169 Comments
Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Love this article. So much of sports in my life have been in lower divisions. So much fun to watch effort and pure joy.

My kids are in rec leagues for this same reason.

We have a saying in our house, “if you are good enough to be in competitive (travel) league, you need to switch sport”.

The meaning of sport is paramount. Fundamentals that teach a lifetime of lessons. Brings the best of humanity.

Not the peripheral money and egos.

That brings out the worst.

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If I’m missing ur point, I apologize.

Doesn’t healthy competition and challenging yourself in youth sports also have lifetime value? I can’t imagine holding my son back if he excelled at something. “Go forth and be average, son.”

I’m not talking D1. Very few kids enter that world. But traveling teams against higher competition can prepare a kid for real life, and if a kid likes it, seems to me it should be supported.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

My son fell into this quandary. He was good enough to play on a “premier” socce team, in fact was one of the the top 2-3 on what was a good team. But he never enjoyed it, the coaches were upset with f he wanted to play other sports. The parents were constantly infighting since they were paying significant $ for their kid to be on the team, the coaches were paid and the system rewarded wins over development ( one of the reasons the US doesn’t do well in soccer). I am not sure he learned many valuable things that he could not have learned in a less competitive situation

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

The same thing happened to my son in baseball. 6’ 2” with a wicked fastball. Hit close to .600. He had the talent, but lost the desire due to a similar situation. So he wanted to focus on music instead. As a former athlete, I had to really search my soul to support that. But I did. Turned out he was all state, all NW, and won state in his instrument. Graduated from OSU (after two years at Idaho) and had a great college music career.

It would have been a travesty to hold him back, just as it would have been a travesty to force your son to keep playing soccer in that circumstance. However, my point is that if ur son WOULD have enjoyed it, and he was excelling, he would have gained a ton of valuable life lessons along the way.

In sum, I hear you and agree. It’s all context and individual circumstance

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Mr. Dawg,

Although my wife and I participated in organized sports for as long as our abilities would allow and both our son a daughter did likewise our grandchildren are being allowed to find their own passions. A couple are pursuing sports and a couple are finding their interests to be in music and art. The entire tribe is physically active, enjoying the out doors through fishing, skiing, rafting, typical westerners. My point, if I have one, is like yours, as long as sports are fun “play ball!” But when sports become a drudge move on. Life is too short to be unhappy for long.

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100%. If u force ur kids to play highly competitive sports against their will, it’s going to end poorly. However, you wouldn’t want to hold them back if they WANTED to play highly competitive activity, for fear that the competitive environment might hurt them in some way.

Life can be tough. Competitive sports (music, dance, etc) prepares young people for the reality of adulthood. There is failure. It can hurt. There’s also finding successes by out working the other guy, or by “getting back on the horse.” Feeling the pain of failure doesn’t have to be a negative. In fact, it defines areas that need attention and makes the successes all the more sweet.

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Dec 10, 2023·edited Dec 10, 2023

I agree with what you say. Where highly competitve sports can (and ofter do) go wrong, though, is when they focus on competing with every one else for a roster spot or a starting role or to get attention from scouts. I call this the training camp mentality, and it can actually be harmful to oneself and others. It doesn't lead to real and satisfying success.

Success in real life is more about teamwork and using whatever talents or knowledge you may have to lift up others on that team and not compete with or stand out from them.

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Mr. Dawg,

I completely agree. The lessons sports taught me about myself have proved to be the core values I have carried with me through life.

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“Mr Dawg” 😆 That’s awesome.

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Yep, funny how Brazil or Morocco field globally competitive soccer teams without rich parents paying up for all kinds of specialized training.

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Really enjoyed this article, JC. Also, really appreciate your Heisman vote for Penix.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Caught the second half of that game. One of if not THE best games I've seen all year. True college atmosphere, great stadium and fans.

Maybe not "nationally relevant", but I'll take it over the idiots on College Gameday or Big Noon Saturday anytime.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

That game was everything college football is supposed to be about. Electric atmosphere with great athletes playing for the their teams and the love of the game. I think I'll be watching a lot more Big Sky football in the future.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Agree Kevin!

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

I guess I shouldn't call them idiots since they're just acting like idiots for $$$$, but that in itself says a lot.

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founding

AMEN, Kevin!!!!

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

As a Linfield football alum I was fortunate to play in a NAIA national championship game. We were crushed by a better team, but it was an experience I’ve relished my whole life. In the sixties small college football, with rosters packed with Oregon kids, was well covered by media throughout the whole state. From Portland State to Southern Oregon and from Eastern Oregon to Linfield fathers and mothers could read about their kid’s exploits in the sports pages. Now days, rarely do the small schools get any ink and only when something extraordinary occurs. One has to know where their websites are to gain any information.

I appreciate your mention of the small schools occasionally, as that’s where true amateur athletics occurs all over our state. UO, OSU, UW and WSU get all the press, deservedly so, but there’s more OREGON kids actually playing at our very capable NAIA and DIII campuses.

Thanks for an occasional word or two. It’s worth the $50!

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

A comment about Linfield sports can’t go unnoticed. While I respect Linfield and their history of success on the gridiron, as former small college round baller who battled Linfield often, I have one important thing to say:

“Go Bearcats!” 🥳

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Back when there were real newspapers and real sports reporters, they covered the local scene.

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John . “Simple” and “Old School” football is beginning to sound tremendous after all we OSU alumni have been through the last 3 weeks.

For the LOVE of College football perhaps we need to slow down a bit , catch our breath and reflect on how fun College used to be before The Portal and the money grabbing to attract a ball player; it’s time to re-evaluate where OSU belongs - maybe joining the Mountain West

Is the cure-All for what is ailing all of us - sadness ! You woke us UP with your wonderful article !!

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Well said Rand!

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

I really appreciate this article, John. You have, without being explicit, illustrated what the crooked commissioners, stupid administrators, and greedy media companies have stolen from the Pac-12 fans--the pure joy of amateur, collegiate football. They sucked the life out and left a depressing wreck.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

John, thanks for this article, maybe is it possible to give FCS a bit more coverage throughout the year? Truth is I really don't know much about it.. And people aren't interested in what they don't know. A bit of exposure might go a long way for them.

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author

I’m all about telling the good stories

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As is your fried McHugh.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Shohei Ohtani just signed with the Dodgers for $700M.

In other news, inflation rages out of control, city streets are littered with emotional hopelessness, tents and garbage, and oh yeah, big time college football is going down the crapper.

But at least Ohtani can feed his family. Relief.

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Uh inflation is not raging, if you actually look.

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Lol. Mkay

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Dec 9, 2023·edited Dec 9, 2023

You are right, I think. All of the insanity in college football is an extension of all the other social insanity going on around us. There is some idea of "reparations" embedded in all of this as well as kicking older social norms (which served the country well since the 1950s) to the curb. Even stalwart liberal media figures I follow, like Bill Maher and Bari Weiss, are now very concerned about and critical of the direction of the country. Glad they are coming around. There is hope. Was it Andy Warhol who said that art is a reflection of society? Sports also reflects society

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What do the current changes in college football have to do with reparations. What social norms have been kicked to the curb?

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I am not going to get political here. It is a societal issue. But an obvious example is a few students feeling unsafe because of the generic term "Civil War" and so changing the name of an annual game in place for many decades

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Thank you for the response. I didn’t have any issues with the Civil War term either and thought it was an over-reaction to change it. But, I’m a white guy and the implication of the real Civil War is far different for me than the black Americans whose ancestors were enslaved. They objected to the name of this football game. If it makes them feel better and safer then I’m glad for that.

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Dec 10, 2023·edited Dec 10, 2023

The "real Civil War" was just one of many, probably hundreds of civil wars in the history of the Earth. It is used generically in Oregon which has no association at all with the 1860s civil war (was just getting settled). This is my point. This current crap about "words are violence" is just pure BS. Words aren't violent, but football is and war definitely is. Educating football players on history is much more beneficial than caving in to mistakenly hurt feelings.

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Dec 9, 2023·edited Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Great piece, JC. I was thinking about a lot of this while watching last night's terrific game. I grew up with college football and detest what is happening to the sport at the FBS level. A part of me wishes Oregon State would stop playing this rigged game, drop to the Big Sky and compete with the Montana schools for championships at a level that resembles what college sports used to be. I know it'll never happen, but it honestly wouldn't bother me as an OSU fan. The Big Sky is a great conference, and I think all this realignment nonsense will be a boon for FCS football.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

I wouldn’t mind it either. But with football funding all the other sports…think of what happens to our baseball team , gymnastic, wrestling…..

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

They could still exist. They just wouldn't be playing the same schools. Certainly the Big Sky finds a way to fund those programs. I for one would be a lot more happy if my ticket money went to a college athletics program instead of a wanna-be NFL minor league program.

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Exactly. There's no reason the baseball program couldn't still compete for national titles in the Big West (the Big Sky doesn't have baseball). This is all about opting out of the mini-NFL era of college football. I'm sure it'll never happen and OSU will try to make it work as some G5 hybrid, but I'm not sure what my interest level will be in following FBS football in 2024 and beyond. It's not the product I signed up for.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Montana had 27,000 fans at the Montana State game this year.

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The "Brawl of the Wild" is a truly under-rated college football rivalry. Stadium capacity is 25,000 and change and had well over 27,000 for the game. Washington-Grizzly Stadium has a great game-day atmosphere, especially for Big Sky Conference games ... better than some Pac-12 venues.

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I had moved by the time the Washington-Grizzly Stadium was built. By the time I left Missoula, the Grizzlies were playing on temporary bleachers slightly away from the campus. Even those seated 12 thousand or so and the crowd was pretty enthusiastic. It was named Dornblazer.

Basketball then was very popular. Jud Heathcote had been hired as Montana's coach and the arena had been expanded and renovated. Heathcote was worth the price of admission himself and he turned the Grizzlies into a very good team quickly.

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The Tulane football stadium I believe seats even less. The Best FCS and G5 schools should merge and form their own division. Reser seats in the mid-30's. FCS as we have witnessed with many of those programs upsetting G5 and P5 FBS schools yearly, is good football. The student-athletes are coached better and have a better experience.

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I meant to mention that I think it fun to go to relatively close away games. To be able to drive/explore Idaho, Montana, Palouse, etc would be a hoot. Watch real college football games where kids are playing for their school, not themselves in the NIL world. Starting to warm up to the idea.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Speaking as Beavers fan I'm feeling robbed. Instead of a game like we saw last night we get a game against Notre Dame's practice squad that means less than nothing to the kids playing it.

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Actually, that is likely incorrect. I think that 2nd and 3rd stringers on both teams, with all the starters that are either protecting themselves for the NFL combine or jumping into the portal, will love the chance to compete against each other. It creates a distorted end result, depending on who plays, but those kids who rode the bench all year will still enjoy it.

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Not to mention the 8000 fans in an empty stadium. Bowl system is dead. It's a welfare system basically that doesn't even pay the costs to attend. TV networks make the majority of the money off the bowl system. Kids in the portal, coaches changing schools, it's a dead system.

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I stand corrected.

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I didn't mean for it to be personal. It might not be as fun for us to watch. But I bet the kids who play have a great time.

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I didn't take it personally. Just agreeing with your take on the matter

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Robert, why couldn’t it happen. Never say never! Sounds like a reasonable option.

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It probably couldn't happen because it would require a complete overhaul of the entire athletic department to "right-size" down to a Big Sky level. There's no incentive for Scott Barnes or a future AD to intentionally shrink the size of the athletics budget by 500% or more to play in a more pure division.

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Yup. The upgraded Reser Stadium that they just finished would be complete overkill.

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Dec 10, 2023·edited Dec 10, 2023

100% agree, but for football only. Our baseball program, of which I am a proud alum, can compete with anyone, anywhere, anytime. They would would do just fine joining the Big-West in baseball considering they play multiple series weekend events with almost half of the conference on a yearly basis and those programs (Fullerton, Long Beach, Santa Barbara, UC-Irvine) compete nationally at the CWS every year. Oregon State would do well to merge with that conference in many of the non-football sports.

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Good call! I’m thinking combine making it the PAC and spread the wealth, $400mil ..great D1 playoff that we see works..all during the holidays! Must see TV

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Dec 9, 2023·edited Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Great article as I’m sitting here watching South Dakota State and Villanova playing in a cold stadium amid 35 mph winds. It is like it used to be but I’ll always love my Ducks!

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Coach Kalen DeBoer cut his teeth and was a legend playing in that environment.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Sports as they should be…..

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

YES!

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Dec 9, 2023·edited Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

My alma mater plays FCS and is one of three private schools to win the national title. I try to get to a game there every other year or so, it's a lot of fun. Too bad PSU is so underfunded.

Earlier this year two friends and I went on a MACtion tour: Saturday was WMU at EMU in Ypsilanti; Tuesday night was NIU at CMU in Mt. Pleasant and Wednesday night was Ball State at BGSU in Bowling Green. We had a blast. At every venue we got great seats and parking for less than $70 total, a great deal to watch FBS games.

Great atmospheres, great fans, great bands, great games, especially at CMU. So I'm not stressing about OSU maybe merging with the MWC. Football is football, I've been to MWC games at UNLV, Nevada, Fresno, Utah State and Wyoming and had a blast at each one.

Next year we're planning a C-USA/Sunbelt tour, they start weekeday games in October and it should be warmer!

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Agree, MAC, MWC and the rest of G5 football is a much better experience than P4 now. I'm not upset over merging with the MWC at all. I just hope they get the transfer portal under control. Otherwise, G5 will just become a development league to feed players into P4 programs. You won't be able to keep any of your best players. Figure out a fair way to control that and I'm all for OSU and G5 football.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Recruit student/athletes that the P4 schools don't want. Reduce the amount of scholarships available and cut the AD budget so you can't hire the big $$$ coaches and AD's want to be running an NFL lite program.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

and rename yourself the Idaho Vandals.

Just kidding. I get ur point. I would love to preserve the purity (in concept) of college football, and the MWC might be that happy medium of a quality product that isn’t bought and paid for

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Happy mediums are good. I like that option.

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I think the Group of 5 and the better FCS teams should form their own division. They would be much happier than chasing the false narrative championship of FBS P4. It's really a P2, as even though we are supposedly moving to 12 teams next year, you will find that the Big-2 (SEC and BIG) will garner all the participants, just as they have this year. The Southern Alliance, connected to the Swiss-British-Venetian Confederacy will eat the whole pie. This years Heisman is just another example of the perpetual war they have raged with the left coast and the P12. Personally, I'm done with the P4/P2. I spent the whole season watching the MW, American, C-USA, Sun and FCS schools play. Love that you covered Montana. As a former Sheldon alum and coach there for 8 years with Marty Johnson, we've sent a ton of kids to the conference (Montana and Montana St mostly) and they have had GREAT experiences. The majority of the kids we have sent to FBS schools have not enjoyed their experiences.

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Thanks for the first hand information Ben. Hopefully there are a lot more HS couches out there just you, telling the kids what they need to hear.instead of what they want to hear.

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founding

Sounds like a blast EA!!!

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Really good write up. The mood in the comments has turned mostly positive. Not saying we’re not all upset over what’s happening in P4 football, but the thought of repurchasing season tickets for the cost of a movie vs a Mercedes is rather appealing.

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Living in Paris half the time, now that I am retired ...and I agree....it has changed tremendously , however no homeless , thank GOD ! Still get many OSU baseball and football games “ Live” though, and France has the BEST TV programming in the World . I can see ALL of Beaver Football games live !

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

As a former University of Montana football player, I appreciate that you gave the Big Sky Conference some attention!

A bunch of guys playing for love of the game.

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Nobody could've watched last night's game without thinking it was big-time football. Great game and a packed stadium. I really do think FCS football is about to take off in popularity with what's happening in FBS.

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Watched the second half of this game last night while following the Game Thread on Reddit. There were literally dozens of comments about how much fun FCS football is to watch. There was basically no trash talk, and very few complaints about the officials or the announcers. If you've never been part of a Reddit college football Game Thread, you should know that this is nothing short of miraculous. The overall feeling I got from the experience was overwhelmingly positive.

It helped that it was a fantastic game with an exciting finish, played before a wildly enthusiastic crowd on a sub-freezing night. It also helped that, as someone pointed out in the thread, knowing that these were kids playing for small college teams made it easier to forgive the dropped passes, shanked punts, and bonehead penalties. Nobody was getting paid to be perfect. Everybody was playing their hearts out for the love of the game.

The way college football should be.

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Dec 9, 2023Liked by John Canzano

Since big money tilts everything, let me point out that many Big Sky players (and FCS players generally) wind up playing on in the CFL, not the NFL. And having Hall of Fame careers (see Dave Dickinson, Bo Levi Mitchell, Vernon Adams, Ricky Ray, Travis Lulay, and on and on). The same things and scale remain but the game is so much more fun to watch, just like this. Just a love of the game.

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