Monday, November 28, 2011

Pac-12 Final Week Re-Caps beat in-state rival Oregon State soundly and now will host the Pac-12 championship game this week. Win that (as you should against UCLA) and you're in the Rose Bowl. Nice!

Oregon were whupped pretty good by Oregon and finish at 3-9. Have a nice off season. beat Notre Dame and finished your season 11-1. However, that one loss was against Oregon so that disqualifies you from playing for the league championship. Don't be too upset though, you'll probably end up in the Fiesta or Orange Bowl anyway. beat ASU and finished at 7-5. Nice recovery from a poor start to the season. You will probably be in the Holiday Bowl. beat in-state rival Washington State in the Apple Cup to finish at win better than last year. Not too bad. Not great, but not too bad. You'll probably be in the Alamo Bowl. lost to UW and finish your season at 5-7 and possibly will have a new coach to start next season. beat up on UCLA 50-0. Despite your 10-2 record, your season is done because of sanctions by the NCAA. If your QB stays for his senior year, you will be a favorite to win the league if not the BCS championship next season.

UCLA...somehow, some way despite getting waxed by USC you are the "best" team in the South division that is eligible to play in the Pac-12 championship game. Miracles do happen, but not this week. Oh, and your coach is gone too right after the game this week. Lots to look forward to...said sarcastically.

Utah...your loss to Colorado to end the season is disappointing. You were looking at an eight win season and perhaps representing the South division in the Pac-12 championship game. Never mind. You will be in some bowl, however, in your first season in the Pac-12. So, that's not all bad. beat Utah to end on a high note. Sure, you're only 3-10 on the season, but hey...winning at the end provides promise for the future. beat Louisiana Lafayette by eight points to close out your rocky season at 4-8. No bowl, new coach...and hope that next year is better. Goodbye until next fall.

Arizona lost to Cal and finished your season at 5-7. Once again, your season started well, started to crumble a little then completely inploded. Another year, another collapse. New coach for next season? Will that matter?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Something Not to be Thankful For

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving yesterday.

There are many things to be thankful for. Republican and conservative stewardship of the U.S. economy over the majority of the last 30 years, however, is not one of them.

A must read that provides the calculated distruction conservative economic theory has had on the U.S. economy is here:

It's a bit of a long article, but well worth you time in my opinion. Besides, you have some extra time on your hands this holiday weekend anyway, right?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful List 2011

This year as I ponder what I'm thankful for, I realize that they are essentially the same things year over year - all profound and good. Also, these are fundamentals that are difficult to displace with more trivial or fleeting things that might have happened during the year - however good they were.

So, here's what I'm thankful for 2011 style. If it looks a lot like previous years, there's many very good and wonderful reasons why:
  1. My wife Diane - simply said, my life. I lover her the whole world.
  2. My health and that of Diane - no substitute for being healthy. So far so good!
  3. Family - immediate and extended family bring us a lot of joy every year.
  4. Friends - all friends old and new add so much to our lives.
  5. Employment - hey, having a paycheck any time is good, but especially in these times!
  6. Travel - it gives us a new perspective no matter where we go - in the U.S. or overseas.
  7. Art - music, film, paintings, photography, sculpture or other forms of artistic expression are wonderful...either indulging us in something we already know and love or challenging us to think differently.
  8. Our cat Josie P. Jones - yes, she has her own full name. The "P" stands for "Pussycat."
  9. Humor - imagine trying to get through life without having a sense of humor yourself or being around people who didn't have one.
  10. Where we live - I simply love living in the Seattle area. Yes, it rains. But, there is so much to do and see here no matter what the weather...mountain views, desert, ocean, San Juan Islands, Sound, music scene, world class wines, great food, Canada nearby, skiing, hiking and so much more. And, the weather is temperate compared to the rest of the nation. Love it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pac-12 Week 12 Re-Caps lost to USC at home by three points right at the end. The bad news is, you blew your chance at another appearance in the BCS title game and probably ended any talk about being one of the nation's very best for a while. The good news is that you are still in the driver's seat for the league title and Rose Bowl appearance. Win next week at home against a weak OSU squad and then win the Pac-12 title game against a weak South conference foe and you're in. Lots to play for, now go get it. beat #4 Oregon on their home field. Respect. Rumors of your demise are greatly exaggerated. Your talent, size, speed and QB are impressive. From what I can tell, it's going to be you and Oregon next year for the league title. lost to a then 2-8 Oregon State. Wow. You've sunk pretty far from the giddy days of beating Hawaii, Eastern Washington, Arizona, Cal, Utah and Colorado. Sure, you're bowl eligible at six wins, but will you even be able to beat WSU next week in the Apple Cup? lost to Utah in a snow bowl at home. Good effort, bad result. All will be remedied if you can figure out a win vs. the Huskies next week. beat WSU on the road in a snow storm. Nicely done. You are in competition for the South title. beat your rival ASU. Your season - despite how bad it has been - just took a turn for the better. In-state bragging rights for 12 months secured.

ASU...the big fade continues. Poor, poor, poor. beat Cal by three points on your own home field. Close call and the second week in a row where you did not look like world beaters. Your hopes for league honors hinge on Oregon losing at home to OSU next week. That is not likely to happen, so second place in the North is looking like your fate.

Cal...well, you gave it a shot. You almost beat Stanford. You're still at six wins with one more to play against the "faders" ASU. Win that and you're looking pretty good. took Colorado to the woodshed and set up a battle next week for the South title with Utah for the right to go to Eugene or Palo Alto to get your butt kicked. Good luck! year is looking good.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Perspective

A relative of mine recently asked me over e-mail what I thought of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Here is what I replied with...

My feeling about the Occupy Wall Street movement is that our nation (and our government) is essentially a wholly owned subsidiary of corporations. The fact that some people have decided to literally get up and do something about it is encouraging to me.

Now, I am all for profit and capitalism...and Diane and I are benefiting from being part of companies that operate in that system...but it is my feeling that something has gone wrong. We've gone off the deep end and we're no longer in a traditional capitalist economy. We're in a corporatist economy. 

My feeling is that 30 years of massive deregulation (financial markets, real estate, energy, environment, etc.), tax cuts for wealth and corporations, corporate outsourcing of jobs, an un-needed war in Iraq, underinvestment in education and a false appeal to "family values" to get the conservative vote out (always promised, never legislated) has collectively created a terminal direction for the USA. Limited job opportunities, relatively uneducated compared to our past and our competitors, a focus on celebrities as a distraction and nobody coming up with ideas that will propel us forward. 

Are we about to collapse as a nation? As a society? No...but, we're on a very dangerous trajectory. I suspect we won't suddenly combust, but slowly fade from predominance into "also ran" status as a nation.

As for who is to blame, I would summarize as follows: The Republicans did it, the Democrats rolled over and let them, but voters are the real culprits. Too easily distracted, watching the "reality show" nature of elections rather than linking their own situations and troubles with what those politicians are saying or promising. All too often it's the opposite. People vote against their own interests. The farmer votes for the candidate of big agribusiness. The school teacher votes for the "small government" Republican. The factory worker votes for the politician who is in favor of deregulation making it easy for companies to offshore jobs. Etc., etc., etc.

Not sure if I answered the question, but there it is.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pac-12 Week 12 Quick Picks

Oregon vs. USC in Eugene. Oregon needs to keep winning to clinch the Pac-12 North title and stay in the hunt for the BCS Championship Game...a stretch though the latter task may be. USC is improving week to week so is dangerous. But, this one is at Autzen Stadium. I say Ducks win a close one 35-28.

Washington vs. OSU in Corvallis. UW is probably going into this one with their backup QB starting. But, OSU is really bad. In particular they cannot seem to stop the run. UW has Chris Polk at RB and should exploit the Beavs on the ground. I say UW comes away with a win, 27-14.

Stanford vs. Cal at Palo Alto. Rivalry game. Highly rated public institution vs. highly rated private school. East Bay vs. South Bay. Above average team (Stanford) vs. below average team (Cal). Stanford is at home and wins handily 41-17.

WSU vs. Utah at Pullman. Utes on the Palouse. WSU suddenly looked better last week vs. ASU and is pinning late season hopes on their surprisingly effective freshman QB. Meanwhile, Utah is playing for bowl eligibility and an outside shot at the Pac-12 South title. But, I say the newly exciting Cougs get it done at home 24-21.

Arizona vs. ASU in Tempe. The Wildcats are bad. The Sun Devlis are fading fast. The faders beat the downtrodden in this soutwest rivalry with ASU coming out on top 29-13.

Colorado vs. UCLA in L.A. Colorado is coming off a rare win. UCLA now has bowl eligibility in their sites. I think the Bruins do it and beat the Buffs 24-14.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pac-10 Week 11 Re-Caps beat previously undefeated Stanford on the road, and pretty handily. You made Mr. All Everything QB Andrew Luck look extremely human and put 53 points on The Cardinal. The world is your oyster as long as win your last two home games, starting with USC next week.

Stanford...despite your undefeated record going into this last weekend's game, turns out you are not that great - and certainly not as good as the Ducks. In your first real test of the season, you flopped. Yet, you will still finish up your season well. I doubt you lose again. You could even sneak into a BCS bowl.

Washington...the song remains the same with your loss to USC. You play weak teams, you win...six of them so far (EWU, Hawaii, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Cal). You play good teams, you lose...four of them so far (USC, UO, Stanford, Nebraska). With Oregon State and WSU left on your schedule, I suspect you'll win both of those to finish the pattern at 8-4. beat Washington for the first time in at least three tries and you've set up a tasty match next week with Oregon in Eugene. Should be interesting. won! You beat ASU no less. With a freshman QB. Even better! Nice job. Technically you're still in the hunt for bowl eligibility.

ASU...what happened? Oh, the same thing that happens every season...lots of hype, a few early wins that seem to support that hype, and then flopsville through the middle and end of the season. Looks like you're on that path again. lost to Cal. Doesn't all this losing demoralize you?

Cal...your late season rebound continued with your win over the Beavers. With six wins already under your belt, one more would seem very possible - it won't be Stanford next week, but could be ASU the following week. killed UCLA. That's not particularly noteworthy as many teams have done that this year, but on it's own it's a step forward for you as you are now bowl eligible with a couple more to play.
UCLA...the bad news is, you lost again - badly again. The good news is that you are still overall 5-5, and while you are not going to get into the Pac-12 championship game as the rep from the South division, you have a decent chance of being bowl eligible if you beat Colorado next week.

Colorado...whoa! What just happened? You won a Pac-12 game, that is what just happened! Not only that, you put up 48 points up on Arizona. And, by doing it towards the end of the season you are showing improvement of your woeful start. Nice job.

Arizona...whoa! What just happened? You officially became the worst team in the Pac-12. That's what happens when you get beat by the team that has the worst record in the league. Thanks for playing. See you next year.

Monday, November 7, 2011

There's Always An A-Hole In Every Crowd - Sometimes Two or Three

Last Saturday I attended the big University of Oregon vs. University of Washington college football game in Seattle. This is a pretty heated rivalry and outside of what actually happens on the field, there is a healthy hate between both sets of fans. Personally, I think hating someone because they went to or support a different school is crazy. But, I think many would disagree with that.

Anyway, the rivalry between fans for this annual game always carries the potential for poor to dangerous behavior. Below is my report on what I saw...

The first thing to say is that 99% of all fans from both schools were just fine. No aggression, no comments, no issues whatsoever.

However, it's always those "special" few that stick out at any college football game. No school's fan bases are immune. Usually the common denominators for a first class football fan a-hole are: 1) alcohol and 2) a very, very limited vocabulary. Such was the case again this weekend in Seattle.

For those of you who think that I am about to share stories only about boorish UW fan behavior, please be advised that I was particularly sicked by what I witnessed the last time I went to an Oregon-Washington football game down in Eugene. You can read about that here:

As for the game this past weekend at Husky Stadium, all I can tell you is what I personally observed. With that in mind, here are some things that unfolded in front of me...

I went with a buddy of mine who is a Husky fan, and he was wearing all purple. So, with me sporting Duck colors, I would have thought that we'd be a target from both sides just for that. But, not the case. We chatted up a couple Oregon fans who had come up for the game as we waited to pick up our will call tickets. No issues at all.

Very briefly as we stood there, a small pack of drunk UW students walked by shouting "Or-e-gon Sucks!" One of the guys was particularly fat and wore a stuffed duck on a noose around his neck. Nice. But, no big deal...just drunk fat guys at a football game.

In the stands
Because I bought my tickets through the UO ticket office, our seats were in the visitors section. Good for me of course, but big points to my buddy for sitting there with  me. However, he received no aggression at all from Oregon fans. So, that was good.

The only thing I saw in the Oregon section that I'd call offensive was a guy about five rows below us who - even before the game started - was attempting to lead the cheer of "F-the-Huskies" with the full f-word being used of course. A few people indulged for a minute, but it quickly petered out. The same guy and his buddy would also give the full bird to the field when the Huskies were kicking off or receiving a kick off. Classes? Yes. Lame? Yes. Uncreative? Yes. A physical danger to anyone? No.

This is when the uglies came out. Three incidences stick out:

At halftime, the concourse if crowded with people. As we walked through the crowd, all of sudden in front of me I hear a "hey man" and a coffee cup goes flying out of someones hand. I quickly see the guy losing his coffee was a Duck fan. In a second, I see is a guy in Husky garb walking very fast and very straight by that guy and right toward me. As he walked by his shoulder clipped mine and I said something profound like "Hey!" I turned my head around to follow the guy with my eyes and he just kept on motoring in a straight line through eh crowd...moving for nobody.

So, what you had there was a probably drunk guy deciding that he was going to walk straight through the crowd without moving...and colliding with a few Oregon fans along the way. Nice.

OK, so we made it to the bathroom line. The entrance to the facilities is located on the outer wall of the stadium, so if you look from the entrance of the john up to the lip of the stadium, you can see the backs and heads of fans whose seats are at the top of the stadium right there. Except in this case one of those fans - a fat, drunk UW guy who I would guess was between the ages of 45 and 55 years old - had turned around and was verbally haranguing anyone in green or yellow that he could. He was like a UW ogre spewing hate down from his perch. His comments were mostly along the lines of "How many Rose Bowls do you have? Zero!" "You suck" and "F-you."

Now, those are not exactly unexpected taunts, but what disturbed me most was the vitriolic way this guy was speaking - the vile hate - and what would motivate that behavior. Why would a middle age guy decide that he wanted to turn around and verbally accost people? How deep must that guy's lack of self respect or self worth be if that's what he thought would be a good idea? Sad really.

Since the guy was pretty much addressing me and the only other two Duck fans in the line, I answered his taunts about the Rose Bowls with "that might be....but at least we're not fat and ugly." That got a few laughs from both Oregon and Washington fans with me in the line. I could tell that the UW fans next to me we kind of embarrassed of this guy. I said to one guy, "No matter what school you support, you don't ever want to end up being that guy." He agreed. As I got closer and closer to the bathroom entrance - and therefore more directly underneath the ogre - I expected him to spit on me or throw something, but he didn't.

Finally, and the worst incident of the evening, occurred after this as we stood in the concession line. Suddenly I feel someone colliding into me from behind while hearing "Oregon sucks!" I catch the guy, turn around and see that it's a Duck fan who has been shoved into me. A few feet away is a wild eyed guy who had shoved the Duck fan. A few surrounding people - including the guy who was shoved - said, "hey man, what's your problem?" This just hyped the aggressor up more. He shouted that he was ready to fight and started pogoing up and down saying "lets go!" The action was about five yards from me by this point and I stood back and watched as scuffling occurred...and just before it looked like fists would start flying a couple other guys came in...not sure if they were Dawg or Duck fans (probably UW)...and somehow got the crazy guy out of there. The remaining UW and UO fans were uniformly confused and embarrassed by the out-of-control fan.

Post game
Nothing happened on the way out of the stadium or on the way home on the bus. Duck fans were happy to win in Seattle, and Husky fans were subdued due to the loss.

Pac-12 Week Ten Re-Caps beat Washington 34-17 in Seattle. That's eight years straight over the Huskies. Highlights were an aggressive and sturdy D, re-established run game with LaMicahel and great special teams. Your big test is next week against Stanford. Better clean up those dropped passes and propensity for untimely penalties. Those will be killers against The Trees. lost to Oregon at home. This game can finally put into perspective where you are at in terms of development and improvement. The good news is, you are definitely better than last year with a bowl already sewn up, and signs point to more improvement next year. The bad news is, having beat six so-so to poor teams and lost decisively to three good are what you are: a middle tier, not top 25 team at this point. beat Oregon State (badly) on the road in Corvallis. This is as expected. It's also yet another win against a weak opponent for you. Quite literally, your first challenge this season is next week vs. Oregon. Better get ready for speed-a-palloza and hope your big hosses don't wear out in the third or fourth quarter like last year. Yes, Luck is awesome, but he don't play defense or special teams.

Oregon lost to Stanford at home. Nobody expected you to win this one, so it's not a surprise. Your fate as a bottom feeder this year is cemented. However, you will have the chance to make it all good with a win vs. Oregon at the end of the season that would deprive the Ducks of something significant. I know that sounds tough, but you always seem to rise to the occasion for that game. Can you this year? lost to Cal on the road in Berkley. Another week, another loss. It doesn't get any easier next week against ASU. beat WSU at home. Your season is starting to turn around a bit. Getting close to bowl eligibility with games still remaining against OSU, Stanford and ASU. You might have a shot at two of those.

UCLA...what? The dismal spiral into league irrelevance took a turn for the better for you this week with a one point win against a good ASU team. Can you actually claw your way into winning the southern division?

ASU...what? You lost to UCLA. Really? Wow. beat Arizona at home for your second league win. You're on a slight upswing with two wins in a row and sitting at five wins overall. With games against UCLA, OSU and Colorado remaining you may win as many as eight this season...something nobody would have thought about three weeks ago. lost to Utah. Other than the beat down of UCLA a couple weeks ago, your season is not going well. Play to improve for next season and get up for your game against rival ASU at the end of this season. killed Colorado. No surprises here. Not much to say. lost to USC. Same comment as above.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pac-12 Week 10 Quick Picks

Oregon vs. Washington in Seattle. An improved UW has a shot at beating Oregon for the first time in a long time...and they might. But, I think the Ducks still have an advantage because their offense and speed matches up very well against a pretty weak Husky D. More so than the UW offense vs. the UO defense. So, I'll say both teams score plenty and it's close into the third quarter, but then Oregon pulls away and wins 42-28.

Stanford vs. OSU in Corvallis. Stanford will toy with Oregon State and win big 54-21...and those 21 for OSU will come in junk time.

WSU vs. Cal in Berkley. Two unpredictable teams. You'd think Cal would win this one at home and that WSU would be unmotivated after losing three straight, so that's why I'll say WSU wins 21-17.

ASU vs. UCLA in L.A. Could be interesting, but probably won't be. ASU wins 31-10.

Arizona vs. Utah at Salt Lake City. Arizona wins on the road 21-10.

USC vs. Colorado in Boulder. This will be another wipeout for the Buffs. USC wins 48-3.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Comparing UW and UO Smack Talk

Smack talk is hotting up between Oregon and Washington fans this week...and it's only Tuesday!

I'm seeing a couple primary lines of smack that I think bear a little reality check from both sides.

Husky smack against Oregon

A common line of argument:
"Win a Rose Bowl and then come back and pop off about how good you are."

Despite Oregon's success over the past 10-15 years, the Ducks have not won a Rose Bowl and therefore really don't have much to brag about. And further, in that time frame, even the Huskies have won one Rose Bowl (following the 2000 season).

Reality check:
  • Since the 1994 season, Oregon has won the Pac-10 title outright four times (1994, 2001, 2009, 2010) and split the crown once (2000). That's four more outright league wins that the Dawgs. Twice the Ducks did go to the Rose Bowl and it is true that in 1994 and 2010 they lost those games.
  • HOWEVER, following the Duck's 2001 season crown, the Rose Bowl was the designated BCS National Championship Game. In those days, that meant only the #1 and #2 team in the BCS played in the Rose Bowl. Therefore, if the Pac-10 league winner was not #1 or #2 in the BCS rankings, they would be diverted to another BCS game (Fiesta Bowl). Controversially, the 11-1 Ducks were #4 or #5 in the BCS standings, so they played in the Fiesta Bowl - a game they won by beating a highly ranked Colorado team to finish the season as the consensus #2 team in the nation.
  • Also, last year after winning the Pac-10 title, the Ducks were #2 in the BCS standings. So, they got the invite to play in the national title game - which as of a few years ago is now a separate game than the other big bowls. Of course they wanted to play for the title, so they went there instead of the Rose Bowl.
While the Husky line of argument is technically true, it is completely ignorant as any real fan of the Pac-10 and college football know the Ducks had no say in the fact that they could not play in the Rose Bowl following the 2001 season AND last season they played in the national title game instead of the Rose Bowl.
Smack talk rating:
Really weak stuff - willfully ignorant of what's happened in 2001 and the last 10 years. A real reach.

Duck smack against Washington

A common line of argument:
"The Huskies are a joke and irrelevant to anything important in the Pac-12. We've clobbered you seven times in a row, and unless you forgot...your team went 0-12 in 2008."

The UW football program has been so bad over the past 9-10 years that any thought of equity with Oregon is laughable. Start winning some games and then come back and we'll talk.

Reality check:
  • It is true that the Huskies have not had a good run between 2002 and 2010, and indeed they have not won a league title in that time frame. It is also true that the Ducks have beaten the Huskies seven season in a row by large margins.
  • HOWEVER, UW had a decent year last season, and they won their bowl game against a good Nebraska team. This year, they're bowl eligible already. All told, the Huskies are clearly improving steadily.
Again, the insults are technically true, but ignorant - in this instance ignorant of recent events. Because the Ducks have beaten  UW so regularly recently, Oregon fans like to dismiss the resurgence going on at UW...and they do so at the risk of being shocked come Saturday evening.

Smack talk rating:
Feeble - UW fans know how bad their team has been. Reminding them of that at a time when their team is actually improving rings particularly hollow.

Big upshot...
  • Until UW beats Oregon and/or wins a league title, Washington fans should stop tyring to undermine Oregon's recent success.
  • Until Oregon wins a BCS Bowl game again, Duck fans need to temper claims to greatness or reminding the Huskies of their recent woes.