Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Civil War Controversy

Up here in the Willamette Valley we are in the midst of a controversy. Before I give you the details of said controversy I will provide a little bit of background for those not familiar with the Civil War. The state of Oregon only has two major schools that also participate at the the highest level of college athletics. The University of Oregon is located in Eugene and Oregon State University is located 45 minutes north in Corvallis. Both schools think the other school is inferior to the other. Both towns think the other town is inferior. It's quite funny because if one wanted to be truly honest about it neither town is so great that it makes the other seem pathetic. This comes from a Californian so take it for what it's worth. Eugene seems to think it's so incredibly sophisticated that Corvallis couldn't possibly be a place worth living (could be true). Corvallis thinks Eugene is so concerned with environmental matters that they can't get out of their own way (definitely true).

When it comes to the actual schools I tend to believe UO is far superior. I guess having two degrees from the place will make you feel that way. But in all honesty, depending on your interests each school could be the right one for you. UO has good business, education, architecture and journalism schools. OSU is known more for the sciences; agriculture and all forms of engineering. Now when you put all of this together (proximity, town snootiness and differing academics) you get quite a rivalry, but not a rivalry like they have in the SEC. You see, UO and OSU fans are in the same families, work together and live next door to each other. For the most part UO and OSU fans detest each other only when the teams are playing each other. At all other times they root for each other. Oregonians, regardless of affiliation, hate the same things; Huskies, Trojans, and Bruins, just not each other. Well, given recent events that may change but I truly doubt it if both sides really look at the incident in question.

The one OSU team that a lot of UO fans have gotten behind the last few years has been the baseball team. Without a team UO faithful needed a baseball team to root for so why not go with the best team in the country? This sentiment all changed on July 13th when the UO brought back baseball. Things have been relatively peaceful on the baseball front but Brian Meehan of The Oregonian tried to change that yesterday with his piece about Oregon's search for a baseball coach. According to "a well-placed source" (Meehan's words) the UO talked to OSU's Pat Casey (pictured above) about its vacant coaching job. Meehan didn't leave it at that, he went on to explain that Oregon has violated unwritten rules, been unabashed jerks and spit on Benny the Beaver. Okay, maybe not the last one, but I have a well-place source that says a UO alum did that recently.

I'm not real sure what Meehan was trying to do with his article. Maybe someone can help me out. Here's how I see it. Oregon stated they wanted the best coach possible, what's the harm in contacting the best coach possible? Is it Oregon's fault that he lives 45 minutes away? OSU faithful should be flattered the dreaded Ducks would even consider an OSU coach. There is no way he would leave the back-to-back national champs to start from scratch anyway.

Well, all of this talk about Oregon being incredibly rude for maybe talking to the best coach in the country led to articles in The Register-Guard and The Oregonian this morning. Ron Bellamy has a pretty good article squelching the thought that Oregon would contact Casey. (I'm not sure if it is a PR piece for the UO or hard-hitting journalism but it does get its point across.) On the front of the sports section is a picture of Casey with UO athletic director Pat Kilkenny at a Eugene Emeralds game over the weekend. (I'd provide a link to the picture but I do not see it online so just take my word.) Also in the picture is San Diego Padres general manager, Kevin Towers, a friend of Kilkenny and former teammate of Casey's. Then the 4th guy in the photo is a candidate for Oregon's coaching vacancy, Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin. In the article Kilkenny denied offering the job to Casey and UO President Dave Frohnmayer said he gave orders not to contact Casey about the job.

Now I would hope for the sake of Meehan that he did not receive word of Casey attending a game with Oregon's athletic director and then go on a wild goose chase trying to figure out if he was offered the job. Today, Meehan wrote a follow-up story with much the same information as Bellamy but added to his investigative piece from the previous day stating, "Other coaches in the Northwest also said they had heard about the offer (from Oregon to Casey)." Where in the hell was that line in yesterday's piece? Yesterday's article simply said, "... potential candidates already were talking about Oregon trying to woo Casey from Corvallis." Meehan then went on yesterday to talk to UC Irvine head coach Dave Serrano who isn't quoted saying anything about Oregon offering Casey. Serrano just says UO is trying to get a good coach and playing with limited scholarships will be difficult. Nothing inflammatory there as far as I can tell. Meehan does not have to disclose his source (according to yesterday's article) or sources (according to today's article) so one may never know what tipped him to write the piece.

Whatever the case, I don't think this is as big a deal as Meehan wants it to be. If Oregon didn't talk to Casey the picture in The Register-Guard is a pretty tight alibi since Meehan wouldn't name names. And if Oregon did talk to him it wouldn't be the first time the best coach in a college sport has been approached by another school. Just becuase it is a rival shouldn't matter. Oregonians need to quit thinking big-time college athletics is like Little League. Ruffling the other's feathers (pardon the pun) at a time besides Civil War week of football should not be seen as a crime. If UO and OSU want to be seen as national powers they shouldn't get their feelings hurt when someone else wants to talk to their coaches no matter who it is.

As a side note to all of this, read both of Meehan's articles. Yesterday's was certainly an opinion piece, then today's was much more of a news piece. I also like how in today's article Meehan states, "... the university reacted emphatically to a column in The Oregonian on Monday that reported Oregon had offered its head baseball position to Pat Casey." Meehan, could you somehow throw in there that yesterday's column was an editorial and you were the one that wrote and that you were adding some information today that was not in there yesterday to make that piece a little bit stronger? I did not go to journalism school so someone needs to enlighten me on journalists being able to provide opinions based on conjecture one day then write a follow-up piece on the same topic the next day and present it as news and not opinion.

(Photo from OSU Athletics.)


Anonymous said...

Nice piece, but you were way too nice to Meeham.

Meeham's original article is just one more example of the oregonian trying desparately to hang on to readers.

Sorry "Little o" the trib and the internet are going to take your readers. You have turned bush with your "scoops".

th_goducks94 said...

Nice work, J M.

You've expanded on what a lot of us are already thinking... the Oregonian's credibility may be waning.


heckler said...

speaking of the university of whOregon....when [Oregon women's basketball coach] Bev Smith says SCREW THE BEAVERS....she means it!