Clardy's Corner: Running it Up

Troy Clardy (and his undefeated Pac-10 season picks) is back with some thoughts on a sight we're not used to seeing around these parts... Stanford arguably running up the score on a hapless opponent. What does Troy think, and how badly does he want the Card to be in the same position against Tyrone and the Huskies?

Toby Gerhart took the handoff and crossed the goalline with nine seconds left in Stanford's game last week. That touchdown did more than put the finishing touches on the Card's 23-10 win over San Jose State. It also, as it turns out, ignited a mini-furor amongst Cardinalmaniacs. 

Many have maintained that Stanford already had the game in hand, and that there was no need to risk a turnover. Many have worried that Stanford's final touchdown was a case of the Cardinal running up the score. Some have said that opting to hand the ball to Toby Gerhart instead of kneeling on the football wasn't the classiest thing to do.

That's the thing I love about The Internet Age. No matter where you are, you're never far away from a huge Controversy Of The Week, no matter how contrived that "controversy" actually is.

So some folks are accusing the Cardinal of running up the score. When I think of teams running up the score, I think of what Oregon did to Stanford in 1994. I think of some games the New England Patriots played last year. I think of what cal did to Washington State a couple weeks ago. I think of what U$C might do to us this year.

It's hard for me to call a 13-point victory "running up the score." Now, if that final touchdown had given Stanford a 73-10 lead, then there's no question that would have been running up the score. 23-10? Not so much.

Some people call that touchdown "meaningless." Meaningless to whom? It wasn't meaningless to the coaches, who wanted to make sure that this team walked off the field knowing that they finished out the game. Let's face it; Stanford has struggled to finish drives this year, both offensively and defensively. That touchdown meant both sides of the ball could feel good about finishing an opponent.

Football is all about imposing your will on the other team until they finally snap. Stanford accomplished that goal last Saturday against San Jose State… and now some Cardinal fans are complaining about it? Heaven knows we've watched this team snap way too often over the past six years. But now that the shoe is on the other foot for one night, some folks aren't comfortable with how it fits. I don't understand it. Do I have to go all Herm Edwards on people? Hello??!?

Also, and I hate to bring this up, that touchdown certainly wasn't meaningless in Las Vegas. Thank goodness that game wasn't on TV… there would have been a riot at the Caesars sports book!

It's also hard for me to call that final touchdown "classless." When I think of classless football, Oregon State strutting and preening all over the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame immediately comes to mind. That's classless. What Stanford did last week doesn't even come close. Besides, the Cardinal are not in a position yet where winning a football game can actually reflect badly on the program.

If the other team gets offended because Stanford dominates them when the game is on the line, well, that's their problem. They should have done something to try to prevent it. And if they're not tougher next time, they'll get more of the same. 

If the other team's fans get all in a huff and take losses to the Cardinal personally, oh well. I'm not concerned about what other teams' fan bases think about the Cardinal. I am concerned with the daily task that the coaches, players, support staff, university community, and fan base all share an equal part in: restoring Stanford Football to permanent relevance. And you can't make an omelet without breaking some eggs.

Just remember, it's not personal. It's business. Which brings us to this week's opponent, the Washington Huskies. Unfortunately for them, they've already had some experience this year in getting broken and scrambled.

The guy in the skillet is, of course, That Guy, also known as Tyrone Willingham. Only the President, Congress, and the new Facebook layout have lower approval ratings than That Guy. (Yes, count me among the folks who don't like the new Facebook, either.)

I'll be honest. I feel badly for Willingham. We came to know each other pretty well during his time on The Farm, and I genuinely like him. Even now, on the rare occasions when we get a chance to talk to each other for a moment, we always have a laugh or two. 

But if he had to lose only one game a year, that game had better be to Stanford. 

Oh by the way, I seem to remember a November evening in 2003 in which a team classlessly interrupted Stanford's Senior Day introductions, and then ran up the score in a 57-7 rout, calling a fake punt in the fourth quarter along the way. I also remember who was coaching that other team, too.

Given that, nothing would make me happier than to have questions raised this weekend about whether Stanford ran up the score on the Huskies. And did it for real this time.

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RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS

So let me get this straight… the Stanford-San Jose State game was not televised… but UC Davis-Montana was? Am I missing something here?

You think TE Rob Gronkowski makes a difference in Arizona's offense? He sure looked good out there after missing the first three game of the season with mono…

In the aftermath of their team's upset loss to Boise State at home, many Duck fans were wondering why the offense kept running the ball while the Broncos' lead kept getting bigger. Simple answer… with QB Jeremiah Masoli sidelined with a concussion and Chris Harper in the game, running the ball was their only shot at winning. Harper's lack of passing skills forced Mike Bellotti and his offensive braintrust to try to win the game with RBs Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount (which normally isn't a bad plan, by the way). Hindsight being 20-20, Darron Thomas should have had his redshirt ripped off earlier in the game, since he actually could complete a pass. But as long as Harper was in there, Oregon had little reason to try to throw the ball consistently…

If you want to see how an offense can use play-action to completely befuddle a defense, watch what Boise State's offense did to Oregon's defense. Play-action totally killed the Duck defense... and offensive coordinators around the Pac-10 surely are taking notice…

Our Quote of the Week comes from Oregon TV play-by-play announcer Joe Giansante, who was pretty depressed after the Broncos took a 24-6 lead late in the first half: "I haven't felt like this in this stadium in a while. Maybe [not since] that Indiana game."

Keegan Herring can't come back fast enough for the Sun Devils. But it irks me that his only playing time this year has come against Stanford. Of course…

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… do you think that when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell gets up in the morning, he looks in the mirror and practices saying the words: "With the first pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select…"

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… since the federal government wants to bail out every sinking ship that passes, how about bailing out the Raiders?

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CLARDY'S CORNER INBOX

Agree with this Corner? Disagree? Got something else on your mind? Drop me a line at my Scout.com inbox (username: troyc) or e-mail me at troyc@thebootleg.com . The best e-mails will be answered in next week's Clardy's Corner Inbox!

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PAC-10 PICKS

U$C @ Oregon State. The last time the Trojans went to Corvallis, I wanted to pick the upset, but didn't. Of course, the Beavers won. Do I pull the trigger this time? Are you nuts? I like U$C by 19.

Oregon @ Washington State. Drew Bledsoe is retired. Tony Graziani is in the Arena League. Dan Fouts and Drew Bledsoe are unavailable. Where are Bill Musgrave and Timm Rosenbach when you need them? Both teams will try to sort out their quarterback woes, but only one team has a bonafide rushing attack. Unless the Coug defense somehow shows up in the first half, I like Oregon by 23.

Last week: 1-0 (straight-up and ATS).

This year: 3-0 (straight-up and ATS).

Last year: 26-10 (straight-up), 20-15-1 (ATS).

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Troy Clardy hosts the Stanford Daily Update, airing every weekday at 7:30p on Cardinal Sports Network flagship radio station KTRB (860 AM) in San Francisco. Clardy's Corner appears Wednesdays on TheBootleg.com. You can also check him out online at TroyClardy.com.


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