Oklahoma State Cowboys

Dwayne Benjamin — X Factor for Ducks Hoops

When Hall-of-Famer Bill Walton broadcasts college basketball games with Oregon playing, he constantly faces the common reality that most individuals face. Around the University of Oregon student body and members of the press, especially Walton, forward Dwayne Benjamin is known...

Jeff Orr, ASU Spitter And All Obnoxious Fans – Time To Show Some Class

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With 3:41 in the first half of Oregon’s two-point loss to Arizona State, UO G Jason Calliste lost his cool.

He had just hit his head on the hardwood after being viciously close lined. To makes matters worse, the referee failed to blow the whistle and ASU scored a quick fast break bucket on the other end.  Calliste was hit so hard, he laid on the floor, barely moving for nearly a half minute before making his way to the sidelines.

Photo by Kevin Cline of FishDuck.com
Jason Calliste made aggressive gesture toward ASU fans. Photo by Kevin Cline of FishDuck.com

So distraught, he began to pace back and forth along the baseline. Riding high off their team’s huge lead on UO, ASU fans began to heckle Calliste. Then at halftime, Calliste aggressively nudged his elbow toward the student section, symbolically showing disgust for their obnoxious fandom.

In the second half, ASU fans chanted, “We want Jason,” celebrating their desire to fight the UO guard one against thousands.

In the world of sports, whether it be Zinedine Zidane’s head butt or Tiger Woods’ foul mouth, we love to criticize athletes for losing control of their emotions. And in many cases, they deserve to be criticized.

Student athletes and professional athletes are supposed to hold themselves to the highest standards of conduct and ethicality to preserve their own credibility and the credibility of the organizations or schools they represent.

However, sometimes in the heat of the moment, when playing poorly and being subjected to derogatory remarks, it seems very difficult for players to take the high road.

Case and point: last night’s game between Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. 

After sprinting to the other side of the court to prevent an easy dunk by a Texas Tech player, OSU G Marcus Smart couldn’t stop his momentum and dove into the stands. While looking disgusted at Smart, a fan made a remark that offended the OSU guard. The fan, Jeff Orr, says he called Smart, “a piece of crap,” but who knows if that is what he actually said or just a censored version.

Similarly, but much more extreme than the Calliste incident, Smart pushed the fan, causing universal outrage and a possible crack in the college basketball world space time continuum.  Though many think he should’ve been ejected, referees do not have jurisdiction to eject players for getting into altercations with fans, so they gave him a technical foul instead.

However, Smart was suspended three games for the incident. But in a victory for college hoops players everywhere, Orr agreed to not attend anymore games this season and, whether he liked it or not, was hoisted into the public spotlight, becoming the number one trending topic on Twitter.

TTechFan
Marcus Smart pushed this fan. Photo from article.wn.com

According to tweets by John Lucas III, this was not the first time Orr had attempted to set a player off. Lucas III tweeted, based on his experience playing for OSU, Orr “says a lot of crazy ish.” In another tweet, he said fans used to talk trash about his’ father and even called him a crack baby.

At halftime of the UO game, UO assistant coach Brian Fish and athletic trainer Clay Jamieson were spit on by an ASU fan. They proceeded to report the incident to the police but decided not to press charges against the spitter.

Photo from fullscalesports.com
Ron Artest after entering the stands against Detroit in 2004. Photo from fullscalesports.com

Though insults and spitting are out of line, neither of these incidents compare to what transpired in 2004. People seem to forget, but the Malice at the Palace  between the Indiana Pacers, the Detroit Pistons and the Pistons fans morphed from a semi-out-of-the-ordinary skirmish, into one of the darkest days in NBA history because a fan intentionally spilled beer on Pacers F Ron Artest. Artest bolted into the stands, steadfast on beating the crap out of the fan. When Artest broke the invisible barrier of trust where fans reside, all hell broke loose.

After tons of punches were thrown and Pacers F Austin Croshere wrapped his arms around Artest, Indiana players tried to head to the nearest exit unscathed, but were met with flying objects aimed at their faces, as well as popcorn and more beer.

The consequences for the players was over $10 million in lost paychecks and 146 games of suspensions. Thankfully, five fans also received criminal charges for their actions and were banned from The Palace of Auburn Hills for life. However, there were certainly numerous other fans who got away with egregiously inappropriate activity.

Derogatory commentary, bodily fluid ejection and alcoholic beverage tossing should not be tolerated at any sporting event.

Because it’s impossible to regulate all fan activity and because fans are not held under a microscope like players, fans are usually able to hide behind the veil of anonymity. Hopefully Orr’s newfound infamousness and his season-long agreement to miss out on Red Raider games will serve as a lesson for obnoxious fans.

But if hecklers continue to conduct themselves in classless fashion, history will continue to repeat itself.

Taking My Picks…

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— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

There comes a time in life when you simply have to make a judgement. It doesn’t matter whether it’s making a career choice, deciding what to buy a the grocery store, or figuring out certain matters in the world of sports. The latter case is definitely my department, so here are three topics in which I’ll “take my pick.”

Oregon RB LaMichael James vs. Wisconsin RB Montee Ball:

What a timely subject to start off with, considering these two guys will be competing against each other in the 2012 Rose Bowl. Seriously, which running back would you like to have on your team?

LaMichael James square off against Wisconsin's Montee Ball in the Rose Bowl. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

On the one hand, you have James. He is the Ducks’ all-time leading rusher who won the Doak Walker Award last year (and was also a Heisman finalist in 2010).  This season, even though he had to sit out a couple games with an injury, James still finished fourth in the nation with 1,646 rushing yards. There’s no question in my mind, that this is the best running back in Oregon history.

That being said, there is a world outside of Eugene and some would say Ball is the guy they’d want in their backfield. It’s not hard to see why. He’s leading the nation in rushing with 1,759 yards this year, and he just might win the Heisman Trophy over the weekend. He’s also scored 32 touchdowns in 2011, compared to only 17 scores by James.

Ah, that’s where things get tricky. Sure Ball has found the end zone more times, but do the Badgers have guys like Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas on their squad? I’m not saying that Wisconsin lacks depth, but if you have as many playmakers as Oregon does, then one guy isn’t necessarily going to get the bulk of the scoring load.

There’s also one other stat to contemplate: yards per carry. Ball’s average of 6.4 yards isn’t too shabby.  But James gets around 7.4 any time he touches the rock. Thus, I’ve got to go with LaMichael on this one.

Stanford QB Andrew Luck vs. USC QB Matt Barkley

Duck fans may not like either of these guys, but they were two of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 this year. An argument could be made that both of these gentlemen should be Heisman candidates on Saturday, and people have been clamoring about how prepared both of these guys are going to be in the NFL.

With that in mind, let’s talk about the guy who will be going to New York and might (just might) win the big trophy. A lot of folks have been saying that Luck can do everything from leap tall buildings in a single bound to changing water into wine.

Matt Barkley's overall numbers are better than that of one Andrew Luck. (Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Now that we’ve gotten the exaggerations out of the way, Luck has shown an uncanny ability to read defenses and get the ball right into his receivers’ hands. The fact that he plays in a pro-style offense at Stanford will probably help him at the next level.

But is he the best quarterback in the nation or even his own conference? Matt Barkley might have something to say about that. His QB rating is lower at 161 (compared to Luck’s 167). However, look at some other numbers and they tell a different story.

Barkley has 39 touchdown passes this year, while Luck has only thrown 35. He’s also been a tad more careful with the ball, throwing only seven interceptions to Luck’s nine.

Putting the statistics aside, Barkley seems more athletic and I like his ability to improvise on the fly. Thus, if you made me choose between the two, I’m going to have to go with Barkley.

The BCS System vs. A Playoff Format

The Bowl Championship Series was supposed to solve all the problems of deciding a true national champion when it was installed in 1998. How do you think it’s working out so far?

Last season, the system seemed to work just fine as the two best teams (Oregon and Auburn) squared off for all the marbles. But, my friends, that was an exception.  Most of the time, you’ll get two teams that the voters happen to like as opposed to the two that are the most deserving.

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have no business being in this year's BCS Championship. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

This year is a perfect example. For some context, let’s look at some words from then-LSU head coach Nick Saban in 2003. “If you don’t win your conference championship then you have no business playing for the national championship,” he said.

Wonder how the now-head coach of Alabama feels about those sentiments now? He probably doesn’t care. His Crimson Tide squared off at home against the Tigers and lost 9-6. That victory paved the way for LSU to win the SEC conference, and they definitely deserve to be in the title game.

But Alabama? They might deserve to play in one of the other BCS bowls, not the biggest one of all. Saban was right back in the day and, if he was true to his word, he’d decline the invite to play in the game. (We know that won’t happen).

I understand that Oklahoma State lost to a paltry Iowa State squad. The Cowboys, however, actually played a stronger schedule than the Tide and actually beat more BCS-caliber opponents during the season. An argument could be made that this was the biggest theft in the history of the BCS since Oregon got snubbed in 2001.

I could go on and on about that one, but I won’t go there. What I will do is state that this situation demands an eight-team playoff format. Have the top eight teams go against each other after the regular season, and let them prove on the field who really is better than who.

There might still be some politics with that format in choosing the top eight, but at least we’d have clear winner when it was all said and done. If you take the ‘C’ out of BCS, and you’ll get an an idea what I truly think of it these days. So ends my picking for now.