NCAA

Heisman Watch: Luck dethroned

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Heisman Watch: Luck dethroned

It's still not the appropriate time to destroy the BCS. Several different scenarios have to play themselves out before we go down that road.

Therefore, let's get straight to the Heisman Watch...

Rank Player, Position, School Recent Game Stats Season Stats Next Game 1 Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State 31-37, 423 yards, 5 TD in 66-6 win at Texas Tech 313-428 (73), 3635 yards, 31 TD, 9 INT At Iowa State 2 Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford 27-41, 271 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT in 53-30 loss to No. 7 Oregon 221-313 (71), 2695 yards, 29 TD, 7 INT, 2 rush TD California 3 Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama 32 rush, 127 yards, TD in 24-7 win at Mississippi State 204 rush, 1205 yards (5.9 YPC), 18 TD, 318 rec. yards, rec. TD Georgia Southern 4 Case Keenum, QB, Houston 22-29, 325 yards, 3 TD in 73-17 win over Tulane 279-376 (74), 3951 yards, 37 TD, 3 INT, 2 rush TD Southern Methodist 5 LaMichael James, RB, Oregon 20 rush, 146 yards, 3 TD in 53-30 at No. 4 Stanford 153 rush, 1207 yards (7.9 YPC), 12 TD, 175 rec. yards, rec. TD USC (No. 18 AP Poll)
On the bubble: Landry JonesQBOklahoma, Kellen MooreQBBoise State

Analysis:

1) Brandon Weeden -- Weeden was ranked fifth in last week's standings and and I also said, "Trap game coming up this weekend as the Cowboys head to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech." Well, the 28-year old, former 2nd round pick of the New York Yankees, had a near perfect performance in the Cowboys' 66-6 beatdown of the Red Raiders (I still don't know how Oklahoma lost to Texas Tech at home a few weeks back). Weeden has a better completion percentage and has thrown more touchdowns than Andrew Luck. He has also thrown for nearly 1,000 more yards than Luck, but it's hard to take this into account given that he has thrown the ball 115 more times (Luck averages 8.6 yards per attempt compared to Weeden's 8.5 yards per throw). Ultimately, Weeden is in the driver's seat now because if the he plays exceptionally well in two more Oklahoma State victories, the Cowboys will be playing in the national title game and he could very well win the Heisman.2) Andrew Luck -- Oddly enough, Luck was able to overcome a pick-six he threw near the end of regulation against USC three weeks ago, but wasn't able to lead Stanford back after his first quarter interception was turned into eight Oregon points (they characteristically went for two and were successful). The reason? Oregon is flat-out better than Stanford. Luck wound up throwing two interceptions (the second was a dropped pass that deflected right to an Oregon defender who returned it for a touchdown) and he also lost a fumble. He also throw three touchdowns and for the majority of the game looked every bit like the Andrew Luck we are accustomed to seeing. However, he admitted it was the worst game he played all season and Stanford suffered a blowout loss that dropped them to No. 9 in the BCS. Thus, Luck was knocked off his perch by Weeden. But do not fear Stanford fans -- because Luck has two more opportunities on national television to regain the top spot.
3) Trent Richardson -- The future Doak Walker Award winner received a season-high 32 carries against Mississippi State, and racked up a modest 127 yards and a touchdown. It will be hard for Richardson to leap both Weeden and Luck at this point, and because his team only has two games left, he could end up getting leaped by either Case Keenum or the other running back who checks in at No. 5 (who both have three games left to accumulate stats). Forget the Heisman, Richardson just hopes that either LSU or Oklahoma State slip up so he can showcase his talent in the BCS title game.4) Case Keenum -- Shockingly, Keenum wasn't able to break any more NCAA records over the weekend after he did so three consecutive weeks prior (what's left to break?). He has done everything needed to become a legitimate Heisman candidate, and will definitely be in New York for the presentation if Houston finishes 13-0. Consider yourself warned Case -- if your team loses, you will not make a BCS game and you will fall out of the Heisman race. See: Kellen Moore.
5) LaMichael James -- Remember when Oregon lost to LSU back on September 3 and LaMichael James' Heisman hopes were dashed because he only rushed for 54 yards (he also rushed for a TD and led Oregon with 61 receiving yards)? Well, despite the fact he missed two games because of a gruesome elbow injury he sustained against Cal on October 6, James is back in the Heisman hunt after rushing for 146 yards and three touchdowns against the No. 4 ranked Stanford Cardinal. In two fewer games than Richardson, James has rushed for two more yards -- made possible by his three straight 200-plus-yard performances against Missouri State, Arizona and Cal. James should put up huge numbers over the Ducks' final three games, cementing an invitation to New York City.
Drew Shiller is a Web Producer at CSNBayArea.com. You can follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Memory of the late Bob Murphy will live on the heads of those who heard him

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STANFORD.COM

Memory of the late Bob Murphy will live on the heads of those who heard him

Bob Murphy, who was the voice of Stanford athletics when such titles truly mattered in the Bay Area, died Tuesday after a long fight with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 86.

Murphy was viscerally connected to the university in ways that were once in vogue across the nation but are now reserved only to the Midwest and Southeast. He was a walking ambassador for the school’s athletic history, a familiar face to the army of alums who linked to his voice and presence early and ultimately grew old with him, even when coaches and players and athletic directors came and went with unsettling frequency.

And while his time as the alternate face to Hoover Tower eventually faded, he was still Murph – to be honored and respected by all generations, even the ones who never heard him or saw him. If anyone below the age of 25 asked about him, he was spoken of with the reverence reserved for architectural structures or hundred-year-old trees. He belonged to the place, and the place belonged to him.

He mattered at Stanford, because Stanford is an insular community, watching the world outside with a palpable sense of “Thank God we’re safe in here.” He attended the school, he worked as its sports information director, and he was the radio voice who fought for Stanford when only a few people were listening. He had proven his devotion decades ago, until his devotion became part of the background noise and scenery.

And he didn’t even leave after he became ill, and then absent. Only the most successful coaches and athletes get to attain that omnipresent aura in college athletics, and in truth, Murphy reached more people in the community than any coach or player the school has ever had, simply by being at the place, and of the place, longer and more happily than anyone.

Sometime soon, we suspect, he will be remembered with a statue, either near the football stadium or near Maples Pavilion. He will be bronzed, wearing a polo shirt with the S-with-the-interlocking-tree and glasses wedged against the bridge of his nose. He will be seated, with a desk before him and microphone perched atop it, and there will be a plaque with a Wikipedia-ized list of his contributions.

But without the voice, it will be incomplete. That will have to be recreated inside the heads of those who heard it most often, and cared most what words it carried. It is there where Bob Murphy’s memory will thrive – as someone who defined Stanford in ways that no marketing campaign ever could.

David Shaw is quietly the second-best coach in the Bay Area

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USATI

David Shaw is quietly the second-best coach in the Bay Area

Steve Kerr has been the standard by which all other coaches have been measured in these parts since he arrived in Oakland – rescued as it was from the nine hells of the New York Knickerbockers. He is indeed so good that he is still getting credit for the 50 wins he actually didn’t fully merit – the 39 that belong to Luke Walton and the 11 that are Mike Brown’s.

But this is not to slag Kerr’s record – which even if you eliminate the 55 games he hasn’t coached in his three years because of his back issue is still the best in NBA history – but to remind you that David Shaw still exists, he still is supervising the golden age of Stanford football, and he is just as unavailable to pro teams as he ever was.

Shaw, whose team opens its season on Saturday night in Australia against Rice, has been beneath the radar since the day he arrived, for no better reasons than (a) the Bay Area doesn’t hold much stock in college football and (b) he likes it that way. His excellence is indisputable, but he is also in the perfect place to do his job without any of the irritants that surround most college coaches – media, embittered alumni, NCAA investigators, the late night call from the cops about your outside linebacker overturning a minivan, that kind of thing.

He has worn down all attempts to question him on his next job because, while he could get one at the snap of a finger, he was not infected with the standard coach’s ambition to see and be seen. He has seen the sport’s many excesses and has decided to ward off the ones that directly touch him.

He still believes in the game’s virtues, and can probably be considered a fairly doctrinaire figure on most issues confronting the sport and its practitioners, but does not have to pretend that he is too focused on the job to be interested in mundane things like eclipses, political turmoil, social justice and all the other noxious things that happen outside the cocoon.

But be not fooled. He likes the cocoon that is Stanford, and he has the sense to understand that the chance of a better job existing is almost infinitesimal. He may someday want something more public and lucrative, but until money and fame get a long winning streak going at his house, he’ll sit quietly, the second-best coach in the Bay Area and the first-best at making you not remember that he is just that.