Clardy's Corner: Historic Ineptitude

Who does Troy like in the Pac-10 Consolation Game? Which NFL quarterback's best trait is his good pursuit angles? What does Troy think about the Big Ten Network and just how awful is Washington State? Our longest-tenured columnist doesn't disappoint... read on!

As bad as the Buddy Teevens Era was, the true low point of modern Cardinal Football came during Walt Harris' final season in 2006. Injuries to all of its difference makers on offense. An overburdened defense. A coaching staff that couldn't connect with its players. And, of course, 1-11.

That was the worst team in Stanford's Pac-10 history. But the worst team in all of Pac-10 history may be coming to Stanford Stadium this Saturday. Yes, the woeful Washington State Cougars are bringing their sad-sack brand of football to The Farm. Fitting that they're visiting on Halloween weekend, no?

The worst football team in Pac-10 history. Think about it. That's not a statement to be taken lightly, because there have been some bad Pac-10 football teams since the Pac-8 became the Pac-10 in 1978. Some truly God-awful, unspeakably bad, "how can you watch this?" football teams. 

The 2001 Golden Bears immediately come to mind. Tom Holmoe saved his worst for his last season, as a win over Rutgers in the season finale prevented cal's first winless season in 104 years. They lost to Stanford for a seventh straight season. That team was so low, many wondered aloud if cal would ever get off the mat anytime soon.

I've seen it suggested in other places that the 1980 Oregon State Beavers were the worst Pac-10 team in history. It's hard to argue. After all, they have the dubious distinction of being the only winless team in Pac-10 history. They lost to Long Beach State. At home.

I won't speak for those who followed the 2001 Bears and the 1980 Beavers more closely, but I can say this…as putrid as Stanford's 2006 season was, it didn't plumb the depths that the 2008 Washington State Cougars have hit so far this year.

Stanford's opponents scored 377 points on the Cardinal for the 2006 season. Washington State has already allowed 385 points in eight games this year. They have given up more than 60 points in four games. Their average margin of defeat in Pac-10 play is nearly 52 points. Stanford never allowed anyone to score 52 points in 2006.

When the Cougars take the field, it's not football. It's a comedy routine. Bill Cosby's old classic about his overmatched Temple team losing another one to Hofstra comes to mind.

Injuries to their quarterbacks? Check. Injuries everywhere? Check. Awful defense? Check. Problems with the NCAA? Check. Problems with the offensive line? Seeing as they've already started six different combinations, check. Being grossly mismatched against everyone else in the conference? Check.

It was jaw-dropping to see their game against U$C a couple of weeks ago. The Cougars had no speed. They had no strength. They had no chance. The Trojans could have scored 100 on them if they wanted to… and that's not an exaggeration.

Remember that movie "Bring It On"? (Kirsten Dunst and Gabrielle Union. As cheerleaders. Enough said.) Remember the football scenes in that movie, when the home team is getting crunched as a horrified crowd looks on? It was like that. The only thing missing was the Washington State cheerleaders getting served in front of everybody by the East Compton Clovers.

Watching Washington State is so rough this year, their TV highlight show should be hosted by the crew from Mystery Science Theater 3000 (cue the infamous "Torgo's Theme" as the Coug defense takes the field).

I actually like Washington State. I love their fight song. I don't mind making the trip to Pullman, as long as the weather stays reasonable. Their PA announcer is the best in Pac-10 football. 

But none of this means I have any sympathy for them. On the contrary, I think Stanford needs to beat the Cougars by at least 40 points. Let's have a real "running-it-up" controversy this year, not that fake controversy we had after the San Jose State game.

Maybe that's because I remember 2006 for Stanford. I remember what it was like that fall, watching the season disintegrate to where it seemed pointless to have any emotion about Stanford Football at all. I'll never forget coming back for the U$C game that year, being overwhelmed by the beauty of the new Stanford Stadium, and underwhelmed by everything else. No one seemed to be there that day because they wanted to be there. Everyone—fans, media members, players—seemed to be there because they had to be there.

If I can remember it, you can bet that the Stanford players who were there remember it, too. And as badly as Cardinalmaniacs felt that fall, I'm certain the players felt much, much worse about how things went. 

I hope they take those memories with them on the field this Saturday. This is their chance to inflict some 2006-style scores on someone else for a change. This is also their chance to get the critical home stretch of the season started in confidence-building, statement-making fashion. 

A Stanford team that comes off the bye week executing crisply, showing the nastiness this team has become known for, and winning by, oh, I don't know, 52 points, would truly serve notice to the rest of the Pac-10 that the Cardinal are ready to finish the season the right way.

A crushing loss to Stanford would be the latest in a series of humiliating blows for the Washington State Cougars this year. Yet, as bad as the Cougars have looked, they won't become the second winless team in Pac-10 history. But the Huskies might! 
 
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RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS

The U$C Trojans had some chances to put the Wildcats away and blow that game open in the second half…but it never happened. Don't blame Arizona's defense for that loss…

Good news, Bruin fans: Ben Olson is throwing in practice again…

Can I nominate that 34-yard touchdown jaunt by Jahvid Best for Pac-10 Running Play of the Year? Wow. A Sanders-like run by that guy…

Not a Pac-10 thought, but…Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, and Northwestern were the "smart" schools that were doing pretty well in football a few weeks ago. Now? Not so much. What happened? Midterms?

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… I gotta admit, the Big Ten Network has been scoring major points with me this week. First, they announce that the excitable Gus Johnson will be calling some basketball games for them this year. Then, they show a replay of the 1981 Ohio State-Stanford matchup on The Farm. Yes, the good guys lost that game, but Classic Elway is always must-see TV…

Not a Pac-10 thought, but…watching that Texas Tech-Kansas game last week was like watching an arena football game. Once Texas Tech got one stop from their defense, that game was over. Boy, that game in Lubbock this week against the Longhorns is going to be a doozy…

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… heard a college football talking head say that Oklahoma State is the best one-loss team in college football, and that the Cowboys should be ranked higher than Oklahoma because they played the Longhorns closer than the Sooners did. I couldn't disagree more. If Oklahoma plays the Cowboys on a neutral site, OSU loses. If the Cowboys play Florida or Georgia on a neutral site, OSU loses. That's why Oklahoma State is ranked lower than those other teams. Don't make the argument that Team A is better than Team B by comparing their losses. Make the argument that Team A is better than Team B by actually comparing Team A with Team B…

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… our Quote of the Week actually comes from NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders, who, when asked what he likes about San Francisco 49ers quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan, offered up this gem: "He takes great pursuit angles."… 

Wow… maybe I should have titled this section Random Non-Pac-10 Thoughts! Sorry about that…

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CLARDY'S CORNER INBOX

In last week's Pac-10 Midterms, I noted that I couldn't really get a feel for cal this year. Keith from somewhere in the 415 writes: "Thanks always for your columns in the 'leg. We may not have legions of?fans, but we are the few, the proud, the Booties! In talking to my cal football fanatic friends (and yes, I have two), they are less sanguine about cal's report card. They are making comments about Tedford that are similar to those we heard about our last two guys: the problems with execution seem to be a function of coaching, not talent.…The more aggressive of the two thinks that you have to blame the failures in the backfield on coaching and puts it squarely on Tedford. So, he'd give cal a C-, not a B. I am actually hoping that Tedford's inability to bench Longshore will have him starting in Big Game and that just might be to our advantage."

Few are called. Fewer are chosen. And even fewer will probably show up on Saturday. The Booties.

If they want to blame coaching for anything, blame the coaches for letting the chemistry on last year's team just go completely sour, and for allowing players to act like they were above the team. If Mike Singletary was coaching the Bears last year, I can think of a player or two he would have sent to the showers early during the game! Coaching isn't just X's and O's, after all.

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

Oregon @ cal. Should we just call this the Pac-10 Consolation Game and be done with it? It took them a little while, but the Bears got their groove back against UCLA. Meanwhile, Oregon got a huge road win last week. The problem for the Ducks is that cal is better than Arizona State. And they're much, much tougher at home, too. I like cal by 9.

Washington @ U$C. The only question is whether the Trojans cover. If the Huskies showed any friskiness on defense at all at any point this year, I'd say not. But as it is, I like U$C by 54.

Arizona State @ Oregon State. After that stinkbomb last week, there's really no reason for me to pick the Sun Devils to win here. I like Oregon State by 25.

Last week: 3-0 (straight-up), 2-1 (ATS).
This year: 14-4 (straight-up), 9-9 (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, and available in podcast form at gostanford.com.

Clardy's Corner appears Wednesdays on TheBootleg.com. You can also check him out online at TroyClardy.com.


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