Despite the Men of the Square Table only discussing matters of the gridiron at this point in the year, we'd be remiss to just completely ignore the big news of the day.
Before the AZ Daily Star's midday confirmation of the story hit, we learned of the story first thanks to this exclusive "excerpt" of a conversation between Dickie V and UofA spokespeople:
Dick Vitale: Lute Olson is stepping down...baby! Go Rays!
Arizona SID Tom Duddleston: Not true! No press conference! Go away! Nothing to see here! (All while a scene resembling this is in the background)
Dick Vitale: He's sick and skinny as a rail! He was awesome, but now he's gone...baby!
Tom Duddleston: Leave us alone! There are no American troops in Baghdad!
Dick Vitale: There's going to be a new sheriff in Tucson...baby! A diaper dandy! Almost as good as Evan Longoria in the ALCS!
Tom Duddleston: I swear to god, if you don't go away, I'll put on a Phillies jersey.
Dick Vitale: Changing of the guard for Chase Budinger...the elevator man!
Tom Duddleston: Does anyone even REALIZE our football team is 5-2?
Either way, Lute is out after a career that even us at Arizona State can (grudgingly) recognize was pretty amazing.
Plenty going on around the Pac-10 in regards to football this weekend. Washington and Notre Dame face off in "Ty Willingham Bowl II," Oregon travels to ASU who is trying to save their season, surging Arizona hosts USC and Washington State is a 37.5-point dog to the bye week.
1. While Arizona's victory over California certainly caught most of us by surprise, perhaps even more surprising was the 42-27 score. With many of us thinking that Cal was the second best team in the conference, this result throws a huge twist into the Rose Bowl race. Is Arizona really that good?
*supresses vomit* Yes, Arizona is a good football team. In fact, several times on this here blog, I've said that the Wildcats would be bowl eligible in 2008. No one wanted to believe me, but here they sit at 5-2. However, they did exactly what I thought they would do: take advantage of a very soft early season schedule. Now, a late season string of tougher opponents will really test this team's mettle. Their offense, with a startling amount of depth for UA standards, is performing well but their defense still needs some tweaking.
Let's readdress this question after Saturday's game against Southern Cal.
1a. Is Cal's defense really that terrible?
Sorry to my friends at California Golden Blogs, but yes. It is.
2. USC's 69-0 beatdown over Washington State rates among the worst losses in the history of the sport. The Cougars had a total of four first downs, three turnovers, and 28 passing yards. If there are any Washington State fans left out there, what do you say to calm their existential crisis at this point?
Aleve will take care of most of the physical pain. As for mental anguish, I don't think there's even a hallucinogen strong enough to take care of that.
I wish I could even say that USC had some lean years before starting their current run as champions, but it never got close to this bad.
So, my pep talk would consist of telling Wazzou fans that at least they don't have to pay to travel for this year's Apple Cup.
3. Oregon State is at it again. Despite being the butt of jokes at the beginning of the year, the Beavers now look to be rolling and headed toward another top three finish. Are the Beavers primed for another late season run, or were victories over the Washington schools just smoke and mirrors?
First of all, you cannot judge a team's progress in the Pac-10 this year on wins over Washington and Washington State. Games against those teams are neither measuring sticks nor smoke in mirrors. They're just W's.
Mike Riley always has this team rolling right when they should be; that's why he's one of the best head coaches in the conference. They're always at the peak of their performance once the leaves change colors, and this is looking like another typical year in Corvallis.
Tough tests remain for the Beavers...Arizona on the road and Oregon at home in the Civil War present the largest challenges for Oregon State down the stretch. I don't see them, however, stumbling in their next three (Arizona State, @UCLA and Cal). I still think that they're more talented across the board than Arizona and anything can happen in a rivalry game. I'd say this team goes no worse than 3-2 to end the season and there's an outside shot at winning out.
4. Stanford's bowl dreams just took a major hit when they laid an egg at the Rose Bowl. While Stanford is 4-4 at this point, Washington State looms as their only easy game, and they still must play at Oregon, at home versus an SC team that will be looking for revenge, and the Big Game in Strawberry Canyon. Given the brutal schedule, is it too early to bugle 'TAPS' on their bowl chances?
I said last week that Stanford wouldn't be bowl eligible and would finish 5-7 this season. I'll stand by it. Their last win of the season will come next week at home against the Cougars before hitting a devestating end of season stretch which includes Oregon, USC and California. The Cardinal have made major strides in changing the attitude within and atmosphere surrounding Stanford football, but they're just not quite postseason material yet.
5. At this stage in the game, USC is Barack Obama, and the field is John McCain. Make the best case that you can for SC not winning yet another conference crown.
Ha! A political joke! Don't forget to vote in 11 days, folks. It's your duty as an American. By the way, in case you're curious, I'm voting for Ric Flair.
Well...if that awful case of Jock Itch returns...combined with an untimely visit from Kellen Winslow Jr....combined with an earthquake hitting the Los Angeles basin...then Oregon/Cal/Oregon State/Arizona is still in the hunt!