, and they aren't objectivity and depth. No one is better than the media at blowing things out of proportion and jumping onto and off of bandwagons. On the national college football shows Saturday night, it was almost like the experts couldn't wait to jump off the Pac-10 bandwagon, the same bandwagon they all broke their necks piling onto the week before. So the Pac-10 lost some games this week to some tough opponents. Big deal! Top to bottom, it is still the most competitive league in college football. It still didn't stop the pundits from going out of their way to crack the conference…

What you didn't hear from the media was that the Big Ten had another lackluster week. Their teams went 8-3 last weekend, but don't be fooled. Michigan State couldn't hold on against Notre Dame. Michigan beat Utah in the most unimpressive fashion imaginable. Ohio State would have lost to Cincinnati, if only Bearcat receivers wouldn't have dropped the rock in the endzone on first-and-goal and third-and-goal with seconds to play. Northwestern had to outscore Navy. Indiana beat Central Michigan, but they had to come back from a ten-point halftime hole to do it. Purdue lost to Wake Forest, which earlier this year dropped one to (get ready for this) Northern Illinois. Iowa, Minnesota, and Penn State had blowout wins, but they came against Utah State, Buffalo, and Louisiana Tech, respectively. At least Wisconsin handled a crippled Arizona squad. But the kicker, of course, is Illinois coughing up a home game to San Jose State. Congrats to the Spartans, but shame on the Big Ten. This is, by far, a vastly inferior conference to the Pac-10 right now, but you won't hear anyone say that on TV…

Speaking of the media, I had a real good chance to check out the Pac-10 TV coverage this week. I'll start with the 12:30 game, as ABC's Keith Jackson and Dan Fouts teamed up to call the Colorado-UCLA game from the Rose Bowl. Those two form arguably the best announcing team in the business, but Keith's eagle eyes failed him late in the first half, when he originally described a Colorado field goal attempt as blocked while the ball was sailing through the uprights…

That gaffe led to my buddy Jeremy and I previewing some of Keith Jackson's calls on this weekend's telecast. Jeremy: "Stanford head coach Tyrone Willingham sure looks different…" Me: "And boy, little Troy Walters sure has grown!"

Flipped it over to TBS for the U$C-Kansas State game. It's always good to hear my buddy Charles Davis on the color commentary. You might remember Charles when he was with the Stanford athletic department as the AD for external relations. Right now, Charles is based out of the Orlando area, where he reports for the Sunshine Network and does morning drive radio. He was also the number one analyst for Arena Football on TNN this past season. Good to see nice things happening to a nice man, even if he did go to the "University" of Tennessee…

Charles was teamed up with play-by-play man Ron Thulin and sideline reporter Erin Andrews. Mmmmm…Erin Andrews. Unfortunately, Craig "Do Not Adjust Your Set" Sager was also in the house. Can someone please stop him before he dresses again?

The night was capped off with Fox Sports Net's Steve Physioc and Tom Ramsey in Seattle for the Wyoming-Washington game. Terrible matchup, but excellent broadcasting. Physioc is as professional as they come, while Ramsey is insightful (even for a UCLA guy). Late in the game he pointed out that California high school players tend to perform better in college than Texas high school players because the Lone Star kids play so much more football that their bodies are more prone to breaking down at the next level. Intriguing theory. It certainly makes you think, which is exactly what an analyst's job is in the first place…

The ghost of Marques Tuiasosopo still haunts me. So when Fox Sports Net brought him into the booth, I couldn't bring myself to watch. I flipped over to "Sorority Girls" on MTV. Equally unwatchable. So I flipped back to the game and booed the TV until Tuiasosopo's interview was over…

Now for random thoughts on the games themselves, starting with the Trojans' tough loss at Kansas State. I'm not an offensive coordinator, but I sometimes play one on the radio and the internet. I thought U$C should have been a bit more creative and used their speed more. Sultan McCullough and Kareem Kelly are two of the fastest guys in college football, yet they were both invisible for most of the game. And what happened when McCullough got the rock? U$C scored. Malaefou McKenzie is a fine football player, but he's not the guy who keeps defensive coordinators awake at night. Speed kills, but only when you use it…

I still give the Trojans credit (begrudgingly, as always) for getting back in the game and having a chance to pull it out, but if they had used their skill guys a bit better (and if true freshman receiver Mike Williams hadn't dropped several key passes), it might not have come to that point…

Peee-yeww. The Bruins stunk up the Rose Bowl against Colorado. In case you missed it, here's the checklist: no options on offense, an ineffective Cory Paus, a soft and struggling defensive front seven. Now that's the UCLA I expected to see this year…

Yes, Oregon State looks good. Real good. Simply destroyed Fresno State over the weekend. But don't consider the Beavers for real yet. One of my favorite football proverbs applies to the Beavers right now: win at home and you're a hero; win on the road and you're feared. Until the Beavers notch a road win (beating Temple in Philadelphia does not count) they can't be feared. They get their first chance this weekend in South Central…

The good news for the Huskies: Cody Pickett looked awesome, they had zero punts, and they got whistled for their first and only penalty with 2:36 remaining in the game (and on a weak roughing-the-passer penalty)…

The bad news for the Huskies: once again they played down to their competition. Yeah, they beat Wyoming 38-7. But they fumbled five times, losing four. And Wyoming actually competed well from start to finish. That Husky defense could very well be the downfall of their chances this year…

Didn't see the Bears' game, but I heard a giant thud at about 5:12p on Saturday afternoon. Since it was coming from Berkeley, I just assumed that was everyone leaping off of the cal bandwagon…

The Wildcats suffered a disastrous blow, as they lost CB Michael Jolivette to a knee injury. The best case scenario has him returning in November. That's the absolute one guy the Wildcats absolutely, positively could not lose…

How wrong is it that while Stanford has only played two games, squads like Wisconsin and North Carolina State are already one win away from bowl eligibility?


PAC-10 PICKS

The Rose Bowl race officially begins this weekend, as three Pac-10 games are on Saturday's slate. This year I'll make my picks for every conference game. In 2000, I went 29-11 (straight up). Seeking to improve upon that, I entered 2001 with a resolve to improve, but I ended up finishing 29-11. Again. We'll see if I can get over that hump this year. By the way, these picks are for entertainment purposes only, and I'm not responsible if you have your car repossessed, your wife leaves you, or if you suffer some broken bones as a result of placing wagers based upon these picks…

Stanford @ Arizona State. First up, thank ABC for making this game a 12:30p kickoff. Unbelievable. In any case, the heat will definitely be on Dirk Koetter as he tries to put forth a far better Pac-10 showing than last year. The key to this game should be the QBs. For A-State, the injured Andrew Walter had to relieve the ineffective Chad Christensen and save the day against San Diego State. For Stanford, Chris Lewis looks to rebound from an erratic performance against San Jose State. The Sun Devils have dangerous WR Shaun McDonald, but Stanford has a superior supporting cast, including Teyo Johnson, who will henceforth be known in this column as "The Big Nickel." That's why I like Stanford by 6.

Washington State @ cal. Yikes. The Cougs are banged up just about everywhere, especially quarterback. As I write this, both Jason Gesser and backup Matt Kegel are questionable for this weekend. Mike Price explains that Gesser (dislocated rib) can run but he can't throw, while Kegel (knee bruise) can throw but he can't run. Hmmmm. Does Drew Bledsoe have any eligibility left? This game may come down to who runs the ball better. Do the Cougs have an answer for Joe Igber? Right now, as of 5:27p on September 24, 2002, I'm not convinced that they do. It pains me to do this, especially considering that I picked the Cougs to go to the Rose Bowl, but I like cal by 10.

Oregon State @ U$C. Between the Beavers' secondary and Troy Polamalu, this game should be a defensive showdown. OSU QB Derek Anderson's touchdown-to-interception ratio is 15 to one, but he's done it largely against vastly inferior opponents, and he struggled to complete passes against Fresno State. Right now, I'm not convinced Anderson can handle a quality defense like U$C's, and Steven Jackson could have a tough time bursting for big plays through the Trojan defensive front, which has played well. Unless the Beavers' secondary and LB Richard Seigler completely shut down Carson Palmer (which is possible), I like U$C by 6.

Last year's picks (straight up): 29-11.


E-MAILBAG

This time around, the e-mailbag was kinda light. Let me stress it again…I love hearing your thoughts on Stanford football, on the Pac-10, on the nonsensical gibberish that is this column, on anything. You can pretty much only talk to me during Stanford football postgame shows, but you can e-mail me anytime! Best e-mails get posted each week in this section of Clardy's Corner. So e-mail me! All the cool kids are doing it…

Frank in Prague, Czech Republic (did Czechoslovakia really break up in 1992? Where the hell was I when that happened?) writes…"Thanks for The Bootleg. It's tough following Stanford football from Prague, so my weekly dose from you guys helps. Now I'm going to check Amazon UK to see if they have ‘Rough Magic.'"

What? The Chronicle doesn't deliver to Prague? Seriously, thanks for the kind words. Thanks also for my reminder that Cardinalmania transcends international borders and truly knows no bounds. It's a beautiful thing, isn't it?

Got a thought on Stanford sports? Have any random Pac-10 thoughts of your own? Just finish reading "Rough Magic" for the first time? E-mail me!

Troy Clardy hosts Stanford football postgame call-in shows, as well as Stanford football road pregame shows, Stanford basketball pregame shows, the Buddy Teevens Show, the Mike Montgomery Show, and the Stanford Profile on Stanford radio network flagship station KTCT ("The Ticket 1050") in San Francisco. The Stanford Profile airs every Thursday evening at 7:00p and the Buddy Teevens Show airs every Friday morning at 7:20a on KTCT.


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