Time of possession is overrated


Time of possession is overrated

Steve Berman

The final scores look similar, but the way Oregon went out their 53-30 victory over Stanford was quite different from their 52-31 win over the Cardinal in Eugene last year.

A year ago Stanford jumped out to a 21-3 lead before getting crushed over the last three quarters. This time Oregon showed early on that they were the superior team, jumping out to an early lead they'd never relinquish.

It was almost like Stanford head coach David Shaw saw his team's fate coming, at least based on what he said earlier in the week.

"We got to get drives in the end zone, because (Oregon) might have a 3-play, 78-yard drive," Shaw said. "And if you're kicking field goals and they're scoring touchdowns there's no chance, regardless of what the time of possession is."

Stanford's offense gained more yards than Oregon's (400-387) and led in time of possession (34:25-25:35). After the game was over and the Ducks flew out of California with a vise grip on the Pac-12, those numbers didn't matter in the slightest.

This game was mostly about Oregon destroying Stanford with the same speed the Cardinal and everyone looking forward to this game obsessed over all week, particularly the running ability routinely displayed by LaMichael James. James looked like the Heisman Trophy favorite in this game, rushing 20 times for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns.

However, this game was also about how each team reacted when good fortune (translation: the football) fell into their laps.

Former Heisman favorite Andrew Luck threw a first quarter interception that Dewitt Stuckey took to Stanford's 20, and Darron Thomas threw a TD pass to Lavasier Tuinei five plays later.

Stanford's Delano Howell used the cast on his right hand to knock the ball out of De'Anthony Thomas' arms a little while later, and the Cardinal squandered good field position with a drive that sputtered in the red zone before Eric Whitaker kicked a 37-yard field goal.

The Ducks started the third quarter by once again displaying in full abundance what they possess that Stanford doesn't. Ducks receiver Josh Huff caught pass in the flat from Thomas while Cardinal corner Terrence Brown was picking himself up off the sloppy Stanford Stadium turf. One juke later and Brown was back on the turf again. A split second later, Cardinal safety Michael Thomas was on the ground as well as Huff sped into the end zone past everyone for a 59-yard TD reception.

After Stanford went three and out on their next possession they finally experienced a little good luck, as James dropped David Green's punt and Stanford recovered the ball at Oregon's 34.

With Oregon holding a 29-16 lead after Huff's touchdown, the Cardinal couldn't settle for a field goal. And they didn't, as Whitaker's 48-yard attempt was wide to the right by almost the same distance.

Talk about a gut punch.

From there, it was an exhibition of pass rushing brilliance from Oregon. The Ducks sacked Luck three times on the night and hit him on several other occasions, proving speed can be a useful quality even when you don't have the ball.

Oregon also displayed the kind of rushing dominance that sucks the life out of teams, which heading into this game was supposed to be Stanford's identity. In the second half the Ducks broke off five runs of 10 yards or longer, compared to none for the Cardinal. For the game Oregon averaged 5.0 yards per carry compared to 3. 7 for Stanford.

Stanford won't enjoy looking back on numerous dropped passes and missed tackles, or the three turnovers they committed in less than 4 minutes at the end of the game. But just like last year, the Ducks proved again to be the superior team.

The Ducks took advantage of Cardinal turnovers, Stanford didn't take advantage of turnovers by Oregon, and at the end of the game the Cardinal couldn't stop turning the ball over. Different game than last year, same result: Oregon rules the Pac-12.
Steve Berman is the Bay Area Sports Guy and a contributor to Check out his blog and follow him on Twitter @BASportsGuy

The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof


The future of Cal athletics, or lack thereof

Your education dollars are always at work, so it is with pride and bewilderment that we report that the University of California’s incoming class (2021, for those few who can get out in four years) marched to Memorial Stadium and formed the world’s largest human letter.
It was . . . wait for it . . . a “C.” A 7,196-person-strong “C.”
But the school, as it occasionally does, missed a golden opportunity to seize a golden opportunity. All they needed to do was have a quick whip-round, get $55,586.44 from each and every one of the captives . . . er, students, and they could have wiped out their entire athletics deficit in one night.
You see, while forming gigantic letters is always fun (or as the kids used to say when double negatives didn’t mean voting, never not fun), Cal is staring at quite possibly the bleakest future a major athletic university ever has. The athletic department, whose chief officer, Mike Williams, has just announced his intention to quit, is over $400 million in debt between construction costs, ambition, shrinking allegiance and the absence of a Phil Knight-level sugar daddy to buy the pain away.
And before you blame Williams, he inherited this indigestible planetoid from his predecessor, Sandy Barbour, who grew it from her predecessor, Steve Gladstone, and hastened it from . . . well, you get the drift. 
Cal’s been blowing through money it hasn’t been taking in for years upon years, didn’t realize the deficit-cutting benefits of the Pac-12 Network (because they largely don’t exist), and the day of reckoning looms closer and closer, especially now that new chancellor Carol Christ (no apparent relation) described the deficit as “corrosive” and has insisted that the athletic department have a balanced budget by 2020.
In short, the school may only be able to afford a lower-case “C” before too long. Maybe in comic sans. 

NCAA adopts sexual violence policy: 'It's not banning violent athletes...'


NCAA adopts sexual violence policy: 'It's not banning violent athletes...'

NCAA member schools will be required to provide yearly sexual violence education for all college athletes, coaches and athletics administrators under a policy announced Thursday by the organization's board of governors.

Campus leaders such as athletic directors, school presidents and Title IX coordinators will be required to attest that athletes, coaches and administrators have been educated on sexual violence.

The policy was adopted from a recommendation made by the Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence, which was created by the board last year in response to several high-profile cases involving sexual assaults and athletic departments, including the scandal at Baylor.

The policy also requires campus leaders to declare that athletic departments are knowledgeable and compliant with school policies on sexual violence prevention, adjudication and resolution.

Brenda Tracy, a rape survivor and activist who speaks to college teams across the country about sexual violence , is a member of the commission. She has called for the NCAA to ban athletes with a history of sexual violence. While this policy falls far short of that, Tracy said she was encouraged.

"It's not banning violent athletes, but it's a positive policy that's going to have a big impact on our campuses," Tracy said in a phone interview from Amherst, Massachusetts, where she was spending the day speaking to the UMass football and basketball teams.

The announcement from the NCAA came just one day after Youngstown State decided a football player who served jail time for a rape committed while he was in high school will not be allowed to play in games this season. Ma'Lik Richmond , who served about 10 months in a juvenile lockup after being convicted with another Steubenville High School football player of raping a 16-year-old girl in 2012, walked on at Youngstown State earlier this year. He will be allowed to practice and participate in other team activities.

Tracy has promoted a petition urging Youngstown State to not allow Richmond to play.

"I think that playing sports and playing NCAA sports is a privilege. It is not a right," Tracy said. "If we're going to be placing student-athletes in that position of power and influence - to drive narrative, to drive conversation, to affect culture - then behavior matters. Right now, I feel like Youngstown is sending the message that violence against women, rape all of these things are OK. It doesn't affect your ability to play sports."

A move toward an NCAA policy on sexual violence was given momentum by numerous issues involving athletes and athletic departments in recent years. Perhaps the most high-profile example is Baylor, where an investigation found that allegations of sexual assault, some against football players, were mishandled by school leaders.

Two years ago, the Southeastern Conference barred schools from accepting transfers who had been dismissed from another school for serious misconduct, defined as sexual assault, domestic violence or other forms of sexual violence.

Indiana announced in April that it would no longer accept any prospective student-athlete who has been convicted of or pleaded guilty or no contest to a felony involving sexual violence. In July, the athletic director at the University of Illinois said the school was working on a similar policy.

Tracy said the NCAA has not ruled out implementing a policy like Indiana's.

"The fact that's still on the table, we're still having discussions about that, we're still going to keep working moving forward, gives me a lot of hope," she said.

In a statement, the NCAA said: "Any discussion of individual accountability beyond the criminal justice system must address the complexities and nuances of different federal and state laws so that it can be consistently applied across the NCAA."

The new NCAA policy defers to schools to set their own sexual violence education practices, though in 2014 the association set expectations for its members with a resolution and made recommendations in a handbook on sexual assault.

"Schools do different things," Tracy said. "The NCAA is now saying this isn't just an option. This is now a policy and a requirement. And not only that but you need to attest to us every year what it is that you're doing ... Some schools are doing a great job. Some schools are not doing a great job."