Canzano: Quarterbacks, dogs, freaks, and gambling in one spot
Some things I learned over the weekend...
Next weekend marks the last Saturday between now and mid-December that we won’t have a major college football game to watch. Mow the lawn. Clean the garage. Change your oil. The games are near.
A few things I learned (or thought about) over the last weekend:
• College football officially begins Aug. 27. Nebraska travels to Dublin, Ireland to play Northwestern. Other “Week 0” games feature: Duquesne at Florida State, Florida A&M at North Carolina, Wyoming at Illinois, Vanderbilt at Hawaii, Austin Peay at Western Kentucky, Nevada at New Mexico State and UConn at Utah State.
• “Week 0” is sort of living up to its name, isn’t it?
• Oregon vs. Georgia is a big “Week 1” game for the Pac-12 on Sept. 3 in Atlanta. But as far as importance to the conference, it doesn’t top Utah at Florida on the same date in Gainesville, Fla.
• Utes coach Kyle Whittingham won the Pac-12 title last season and went to the Rose Bowl. Both were firsts for the program. But his most impressive trick was somehow convincing his team that it still had unfinished business.
• My mother-in-law fled communist China in a boat. How do you thank the woman who raised your wife? I tried in my Sunday column.
• After the column was published, I got a bunch of notes from readers who wanted my mother-in-law’s Taiwanese beef-noodle soup recipe. I’ll see if she will buckle. She’s a tough customer.
• This comes on the heels of the mention of my Italian grandmother’s unforgettable spaghetti sauce in the Saturday mailbag. I must have food on my mind. Some of you have suggested a “Recipes” tab on this new site. I will consider if this trend continues.
• All this Little League baseball on television got me curious. Did you know the sport has a $60 million TV deal? The CEO of Little League, Steve Keener, earned a salary of $490,719 according to forms filed in the last tax year. The organization, a 501c3, pulls in $32 million in revenue in a typical year.
• The umpires for the Regional finals or the World Series championship tournament in Williamsport, Pa. should not be volunteers. Pay them. As long as parents are going to yell at the umpire — pay them.
• All parents should have to work as a home plate umpire one time in the early part of the season. One inning back there should do the trick.
• UCLA’s non-conference football schedule includes Bowling Green, Alabama State and South Alabama. Are we sure the Bruins are going to the Big Ten in 2024? That feels more like an SEC schedule.
• Arizona State has taken a lot of criticism in the last couple of years. Coach Herm Edwards has had to answer some tough questions. I don’t yet know what to do with the Sun Devils on the football field this season, but they get a big chance to win me over in an important non-conference game vs. Oklahoma State in Week 2.
• It remains puzzling that bettors in the state of Oregon using the DraftKings app can’t place a wager on a college sporting event. You can bet on the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, darts, motor sports and cricket, but you can’t bet a college football game?
• Senate Bill 1503 was proposed by Oregon state Senator Peter Courtney in the last legislative session. If passed, it would have allowed wagering on college sporting events. The proceeds were earmarked to help pay college tuition for students in need. Lobbyists for the tribal casinos pushed back and were successful in delaying a vote on the bill. They asked for a task force to study the issue instead.
• I asked the 79-year-old lawmaker what a task force and a study meant for the bill. He said: “It’s political code for ‘Kill the bill. Kill the bill.’ These studies drive me crazy. These task forces drive me crazy. I didn’t come here to do a study, I came here to vote and make public policy. That’s exactly what that was. They came at me hard and they beat me. I lost. I got beat. I’m really down about that.”
• Senator Courtney will retire at the end of his current term. I’m happy for the guy. But let’s face it — they don’t make lawmakers like him anymore.
• More than $20 billion was legally wagered in the United States on the NFL and college football in 2021. That’s up from just $7.5 billion in 2020. Not sure how the pandemic may have figured in that, exactly, but it makes sense that the offshore books are losing market share to the swath of states legalizing sports gambling.
• I keep hearing buzz about Oregon State’s defense. Those observing practice aren’t leaving talking about the Beavers’ run game. They’re excited about the defense. It’s been a while since I’ve heard that talk.
• Former Oregon offensive lineman Nick Cody got a practice peek at the Ducks under new coach Dan Lanning last week. He offered that the 2022 Ducks are “physically, one of the most imposing teams we’ve had at every position.”
Cody played for Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich and was part of the 2010 Oregon team that lost to Auburn in the BCS title game.
• I asked Nick Cody about the Oregon quarterback competition. He doesn’t know — for certain — who will be the starter at quarterback, but Cody said he “definitely” knows who he wants it to be.
“Me,” Cody said. “I could throw the rock up in the air 25 times a game and get some Heisman votes back there with this team.”
• Cody has been doing some stand-up comedy in the Seattle area, where he now lives. Not making that up. He’s taking some comedy classes and working on his act. When he’s ready to go on tour, I’ll update you.
• Speaking of the Heisman Trophy, I have a vote. It will be interesting to see which conference walks away with the hardware in December. The award is supposed to honor the best college football player in the country. But it now seems to be given to the best offensive player in the playoff mix. The Big Ten is the current favorite. Here are the early lines:
• Washington coach Kalen DeBoer said he’s likely to name a starter at quarterback in the next six days. He doesn’t want the distraction to linger, apparently.
“I think we'll just roll with it,” the new UW coach told reporters. “You could say there's a competitive advantage, but I don't even like the distraction. In my mind, we'll probably release it.”
• Sam Huard, Dylan Morris and Michael Penix Jr. are in a three-way race at UW. My bet is on Penix Jr., the Indiana transfer. I also wonder if he will stay healthy. It’s been an issue for him in his young career.
• I suspect Washington State QB Cameron Ward is going to put up huge numbers this season. But a big part of that is incumbent upon his offensive line. It’s not been a source of strength at WSU in fall camp.
• Do you appreciate college football’s biggest freaks? I sure like reading about them. Bruce Feldman recently published his annual list of those who possess unique physical abilities. Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith bench pressed 325 pounds a whopping 22 times, for example. Feldman included Oregon freak DJ Johnson at No. 4 on his list.
• Johnson, 6-foot-4 and 275 pounds, played 98 snaps on offense (tight end) and another 152 snaps (linebacker) on defense last season. He told me a couple of weeks ago that he’s got a new side hustle. It’s not as a strongman, either. Johnson is breeding dogs. I’ve never heard a college football player so excited to talk about the importance of buying quality dog food.
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