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Category: Oregon Ducks (Page 1 of 4)

University of Oregon

Old Sport Shorts: Outback #1557

It’s a New Year with hopes of an I.U. Outback Bowl victory. Last year, they fell short against Tennessee with a late game letdown. With last night’s Ohio State Sugar Bowl domination of Clemson, this Hoosier team is even stronger than I thought. We came so close against the Buckeyes, plus Northwestern throttled Auburn, so the BIG 10 has proven to be a very formidable league, especially against the highly touted SEC. Indiana can add to the 3-0 conference bowl record today with a victory over Old Miss in Tampa. This would set the stage for more respect when next year’s postseason slate is determined. 

The Hoosiers should have played in the top tier Citrus Bowl instead of Northwestern but fell in the final rankings to #11 despite a convincing win over Wisconsin, the other BIG bowl representative. Clearly politics played a role, just as Notre Dame was awarded a playoff spot despite the Clemson blow-out loss. Coach Tom Allen has vaulted the I.U. program into the upper echelon of a powerful conference. They can prove their worth today! My other team, #25 Oregon, plays #10 Iowa State later today in the Fiesta Bowl. 

Meanwhile, basketball continues to struggle, but did manage to pull-off an OT win over Penn State. Another W against Maryland next week and they can even their BIG record after an 0-2 start. Basketball used to be the big sport on campus in Bloomington, but surprisingly football has proven to be more successful in recent years. In the Bob Knight era it was “The Magic of 60.” If the Hoosiers got to 60 before their opponent victory was eminent. However, with the addition of the 3-point shot, 70 is now coach Archie Miller’s defining number.  With his leadership, in conference play (including the B1G tourney) the Hoosiers are 18-7 when scoring 70 or more points and 10-30 when scoring below 70 points. 70 is the new 60 going forward. 

Purdue basketball is off to a 7-4 start, but 2-2 in the conference. They play #15 Illinois this afternoon, after losing to #14 Rutgers. It would be nice to see a ranked Purdue or Indiana program. Unfortunately, both rivals will be in the lower half of the BIG since the league is loaded with 7 nationally ranked teams. Here on the West coast, the undefeated Zags are still the #1 team in the country while the Oregon Ducks (6-1) stand at #21.

On the baseball front, the Cubs continue to clean house with the trade of Yu Darvish and Victor Caratini to the Padres. Yu has been the pitching leader for the last two years, with Cy Young consideration. There’s also talk of dealing my favorite and IU alum, Kyle Schwarber. Rizzo and Bryant will soon become free agents, so the World Series Champions of 2016 are seeing their winning foundation deteriorate.  Today, however, my concern is football the Indiana Hoosiers in the Outback Bowl. 

Old Sport Shorts: BIG10 worries #1543

With the cancellation of the Bucket Game, I was able to focus on Oregon vs. USC for the Pac12 title. USC may very well be I.U.’s Fiesta Bowl opponent but will now appear in that game without an undefeated record. The Ducks saw to that with a 31-24 victory at the nearly empty LA Coliseum. it will give Oregon an opportunity to extend their season with a 4-2 record. It also ends their two-game losing streak. Coach Mario Cristobal’s had his contract extended prior to the game. USC still has the best record at 5-1 in the conference but the Ducks take the title. 

As a Bucket consolation prize that does at least stay in Bloomington, Indiana basketball won a Crossroads Classic game over state rival Butler this morning. In all fairness, the Bulldogs were riddled by both injuries and Covid. I.U. tried to give them the game with turnovers and poor shooting, but prevailed in the end, as Butler literally ran out of gas. Next up for the Hoosiers is the daunting BIG 10 slate starting with Northwestern. I have my doubts if they are built to handle the bruising conference challenge, considering their lack of size. They were once again 35-30 outrebounded by Butler, as was the case in their first loss of the season against Texas.  After the Wildcats, come the #13 ranked Illini with a huge front line, and then the Nittany Lions to round out 2020. The #15 Hoosier women start their BIG campaign against Nebraska, Minnesota, and Illinois.

The new year for I.U. athletics will start with a bowl game and then basketball against Maryland, #12 Wisconsin, Nebraska, Purdue, #4 Michigan State, #5 Iowa, #19 Rutgers, and #25 Michigan. I.U. will be lucky to end this stretch with a .500 record. Maybe they can at least get a victory over a Top-25 team? I’m much more confident about getting a Hoosier bowl victory. I.U. men’s basketball is in danger of another mediocre BIG10 season and I’m worried!

 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: Topsy-Turvy #1539

It was another dark, damp, cold morning run #4,370. The radio was promoting the annual Union Gospel Mission homeless campaign, so when I got back home I made a donation. It’s hard to imagine being without shelter in winter weather like this, even though it’s mild compared to other areas I’ve lived. By the same token, the colder regions don’t have the homeless problems that we do. We try to leave food and supplies on neighborhood benches and hand out some cash whenever possible. For the most part, they stay to themselves but we have encountered angry, belligerent drunks. The situation has obviously worsened with the shutdown of area businesses.

There were more strange Covid developments regarding area sports when the PAC12 announced that Oregon will be replacing Washington in the conference football title game. The Huskies could not meet the roster minimum of 53 healthy players. The Ducks will meet undefeated U.S.C., hoping to use this opportunity to salvage their season and move on to a bowl game if they win. You need a scorecard to keep track of all these twists in scheduling. It gives me something else to watch on the TV screen, in addition to the James Bond-athon that has occupied my time these past few weeks. I’ve now crossed Never Say Never (#14  1983), Octopussy (#13 1983) and Living Daylights (#16 1987) off the list. There are 25 titles in total with the 26th, No Time To Die, now further delayed until April 2021, also due to Covid.

It will be good to get back in the movie theaters again. Covid has taken away “Matinee Mondays” and has moved “Meatless Monday” to later in the week. “Leadership Fridays” sadly no longer exist, along with “Date Night.” Nothing is sacred in these troubling times. This just in: Bucket Game canceled for the second time this week. Thankfully, only ten days until Christmas and sixteen to finally put an end to a Topsy-Turvy 2020. 

 

Old Sports Shorts: Cluster of Confusion #1537

There was a Border War yesterday, but it only took place on the basketball court. Oregon beat Washington 74-71, claiming their fourth straight rivalry victory. Earlier in the day, both football teams were unfortunately stuck on the sidelines due to Covid, which now raises a controversial issue. If the game had been played, Oregon might have had a chance to play for the PAC12 Championship and potentially redeem a disappointing season. Instead, the Huskies failed to field a team yet claimed the North division with a better record, without even having played a road game. The Ducks are just another casualty of the virus.

Meanwhile in the BIG10, match-ups for Saturday’s games have yet to be announced, though it seems likely that IU.’s next football game will be against Iowa.  Football continues to be the shining star in the I.U. athletics program, but sadly never got the chance to play Purdue. Oregon is now waiting to see if Washington can put together a team to play U.S.C. in the Championship. Otherwise, the Ducks could play again in their stead, since it’s unlikely they will be in a bowl game unless they get a shot at the undefeated and 15th ranked Trojans. Ohio State and Michigan also never got a chance to compete, so the BIG waived the minimum game rule to allow them to play Northwestern for the title. The two conferences have been a cluster of confusion.

I.U. basketball stands at a mediocre 3-2 after the disappointing overtime failure at Florida State. Both losses have been to Top 20 teams, keeping The Hoosiers from joining this evasive, elite group of college programs. If they continue to fall short, they may not make the tournament again this year. They’re also looking sloppy against North Alabama, while next week’s game with Butler is in Covid jeopardy.  An impossibly tough conference schedule then looms ahead. All is not well with Archie Miller’s underperforming team – another cluster of confusion. 

 

Old Sport Shorts: Dead Rivals #1536

There is no Bucket or Border War to win today. Both rivalries have succumb to Covid. The teams  were already three weeks behind schedule as both conference seasons were delayed and shortened by the dreaded virus. Dead. Games today will decide  who plays who next, although it has already been determined that #4 Ohio State will play #14 Northwestern for the BIG10 title, #1 Alabama will face #6 Florida for the SEC crown, and #2 Notre Dame will meet #3 Clemson in a rematch for ACC bragging rights. I’m waiting to see what BIG10 team #8 Indiana plays next Saturday and whether the Oregon Ducks will get to compete for PAC12 honors or if the Huskies will automatically get the nod?

1942 was the first Old Oaken Bucket game where Indiana or Purdue entered the contest with a national rating. That year the #18 Hoosiers won 20-0. The following year #3 Purdue got revenge 7-0. In 1945, it was #4 I.U. prevailing 26-0. It wasn’t until 1960 that ratings once again became a bucket factor as #13 Purdue won in West Lafayette 35-6. 1967 went to #4 Indiana, while the 1968 #12 Boilers took home the bucket, and added another P-link in 1969 as the #17 team in the country. 1978 and 1979 also went to ranked Purdue, and it wasn’t until 1987 when the ratings tide changed as #20 Indiana won 35-14, followed by similar success by the #21 Hoosiers in 1993. After that it was all Purdue with nationally recognized teams in 1997 (#23), 1999 (#19), 2000 (#17), and 2003 (#16). Following this stretch, both programs had been in a serious ratings draught until the 2020 #8 Indiana Hoosiers took the field. 

It was the Joe Tiller era from 1996-2008 when the dominant Black & Gold went 10-2 against the bucket deprived Cream & Crimson. Going back a little further, the rivalry’s  biggest upset was in 1989 when Bill Mallory coached I.U. was a 15.5 favorite, but underdog Purdue led by Fred Akers  pulled off a 15-14 victory. It was their only Big Ten win that year and proof that anything can happen in a rivalry game. With the death of the bucket this year, we’ll never know if lightening could have possibly struck twice?

Old Sport Shorts: Resurrection #1530

Indiana is having the best football season since before I was born. A once mediocre to poor program has been resurrected by coach Tom Allen. For me, watching them beat Wisconsin yesterday was a near religious experience. The post-game interview showed the love of the players for their coach. It’s encouraging to note that his enthusiasm, energy, and respect will bring top players to Indiana for many years to come. Football will become THE Hoosier sport. Next year, even Ohio State will have reason to fear the Cream & Crimson. 

The next step is beating Purdue next Saturday for the Old Oaken Bucket. Rivalry games like this tend to bring out the best in a mediocre opponent like this year’s Boilermakers squad. I’ve seen many a solid I.U. team fall apart in this game. Weather may even be a bigger factor with the December match-up three weeks later than normal. There’s been nothing normal about 2020, and I.U. football success is one of the irregularities. The Hoosiers now boast the most wins in the BIG Conference at six, with Penn State, Michigan, and now Wisconsin as their uncharacteristic victims. In order to qualify for the Championship game, Ohio State still needs to play one more game. If the virus gets in the way, as it often has this year, the Hoosiers could still win the evasive title. 

In my lifetime, only the Rose Bowl season of 1967-68 compares with 2020-21 success. The Hoosiers under John Pont finished 6-1 in the Big Ten that year, 9-2 overall, and became the last non-Ohio/Michigan team to win the Conference, losing only to Minnesota. They earned a trip to the Rose Bowl, but were thwarted 14-3 by USC’s O.J. Simpson, the Heisman Trophy winner that year. The team featured wide receiver Jade Butcher, running back John Isenbarger, and MVP Harry Gonzo at quarterback: B-I-G. They were known by those three letters long before the Conference itself!

Virus willing – there will be at least three more games for the Hoosiers this year, including a major Bowl. Hungry Purdue at 2-4 will not qualify for post season play even if they pull-off the upset of I.U. – more reason for me to worry about next Saturday. My other hometown adopted teams are Illinois 2-4, Texas 6-3, and Oregon 3-2. Notre Dame stands at 10-0, with a chance for a National Championship. My heart is always with the Hoosiers. Behold – we are witnessing the resurrection of I.U. football!

Old Sport Shorts: 0 for East Lansing #1509

I made it through Friday the 13th and running day number 1339, as I settle in front of the T.V. for The Masters and college football. The 10th ranked Indiana Hoosiers face another BIG nemesis, as they travel to East Lansing. I coined the phrase “0 for East Lansing” after many years of zero success in both football and basketball. Every time we visited it was a fruitless experience, never returning with the Brass Spittoon. The Spartans lead the football series 48-16-2, without a loss there since 2001, a game I must have missed. 1986 was a rare year of success for I.U., but then you have to go back to 1967-69 for victories, a few years before I was a student in Bloomington. 

To win in East Lansing would be another season jewel and a chance to go head-to-head with the Buckeyes for all the BIG marbles next Saturday.  I’m of course concerned about a let-down, after knocking-off both Penn State and Michigan. I could never be optimistic about I.U. football after so many years of disappointment. Purdue is also undefeated against Northwestern today, and Oregon meets Washington State later this afternoon. Between games, I’m taking a drive to McMinnville for lunch with the boys at Two Dogs. It’s the mid-point for our “Leadership” group whose regular meetings have been disrupted by the Coronavirus. It will be good to get together, eat a cheeseburger, and watch The Masters

My extended weekend of football started on a good note when the Colts beat the Titans on Thursday night, but soured when my high school team lost their Regional match-up last night. It was their first year of being Lions, abandoning the Blazer name in a merger with the Chargers. “Once a Blazer, always a Blazer” is our class motto, but Elkhart’s return to a one-high-school town, as it was when I attended, brought new strength to a steadily declining athletics program. It was enough for an undefeated season and Sectional Championship in the inaugural year. A great hometown achievement!

On Monday Night Football, the Chicago Bears get another chance for victory under the leadership of a new offensive coordinator, as the 5-day sports weekend  continues. Hopefully, Da’ Bears can end a bad stretch of losses after a strong start. In addition, the Portland Timbers also match-up against Dallas in the first-round of the MLS playoffs next Sunday, a week after final round coverage of The Masters comes to a close. However, the key to a successful weekend is to end my “0 for East Lansing” curse. 

P.S. Final Score: I.U 24 Michigan State 0

 

 

 

Old Sport Shorts: Easy Come…Easy Go #1503

George Strait recorded the Dean Dillon-written song, Easy Come Easy Go, in 1993. It was also an Elvis Presley movie in 1967. 

Goodbye, farewell, so long, vaya con dios.
Good luck, wish you well, take it slow.
Easy come girl, easy go.”

This morning I picked up both a dime and a quarter – a very prosperous day of running. With all the leaves on the ground, I wouldn’t have spotted the dime without stopping to grab the quarter. However, by the time I went to put them in my pocket, the quarter was missing from my gloved hand and despite efforts to find it, the coin had disappeared. Maybe tomorrow I’ll find it again or it will be swept away with the leaves? Easy come…easy go.

The coin flips have also gone my way in the world of sports this weekend. My former Elkhart Blue Blazers, now Lions, moved on in the Indiana High School football playoffs with a victory over Chesterton. They play Merrillville next on their quest for a state 6A championship. The winning momentum continued with I.U. football dominating the University of Michigan, a team they hadn’t beaten in 33-years and 24-attempts. This will vault them into the Top 10, a status no Indiana football team has ever held. Michigan State is next weekend, followed by a chance to beat Ohio State, another BIG 10 team with a decades-long history of head-to-head thrashings. It’s hard to believe that Hoosier football has a much better chance of national prominence than basketball. But, like the quarter I found this morning…easy come…easy go.

You’ll never find me being overconfident when it comes to I.U. athletics, despite witnessing three National Championships in basketball. As a 20-year season ticket holder in football, I never once expected I.U. to achieve this level of success on the gridiron. It’s never been easy to be an I.U. football fan. An optimist might even look forward to a BIG 10 championship and Rose Bowl. Is a National Championship even possible?

Yesterday’s football action concluded with a ho-hum Oregon Ducks win over Stanford and a thrilling double-overtime victory by Notre Dame over Clemson. It was the first loss by the Tigers in 39 games…Easy come…Easy go. Today, I hoping that the Bears can rebound against the Titans, the Colts can top the Ravens, and Portland Timbers soccer can get back on the winning track. Without overseas travel, fine dining, live music, and Broadway shows to keep me entertained, I’m grateful that sports have survived and my teams are winning…but realistically…easy come…easy go. 

 

 

Old Sport Shorts: Favorites #1463

Baseball and cold pizza, two of my current favorites, came together for lunch yesterday, before the yard work started. The White Sox were up against the higher-seeded A’s and playing on their home turf. I’ve never been a fan of the once Kansas City now Oakland A’s, but since childhood the White Sox have always been my favorite. Catcher Sherm Lollar has perpetuated this relationship since 1959. Granted, I’ve strayed to the Cubs at times when they were winning, following suit with my son and dad. I’ve been fortunate to see both Chicago favorites first-hand in World Series victories. 

Lucas Giolito pitched seven innings of perfect baseball and the Sox bats were hot in a 4-1 victory. The lucky socks proved their worth. Today, I’ll wear a Cubs sock on one foot and the Sox sock on the other, hoping for the Chicago sweep. There will be no fans to interfere with any Marlin foul balls, reminiscent of Steve Bartman in 2003, so there should be no excuses for anything less than a Cubbies “W” at Wrigley.   

I do have a busy today with a second moving estimate, Cubs & Sox baseball, dinner to cook. and the first game of the NBA Finals, in addition to the eight televised MLB playoff games. LeBron has oddly become a basketball favorite of mine, even though he’s never played for the teams I support, with the exception of the Olympics. Part of this is the lack of respect he gets, especially from Michael Jordan fans. In my opinion, they are equal greats from separate eras. Comparisons are unfair, especially considering that there wasn’t nearly as much free agency in the Jordan era and contact rules were vastly different. 

While championship match-ups were being determined in baseball and basketball, the Tampa Bay Lightning claimed their second Stanley Cup title. I’ve officially adopted them since we now own property in Florida, along with the Rays, Buccaneers, and Rowdies. Having now owned homes in six states, I’ve amassed quite a collection of teams, improving my chances to win something…anything. Chicago is still my favorites sports town, with the exception of the Bulls. Michigan teams don’t count. The Portland Trailblazes have now replaced the Pacers as my favorite NBA team. When it comes to college football, I lean to the Texas Longhorns and Oregon Ducks, even though my pigskin favorite will always be the hapless Indiana Hoosiers. Soccer favs are the MLS Portland Timbers and Indiana University, while my vote for college baseball goes to the Oregon State Beavers. College basketball is hands down Indiana, as well. I do enjoy sports of all kinds and genders, but do not have as strong of allegiances. I also know the teams and players I hate in any given league – but this is all about favorites. 

I still have fond memories of watching a White Sox playoff game back in 1983 from a motel room in Indianapolis. I was down there from Ft. Wayne on an overnight business trip and played hooky for the afternoon game. It was players like LaMarr Hoyt, Floyd Bannister, Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, and Ron Kittle, as I check the memory banks of Wikipedia. Tony LaRussa was the coach of this team that won their division and made it to the American League Championship, losing to the Orioles after winning the first game of a series of five. The Orioles went on to win the World Series. It was the first time the Sox were in the postseason since the 1959 World Series, featuring for me a home run by Sherm Lollar. They wore the patriotic uniforms with SOX in block letters on a blue stripe, trimmed in red, across the chest. They’ve brought them out on several occasions this year – one of my least favorite looks!

2008 was the last White Sox postseason win, falling 3 games to 1 against the Rays in the opening series. They did win the division that year. The team featured Ozzie Guillen, Jermaine Dye, Ken Griffey, Jr., Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Nick Swisher, John Danks, and Mark Buehrle, along with Manager Ozzie Guillen. The Sox were eliminated on the day I started work in Austin, Texas, one of my least favorite jobs. 

 

Retirement is not without Hassles: President’s Day #1226

President’s Day is not an official Holiday as most people think. Ask any Federal Employee and they will tell you that it’s still recognized as Washington’s birthday (February 22nd) that was moved to the third Monday of the month. They have the day off but you might not. It was only in the latter days of my career that I the companies I worked for recognized Martin Luther King Day and President’s Day. Anymore if you get the February holiday you also probably celebrate the January date as well – no one wants to be accused of discrimination. For many years in the workforce for me it was a long stretch between three-day weekends from New Year’s to Memorial Day. Now, in retirement, every day is a seven-day weekend.

Thanksgiving and Christmas were sometimes four-day weekends that no longer exist for me in retirement. Once again, every glorious retirement day is exactly the same, without the need to look forward to extra time off. When you step away from the workforce, I believe you have to give up the weekends, vacations, and holidays you looked forward to and simply look forward to tomorrow. However, some retirees may prefer to see President’s Day as a triple bonus – holiday, vacation, and 3-day weekend. Either way, it’s a great day for a great day. 

The Daytona 500 is a President’s-Day-Plus this year because of yesterday’s rain-out. I’m not a huge NASCAR fan, but after taking my grand kids to the race a few years ago, watching the broadcast brought back some great memories. I spent many years around the Indy 500 track, including the inaugural running of the Brickyard 500, so I’m at least knowledgeable about racing. I’ve attended every type of event from demolition derby, dragster, and stock-car to Formula One. I’ve also worked on a pit-crew, sold race sponsorship, and entertained in the suites. Motorsports have been been a big part of my life as many of my close friends, acquaintances, and co-workers have been involved. Naturally, I was recently saddened by the death of John Andretti and feel part of his racing family. He drove in his last Daytona 500 ten years ago and should be honored again today on the telecast. 

I’m still disturbed about IU’s basketball loss at Michigan yesterday, but President’s Day means that baseball season is starting. Indiana and Oregon State both won games on the diamond yesterday and Major League Baseball starts this weekend. Basketball will soon be thankfully over, although I will be attending the Women’s NCAA Basketball Regional to watch the 24-2 Oregon Ducks. It will likely be our last chance to see top Professional prospect Sabrina Ionescu on the college level. The 20-7 I.U. women should also make the NCAA field, while the men continue to falter. 

“I cannot tell a lie!” I will spend an unproductive President’s Day on my butt watching both the Daytona 500 and the timely History Channel presentation of Washington. I realize it’s a sharp contrast in interests, but will at least keep my mind off of a disappointing Hoosier basketball season. In addition, there’s not much of interest at the nearby movie theaters. There will be no mail today, as others get a pleasant taste of not going to work on a Monday. Outside the skies are blue with cool temperatures – at least there’s no rain. Happy President’s Day!

 

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