Oregon quarterbacks would really appreciate it if the school would un-pluralize its nickname and go with Duck! instead.
Why? Well, dating back to October of last year, injuries to Oregon quarterbacks have been crucial, plentiful, and strangely, as predictable as oceanic tides (or arrests at Penn State):
October 2007:Nate Costa suffers a season-ending knee injury during practice.
November 2007:Dennis Dixon tears his ACL and is lost for the season.
November 2007:Brady Leaf, making his first career start, breaks his right ankle.
November 2007:Cody Kempt suffers a concussion against Oregon State.
August 2008:Nate Costa suffers a season-ending knee injury while participating in a non-contact practice drill.
August 2008:Justin Roper leaves the game against Washington with a concussion.
September 2008:Justin Roper leaves the game against Purdue with an injured left knee.
September 2008:Jeremiah Masoli leaves the game with mild concussion.
Now, people are just hunting for answers. Coaches, players, fans, disinterested alums -- they're all begging for answers to what's going on. They'll buy Ouija boards. They'll hire exorcists. They'll look up the kid from The Sixth Sense. They're desperate to know if there's a bigger black cloud looming over all Oregon-related interests. In which case, they'd love to fly the coup.
It'd be all too easy to pin this misfortune on Chip Kelly's spread-option offense. Of course, you could say Oregon quarterbacks are in greater danger since they're often asked to scramble outside the pocket. But when you consider that Oregon isn't the only team running a variant of the spread these days, and that nobody else seems to be gnawed down to their fourth or fifth quarterback, little argument remains.
And while there are probably a few other schools of thought out there blaming the Ducks' conditioning on the grounds crew or the BCS, the fact remains that being an Oregon quarterback right now is like skydiving without a parachute, and nobody in this world -- or maybe even the next -- has any idea why.
So instead of trying to rationalize anything, perhaps we should just go with the obvious, even if it makes little sense. Maybe there really is a curse. Maybe we should embrace it. Maybe we should caution our children against playing quarterback in the Pacific Northwest, going to Oregon, or even feeding ducks at local ponds. Maybe this could catch on! It's the Eugene Gene! It's the Nike Schnike! It's the Quack Attack! It's the Duck F... uh... well, make up your own rhyme. This could be huge.
Call it what you will, but it could be that we're witnessing the emergence of the next great college football jinx. And for what it's worth, the Sports Illustrated cover is thrilled to have some company.
Two weeks ago, after their eighth-ranked Mountaineers scored only three points against East Carolina and lost their BCS Championship bid, officials at West Virginia reacted in the most logical way you would've expected: They signed their greenhorn head coach to a six-year extension. What's next, a series of fines for good play?
West Virginia's decision to hire Bill Stewart despite his lack of FBS head-coaching experience remains an enigma to many who follow college football with any degree of depth. Now, the Mountaineers are sitting at 1-2 with the meat of their Big East schedule yet to come. While we all should hold off passing judgment until Stewart has a few more games under his belt, signs certainly indicate West Virginia's rush to hire a coach landed a tad short of expectations. Instead of Stewart being the right guy at the right time, he may have merely been the nice guy at the right time -- when the entire state was drinking Rich Rodriguez Haterade.
And in the meantime, while you're trying to figure out why the heck Stewart was even offered an extension, see if you can figure out why this link is so strangely mesmerizing.
A few weeks ago, some wacko science types were concerned that physicists experimenting with a massive particle collider along the Franco-Swiss border would inadvertently trigger a giant, earth-swallowing black hole. So heaven only knows what they expected when Nick Saban and Bobby Petrino arrived at the same stadium last Saturday.
There are just too many questions to ask. For starters, explain to me how this could have possibly flown under the radar the way it did. Seriously. Is there a reason more people weren't talking about a matchup between two of the most notorious two-timers in the world of college athletics? Wasn't this its own end-of-the-world scenario waiting to happen? Weren't people in Reynolds Razorback Stadium at all nervous that a supernatural phenomenon of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man variety would emerge and destroy the premises? Wasn't it a public safety violation to not at least make patrons aware of the unholy implications? It's a wonder that Fayetteville isn't a giant crater after Saturday's meeting.
The era of lucrative coaching contracts has brought with it awkward, weekly coaches' television shows. Are such programs required nowadays for the men who helm major college football programs, or is it just an added perk, like having access to a private jet? Ahh, who cares! We here at Quick Slants hope local cable providers continue turning a blind eye to fluff programming and clumsy humor, because, well, we need things to write about.
(Seriously, we do.)
Anyway, a big thank you goes out to Texas Tech's Mike Leach for helping out a freshman Red Raider with some impromptu, red-blooded dating advice. The dating scene, according to Leach, can be your oyster if you merely...
1) Take your woman to a restaurant that doesn't offer salad.
2) Continue the night by visiting a place with "bizarre-looking characters."
3) Exchange "computer schemes" at the end of the date (unless, of course, your name is Dennis Franchione).
Got it. In related news, Houston Nutt might have a few ideas of his own to share.
1. Better Big 12 quarterback: Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) or Todd Reesing (Kansas)?
2. More underrated team: Michigan State or Wake Forest?
3. Better Miley Cyrus description: "Self-absorbed" or "Self-centered"?
4. Better :Hotel": Tokio or California?
5. Bigger BCS sleeper: Missouri or Alabama?
6. Likelier BCS title matchup: Pac-10 vs. SEC or Big 12 vs. SEC?
7. Better Yankee Stadium: Old Yankee Stadium or New Yankee Stadium?
8. More likeable cookie: Oreos or Milano?
9. Better tailgating venue: Notre Dame or Penn State?
10. Likelier Saturday victor: Alabama or Georgia?
From proud Georgia alum Burt in response to my comments last week:
Guess what, Ty? We do have a few more things to complain about than Knowshon's highlight diss. Personally, I couldn't have cared less but if you consider the coverage that [Tim Tebow] gets just for farting, I think you would understand. And in case you haven't been following football we're all pretty upset we keep winning yet slipping in the rankings. We apologize for having a team with a good defense, for playing our second- and third-string players and for not running up the score. How stupid can we be for not replacing sportsmanship with 'style'? Yeah, we have better things to complain about. Don't you have better things to write about?
To answer your question: No, I don't.
Ty Hildenbrandt writes Quick Slants every Wednesday. Check out his podcast at SolidVerbal.com and feel free to e-mail him at email@example.com.