Sorensen: 12-game season not all good

CALL ME AN OLD traditionalist, but I'm not enamored with the NCAA's decision to permanently allow for a 12-game regular season football season, beginning next year. Yes, I know it finally means every Pac-10 school will play every school every year --- something that's never happened since the Pac-8 added Arizona and Arizona State in 1978.

And yes, I know it means an extra week of fun for everyone in the stands, not to mention those tuning into my old pal Bob Robertson. And, yes, I know it puts more money in athletic department coffers. And I'm well aware of the favorable effect it will have on that nettlesome notion of two teams tying for the conference crown without having gone head to head.

What supersedes everything for me is the assault that will take place on the record book.

With the additional game, look for many vaunted names to gradually fade from the single-season records lists. Career marks will slowly fall, too.

I consider the record book a living connection to our past. It brings back special moments, sparks great debates and lends to the cultural bridge of generations.

Records were made to be broken, the saying goes. Very true. But all the better if they're broken on an even field.

For most folks, I realize, this ranks up there with blue M&Ms on the list of troubling trends. However, for those of us lucky enough to have discovered one of life's simple pleasures --- a quiet evening poring over the back of a media guide --- it's more evidence that the times, oh they are a changin'. Just like in '51, when the season went from the typical nine games to 10, and again in 1970 when the total was upped to 11.

THERE IS A SILVER LINING in all of it, though. Some records will burn even brighter because of the change.


Case in point: WSU's career receptions record, held by legendary Hugh Campbell (pictured at right). I think it's the most remarkable record in the books.

How so?

For starters, consider that Hugh nabbed the last of his 176 catches in 1962. That was a whopping 43 years ago!

Translation: The record has stood tall in the face of a quarterback in the 1970s -– Jack Thompson -– who broke the NCAA record for career passing yards, and despite the later advent of the pass-happy one-back offense.

More amazing is that Campbell played in an era when freshmen weren't allowed on the varsity, redshirting was unheard of, the regular season spanned just 10 games, and no one but the conference champion was allowed to play in a bowl game.

Phillip Bobo, whose time in crimson perfectly matched Drew Bledsoe's, is No. 2 on the career receptions list --- a sizeable 28 catches behind Campbell.

I don't think Campbell's record is the Cougar football equivalent of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game Major League hitting streak. But it's got to be close. Hugh averaged 58 catches per season for three seasons.

Even with four years in the line up and that one extra game per year --- and hopefully two, counting bowl games --- a guy would have to average 44 catches a season to match Campbell. That's one daunting assignment.

Besides Campbell's career mark, there are four other records I think will stand the test of time for a while longer:

* Rueben Mayes' 1,647 rushing yards in one season (1984).
* Bernard Jackson's 2,118 all-purpose yards in one season (1971).
* Lee Blakeney's career tackles total of 524 (1980-84); and
* Lamont Thompson's 24 career interceptions (19971-2001) and 10 single-season thefts (2001).

Another record, which can't be affected by the extra game, but is incredibly noteworthy to me is former Cougar running back Steve Broussard leading the Pac-10 in receiving in 1987 and then in rushing in 1988. Only one other player in league history, Oregon's Bobby Moore (a.k.a. Ahmad Rashad) can lay claim to that double whammy.

A couple of final notes about Huge Campbell. He holds many distinctions in the football world. At WSU, he is the only player in school history to be named first-team All-Coast in three seasons and the only player to be picked first-, second- or third-team All-American in three seasons. In the Canadian Football League, where he starred as a player, coach and general manager, he holds a record that likely will never be matched: Taking six consecutive teams to the Grey Cup – and winning five of them (with Warren Moon under center). He's also just a really, really good guy.

About the author: Paul Sorensen was a first-team All-America safety for Jim Walden's Cougars in the early 1980s. He played professionally in the USFL and NFL before becoming a long-time color commentator on Cougar radio broadcasts.

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