It's been a week now, but I think there is something I need to respond to. Paul Buker of the Oregonian (who is fantastic - one of the best beat writers around) did a very interesting interview with Oregon State Athletic Director Bob DeCarolis where the AD openly wondered why the Beavers weren't selling out at home. It's a good read, and it definitely prompts some thought.
"I've never seen a state like this, where it's one or the other, you're a Duck or you're a Beaver," De Carolis said. "Well, if (OSU alumni) are so proud of that, why is it so hard to keep this thing going? We have a hell of a football product -- a hell of a football product -- and we can't sell out the stadium?"
"Where are all the Beaver fans?"
I feel like I should respond, just because I can and because this hits home a little bit. You see, Wifey and I were season ticket holders from 2000 through last season. I think in that time we only missed one home game. We got there three hours before game time (it's roughly a two hour drive from home), grilled up some food in the parking lot, and trekked the mile to the stadium, sometimes in pretty horrible weather. We never left a game early, even if the Beavers were up by a lot or down by a lot (which was rare). Then we'd wait out traffic for an hour or so, and make the drive home. It's a 12-hour day to attend a game in Corvallis from where we live.
On top of that, if you read the blog you know that I'm also a Duck, which made things interesting. Beaver fans were always good to me for those four Civil War games I attended wearing my green instead of the orange and black - I have no complaints. Still, it does make things interesting.
And yes, we had tons of great times at Reser and tailgating - it's a blast (when it's not cold and rainy). We saw some fantastic football. Oregon State's Fiesta Bowl season, we were there for every game (even went up to Seattle and saw their one loss that season at Husky Stadium, though that was one of the greatest games I have ever seen - Husky fans were nice to Beavers fans too). We saw them beat USC a bunch of times, including the monumental upsets in 2006 and 2008.
And we've seen some great, great players take the field in orange and black. Great running backs like Ken Simonton, Steven Jackson, Yvenson Bernard, and now Jacquizz Rodgers. Great wide receivers like Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, James Newson, Mike Hass, Sammie Stroughter, and now James Rodgers. Some pretty dang good quarterbacks like Jonathan Smith, Derek Anderson, and Matt Moore. Great defensive players like Nick Barnett, Richard Seigler, Al Afalava, Keith Ellison, Sabby Piscitelli, DeLawrence Grant, LaDairis Jackson, Dwan Edwards, and I know I'm missing a whole bunch of names. Two great college coaches in Dennis Erickson and Mike Riley.
We have tons of memories of these games, of these experiences, and we won't forget them.
So Bob, why aren't we going to games this year? Why aren't we in the stands supporting the Beavers, as we have for the past nine years before this?
It wasn't a financial decision, even though season tickets aren't cheap. The state of the economy didn't make our decision, though I think DeCarolis would do better to make it clear he understands Oregon's unemployment rate is one of the highest in the nation. People around here supposedly have less discretionary income, and I don't think there is anything that fits the category of discretionary spending any more than tickets to sporting events.
Our decision was based on time and convenience. Game days were 12-13 hour events, which is something you don't necessarily think about when you talk about going to a football game. And us, we are huge college football fans. College football is on Saturdays, so for half the season we saw one game a day. If we can be home on those days we can watch three or four games if we like, which we do. Plus, we are warm and dry on our couch with our big screen LCD TV, where the images are probably better than from the seats we were paying for. There is no waiting in line for the bathroom. I can grab a beer at a commercial and have it DURING the game if I like. We can make a whole meal at halftime, and not have to worry about spilling my food down the back of the person in front of me (my worry, not Wifey's - that's why I stay away from white clothes - can't be trusted). I don't have to stand up and move into a weird position every time someone further down the aisle has to get by to go to the bathroom. I no longer get kneed in the back from the people behind me - because, well, there aren't any.
Oh, and did I mention being warm and dry? (Now Beaver - and Duck - fans will tell you it doesn't rain that much. And they are right. It usually only rains heavily one game a year. However, that one day is enough to really make you hate the process. I mean, no matter what rain gear you get you will be wet after standing out in a storm for four hours watching football. It may only be once a year, but I guarantee you it makes an impression. Not a good one either.)
It's not the product on the field, and it has nothing to do with supporting the team. Heck, we may spend the same amount of money on merchandise and the like from Oregon State that we did on season tickets (maybe, that would be a whole wardrobe).
The simple fact is that, for us, we don't need the roar of the crowd to truly enjoy the experience and to feel like we really are supporting the team. So we'll watch the games at home on TV, since just about all of them are on TV anyway.
So what changed our mind? Are we getting old? Don't want to deal with it anymore? Maybe some of that, maybe not; I'm not really sure. Maybe it's just the reward factor - I enjoy the games on TV just as much and I have more flexibility. And no lines.
Oh yeah, and warm and dry - there is A LOT to be said for that.
Time - Game - Channel
12:30 - Oregon @ Washington - ABC
1:30 - Washington State @ California - No TV
3:30 - UCLA @ Arizona - Fox Sports Northwest
5 - Oregon State @ USC - ABC
7:15 - Arizona State @ Stanford - Fox Sports Northwest
8:05 - Boise State @ Hawaii - ESPN360.com
I'll Be Watching: We have some errands to run in the morning, but we'll definitely be back for at least half of the Oregon game. After that we'll switch to the Zona game for the first half (which should be all they need) before going to the Oregon State game. When that finishes up we'll watch the last quarter of the ASU-Stanford tilt, which should be a pretty good matchup. All in all, a good day of football. The Cal-WSU game not being on TV is a decent decision as far as those go, at least for us - WSU is terrible.
Predictions: Winning in Seattle is difficult for any team - just ask the USC Trojans. With the Ducks still not entirely settled at quarterback (Jeremiah Masoli should play, but is he 100%?), I think this will be the week they get their first Pac-10 loss, giving conference control back to SC - at least for a week, until Oregon plays SC next week. Huskies...Cal over WSU - I don't need to elaborate...UCLA is not nearly as good as people thought three games into the season. Zona should win this in a cake walk...The fact OSU hasn't won in the Rose Bowl since the 60s has absolutely no bearing on this year's matchup. The Beavers' defense continues to improve, but the Trojans are still a very, very good team. If I were a betting man I would put $400 on the Beavers to cover the egregious 21-spoint spread, but to win? I don't know. I'm going to have to pick SC, but it will be closer than most will expect...ASU and Stanford should be a good game, lots of offense, but I think this is the week Stanford gets back on track. Being at home helps, but being better helps even more...This isn't the Hawaii team that dominated the WAC a few seasons back, but they are still decent. I think this will be an extremely tough game for Boise State. I'm taking Hawaii, and then we can see all this lame talk about Boise State being in a BCS game stop.