Clardy's Corner: Returning to Glory

Troy swears off mentioning two Pac-10 teams in this week's "Clardy's Corner," and we bet you can guess which ones. Troy talks Texas-Texas Tech, Stanford returning to the epicenter of college football, and, as always, makes his picks for this weekend.

In this day and age, we all seem to be suffering from a severe case of "instant nostalgia". Everything that has just happened is automatically either the greatest thing ever or the worst thing ever. But when Brent Musburger first uttered "instant classic" during his call of the Texas-Texas Tech game last week, he was spot on.

The end of that game was transfixing. A battered and bruised Colt McCoy spitting up blood on the sideline, then leading a gallant comeback and giving his team the lead. The Red Raiders responding as only their offense can. A Longhorn dropping a sure interception that would have sealed the deal. Then, Graham Harrell finding Michael Crabtree, and Crabtree doing the rest.

Afterwards, on national television, Crabtree told an incredulous Lisa Salters that he visualized the game-winning play, insisting, "I dreamed this! I dreamed it in my head!"

So, after watching that thrilling finish (Arizona State-Oregon State sure was anticlimactic after that), I went to sleep. And I dreamed something in my head, too.

I dreamed that it was October 9, 2010. The 4-0 Stanford Cardinal were hosting the 4-0 U$C Trojans for early control of the Pac-10. It was another sunsplashed Saturday on The Farm, a perfect day custom made for Stanford Football.

I dreamed that the ESPN College GameDay crew was there, doing their show live from the infield at the track across from Stanford Stadium. The students were in the background, in full voice, and being rowdier than they should be at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning. And those students who weren't in the GameDay crowd were camped out in tents by the stadium, as they had been all week in "Harbaughville".

And then, after two hours of buildup, the moment of truth came with the picks segment. Kirk Herbstreit couldn't make a pick, because he was calling the game with Brent Musburger for ABC that night. But Lee Corso put on a Tree costume, driving all the students nuts…then threw off the costume and donned the Trojan helmet and armor, solidifying his pick for U$C while the Stanford crowd booed the heck out of him.

I dreamed that the Eucalyptus Curtain was packed to the gills with fans, tailgaters, and revelers all spending the day enjoying themselves and getting ready for a huge game. My friend Cathy had her usual tailgate going, complete with her Rice Krispie footballs. Chuck Taylor Grove was, as usual, the center of it all. The scalpers weren't actually wasting their time by working a Stanford Football game.

I dreamed that gametime finally arrived, and a standing-room only crowd was rocking Stanford Stadium. It was a back-and-forth affair, with the drama building to a critical crescendo with time running out.

And, of course, I dreamed that Stanford somehow won the game on the last play. The students swallowed the field in a sea of red. Players were being carried off the field by the fans. Grown men were openly weeping in the stands, amazed by the sight they thought they might never see again: a living, breathing, jumping Stanford Stadium with the football team to match. Every Stanford fan capturing the memories that would stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Then I woke up Sunday morning, went to the office, and was jolted back to reality by some pretty substandard NFL action.

But the point remained. After all, those types of things happened in Lubbock this past weekend. Yes, Lubbock. Not Austin, or Norman, or Baton Rouge, or Tuscaloosa, or Columbus, or South Bend. Lubbock. If it can happen in Lubbock, it can happen at Stanford.

Is it farfetched? Of course it is. But remember: that exact scene I described, from the GameDay crew on down, actually happened at Vanderbilt this year. Vanderbilt! If it can happen at Vanderbilt of all places, it can happen at Stanford.

If you want to expand the scope to basketball, then it already has happened at Stanford. When Cardinal men's basketball was at its peak, there was no tougher ticket to get in the Bay Area. Students camped out days in advance for the biggest games. When Nick Robinson hit that buzzer-beater against Arizona, Musburger was calling the game for ABC with Dick Vitale, who has made a few appearances on The Farm over the years. Jim Nantz and Billy Packer visited a few times, too.

For several weekends from 1998 to 2004, the epicenter of college basketball was Maples Pavilion. So Stanford has had more experience in this sort of thing than most people might think at first glance. Could you imagine what it would be like if The Farm was the true epicenter of college football for a weekend?

Dreams don't always come true. If you've lived life long enough, you learned that lesson a long, long time ago. But, if you've lived life long enough, you also know that every once in a while dreams really happen.

What will October 9, 2010 really look like on The Farm? Obviously, I don't know the true answer to that. But the decisions that we all make as fans, players, coaches, support staff, and the university community as a whole, will go miles towards determining that outcome. And I'd love nothing better than to see those decisions resulting in many "instant classics" emanating from Stanford Stadium.

I can dream, can't I?

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RANDOM PAC-10 THOUGHTS

I was hoping for 52 points, and we got 58! Wow. 58-0? I don't know what's more impressive, the 58 or the 0…

Runner-up Quote of the Week , from Owen Marecic, who talked about his ankle injury: "[It] got rolled up on. But I stalemated my guy."

Quote of the Week , from ESPN's Beano Cook: "We've got too many lawyers and not enough quarterbacks!"

After getting outscored by a collective total of 114-0, I hereby declare Washington and Washington State non-topics in these Corners, aside from the Pac-10 picks. Until they win a game (and the Apple Cup probably won't count), there will be no more mentions of either the Cougars or the Huskies for the rest of the season…

Stock Up: cal's wide receivers are finally growing up right before our eyes…

Stock Up: Oregon State's wide receivers (Sammie Stroughter, Shane Morales, and James Rodgers) are starting to realize their potential as a unit…

Stock Down: Oregon special teams. A botched extra point, an errant long snap that causes a safety, and a fumbled punt return that leads to a cal touchdown. Those 10 points literally cost Oregon that game…

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… the Dumb Coaching Move of the Week Award goes to Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema. The Badgers led 24-22, and Michigan State was rushing their kicking unit on with the clock running to try to boot the game-winning field goal. But instead of letting the clock run, Bielema called a timeout. Why? A rushed kicker is, I would think, far less effective than an iced kicker. Some reports say that Wisconsin had only 10 men on the field…which still shouldn't have warranted calling a timeout because they would not have been penalized for playing a man short. So what happens? The Spartan kicker coolly and calmly kicks the 44-yarder, and the Badgers lose, thanks largely to an indefensible call by their coach…

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… as poor as some Stanford offenses have looked over the past few years, I don't think anything comes close to what the Raiders did in the first half against Atlanta. Minus-2 yards? For the entire half?

Not a Pac-10 thought, but… normally I stay away from political talk in these Corners. After all, when people want to turn away from "the news", they turn to sports. Plus, you don't care what my political views are, and this isn't the proper forum for those thoughts anyway. Feel free to skip ahead to the Inbox if you'd like. But this week's events, I think, warrant an exception.

I was on the phone with my grandparents when the clinching projections came in. My grandfather was born in segregated Oklahoma, his wife in segregated Arkansas. My grandmother was born, raised, and still lives in Louisiana. My parents grew up in Denver, but traveled in the South when segregation was still law. None of them thought they would live to see the day. They look at Tuesday night's events with a joy that I can comprehend, but can never understand its true depth.

Am I happy that Obama won the election because he's black? Honestly, no. I'm happy that Obama won because, to me, he was clearly the better candidate, clearly the better choice to represent this country in domestic and foreign affairs… and he just happens to be black. To me, this election wasn't about race. It was about the future. Mine, yours, and theirs.

Racism and classism won't be cured overnight, nor will the so-called "red state-blue state" mentality that exists in some parts of the country. The gap between rich and poor is still at an all-time width. The economy is teetering, as is this country's standing in the world. It's going to take a truly united states of America to change those things. Maybe, hopefully, we all took a step closer to that this week.

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CLARDY'S CORNER INBOX

It's been a long time since we heard from Clardy's Corner Inbox resident Duck fan Scott from Phoenix, who wrote before last Saturday's games: "Oregon is 6-2 right now and it is anybody's guess as to whether they will end 6-6 or 10-2.  I lean more towards the 6-6 side since their offense still has not found an identity.  Running, we know they can do. Passing… well… Masoli sometimes throws well, but other times…he has the velocity and accuracy of a mid-1800's cannon. And with the announcement of Ty Willingham I must chime in and say that I am sorry he did not have more success at either Notre Dame or Washington.  He is a class coach and certainly deserves to have more success than someone like Mike Stoops."

Can't really argue with any of that, Scott. Masoli's passes leave vapor trails, but it's anyone's guess where those trails are going! And don't take it personally, but now that Oregon is 6-3, I hope Stanford sends them a step closer to 6-6 this week.

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

Arizona @ Washington State. Not much to say here. I like Arizona by 74.

Arizona State @ Washington. Even though the Sun Devils have been a major disappointment, there's not much to say here, either. I like Arizona State by 26.

Oregon State @ UCLA. The Bruin defense has collapsed lately against the run. Jacquizz Rodgers is the Pac-10's leading rusher. Uh-oh. I like Oregon State by 19.

cal @ U$C. The onus is on cal here. Their defense needs to play ballhawk football, as they have lately. Their patchwork offensive line must protect the quarterback and open holes for the running game. I think the former is much more likely than the latter. That's why, in a bit of a struggle, I like U$C by 12.

Last week: 3-0 (straight-up), 2-1 (ATS).
This year: 17-4 (straight-up), 11-10 (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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