Canzano: Mailbag deals with Oregon Ducks playoff fate, hardships, and Pac-12 expansion
Your questions, my answers..
Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech that I woke thinking about on Saturday morning. He was in Chicago in the spring of 1899. He was the Governor of New York at the time and argued in a speech titled “The Strenuous Life” that we should embrace our hardships.
Roosevelt was picked on as a kid. He had asthma and was sickly. Later, he was diagnosed with heart issues. After college, doctors told Roosevelt that he should avoid strenuous exercise. He ignored them and became a rower, a boxer and hiker. He also played polo, studied jujutsu and rode horses.
In his speech, Roosevelt argued that we should embrace our hardships, plow through obstacles, and face our fears. The highest form of success — true greatness — was not born from seeking the safe and easy path. It was far better to overcome life’s obstacles instead of dodging them, he insisted.
When I was in college, I typed out a quote from that Roosevelt speech on an index card. I stapled it on wall of my room.
I thought about that quote on Saturday morning because I received a series of questions from college football fans as part of the weekly mailbag. They wondered if we should be rooting for the Oregon Ducks to make the College Football Playoff or miss it. I don’t blame them for asking. I’ve wondered about it myself.
Q: Am I wrong to hope that Oregon doesn’t make the CFP so they go to the Rose Bowl?… this might be the last time I can see Oregon play in it and I’m finally in a place in life to take my family to do so. — @DuckFanJay
Q: Should Duck fans be rooting for a potential rematch vs Georgia in the College Football Playoff? Or should we be delight with a Rose Bowl matchup with Michigan to crown Dan Lanning’s first season at the helm. — @SpatzSteven
I think there are plenty of fans who would prefer to see Oregon win the Pac-12 title, miss out the playoff and land in the Rose Bowl vs. the loser of Michigan-Ohio State. That would be a winnable bowl game and cap a great first season for coach Dan Lanning.
There’s nothing wrong with that kind of thinking. But it doesn’t embrace the struggle against a team’s limitations. It sidesteps hardships and seeks a peaceful end to the season. As much as I’ve flip-flopped on what would be best for Oregon this season, what I didn’t think much about is the value and growth gained, even in failure.
Even a repeat blowout loss to Georgia would come with benefits. The Pac-12 would gain a windfall of revenue. UO would gain exposure. The Ducks would have fought through hardship just to reach the playoff after that 49-3 loss in Week 1. Roosevelt would have loved seeing Oregon battle all the way back.
Why not pull for that?
I received great questions again this week. I’m having a lot of fun with this new writing endeavor. I am grateful for those who have subscribed or given others a gift subscription. I’m having a blast. Thanks to all who have read, subscribed and sent words of encouragement.
Onto your questions…
Q: Oregon has a pretty clear path to the playoff. Can the Ducks actually make the national championship? — @copshrek781
A: If Oregon goes 12-1 and wins the Pac-12 title, I think they make the playoff. Would they win a semifinal game? It’s unlikely, but as ex-Fresno State football coach Pat Hill told me when I asked why he played anyone, anytime, anywhere: “What are they gonna do, eat you?”
Q: Odds you think SMU gets invited to the Pac-12 and when? — @Mmarion8
A: I have SMU at a 7-to-1 shot to be included. If the Pac-12 wants to be in Texas, SMU is the easiest way to get there. The conference time line: A) decision from the UC Regents on UCLA (Nov. 15-17); B) finalize media-rights deal; and C) expansion decision.
Q: Is Bo Nix’s less than successful time at Auburn hindering his Heisman chances? — @pactenboy
A: Nix is not going to do well with SEC voters. He’s having a sensational season, but he needs a “Heisman moment” to win over voters in other parts of the country. That could come in the Pac-12 title game on Dec. 2 in Las Vegas. The Heisman Trophy ballots go out Nov. 29, but aren’t due until Dec. 6. Will voters wait to cast them? If so, Nix may wins some votes.
Q: Do you think playoff expansion will affect Oregon’s decision on conference realignment? — @pnwnd
A: It already has. The expansion of the College Football Playoff to 12 teams changed the calculus. Oregon has a much easier path to the future playoff in the Pac-12 vs. the Big Ten. Also, important note: the Ducks haven’t been invited by the Big Ten.
Q: What is the best way to utilize the Pac-12 Network? Continue to have the conference own it and maybe expand to other content with Amazon distribution? Or just sell it to Amazon outright?— @Rbb480
A: Your thinking is sound. Amazon doesn’t have production capability. It uses the NFL Network to produce Thursday Night Football. I think the Pac-12 Networks could end up producing more than just college football games for Amazon. It could become Amazon’s partner on a number of projects.
Q: Say a miracle happens, and UCLA is blocked from bolting to the Big Ten, does the Pac-12 then only add SDSU? What's been the latest on conference stability? — @WebFootChicano
A: Conference members continue to tell me they’re galvanized and unified. If UCLA stays in the Pac-12, I expect San Diego State would be added as a replacement for USC.
Q: OSU future QB play looks promising with Aiden Chiles joining the squad soon. What do they do in the interim? Continue to work with Chance Nolan and Ben Gulbranson or does it make sense to go after the Jake Haeners of the world like Oregon did with Vernon Adams a few years ago? — @danie1_e1der
A: Nine of the Pac-12’s starting quarterback this week are transfers. Washington got Michael Penix Jr. USC lured Caleb Williams. Oregon got Bo Nix.
Oregon State should absolutely try to develop a young quarterback, but do it while chasing a solid transfer upgrade for next season. Jonathan Smith’s team would be 8-1 this season with better quarterback play.
Q: Is it time to close the door on the Portland Diamond Project? — @Z_Bro88
A: Not yet. But I need to see some political will soon. Leaders in Portland and Salem haven’t supported the effort in the way they should.
Q: What is Oregon’s plan if Bo Nix gets hurt. Ty Thompson still isn’t the answer. Who is? The Ducks can’t have a replay of Dennis Dixon in 2007. — @chrisoleary99
A: I can’t answer this question while simultaneously knocking on wood.
Q: What do you think of OSU finally having the “Dam Nation” Collective. Do we finally maybe have a chance of getting a better quarterback this off-season with some new NIL money? — @bryanmiller513
A: I spoke with Dick Oldfield, one of the co-founders of the newly formed collective, on Friday. Give the interview a listen for yourself. Nobody at Oregon State will say it, but I think the Beavers are excited to have an organized, well-funded collective in its corner.
Q: Why is my skin so dry in the morning? — @therockfordfile
A: Make sure you’re drinking enough water — hydrate inside-out. Skip the scalding hot shower at night, too. Also, be mindful of running your furnace all night, blowing too much continuous hot air. That’s all I have on this front.
Q: Does Conference USA media deal take some money away from Pac-12 in-regards to ESPN? — @lilcmac5
A: I checked with two industry insiders. Neither seemed to think the recently announced Conference USA deal would have an impact on the Pac-12’s negotiations.
Q: Twitter has become almost an essential component of sports journalism for better or worse as more traditional reporting, specifically newspapers, either are radically reduced or completely disappear. What happens if this platform vanishes overnight? — @KdickeyKeith
A: What did we do before Twitter? Just make sure you’re following me on Instagram and Facebook. I won’t abandon you.
Q: Who can we put pressure on too get Providence Park open for high school playoff football? — @kraken_puck
A: The stadium still belongs to the city. So appeal to Portland’s city leaders to do the right thing. Maybe they’ll listen. That said, the stadium is now operated by the Timbers, who have systematically squeezed everything else out of the building.
Q: If forced to choose, who would you keep -- Dan Lanning or Kenny Dillingham? — @woodburnduck
A: Dan Lanning, easily. He’s the head coach. I’d like to see more of his act. Dillingham is going to attract a lot of attention. I expect ASU to interview him.
Q: I’m going to Eugene next weekend for the first time to see Utah vs. Oregon. What are some good food recommendations in Eugene? — @TylerHergert
A: I asked my good friend “Cadillac” Chris Brown, who knows the scene better than I do. He swears by “Lion & Owl” for brunch… dinner at “Bar Purlieu” and your casual dinner spot is “Party Downtown.” I am a fan of “Tacovore” and have heard good things about “Drunken Fish” too.
Q: Are the Seattle Seahawks for real? I don’t expect this to be a good question. Really jumped in to say thank you for being the voice of reason in the short-lived Auburn/Dan Lanning saga. — @scooter1022
A: That 6-3 record feels real. Give coach Pete Carroll credit. He won the immediate aftermath of the post-Russell Wilson trade. On Lanning… I just appreciate that you’re here. There’s a lot of misinformation and nonsense out there. I’m not chasing clicks and hyperbole. I promise to give you sourced, in-depth information and analysis that you can’t get anywhere else.
Q: Will Portland State ever get a home football field near campus? — @FTLGJeff
A: The Vikings need to get back in Providence Park. Building a new downtown stadium isn’t financially feasible and playing in Hillsboro leaves PSU disconnected from students and its campus.
Q: What’s the best rivalry in our fair conference? — @bbasstravel
A: Oregon-Washington is the best rivalry in the Pac-12 right now. It involves neighboring states, has some great history, and the fan bases don’t like each other. There are some other good ones, but this is the fiercest one right now. The Pac-12 should lean into it.
Q: Thoughts on Jake Dickert’s first year in Pullman as head coach? — @c_rog6
A: I need a larger sample size, but this season has 7-5 written all over it. Washington State has regular-season games remaining vs. ASU, at Arizona, and home vs. Washington. I think Dickert wins two of those. I think that’s a solid start. I would like to see offensive coordinator Eric Morris finish strong. If not, Dickert may have to tweak the offense.
Q: Who would win in a fight Pat Hill or Mario Cristobal — @BakersDaddy3
A: Cristobal is almost 20 years younger than Hill. Also, he’s taller, heavier, and has a longer reach. Also, Cristobal trains in mixed martial arts. But Hill would not stay down or tap out. He’d keep getting back up. No doubt, Teddy Roosevelt would have wanted to be in the front row.
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Second on Tacovore. We have one in NE Portland within walking distance of my house. I have Celiac Disease, and their menu is entirely gluten free and delicious. I literally eat there once a week!
Funny you lead with Teddy Roosevelt. I’m reading a book right now on him and his life and love of the North Dakota badlands…just last night I read a passage about him being in a bar when a much larger dude tried to humiliate him, calling him four eyes and ordered him to buy the house a round….Teddy knocked him out with one quick well placed punch to the face! Fascinating individual...