Canzano: Bad blood, big wins, and good jokes
Three things for your Sunday.
There’s all kinds of bad blood right now between New Mexico State and the University of New Mexico.
And why not?
New Mexico State quarterback Diego Pavia gained access to the New Mexico practice facility before the season and urinated on the logo on the field.
Pavia’s coach, Jerry Kill, punished the player after he found out. He didn’t allow Pavia to speak to reporters for a couple of months and made him clean the toilets inside their own practice facility. Decide for yourself if that’s justice after depositing bodily fluids on your rival’s logo, but the University of New Mexico apparently didn’t think the beef was settled.
New Mexico State got beat 37-10 by Fresno State on Saturday in the New Mexico Bowl. Kill went on a rant in the post-game news conference about having to hassle with officials at UNM to get inside the practice facility in front of the bowl game.
It was snowing in Albuquerque.
Kill’s team was scheduled to practice outdoors at a high school.
Officials at UNM were reluctant to allow New Mexico State to access the practice venue, Kill told reporters. Athletic director Eddie Nunez eventually relented, but four police officers were dispatched to observe a practice. The soap opera blew up in the post-game news conference when Kill announced “that’s chickenshit.”
The coach called for the state to discipline Nunez, saying that if the rival AD isn’t sanctioned it should be criminal.
“I get in trouble, I don’t give a shit either,” Kill said. “Because I could go down to Mexico tomorrow, drink margaritas, and let you all enjoy your life because I’ll be enjoying mine. I got class. I’ve had class my whole life... I’ve never been treated like that.”
Logo disrespect isn’t new. We’ve seen players dance on the opposing team’s logo, stomp on it, and plant a flag on it after a win. A few years ago, I watched Oregon linebacker Troy Dye perform a post-game snow angel on the “W” at midfield of the University of Washington’s home football stadium. And two seasons ago, several USC players body surfed on Oregon State’s logo after a 17-14 win at Reser Stadium.
I sort of understand why UNM wouldn’t trust its rival after the urination incident. I also think Kill was fired up after getting beat by 27 points by Fresno State. But the whole thing got me peripherally thinking about a conversation I had years ago with University of Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens.
We were talking about ultra-marathon runners. Specifically, a 135-mile race called the “Badwater Marathon.” It’s a grueling endeavor that takes place in mid-July. The race starts in Death Valley, where temperatures can reach 125 degrees, and finishes at high elevations at the trailhead to Mount Whitney.
I’d written a story about an ultra-marathon competitor who confessed to me that if he had to urinate during the race, he just went to the bathroom as he ran. There was no time to stop, get off the trail, and pee. He’d conditioned his body to urinate as he jogged. I’ve since had this conversation with a number of competitive long-distance runners who admit they’ve occasionally done the same thing.
I asked Clemens what happens if he has to go to the bathroom during a football game. He told me that he’d urinated on the field at Autzen Stadium in front of 54,000 fans between plays.
I’ve had a few other college players tell me they’ve done the same thing in a pinch. More recently, it’s become fashionable for players to run back to the locker room or slip into the sideline medical tent to pee in a disposable receptacle. But Clemens played at Oregon before those tents were fashionable.
Said Clemens: “You just go.”
Nobody rooting against Washington State and Oregon State
Washington State and Oregon State won a major victory on Friday in the Washington Supreme Court. The state’s high court denied both motions for discretionary review and granted control of the Pac-12 Conference to the Cougars and Beavers.
They’re in control now.
The 10 departing schools have gone silent since Friday. They may decide to fight back. But has anyone else noticed how little empathy and support they’re getting nationally?
I find it interesting that the fan bases of the 10 departing schools appear to agree that WSU and OSU should be in control of the conference. Also, that the Cougars and Beavers are entitled to the Pac-12’s future assets. Washington State and Oregon State can’t just run wild. They still have to notify the other schools of board meetings, reveal agenda items and allow the departing schools to observe the meetings. But the Cougars and Beavers now hold the only votes that count.
I think most observers understand that WSU and OSU got a raw deal last August. That they’re in this realignment predicament by no fault of their own and trying to find footing. But the lopsided public sentiment is an interesting study.
I’m deeply interested in the psychology of how people root. For example, we all pulled for the mobsters in “The Sopranos” and sided with the meth cooks in “Breaking Bad.” And I openly rooted for the drug dealers in “The Wire.”
They challenge the customary view of the protagonist. The so-called “villains” become understandable, relatable, likable and popular. We see the flaws in the system, the defects, greed, sin and corruption of the so-called imperial empire. We start rooting for the oppressed little guy to find a way to overcome.
I used to wonder if Disney should let the villains in one of those children’s movies win, just once. You know, to keep the audience honest and on its toes. But Disney does such a thorough job making the villains unlikeable and not at all relatable that we have no choice but to root against them.
Real life is much different.
It’s not often clean and simple. The real world is more often knotted, gnarled and it’s sometimes very difficult to discern the good guys from the bad guys. It’s why TV news reporters are dispatched by news directors to knock on the doors of neighbors and ask: “Did you notice anything unusual?” And why the neighbors often stare into the camera in disbelief and say something like: “He seemed like a normal person. He got his mail like everyone else. I had no idea.”
Washington State and Oregon State are facing a difficult path. Nobody could possibly view them as the bad guys. We all understand how anxious and terrifying the last six months have been for those fan bases, so yeah, Friday’s ruling probably felt like a bit of justice. Even if those schools aren’t your football favorites, you have to acknowledge that the ruling was a small slice of justice.
Have you heard the one about Marcus Mariota?
Scott Frost, the former Oregon assistant, told a great joke about Marcus Mariota a few years ago when he was accepting an award at the Broyles Award ceremony.
“Mariota’s best attribute,” Frost said, “is how quick-witted he is.”
Frost set the bit up beautifully. He claimed that Mariota had to take a part-time job in Eugene to help ends meet during his freshman season at Oregon. The quarterback found a job working at a local grocery store.
Said Frost: “He was at the register one day and this great big woman comes in and says ‘I’d like to buy a half of a head of lettuce.’ He kind of looked at her funny and said ‘We don’t sell half heads. We only sell whole heads.’
“She got all mad.”
Mariota decided he’d better go ask his manager how to handle the situation. So he went into the back of the grocery store and found his supervisor.
Mariota told the boss: “I’ve got this great big fat woman out here who wants to buy a half-head of lettuce. What should I do?”
The UO quarterback was unaware that the woman had followed him to the back of the store, Frost said. Mariota looked over his shoulder, saw the woman standing there, and quickly called an audible.
“… and this lady wants to buy the other half.”
The line got laughs.
“So that’s how quick-witted he is,” said Frost. “The manager told him afterwards, ‘That was impressive. I can’t believe you can think that quickly on your feet.’ To which Mariota said, ‘That’s nothing. I’m used to dealing with stuff like that. I’m from Honolulu. If there’s two things we have in Honolulu, it’s great football and fat women.’”
The room broke up again. Frost paused, letting the moment breathe. But the story wasn’t done.
Frost continued: “The manager said: ‘My wife’s from Honolulu.”
Another pause and more laughs.
Then, Frost finished: “…and Marcus said ‘That’s great. What position does she play?’”
The comedic timing was perfect. Frost nailed the delivery. It’s a delightful joke with multiple layers. But the whole thing kind of makes me mad that Frost didn’t often allow media to see this side of him when he was coaching in Eugene.
Listen to the joke and pay attention to Frost’s timing here:
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