Stanford PA fails fanbase in blowout


Stanford PA fails fanbase in blowout

On nights like Saturday, when Stanfords duties had largely ended by halftime, the real fun began in watching how much head coach David Shaw weighed his teams needs, Andrew Lucks numbers and Heisman candidacy, and the poll and entertainment value of a lopsided win at home against a highly regarded foe.

In, he had to decide, for the seventh time this year, how much to press his luck.

Pun intended, I suppose.

More importantly, though, this 65-21 win over 22nd-ranked (at least for a few more hours) Washington marked the game in which the crowd got fully engaged in the national popularity poll that is the BCS for perhaps the first time ever.

Well get to that momentarily, though. First, the local concern.

In a surprisingly desultory win that gave Stanford its 10th consecutive win of 25 or more points, a college football record, and its best start in 60 years, the Cardinal offense did what it wanted only when it felt like doing it, and Luck did remarkably little statistically.

What he did was fine, dont get us wrong in the half that mattered, he was 11 for 13 for 109 yards with touchdown passes to The Coby Fleener and Drew Terrell for a quarterback rating of 2.5 billion, give or take a decimal point. He finished 16 for 21 for 169 and those two touchdowns before leaving with 9:14 left and with six more scoring drives on his resume.

He was, in short, as he always is lab-coat efficient, and cadaver bloodless. In all, a perfect adjunct to the 100-yard games from Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney.

But the game didnt really rivet the way one thinks a home rout against a good team would. It ended too quickly, and while it reinforced the notion that Taylor is a superb running back and Gaffney a fascinating alternative, it didnt bring a lot of drama to the sellout crowd.

And it didnt advance Lucks Heismanosity, at least not as much as Wisconsins Russell Wilson losing at Michigan State did.

Saturday was therefore something of a missed opportunity for the Pad-His-Stats brigade, but an important one for thinning out the Heisman herd. It was a night for Taylor and Gaffney and Michael Thomas (62-yard pick-six) and of course, The Fleener of Coby, who caught yet another touchdown to enhance his place as the best Fleener in college football.

It was, though, a great night for watching other scores to see if the Cardinal could insert themselves into a more advantageous BCS position.

And thats where the crowd could have been helped by the public address announcer helped, even to stay in the stadium until the game was over to see how the rest of the Top Seven was doing, and how much it would benefit Stanford.

The fans repeatedly expressed no interest in the USC-Notre Dame game, which normally gets some booing from everyone given the relative popularities of the two schools in these parts. But when Wisconsins struggles at East Lansing were intermittently announced, the crowd behaved like it had been transplanted from Tuscaloosa.

In fact, after Stanfords game had ended and most of the players and civilians had left the field fore their cars and locker rooms, the PA blurted out the news that Michigan State had won, 37-31. Those who stayed roared their best. Hey, it will take time, this national profile thing.

If the crowd had also been told that Badger quarterbackHeisman candidate Russell Wilson had an awful time of it in that game (14222232 TDs2 picks) and did more for Luck than Luck did for himself, it would have broke into paroxysms of uncontrolled golf clapping.

There was never, however, any mention of Oklahomas brutal start against Texas Tech. And since Stanford is no longer a boutique football operation but part of a greater whole at the top end of the food chain, such oversights in this rarefied air are frankly inexcusable.

Oh, theyll have a chance to get it right in two weeks when Oregon comes to town, but by then, the only game that matters will be the one in front of them. Scoreboard watching will be the least of their pastimes, and thats a bit of bad news, because when youre this good, watching your few peers is a lot of the fun.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for

NFL disregards domestic violence, as Giants extend its tolerance scale


NFL disregards domestic violence, as Giants extend its tolerance scale

The National Football League has been reminded yet again that it neither understands nor cares to understand about domestic violence.

But it will do better, you may rest assured. They’ll have a week where all the on-field personnel wear purple to commemorate the bruises.

That’s what the NFL does when it can no longer ignore its own tone-deafness – they turn their stupidity into a marketing opportunity. After all, every social problem can be solved in the league’s eyes by figuring out a way for the league to monetize it.

The latest example of the NFL’s slack-jawed world view comes from New York, where the Giants could not and still cannot figure out what to do about kicker/serial domestic abuser Josh Brown except not let him go to London for the weekend.

This means the league has learned nothing from the Ray Rice incident, even as Rice of all people is showing on a regular basis how to learn from it. More than that, it means it has no interest in learning anything about it, and will never prioritize it beyond crisis-management level – “Uh-oh, something bad just happened. Quick, put it behind us.”

Then again, the league has been so relentlessly ham-handed on so many things that, as convenient as this may be for it, we should stop expecting it to do so, to the point that when someone from the league wants to explain some social issue to us we should simply say with one voice, “Oh, shut up, you yammering frauds.”

It is difficult to prioritize the number of ways the Giants failed to comprehend the problem currently smacking them between the numbers, although owner John Mara’s “He admitted to us he'd abused his wife in the past. What’s a little unclear is the extent of that” may summarize it nicely.

Put another way, one could make a case that the Giants extended the universal talent-tolerance scale (if you have the talent, anything can be tolerated until it can’t) to include placekickers.

That seems less likely, though, than the more obvious point that the league doesn’t regard domestic violence as something worth concerning itself with, while bloviating all the time about all the things with which it is concerned. The league is the beat cop who never gets out of his car to see what is happening on his beat, and is shocked when something does.

And while it will be handy to pile this atop the list of reasons why Commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t get it, the truth is he is merely the painful rash that reveals the league’s case of shingles. The league’s 32 constituent elements are culpable here because ignorance in the face of so much evidence becomes willful, and Goodell’s skill is not in guiding the league but in figuring out where his 32 bosses want him to go, and avoiding all the places they don’t.

Hence, domestic violence. This is not an easy problem to solve, as any expert will say, but Mara trying to decide how many punches are enough isn’t it. The league’s six-game suspension guideline that is now four years old has never been imposed on any player. It wants the power to use the talent-tolerance scale at whim to do what it wishes when it wishes to do it.

Or in this case, not do anything at all until it has to, and then in as minimal a fashion as it can manage.

So, Josh Brown loses a week in a foreign country on the company dime as a trade-off for continually terrorizing his wife. The league says it punished him for a game but was powerless to do anything else while knowing all along how severe the problem had become.

In short, it did the minimum. Now that everyone knows the fullest extent of Brown’s abuse, and how much the league knew without doing anything, it will now extend the minimum out to what it thinks is a new minimum.

So we now know that the NFL is looking for some metric that will determine the transactional “extent of that,” as John Mara so eloquently put it for us. When it comes up with that formula, it will surely ignore that standard, because the real standard is still “talent-tolerance,” and the world is made up of concentric circles surrounding the people who make the league and its members a dollar more tomorrow than it made today.

And spouses are a long way from the center.

Silent but effective Sharks look to be an under-the-radar power

Silent but effective Sharks look to be an under-the-radar power

The National Hockey League began its 685th season (or whatever the hell it is; the other reason to know is for the yobs who have to authenticate the shoulder patches), and apparently is going to belong to Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid and the new focus on speed and attack and goals.

At least that was the talk after Night One of 179, in which the first three games of the new season featured some mid-‘80s level run-and-run play. The Ottawa-Toronto game gave us Matthews’ first four NHL goals in a game his Torontos lost, 5-4. The Edmonton-Calgary game finished 7-4, with the nonpareil McDavid scoring twice. Even the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks engaged in some fun-time up-and-down play in a 5-2 St. Louis victory.

But here, we get cold, hard sanity – the discipline and territorial integrity that is the hallmark of the new-ish and ever-so-slightly improved San Jose Sharks. They opened their defense of the Not-Quite-Stanley Cup with a very grind-y 2-1 win over the allegedly declining but still obstinate Los Angeles Kings.

[KURZ: Instant Replay: Couture, Burns push Sharks past Kings]

Guess which game won’t be talked about come the morning’s national rehashes. And guess who won’t give a farthing’s worth of damn.

Matthews and McDavid will of course dominate – Matthews, because he is a Toronto Maple Leafs and all things Leaf trump all things anything else in this still-defiantly Canadian league, and McDavid, because he helped usher in the brand new civic boondoggle . . . err, arena in Edmonton with two goals and the quote of the night.

“I don't think I touched the puck four times in my first game,” McDavid said, telling what is clearly a monumental whopper because he knows a good story when it is thrust upon him.

That will get run.

The Sharks, on the other hand, have resumed their plan running silent and running deep. Despite having the territorial and chance edges, the Skating Selachimorpha needed to stay true to their truth, which is that 11-goal games are not to their advantage, and that the sum of the whole must exceed its parts.

That’s how they got to hang a new banner from the rafters of The Old Grey Girl on Santa Clara Street – by keeping their heads when all about them are scoring theirs off.

Then again, the Sharks have older legs in key positions, greater expectations than Get The Puck To The Young’uns and Try Not To Finish 13th, and a coach in Peter (Chuckles) DeBoer who has the pressure of taking last year’s stealth success and finish the job the Pittsburgh Penguins prevented them from doing a year ago.

In short, the Sharks are likely to be just as under-the-radar this year as they were last, and assuming health and focus, they are still one of the two or three best teams in the Western Conference.

It’s just that they can’t run hither and yon chasing whatever puck looks tempting to them. Their first duty is to maintain defensive integrity, which they did with fervor and purpose Wednesday night, and their second is to see to it that goaltender Martin Jones is not oppressively treated by the opponent (San Jose outshot Los Angeles 31-22, and totally outshot the Kings, 73-58).

There was, in short, relatively little to make anyone wax euphoric about this team off one game, and in fairness, Kings coach Darryl Sutter knows how to keep games into the race-to-three stage, which may color the judgment some.

But the Sharks are playing the way they have learned works best for them, and that means gumming up passing (15 takeaways) and shooting lanes (21 blocked shots). They are like the Kings – well, the Kings of a couple of years ago – than they are the newest incarnations of the Oilers or Leafs, and based on history, that shall be considered a good thing.

Of course, the game, she is a’changing, and at some point in the next couple of years the changes that every season brings will become substantive ones, the old core will give way to a new one, and the current orthodoxy that speed is the most important component to happy-happy-win-joy will overtake San Jose.

DeBoer, though, showed against last night that is perfectly comfortable dancing with who brung him, as the kids no longer say, and making the most of what Providence has offered him. And Wednesday, as it did for most of the past year save the lost fortnight in Pennsylvania, that philosophy once again came up trumps.

Well, maybe that’s a saying we should probably forgo for awhile. Let’s just leave it at “Sharks, twice as many as Kings.” That’s a good enough result to get paid off in this league, and until DeBoer is asked for style points, that will more than suffice.