Canzano: Pac-12 Conference has some improved scenery
Oregon State ticket office staffers spent the month of March trying to re-arrange Reser Stadium. Not the actual stadium, but the seating chart for fans who will be inside in a reduced capacity next season.
The Beavers’ season-ticket renewal period officially closed March 31, but I’m told OSU continues to work on seating arrangements for 2022. The West side of the stadium has been demolished. Ticket holders on that side will be relocated to the East side. Reser Stadium will have a capacity of around 27,000 while the renovation takes place.
The West side is currently being transformed from what was an archaic 1950s-style eyesore into a state-of-the-art fan experience complete with “living room” boxes and “loge boxes” and a streetscape for concessions and restaurants that they’re calling “Beaver Street.”
There’s also club seating and a “Founder’s Box” with marble floors, a dark wood-paneled bar and a high-end restaurant feel. If you haven’t put on a headset and taken the virtual tour of the $160 million project I’m told OSU is bringing the virtual experience to the Worlds of Sport fan expo this summer at the Oregon Convention Center.
We got a look this week at the new video board that will be installed over the summer, too. Oregon State released some renderings of the new board (photo up above). It measures 150-feet wide by 45-feet tall. It will be located at the South end of the stadium.
GOOD SCENERY: My good friend, Jon Wilner, of the San Jose Mercury News was soliciting questions for his weekly mailbag on Twitter the other day. I decided to ask him, “Best press box in the Pac-12?”
I thought it was a pretty good question considering his other options. I mean, one of the other replies he got asked, “Which fan base in the Pac-12 needs the most dental care?” Wilner indulged me. He listed his top two picks with “the view” as his primary criteria:
Rose Bowl Game (late 3rd quarter, shadows long)
The Rose Bowl is gorgeous, agree. The view of Lake Washington from the press box at Husky Stadium is super cool, too. But this whole thing is making me want to poll some Pac-12 players and coaches to ask them which road stadium is their favorite.
I happen to think the view from the Folsom Field press box at Colorado is underrated. Love that stadium scene. Also, I think the view off the back of the Arizona Stadium press box in Tucson is sensational if the game happens to take place during a sunset. The interior of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium is difficult to beat, too. It’s spacious, clean, and really functional.
Which is your favorite Pac-12 stadium view?
A LOOK AT WSU: I talked with Eric Morris this week. He’s the new offensive coordinator at Washington State and is bringing back the Air Raid offense. The podcast of our interview is a good listen if you’re into Pac-12 football:
How does WSU look on offense after a handful of spring practices?
“The one thing we don’t have right now is a lot of experience,” Morris told me. “We lost four of our five starting offensive lineman, we lost our four top wide receivers and we lost our top two running backs,” he said.
Morris was the offensive coordinator for Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech. He coached under both Mike Leach and Kliff Kingsbury then left to be the head coach at FCS-Division Incarnate Word. I asked Morris if game planning for opponents at Incarnate Word would be any different than game planning in the Pac-12.
“I think we’ll see some different schemes at this level. The coaching is better,” Morris said. “Calling plays at the Power 5 level, the DCs make adjustments faster to what you’re doing. I’ll definitely have to have some counter punches ready in the game plan a little bit quicker.”
Morris isn’t just bringing an offense back to WSU. He’s also brought a quarterback with him who can facilitate it — Cameron Ward. Having a quarterback who is familiar with the offense, particularly this offense, feels like a huge advantage to a new offensive coordinator. Also, don’t let him fool you: Morris has two very good tight ends and two talented returning outside receivers.
“Our quarterback knows this system well,” Morris said.
This coming week, I’ll rank the Pac-12 offenses 1-12. Should be a fun exercise. I’m going to ask a couple of conference defensive coordinators to help.
RIP PETE WARD: Oregon Sports Hall of Fame member Pete Ward died on March 16. He was 84. Ward played nine seasons in the Major Leagues for the White Sox, Orioles and Yankees. He was runner-up for the American League Rookie of the Year in 1963 and twice finished in the top-10 of MVP voting.
Long-time Oregonians may remember that Ward grew up in Portland, attended Jefferson High and played baseball at Lewis and Clark College. His dad, Jimmy, played in the NHL and later coached hockey in Portland.
Pete Ward had an unorthodox hitting style. Early in his career he used a split grip on his bat, leaving a two or three-inch gap between the fingers of his right and left hand. He had a reputation as a fan favorite who ran out every pop up and ground ball.
Ward also gained some publicity earlier in his professional career when he and a teammate decided not to rent an apartment one season. The players instead pitched a couple of tents in a nearby park and made it a temporary home.
Long-time Pittsburgh sportswriter Roy McHugh once wrote of Ward: “Untidiness goes with his style, for Pete has come as a latter-day Gas House Gangster himself, a gabby, disheveled, hilariously absent-minded, impish anachronism who can hit.”
Rest In Peace, Pete Ward.
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