Any time a star athlete
Any time a star athlete
Any time a star athlete
Let’s all assume for a minute that Florida State’s QB Jameis Winston is selected as the first overall selection of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Allow this scenario to soak into your bones Duck fans as...
Mike Merrell’s Three-and-Out Memory loss is something we all suffer from time to time. It can be everything from entertaining to life-threatening, but for most of us it’s usually just embarrassing — the times we can’t quite put the name...
Before Oregon faced Florida State in the Rose Bowl, there was a lot of talk about Marcus Mariota vs Jameis Winston. This echoed the debate early in the year in reference to the Heisman Trophy. Now yet again, these two players are...
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When all you have to talk about from the past week of action is people arguing over uniforms, coaches trolling schools, and players apologizing for trash talk … then it’s a slow week. We did have one big thing, though, with Northwestern’s football players taking a private vote about whether or not to unionize. That story will be the main talking point for most college football fans as this off season drags on.
1) It looks like this issue won’t going to go away anytime soon. You have players wanting one thing and the coaches in charge of them, wanting another. Mixed signals are being sent back and forth to the eligible players voting, about the pros and cons of a union.
In my years of working, unions are bad news. Players unionizing will change everything in college athletics. The focus is still turned to just the Northwestern football team, but everyone should know this will go global to all athletes at that school and change athletics as we know it. At least they are getting unlimited meals now.
2) Change is good right? Unless you are Penn State. Changing the uniforms seems to be a heated debate among players and fans of the Penn State program. We all know Penn State to be the simple uniform combinations. Nothing more, nothing less. If the players wanted more “style” in their uniforms, then Penn State is not the place for them. If this is the only problem your program is facing during the off season, then things are going pretty well.
3) Who would not love Steve Spurrier as their coach? He is the guy who gets the results, on the field and off. The biggest things Florida fans enjoyed while he was their coach, was the way he would poke at rival schools such as Tennessee or make funny comments about star players at the school such as Peyton Manning. The way he “trolled” Tennessee and Alabama … classic Spurrier. More coaches need to be like him, as it would certainly liven up the message boards.
As the off season progresses, we can get started talking about the upcoming games to start off Week 1. Maybe give some predictions and see how far off I am. If anything, just keep a microphone near Spurrier and we’ll get some more media gold.
Until then, we can focus on the Northwestern players and how they might destroy college sports. Let’s hope the union gets shot down, but the NCAA can wake up and do better to help the players making the $millions for their schools.
1. Kiffin wins title
2. Texas is sorry
3. Duke finds a new home
4. Joe Pa back at Penn State
5. Texas not playing for title
— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor
We’ll get to the men’s Civil War basketball game in a minute. In the meantime, you didn’t ask me for this piece of information, but whomever wins the Super Bowl on Sunday will result in a former Oregon player getting a ring. That’s right, the big game in Indianapolis will have a ‘Ducky’ feel to it.
On the New England side, there is safety Patrick Chung. One of the best defensive backs in Oregon history has performed admirably at the pro level. He’s made a lot of big plays for the Patriots with an interception here or a special teams play there.
However, Spencer Paysinger has also quietly established himself with the New York Giants in his rookie season. The ex-Duck linebacker has 11 tackles this year, and should make a lot more before it’s all said and done.
Thus, with both teams having a U of O alum on their roster, I can neutralize that as a reason to take one side over the other. So let me tell you how I see this coming out in objective fashion.
On paper, it looks like the Patriots will roll in this one. They remember how the Giants ruined their undefeated season in that Super Bowl a few years ago, and a lot of people will tell you it’s not smart to bet against Tom Brady. Furthermore, the Giants snuck into the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
Ahhh, that’s where it gets interesting. Sure, the Giants didn’t have the prettiest of regular seasons. Nonetheless, they won when they had to and they seem to be playing their best football at the right time.
The matchup between Brady and Eli Manning is a compelling subplot to this story, too. Brady has won three Super Bowls, and will undoubtedly go down as one of the five greatest quartebacks of all time.
Meanwhile, Eli Manning has lived in the shadow of his big brother Peyton for years. People sometimes forget that he, like Peyton, also has a championship ring on his finger. If he wins on Sunday, it’ll mean he’ll have two in his collection. (Trust me, big brother will trade in his records for that honor).
So how does this play out? I see a tough battle and, having a lot of friends who are Patriots’ fans, it would be easy for me to say I’m rooting for a good game. Admittedly, my head is saying ‘New England’ while my heart is saying ‘New York.’
But I’ll go with the latter this time. This one will go back and forth and history will repeat itself. The Giants upset the Patriots once more 28-24.
Now let’s talk about that Civil War game. These match ups have gotten more competitive in recent years, and the one at Matt Arena definitely went down to the wire. But who saw this coming? Oregon State beating Oregon 76-71? I certainly saw a tight affair, but thought the Ducks would take it.
A big reason for the Beavers’ upset was the 27 points from Jared Cunningham. He’s become their playmaker, and hit some crucial three-pointers down the stretch.
“It’s our rival school and it was a big game with a great crowd, ” said Cunningham afterwards. “We had a lot of Beaver fans out there. I think we turned the corner with this win, especially with it being the Civil War game. It means a lot to Beaver nation.”
OSU may have turned a corner on their season, indeed. They’re now 4-5 in Pac-12 play (14-7 overall), and made a statement by beating their arch-enemies on their own floor. If they can perform like this the rest of the way, there might be a few more shockers before it’s all over.
For Oregon, however, the feeling has to be very bittersweet. Yes they’re still very much in the Pac-12 race with a 6-3 conference record (15-6 overall). But the Ducks didn’t play like a contender over the weekend.
Oregon sputtered around in the first half, and some of their mistakes finally came back to bite them in the second. Devoe Joseph did his part with 26 points, but received little help. Still, he argued it wasn’t lack of scoring that did his team in.
“It was more about defense and turnovers than offense,” Joseph explained. “It is disappointing. Any time you play at home, you expect to win. But we weren’t aggressive. It’s what we didn’t do, not what they did.”
He’s right. The two things that have been the Ducks achilles’ heel bit them hard against OSU. Their inconsistency on defense was apparent as Cunningham and Ahmad Starks (who had 15 points) lit up the scoreboard. And you’re not going to beat many teams when you turn the ball over 23 times. It’s something that Oregon will have to minimize when they head out on road against Colorado and Utah this week to keep their postseason hopes on track.
“We can’t lose home games and be in the huddle,” said Oregon head coach Dana Altman. “We have some serious work on the road this upcoming week.”
Whatever happens, the situation in the Pac-12 just got a little more interesting. How it all winds up is anyone’s guess.
Now, here’s a quick item before I wrap this up. Last Friday, EDN launched a live blog for what we think is the biggest game in prep basketball. We’ll be doing it again this coming Thursday night when Sheldon visits Marist. Check out the sports section about 7pm that evening, and see how this game between two of the state’s best teams is covered.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the bleachers.
— Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor
An amazing men’s basketball game on Saturday. UCLA had Oregon dead in the water in the first half with a 37-24 lead. The Ducks couldn’t hit a shot into the Willamette River, while the Bruins’ big men dominated the paint.
But a funny thing happened after halftime. Oregon came out firing on all cylinders, while UCLA’s inside presence went from titanium to tissue. As a result, the Ducks were able to pull out a 75-68 victory at Matt Knight Arena.
Let’s be clear about something: This was a game Oregon would not have won last year or the year before. E.J. Singler, who led the Ducks with a career-high 26 points, considers this win a character check.
“We showed toughness and heart today,” said Singler. “Coming out and winning feels good, shows we have heart, and that means a lot.”
It means plenty for their place in the Pac-12 standings, too. The Ducks now have a 6-2 conference record, and are tied for first place with Cal. Still, there’s plenty of basketball to be played, and Oregon will have to be ready for every opponent.
They certainly won’t be taking Oregon State lightly when they come to town this coming Sunday. Sure, the Beavers haven’t lit up the conference this season, but they have won two in a row and have the talent to upset a lot of teams.
“They can beat anyone in the conference,” Singler explained. “Their stats don’t show how good they are playing. They are playing very tough.”
Meanwhile, the Oregon women’s basketball team might be getting it together as well. After getting thumped 92-73 at USC Thursday, the Ducks came out with a much better performance Saturday. Thanks to the 21 points from Jasmin Holliday, they stunned UCLA 82-63 and this could change the outlook for their season.
Had they lost this one, the perception would’ve been that another subpar season was on the way in the Willamette Valley. Instead, the Ducks now have an overall 11-9 record and are perhaps a few more wins away from some kind of postseason berth.
They still need to play with a tad more consistency, but it appears that Paul Westhead has this program on the right track. Good for him. His legendary status in the game of hoops aside, it is always a pleasure to talk to this man and I hope he can add to his illustrious resume while he’s in Eugene.
Of course, you can check out plenty more about the basketball scene this coming Wednesday when our weekly college hoops roundup comes out. It should become required reading for many weeks to come.
Moving onto the football soap opera, you might need to add another name to the departing list. First, LaMichael James declared for the NFL Draft. Then last week, Darron Thomas decided to also take his game to the next level. Now, rumor has it that Chip Kelly might be taking the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
By the time you read this column, the deal could be done. If so, it’s hard to say why Chip exactly took the job at this time. Maybe he felt that, after three consecutive BCS Bowl appearances, that it was time for a new challenge that only the NFL could provide. (ED – According to ESPN, Chip Kelly has declined the Buccaneers offer of immense wealth and status.)
Whatever the rationale, a quick word or two for those now believing that the sky is falling. It’s important to remember that while Kelly did have unprecedented success at Oregon, the foundation for those accomplishments had been paved for many years (going back to Rich Brooks). Second, if Chip does leave, there are a lot of high-profile coaches that will want to take his place.
This is still a team loaded with talent and the fancy facilities are about to get that much fancier. I could see Chris Petersen from Boise State taking a phone call on this one. Heck, I could even see a wild card like Jon Gruden considering coming here.
The point is that whether Kelly stays or goes, the recent successes of Oregon football are not coming to an end. They are still very much in the beginning stages. Should be fun watching this whole thing play out, either way.
But since we are talking about the NFL, let’s shift the attention to this past weekend’s playoff action. In the NFC Championship, the New York Giants eeked out a 20-17 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers. Why do I bring this up? Because this game increased my admiration for one Eli Manning.
The guy won a Super Bowl a few years ago, but people have dismissed him and claim he’ll never be as good of a quarterback as his brother Peyton. Yet, despite the odds, he helped quietly lead the Giants to three impressive playoff victories over the Falcons, Packers, and the Niners.
In the most recent case, he was repeatedly knocked onto the muddy turf but was able to get up and throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns. Oh, and if the Giants win the big game against New England in a couple weeks, it would give him two Super Bowl rings to his big brother’s one. Should that happen, wouldn’t that make Eli the better quarterback of the two? I sure think it would.
Now for a quick word on something else you could be seeing this coming Friday. As I’ve stated many times, I’m ramping up the prep coverage in this sports section. If the logistics are worked out in the next couple of days (as I think they will), I’ll make a point of formally announcing what we’ll be bringing to the table for the remainder of the year in the weekly prep basketball roundup. Right now, all I can say is I’m excited about the potential this new component could have and I think you will be too.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the bleachers.