Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Roundtable: Under New Management

That's the chair we all esteem to be in one day.

If you're a member of the Pac-10 Roundtable, that is.

OK, so MAYBE that's not EXACTLY the throne that the leader of the Pac-10 Square Table rests his laurels on, but if there was an actual table, I assume that's what it'd look like.

Maybe with a 19" flat screen attached to one arm rest and a beer holder on the other.

Either way, welcome to your new Pac-10 Roundtable, now headed up by California Golden Blogs.

1) The Ty Willingham experiment at UW is mercifully over. What went wrong? Why couldn't he replicate the success he had at Stanford?

The real question here is, what didn't go wrong? The dynamic duo of Rick Neuheisel/Keith Gilbertson was unceremoniously deposed after Ricky N's Bracket Challenge went public and everyone realized that Gilbertson was only one part football coach and four parts NutriSystem Poster Child.

Talented players in the Seattle-area shunned the program as unstable and featuring deteriorating facilites, instead bolting for out-of-state programs that showed more progress and prowess. Willingham couldn't coach up the talent that he had and, even after landing the dynamic Jake Locker, he didn't fill out the offense with recruits that would develop alongside Locker.

The strength of the Pac-10 over Willingham's tenure at UW is partially to blame for why he couldn't replicate his success with Stanford. While on The Farm, the Pac-10 didn't have a dominant team like USC and talent across the board at all 10 institutions like it does now (save Wazzou, of course). Stanford and Willingham's 1999Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl trip came in a season when the Cardinal finished an ordinary 8-3 and only four other teams in the conference finished with more than six wins.

2) Who do you see as a possible replacement for the Huskies? Any idea how close this team is to being relevant again?

The first two coaches that immediately come to mind are Jim Mora Jr. and Lane Kiffin. I feel like the Huskies wouldn't go wrong with either of them.

In Mora, you get a young, fiery character that is on record for wanting this job. In fact, I feel like the ulterior motive for taking the Seattle assistant's job a few years ago was because he wanted to be all set up to take over at Washington once Willingham's ouster inevitably came.

Despite Kiffin's tumultous tenure with the Oakland Raiders Semi-Professional FC, he had so much defensive success at USC that I feel like he'd find eventual success at Washington. We've seen the whole college-to-pros transition fail miserably in the past...Lou Holtz, Dennis Erickson and Pete Carroll all come to mind...but all of those guys returned to college and were incredibly successful.

3) As a visiting fan following your team, what do you think is the best venue in the Pac-10 to attend a game? What is the worst? Don't consider travel distance, but everything else is fair game.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'll tell everyone that I can only judge this question on the six Pac-10 venues that I've personally visited: Arizona Stadium (UA), Sun Devil Stadium (ASU), Memorial Stadium (Cal), Stanford Stadium, the Rose Bowl (UCLA) and the Coliseum (USC).

Among all of those, I'll have to be a homer and say that the atmosphere around Tempe, the tailgate scene, the amount of unrestrained enthusiasm throughout the stadium area and around the town makes Arizona State my favorite place overall to see a football game in the Pac-10. Judging by Sun Devil Stadium's standards, though, it's near the bottom.

On those standards, the new Stanford Stadium is magnificent, and if they ever could fill it up and field a competitive team, that's going to be a loud, intimidating place to play football as a visitor.

The worst is by far are the venues in Los Angeles.

Obviously, the LA Memorial Mausoleum is falling apart, has terrible acoustics and sightlines, the bleachers are so crammed you need a shoe horn to wedge yourself in and out and every time I'm there, I feel like I'm going to suffer through a combination of carjacking and other general unpleasantness.

It's beyond impossible to find parking near the Rose Bowl. I had to wait in line for 2 1/2 hours once to board a shuttle back to my car; it's fairly hard to get to.

Mark my words though, I will visit every stadium in the Pac before I'm 30...which is 6 years away. And from everything I've heard about Autzen, that's soon going to be my favorite.

Actually, here's an idea. The four I haven't visited are Autzen, Reser, Husky and Martin. Leave me a comment with your recommended order of visiting.

4) Besides your own team's, of course, who's got the best mascot in the Pac-10? Lamest?

I'm personally a big fan of The Duck. For some reason, that goofy-ass thing makes me laugh every time.

I hate mascots as a general rule of thumb. Even when I go to games of my favorite team of all time, the San Jose Sharks, I hope that S.J. Sharkie crashes to the ice when he rappells down from the rafters.

Lamest? Easy answer is Wilma and Wilbur, the couple (siblings?) at the UA. That's too easy though for an ASU blog, so let's talk about how much I hate The Tree and Oski.

The Tree is self explanatory. Trees don't dance. They don't cheer. They just live for ridiculously extended periods of time and take in all the carbon dioxide that pollutes our air.

That said, I still think The Tree (and even possibly a gang of sugared-up five-year-olds) could kick the living crap out of Oski. The thing just oafs around the sidelines of football and basketball games and looks disinterested at the world around him.

Can't we just replace both Stanford and Cal's mascots with giant, walking pocket protectors?

5) Male cheerleaders: yea or nay?

This is the part of the roundtable where I disclose potentially embarrassing information about myself.

For 2 1/2 strange weeks during high school, I stunted.

That's right. The well-spoken, well-liked and always affable writer here on PFN was, for about 17 days, a member of the Cupertino High School cheerleading squad. They needed guys to help them train and practice different stunts for a national competition, and since I was friends with a couple girls on the team, I was coerced into helping them.

Alas, for those 2 1/2 weeks of an era in which all of us were acne-ridden, horny-as-hell teenagers, I was told repeatedly by these girls to "not be afraid to get a handful of my ass" and was forced to transport the most attractive girls at my school on my shoulders.

Don't tell me you wouldn't have done the same thing.

Either way, get those dudes off my sidelines. During 54-20 losses in which there's less-than-zero good things to look at on the gridiron, my wandering eye always takes me to the lovely ASU cheerleaders and dancers, and there's just too much dude involved. Not a fan.

Give me 100 Lauren Thompson's any day of the week.

1 comment:

GoldenBlogs said...

The order you're looking for is Autzen, ..., Husky, Reser and Martin.

Autzen is by far the best. Husky stadium is actually in a great location (and Seattle is one of my favorite cities), but the track around the field puts all the seats too far away. I'm glad Stanford got rid of theirs.

I never found Reser or Martin to be anything special, but Reser isn't in Pullman, so it gets the nod.