George Horton Rumored to USC? Why College Coaching is a Deeply Broken System

Ed’s Note: Written by Sean Highkin

 

About a week ago, news broke of the firing of USC Trojans baseball coach Chad Kreuter. The move wasn’t necessarily surprising—after all, Kreuter had failed in his four seasons to restore the school to its glory years of the 1970s, or even lead them to the playoffs once.

You know what else didn’t surprise me? The fact that about an hour after I first saw the story of Kreuter’s firing, somebody in my Twitter feed floated the idea of Oregon’s George Horton filling USC’s coaching void. Of course, it was just a rumor and Horton hasn’t been tied to the USC job in any official capacity (yet), but I started thinking about the fact that I believed it right away, and about the deeply broken college coaching system.

The constant shifting at the head coach position is arguably more detrimental to college athletes than it is to professional ones. If a high school athlete is sold on a college because of a recruiting pitch by the coach, who can guarantee that said coach will even still be there in the Fall? How many decisions by players as to whether to turn pro or stay in school are made because of a relationship with a coach who may be in danger of being poached by a bigger-name institution?

This lack of continuity in leadership is only making worse the biggest problem with college athletics today: the transformation of college programs into essentially a farm system for the pros. On NBA draft night this year, the University of Kentucky had five players taken in the first round, including No. 1 overall pick John Wall. UK coach John Calipari proclaimed the draft, and not any the school’s seven national championships, as “the biggest day in the history of Kentucky’s program”—an incredibly revealing remark about Calipari’s priorities, as well as those of big-money college sports in general. Calipari himself is coming off his first year at Kentucky, leaving Memphis to sign an eight-year, $31 million contract.

The other major coaching story of 2010 has been Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin, who skipped town after the first year of a six-year deal to accept a coaching position at USC. Kiffin replaced Pete Carroll, who left town the subject of numerous recruiting ethics complaints. These accusations didn’t prevent Carroll from accepting a job in the NFL (coaching the Seahawks); meanwhile, Kiffin will enter as head coach facing a two-year ban from bowl games and four years’ probation, all because of violations that took place while the team was under Carroll’s control.

It is this lack of accountability that keeps coaches giving under-the-table gifts to potential recruits, and leaving town when any kind of controversy starts. Kiffin himself has come under fire in recent weeks for not following protocol when hiring a Tennessee Titans running backs coach as his offensive coordinator at USC. What’s to stop him from leaving Southern California next year if another, higher-paying job opens up because some other coach leaves amid a cloud of complaints and sanctions? Hell, if he gets in trouble for something like this while at USC, he can leave and have no trouble getting a job somewhere else, while his replacement would be stuck with whatever sanctions are imposed on the school by the NCAA for his actions.

George Horton is ours, for now. But the fact that I saw that as an unfounded rumor and took it seriously speaks volumes about the corruption present at many levels of modern college sports. Nobody has to take responsibility for their actions, and upstart programs like Oregon’s baseball team are always in danger of having their coaches and recruits spirited away by bigger names.

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Pac-10 Preseason Power Rankings: Volume II

Editor’s Note: As some of you might know, UOSportsDude.com is expanding the site in order to bring to you deeper, more expansive and hopefully better coverage of the Oregon Ducks this coming season and beyond. Please welcome our newest contributor, incoming freshman Matthew Thill, to the mix. Despite growing up in Beaver country, Matt managed to grow up a Duck fan. He was the co-editor of his high school newspaper, but more importantly, Matt brings a brash, youthful exuberance to the blog. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Earlier this week, Jeff Spiegel laid out his Pac-10 power rankings. Now it’s Matt’s turn. See if you can find the common denominator.

Sophomore quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Andrew Luck are the two of the biggest keys in the Pac-10 race.

1. Oregon – Sure the loss of Masoli will hurt temporarily, but in the long run I see LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and crew picking up the slack and carrying this team. Brandon Bair will clog up the middle and do his part in leading yet another high-octane Duck D. Oh, and for my 2 cents, I think Darron Thomas should get the nod.

2. USC – Aside from all the legal troubles they’re going through, they’ve still got a heck of a football team. The loss of 5* frosh Seantrel Henderson bites, but they have a burgeoning star in Matt Barkley at QB, a stable of highly rated running backs (Dillon Baxter looks special), and Brice Butler at wideout, so they’ll be plenty dangerous. Good, but not quite great; that’s why they’re in my #2 spot.

3. Oregon State – Mike Riley has proven he can win without a top-flight QB,  and the Rodgers brothers remain 5-star threats, but I just don’t see enough overall talent for the Beavers to be Rose Bowl contenders. Look for Quizz to put up huge numbers though.

4. Stanford – With Gerhart gone, their chance of a Rose Bowl berth is nearly nil; however, they do have one hell of a QB in Andrew Luck. The Cardinal will be solid this season, but without the threat of the run game, a top three finish would be considered a good year for Harbaugh and Co. Look out for incoming freshman LB Shayne Skov, though. He’s my pick for breakout player of the year.

5. Washington – Husky fans should be excited to watch Locker this season. Whether or not he lives up to the hype, every time he touches the ball there’s a chance something special will happen. Despite my anti-Husky bias, he is a legitimate candidate for the No. 1 overall pick next year. With Sark starting to settle in, these guys are definitely on the rise.

6. Arizona – The Wildcats always bring a scrappy, competetive team to the table every year. Nick Foles is extremely talented and will turn heads this season – in case you missed on him last year. But with the loss of seven defensive starters and nearly every single assistant coach, expect a drop-off from their impressive third place finish last season. Although they do still have the offensive firepower to pull an upset any given Saturday.

7. UCLA – With Kevin Prince running the offense these guys should be another solid team. With the talent they bring in, UCLA will always be looked at as a program that should contend. Neuheisel is eagerly awaiting the chance to prove his doubters wrong and show people UCLA is legit. Will this finally be the year?

8. Cal – Kevin Riley has had a roller coaster ride of a career as the Golden Bear’s signal caller. Now a senior, can he finally put it all together and deliver a full season of consistent play? Because of all the talent Cal lost – including now Detroit Lions RB Jahvid Best – he will have to if there’s any chance for them to finish in the top half of the conference.

9. Arizona State – Just like Cal, ASU will be doing some rebuilding this year. The Sun Devils are breaking in a new quarterback this season, in an offense that doesn’t exactly return much talent from last season – the unit finished 9th in the conference with 18.1 points per game (thank God for WSU). While not expected to be a factor this year, ASU may be worth watching just because of Vontaze Burfict alone. Only a sophomore, the linebacker was named to the 2010 Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List.

10. Washington State – Ahh, finally we get to the Cougs. While they are improving, and moving from “they just suck” to “likable underdog” territory, they are still a long ways off from making noise in the Pac-10. Jeff Tuel is a talented QB and does offer some much needed hope for the future to the depressed WSU faithful.

Pac-10 Preseason Power Rankings: Is Oregon a Lock for Number One?

Editor’s Note: As some of you might know, UOSportsDude.com is expanding the site in order to bring to you deeper, more expansive and hopefully better coverage of the Oregon Ducks this coming season and beyond. Please welcome our newest writer, recent University of Oregon grad,  Jeff Spiegel, to the mix. He also writes for bumcitybloggers.wordpress.com and scoutingthesports.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.

The official Pac-10 preseason Media Poll comes out this week. That said, we thought it’d be a good time for our writers over here at UOSportsDude.com to give our individual predictions for the conference as well. Up first: Mr. Spiegel.

Make sure to leave your thoughts below in the comments!

As someone who made the trip to Palo Alto last November, I can tell you first hand that Andrew Luck is LEGIT.

1) Oregon – When the defending champion returns 17 starters, nine of whom were part of the best offense in the conference last year, they deserve to remain at the top. The loss of Jeremiah Masoli hurts the Ducks, but with a defense that will continue to improve, and the best running back corps in the conference (and maybe nation aside from ‘Bama), I don’t expect the Ducks to miss a beat this season.

2) USC – While many people are picking them to finish near the top, I think USC remains one of the biggest wildcards in the conference. Based on talent alone, they definitely deserve this ranking. However, it remains to be seen how motivated they will be without the possibility of a postseason, and how well Lane Kiffin can handle the pressure that comes with being the head coach at USC.

3) Stanford – While the Cardinal will severely miss Toby Gearhart this season, Andrew Luck is a dark horse candidate for conference player of the year.  While everyone is busy hyping up Jake Locker, many seem to forget how good Luck is. And with arguably the best coach in the conference in Jim Harbaugh, I’m predicting a big season in Palo Alto.

4) Oregon State – The biggest question mark this season will be who plays quarterback for the Beavers. Although whoever ends up under center will have some serious help in James and Jaquizz Rodgers. While the Beavers need both of these guys to stay healthy in order to remain successful, Mike Riley always seems to make things happen in Corvallis, and I don’t think this season will be any different.

5) Washington – Even though I mentioned earlier that I thought the Jake Locker hype machine was a little excessive, I must also add that it isn’t without reason. This guy has all of the tools you look for in a quarterback, and now in his second season in the Sark system, Locker could make the jump into the elite group of quarterbacks in conference history. Combine all that with the emergence of Chris Polk, and the Huskies know that their success hinge solely on whether or not their inexperienced defense can rise to the occasion.

6) California – The Golden Bears remain an interesting team to predict, given the history of quarterback Kevin Riley. No player in the conference has experienced such highs and lows over their career, and yet, here he stands as the starting quarterback for his senior year.  While I don’t think he has the tools to consistently lead an elite college program, the Bears have plenty of talent overall, and should remain in the middle of the pack this season.

On the other side of the Bay, Kevin Riley is no Andrew Luck.

7) UCLA – Call me an optimist, but I think this is the year that UCLA finally emerges under Rick Neuheisel as a serious competitor (Eds note: Since when did 7th place become seriously competitive?).  With the return of quarterback Kevin Prince, and a new offensive scheme, I think UCLA is poised to compete, as long as their defense can maintain their high level of play.  That said, this is a defense that loses Brian Price and Alterraun Verner – which is why I have them finishing seventh.

8) Arizona – Not much to say here other than that I’m not expecting much from the Wildcats this season. The offense does have some playmakers, but overall this team just doesn’t jump out at me. I have a hard time believing they’ll be anything other than bystanders in the conference race.  A player to watch this season, however, is quarterback Nick Foles, who quietly put together a very impressive rookie season last year, and emerged last season as the conference’s best kept secret.

9) Arizona State – Unfortunately for ASU, the quarterback competition between Threet and Osweiler – not exactly Rudy Carpenter vs. Sam Keller – may be the most exciting and talked about storyline for the program this season. The team lost seven players on each side of the ball, and with a new quarterback and a new system, folks shouldn’t be expecting much come fall.

10) Washington State – The Cougars will be much, much, much better this season, and may even sneak out of the cellar. However, it’d be a miracle for the Cougs to finish outside the bottom three. The Cougars are a young team with some nice pieces, but in the tough Pac-10, they’re still a long way from being relevant again.  Jeff Tuel has a chance to become a good college quarterback, but it remains to be seen if he has enough help around him to make a difference.

Can Lane Kiffin Fill Pete Carroll’s Massive Shoes at USC?

Pete Carroll’s out and Lane Kiffin is in. Just like that, mentee turned trainwrecked Raiders coach turned shadowy, feuding Tennessee coach has turned into his mentor’s replacement.

SportsbyBrooks.com tweeted this: "Txt from former SC asst coach w/Kiffin 1st time around: 'Norm schemed. Sark developed QBs. Lane got sandwiches.'"

SportsbyBrooks.com tweeted this: "Txt from former SC asst coach w/Kiffin 1st time around: 'Norm schemed. Sark developed QBs. Lane got sandwiches.'"

Amazing.

First of all, I’d like to give  a special thanks to ESPN’s Joe Schad for ruining my “who will be USC’s next head coach” story I was halfway through. Jerk.

But that’s enough bitterness for now.

USC needed to a make a move quickly, and they did so. But was it the right move?

Carroll took over a Trojans team in 2001 that was on the verge of falling from national relevance, after suffering 13 and eight game winless streaks to Notre Dame and UCLA, respectively, something not acceptable for a program with such a prestigious (sans O.J.) history.

After a mediocre 6-6 first year, Carroll rebounded with a huge second season, finishing 11-2, including a 38-17 win over Iowa in the Orange Bowl. Thus, reviving USC football in the NFL-less Los Angeles area.

With Southern California sports fans dying to jump onto the bandwagon of a winning team, USC football become as popular in Los Angeles as the beach, shopping and saying “bro.”

As well as winning, Pete Carroll had the perfect personality to mesh football with Hollywood. Not every team in the country can get Snoop Dogg, Denzel, and the Governator on their sideline all at once.

He was the reason Los Angeles isn’t clamoring for an NFL team. (Let’s see what happens after another 8-4 season and Emerald Bowl appearance.)

I thought the Trojans should have found a coach with a personality big enough to push the sanctions given by the NCAA to the backburner, someone who could grab the attention of a room and make them forget why they were there in the first place.

Is Lane Kiffin that guy? I don’t think so.

When I heard that former 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci was on campus yesterday, I thought it was a perfect fit.

Pro style offense? Check. Very well spoken? Check. Ties to USC? Check (he was an assistant in 1986). Great hair? Check. It’s a match made in heaven.

But obviously Mike Garrett doesn’t appreciate great hair as much as I do.

However, there are positives in the Kiffin hiring.

First of all, they needed to find a new coach before their 14 commitments all transferred to Florida.

Secondly, Kiffin is a great (read: shady) recruiter, who brings along Ed Orgeron, another fantastic former USC recruiting guru, and father, Monte Kiffin, who made the cover two defense famous, to be his assistants.

Although some players will bail this year, the trio will still be able to pull in top talent in the future, as long as they win.

Having coached for five years under Carroll, Kiffin is familiar enough with USC that there won’t be a big shake-up in the team’s philosophy.

But as important as recruiting and comfort are, those qualities don’t win games. Just ask Charlie Weis.

More importantly, will he be able to keep his players loose and relaxed enough to handle USC’s massive expectations? Can he make the media giggle like a computer geek talking to a super model on the Monday after a loss? Can you picture him talking to Snoop Dogg on the practice field?

I can’t. He’s just not that charismatic.

Overall, I think it could turn out to be an O.K. hiring, but I think they should have found an NFL coach with a big enough personality to make the media forget about the sanctions that are sure to come.

But even if it turns out well in the long run, both USC and Tennessee will see plenty of turnover in the coming months.

And guess what, my Oregon Ducks play both teams this year. I like our chances.

You can follow Keith on twitter or on his Facebook page.

Pac-10 Preview Week 13: A Week Off Before the Only Game That Matters

Monistat: USC's first choice for effective yeast infection relief.

Monistat: USC's first choice for effective yeast infection relief. courtesy: http://duckvoodoo.com

Normally I would be angry about the Ducks having a week off, but to tell you the truth, I could use a break. I am completely spent from that down to the wire, pulling out my hair, covering my eyes, instant classic, comeback win down in Arizona.

I was so nervous in the fourth quarter it felt like I had just drunk 17 cups of coffee. And then when Jeremiah Masoli found Ed Dickson in the back of the end zone on that beautiful post route, it was like I had a Starbucks double-shot to account for the giddiness.

To sum up, I was shaking more than a Shakira music video.

But now we get to look ahead to a game even more important and nerve-wrecking than last Saturday: the 113th Civil War.

And just so we can properly hype up this game to the mammoth proportions it deserves, there will be a Super Bowl-esque break beforehand.

With how much attention the game is drawing already, it will take about seven overtimes for this game to live up to the hype.

But that’s enough about that, for now.

With Thanksgiving on Thursday, I’m making my picks for the rest of the Pac-10 early.

Stanford 38, Notre Dame 24: The Fighting Irish have taken a beating this year, figuratively and literally. If the media hasn’t been hard enough on Charlie Weis and his team this year, fans are going above and beyond to get the message across that 6-5 just doesn’t cut it in South Bend.

After last week’s devastating home loss to Connecticut, quarterback Jimmy Clausen was punched in the face by a disappointed fan. And much like Notre Dame this season, Clausen did not fight back and left.

If the Fighting Irish can’t handle a single fan at a sports bar, imagine what Heisman candidate Toby Gerhart will do to them this Saturday. I don’t like their chances.

Arizona 34, Arizona State 17: This has let-down game written all over it for Arizona. It will be hard for the emotionally bruised Wildcats to bounce back from the disappointing loss to Oregon, especially on the road.

But luckily for them, the Sun Devils just aren’t a very good football team. And hey, they are still in the running for the Holiday Bowl, so don’t tell me they have nothing left to play for.

Washington 28, Washington State 17: As bad as these teams were last year, the Apple Cup was one of the more exciting (yet pathetic) games of the season.

Both of the Washington schools got off to relatively promising starts this season, so it is disappointing for these teams to have a mere combined two Pac-10 wins coming in to this year’s game.

If you have nothing better to do Saturday afternoon, it might be fun to watch these two teams battle for supremacy in the state of Washington. But then again, that’s like being the tallest midget or smartest retard. Even if you win, you still suck.


USC 24, UCLA 17: On the bright side, USC fans won’t have to complain about suffering through another Rose Bowl. With a win, the Trojans will make the execs over at the Holiday Bowl the happiest people alive. And the Bruins? Well, they would be happy with the Poinsettia Bowl.

Can you imagine that if USC loses this game it would fall to 4-4 in conference? I can’t even remember the last time that happened. I am going to attribute the fall of the Trojans to the beating Oregon put on them in Autzen on Halloween. Take that, Matt Barkley! Fear the Juju!

Oregon Ducks Dress Up as the Grim Reaper, Kill USC on Halloween Night

If you’ve never been to a big game at Autzen stadium, I suggest you do everything in your power to do so. Take out a loan, put your wife or girlfriend up for prostitution, sell your kids. Whatever it takes. These options are all better than being forced to watch an Oregon Ducks home game from your couch.

This guy is my idol.

This guy is my idol.

Yesterday was honestly the best day of my life. And I’ve had some great days. Being born, for one. Jerry Rice once stepped on my foot at a YMCA post-game party. J.T. Snow moved in next door when I was 12, and the first thing I said to him was that Eric Chavez was my favorite player.

I was at the A’s game when they finally won a division series in 2006, and even better, I was there, sitting 10 rows away, when Frank Francisco lost his mind and threw a chair into the stands.

See I’ve had some great days, but none have came even close to the absolute mayhem that ensued yesterday from 4:30 in the morning when I showed up at ESPN’s College Game Day, all the way until 10 pm when the students finally started clearing the field.

To sum up, here’s what I tweeted last night, at 2 a.m. no less, mildly intoxicated. “UOsportsdude: Game day. Nap. Pre-game. Game. Celebration. Beer pong. Drunk dialing my gf. Now that’s what I call a good day.”

So now that we have established that yesterday was officially the best day ever, unless you are a USC fan, or Bernie Madoff, here are some of my thoughts on the game.

· Hey Matt Barkley, can you hear us now? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

· Can we just make it official? Autzen is the loudest stadium in the country. USC had five false starts in the first half alone. I lost count after that.

· Can we just give “Big Balls” Chip Kelly the national Coach of the Year award, right now? Seriously. Drive it to his house right now.

· And how cool is Chip? He dressed up as Puddles at Game Day. What a baller.

· And if that weren’t enough, when asked about why the Ducks are so successful in the second half, he coolly says, “Our halftime adjustments are just try to get a drink of water, touch your toes and go back out and play.”

· One more reason to love Chip Kelly: “We don’t recruit guys to play in games like this, we recruit guys to win games like this.”

· I wonder what Jeremiah Masoli did last night. I bet the second he left the locker room, someone had a beer and a perfect 10 waiting for him.

· I actually feel like I single-handedly had a part in the Ducks win last night. And of course, the 59,591 other people in the Autzen zoo.

· Last night was the worst lost in Pete Carroll’s tenure with the Trojans, and the second worst loss in the history of USC.

· In his past 93 games, Carroll had never lost by more than a single touchdown.

· Oregon rushed for 391 yards against a team that ranked fifth in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 80 yards a game. The Ducks had 613 yards of total offense, the second-highest total USC has ever allowed after Notre Dame’s 623 in 1946.

· I still love the Song Girls, though.

· LaMichael James is now officially added to my man crush list. Jeremiah Masoli, you’re next.

· The setting for last night’s game was a perfect storm. Night game. Halloween. ESPN Game Day. In Autzen. I didn’t meet a single Duck fan who wasn’t 100 percent confident we would win.

· I also didn’t meet a single USC fan that talked trash before the game. I guess they knew what was coming.

· I hugged Will Tukuafu on the field after the game.

· There were about 15 people dressed in farm animal costumes last night. Why? I don’t know.

· Best costume of the night goes to the Oregon coconut bra guy, who uncannily resembled the Joker. Good work, man.

· I can’t believe that just two years ago, USC was my first choice for college. I think I made the right decision coming to Eugene.

· Stat of the Night: Oregon gained 99 more yards again the Trojans than they did against Washington State. Wow.

· The only good news for USC fans? They can sleep in on New Year’s Day.

· Here’s the best article I read from a USC perspective, from the LA Times .

· Oregon beat the Trojans so badly that the USC president is now planning to retire after 19 years at the helm.

· I’m sorry, but the Ducks are not the eighth best team in the country. Iowa, Cinci, Boise State and TCU? Come on. Three mid-majors whose only good win collectively, is the Broncos beating Oregon when they were a completely different team, and a team from the Big Ten, which might be a worse conference than the WAC.

· Only Florida, Bama, and Texas should be higher. And I think we could beat any of these teams right now.

· As of this moment, I would be honestly disappointed in a Rose Bowl appearance. I would rather play a team from the Big 12 in the Holiday Bowl than crush Iowa in the Rose Bowl.

· Title game, or bust, baby.

· My favorite sign from Game Day: “Matt Barkley reads Twilight .” It’s a long ride back to LA, Matt. Read up.

· The only thing I am disappointed with is that Oregon didn’t go full blackout. How sick would those uni’s have been?

· Quote of the night goes to Masoli: “We plan on doing this. If we make a statement, we make a statement. That’s just Oregon football and how we roll.”

· I am flying home for next week’s game at Stanford. Best $300 investment ever made…by my dad.

· I am going to make my girlfriend paint me in Oregon colors from head to waist, and she is going to have to put up with me in “Oregon football mode” for an entire afternoon. I apologize in advance.

· I said it before, but it bears repeating. I am more all in Oregon football than Charles Barkley and John Daly at a poker table—and I couldn’t be happier.

GOOOO DUCKS!!!

If you want to check out more pics of the game, please go to U of O student Christina Barth’s Flickr page here.

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Matt Barkley Thinks Autzen Will be Nighmare-Free on Halloween, He is Sorely Mistaken

Apparently Matt Barkley has never heard of bulletin board material.

Despite sporting a 3.77 high school GPA, the true freshman quarterback might have just made the biggest mental mistake of his career—and it didn’t come anywhere near a football field.

Earlier this week, Barkley was asked if he was nervous at all about playing at Autzen Stadium.

His response?

“It doesn’t matter to me. I’ve never been there. I heard it’s crazy, but I say this every road game: It won’t matter.”

If that weren’t enough, he added, “I feed off the energy. I feed off that noise. I love it.”

Well, Matt, you’ll get your chance on Saturday to prove how hungry you really are. You just gave 60,000 of the most insanely hardcore, passionate football fanatics in the country a single united goal: Put you through living hell for three-and-a-half hours. Not a great plan.

Let’s recap.

It’s a night game. It’s Halloween. It’s our most important game of the decade. College GameDay is here. Most importantly, it’s at Autzen. Do you really want to give the fans another reason to make you piss your pants because of anxiety?

Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News put it best: “[Autzen] is non-stop, eardrum-rattling, jet-engine level, false-start causing noise.”

I can’t wait until you burn USC’s first timeout in the first quarter because you aren’t used to communicating with hand motions. But don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. Several more experienced and better quarterbacks have tried and failed to conquer Autzen.

In 2007, Mark Sanchez pointed to playing at Notre Dame as a reason for why he wasn’t afraid of Autzen. How did that one turn out? With the “Sanchize” throwing two interceptions and a 24-17 loss. Score one for the good guys.

Jahvid Best said publicly that the only stadium in the entire country that rattles him is Autzen: “The crowd noise is crazy up there. Honestly, any other away game I don’t really even hear the crowd. Oregon was the only place where it really got on my nerves.”

Need more examples, Matt? I’ve got plenty.

Then-Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said in 2003 that Autzen was the loudest stadium he’d ever been in.

Matt, you survived the Horseshoe—all 105,000 fans. Congratulations. But just like with the play on the field, the fans in the Big Ten don’t come even remotely close to those in Eugene.

A columnist for The Michigan Daily wrote in 2003, “Autzen’s 59,000 strong make the Big House collectively sound like a pathetic whimper. It’s louder than any place I’ve ever been, and that includes The Swamp at Florida, The Shoe in Columbus, and Death Valley at Louisiana State. Autzen Stadium is where great teams go to die.”

How about one more for good measure?

Adrian Peterson, the most dominant running back in the NFL today, admitted that the noise in the Autzen zoo caused him actual physical pain. “It was like some sort of crazy torture in the movies,” Peterson said. “How do people go that so long without taking a breath? I think my ears are still ringing.”

You get the idea.

Matt, I hope you know what you got yourself in to. You can act tough now and put up a false confidence so you look like a golden boy for the media, but when you take that first step onto the field and look up at 60,000 snarling, ravenous black and yellow Oregon Duck fanatics, no one on earth will be able to comfort you.

Not Pete Carroll, not Joe McKnight. Not even your mother. It all comes down to you, a 19-year-old true freshman quarterback, against the most rattling, unnerving, and frightening fans you have ever seen and will ever see.

Welcome to Autzen. Just hope you get out alive.

Prediction: Oregon 34, USC 28

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College Football Quick Hits: the BCS Picture

With the Ducks off this week and the introduction of the first BCS rankings today, I thought it would a good time to see which teams still have legitimate  national championship dreams. Most don’t. There are a lot of pretenders in the top 10.

Is Tim  Tebow ever not yelling? His teammates must be so sick of it. I can only imagine him at a party.

Is Tim Tebow ever not yelling? His teammates must be so sick of it. I can only imagine him at a party: tap that keg!! tap it good!!!

No. 1 (AP Poll) Alabama

Granted, I don't know a whole lot about art history, but I swear something is different about this picutre.The SEC is thought of as the number one conference in college football, but somehow the Tide managed to play a schedule easier than a girl at a party who has done four keg stands. Yes, I was a witness Friday night. Let’s just say she was walking with a pretty major gangsta lean from the keg to the alley. Things didn’t end well. See where I’m going?

Alabama has a nice win at VA Tech but none of their other wins are too impressive. They still have one challenging match-up when they host LSU – another overrated team – before they play Florida in the SEC championship game. With a fully healthy Tim Tebow by then, Florida should be able to roll the Tide.

No. 2 Florida

This just in: Tim Tebow is pretty good. Still my BCS pick.

No. 3 Texas

Despite only beating the Sam Bradford-less Sooners by 3, the Longhorns deserve some credit for playing a tough non-conference schedule…wait. Louisiana-Monroe, Wyoming, and UTEP. Yea, seriously. Might as well play a line-up of Junior Colleges.

No. 4 USC

Their season comes down to the match-up with Oregon. I don’t see either team losing another game, save for this match-up, during the rest of the Pac-10 schedule.

No. 5 Cincinnati

This is not the fifth best team in the country. They will lose at least two of their last four games – Connecticut, West Virginia, Illinois, and Pittsburgh.

No. 6 Boise State

If the Broncos think they deserve a spot in the BCS they better do a lot better than beating UC-Davis by 18 and Tulsa by 7. When the second toughest match-up on your schedule is Idaho, you better be decisive in your victories. Overrated until further notice.

No. 7 Iowa

I’m waiting. Lose that game to that inexplicably bad Big 10 team any week now, Hawkeyes. Seriously, you’re not good. I have a good feeling about this week, though.

No. 8 Miami and No. 9 LSU

Ehh

No. 10 TCU

The only non-BCS team this year deserving of a top-10 ranking. Wins at Virginia, Clemson, and this weekend in BYU would go a long way in proving the Horned Frogs mettle.

No. 11 Georgia Tech

Are the Yellow Jackets really better than Oregon? I rest my case.

No. 12 Oregon

Win on Halloween against USC and the Ducks are golden. Legitimate BCS hopes with a victory.

No. 13 Penn State

They play one ranked team this season – Ohio State. Hey Joe Pa, are you too old to realize your non-conference schedule is absolutely worthless?

It’s not worth going any further down than this.

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Pac-10 Weekend Preview: Possibility for Perfection?

There are only two teams in the Pac-10 in the AP Top 25. Pretty pathetic, considering this West Coast perennial powerhouse prides itself as talented and deserving of BCS births as the SEC and Big 12.  But after a disappointing season last year, the Pac-10 has the makings of a bounce back season, with USC and Cal as the headliners and several other teams on the cusp of contention.

This will be a scene far too familiar for Minnesota's liking tomorrow as Jahvid Best will undoubtedly hit paydirt.

This will be a scene far too familiar for Minnesota's liking tomorrow as Jahvid Best will undoubtedly hit paydirt.

With that being said, this is a big weekend for those teams trying to hang with the big boys out west, especially for the Oregon schools, each of whom host ranked opponents this Saturday. Meanwhile, Arizona and UCLA face second-tier teams from BCS conferences, where wins would go a long way in proving the overall strength of the conference.

I really like all of the matchups for the Pac-10 this weekend, and aside from the one intra-conference   game between USC and Washington, which could actually be highly entertaining (now that U-Dub has finally won a game for the first time in 16 tries – sorry, as an Duck fan I had to get in a cheap shot), I would not be surprised if the Pac-10 finishes with a perfect Saturday.

On to the games:

#8 Cal @ Minnesota – A matchup of golden animals, how cute. After barely knocking off Syracuse and Air Force, the Golden Gophers face their first true test of the season. Even with the home field advantage of their snazzy new digs, TCF Bank Stadium, Minnesota doesn’t have nearly enough offensive firepower to be able to keep up with Heisman hopeful, Jahvid Best, talented redshirt freshman, Covaughn DeBoskie-Johnson, and surprisingly effective quarterback Kevin Riley and the rest of the Golden Bears. The only hope for Minnesota is if Cal reverts back to 2008 form, where they went 1-4 outside of Memorial Stadium (does a win at Washington State even count?), but I think Cal is too determined to stay in the BCS hunt.

Result: Cal 38, Minnesota 24.

#17 Utah @ Oregon – I wonder if Oregon looks back at their non-conference games for this season and regrets scheduling two non-BCS teams who desperately need every win to maintain their status as BCS contenders. Playing a team with everything to lose is a dangerous proposition, especially when Oregon is still figuring out its offensive personality. Fortunately for the Ducks, I feel Oregon saw enough of an improvement from Jeremiah Masoli and emergence from LaMichael James to pull out a tough win at raucous Autzen Stadium, and return to the top 25.

Result: Oregon 45, Utah 34

#3 USC @ Washington – It looks like Steve Sarkisian has really performed a quick fix for last season’s winless Huskies (ahh, can never say that enough). All of U-Dubs hopes rest in the legs and left arm of Jake Locker (who Husky fans consider as the 13th apostle), but this season it looks like he is finally ready to live up to the hype, after an impressive performance against a top 10 foe. But all that goes out the window when USC comes to town. Taylor Mays will provide a test Locker has never seen before, and the Trojan’s stable of running backs could put the game out of reach early.

Result: USC 38, 17

Arizona @ Iowa – With all the talented running backs in the Pac-10, Arizona’s Nic Grigsby often gets overlooked. But after the quick-footed back put up a 200-spot against Northern Arizona last weekend, you can bet Kirk Ferentz has done his homework.  In the end though,  it won’t matter, as the Wildcat’s ground game will prove too much to handle for the Hawkeyes.

Result: Arizona 24, Iowa 17

SMU @ Washington State – Did I say the Pac-10 would win every inter-conference game tomorrow? Sorry, I forgot how bad the Cougars were. Maybe next year, fellas.

Result: SMU 42, Washington State 13

If only the Cougars weren't horrible, the Pac-10 would be in for a perfect weekend.

If only the Cougars weren't horrible, the Pac-10 would be in for a perfect weekend.

#17 Cincinnati @ Oregon State – Wow, can those Bearcats put up points! 117 in two games is mighty impressive, but if you dig a little deeper, those games came against Rutgers and Southeast Missouri State.  Two teams not known for their pas defenses.  The Beavers, meanwhile, have a stopped the run very well this year, which will allow them to focus more attention on the Bearcats air attack. On the offensive side of the ball, look for Sean Canfield and the dynamic Rodgers brothers to do work in front of a national audience.

Result: Oregon State 48, Cincinnati 42.

San Jose State @ Stanford – For all the potentially great storylines – the Bill Walsh connection and the fact that the campuses are located less than 20 miles a part – this is one of the more boring games of the weekend. Dick Tomey has done a nice job for the Spartans but he can’t compete with the resources and firey attitude Jim Harbaugh gives to the Cardinal. The lone superstar in this game, Toby Gerhart, will determine the outcome, which doesn’t bode well for San Jose State.

Result: Stanford 24, San Jose State 20.

Louisiana-Monroe @ Arizona State – As impressive as the Warhawks 58-0 thrashing of Texas Southern was, I don’t think it matters. In a battle of the Sun Belt against the Pac-10, it doesn’t matter who’s playing (except Washington State), you can put a W in the Pac-10’s win column.

Result: Arizona State 42, Louisiana-Monroe 17.

Kansas State @ UCLA – The Bruins really made a statement last Saturday with a big-time win in Knoxville. UCLA will build on that momentum with a win over a Kansas State program battling through a down couple of seasons. The Wildcats have a positive net 2 points after games against Massachusetts and Louisiana-Lafayette: this game could get ugly.

Result: UCLA 31, Kansas State 13.

Pac-10 Weekend Preview: Possibility for Perfection?