Cal Golden Bears

BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 21:  Darren Carrington II #7 of the Oregon Ducks can not catch a ball while covered by Marloshawn Franklin Jr. #18 of the California Golden Bears at California Memorial Stadium on October 21, 2016 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Dead Ducks? Oregon off to worst start in three decades


Regardless of how you slice it, the state of the Oregon Ducks football program could be summed up in a single word: shambles.  And, as a result, Mark Helfrich‘s coaching seat is scorching hot.

Friday night, Oregon roared back from an early 21-0 deficit to take Cal to overtime, to double overtime before falling 52-49 in Berkeley.  It was a spirited comeback by Oregon, but also symbolic of how far the mighty Ducks have fallen: a moral victory against Cal of all teams when once an on-field victory was guaranteed.

Now, nothing is guaranteed for the Ducks unless it’s a los as they have fallen to 2-5, the school’s worst start to a season since 1986.  They have also lost five straight games, the longest in-season losing streak since it lost six in a row to close out 1991.

It’s the defense, though, that’s offensive.

The Ducks have allowed 600 or more yards of offense in three straight games.  According to ESPN, they had allowed 600-plus yards in just three games the last eight years coming into the season.  At bare minimum, first-year defensive coordinator Brady Hoke should be concerned for hs immediate future in Eugene.

Long-term, however, all eyes are on Helfrich, including John Canzano of The Oregonian:

Helfrich’s seat is hot. Everyone knows it. We also recognize that despite immense resources, amazing facilities and a decade-long running head start the Oregon football brand is now broken. An insider at Oregon said after the Ducks surrendered 70 points to Washington that the university couldn’t afford to be patient if it wanted to avoid losing as many as 10,000 season-ticket holders for next season.

Helfrich has now lost nine games in a little over a season and a half.  In four full seasons under Chip Kelly, the Ducks lost a total of seven games.  Chip’s ghost looms large over the football program, as does mega-booster Phil Knight.

The Nike founder visited with athletic director Rob Mullens during last night’s game.  Here’s to guessing there’ll be plenty more meetings between the two in the coming days and weeks as they map out the future of Ducks football — and whether Helfrich will be a part of it.

Cal’s Sonny Dykes: Eight-game schedule is the way to go (like in the SEC)

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 10:  Head coach Sonny Dykes of the California Golden Bears looks on during the third quarter of a game against the San Diego State Aztecs  at Qualcomm Stadium on September 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

At least one college football coach in the Pac-12 is not necessarily a big fan of the way the conference sets up its conference schedule. Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said in a radio interview the more ideal scheduling strategy to get to the College Football Playoff may be an eight-game conference format.

“I think (playing nine conference games) is good for the fans,” Dykes said to Jordan Canzano of The Oregonian. “I don’t know that it’s good necessarily to get teams in the College Football Playoff. It doesn’t take a lot of math ability to figure out if you play an extra conference game that’s an extra opportunity to lose. Where if you schedule the SEC schedule, you’re setting yourself up for success.”

At first glance, this may appear like a shot at the SEC scheduling suggesting an eight-game schedule is weaker and therefore easier. But that’s not entirely true given the SEC scheduling requirements. In addition to the eight-game SEC schedule, each school in the SEC is required to play one more game in non-conference play against another power conference opponent (or one deemed to be an equivalent, like BYU, Notre Dame or even Army). A number of SEC schools play a rival from the ACC, and others tend to schedule neutral site games that tend to be played against another power conference opponent. For example, Florida plays Florida State every year and Alabama has made a habit of playing marquee games in the opening week in either Atlanta or Arlington.

A nine-game conference schedule guarantees teams will be playing five road game sin the conference every other year, which balances out over time but can still be a hurdle in those years you are on the road a minimum of five times. It is also worth considering not every conference is created equally, and it can be argued eight games in the SEC is more of a challenge than nine games in the Pac-12.

The Big 12, Big Ten and Pac-12 play a nine-game conference schedule. The ACC and SEC play eight, plus one additional game against another power conference opponent. The Big Ten also has that stipulation on top of the nine-game schedule.

“If the end game is getting teams in the College Football Playoff and giving them a chance to win a national championship then an eight-game schedule is the way to go.”

You can listen to the full audio of the interview, which includes commentary on Cal’s next game against Oregon, HERE.

Florida, Miami, A&M reportedly among teams showing interest in ex-‘Bama QB Blake Barnett

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 05:  Blake Barnett #6 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws before the Advocare Classic against the Wisconsin Badgers at AT&T Stadium on September 5, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Not surprisingly, a former highly-touted recruit is garnering a significant amount of interest in his second go-’round on the recruiting trail.

Blake Barnett‘s high school football coach told that Cal, Oregon, UCLA and Washington have already spoken to him about his former player.  Additionally, Florida, Miami and Michigan State have expressed interest.

An unnamed source also told the recruiting website that Texas A&M has spoken directly to the quarterback about moving on continuing his collegiate playing career with the Aggies.

Late last month, reports began to surface that Barnett had decided to leave Alabama.  A short time later, and after Nick Saban expressed hope Barnett would stay, the program confirmed that Barnett had officially withdrawn from school.

Barnett, who started the opener against USC but held on to the job for just two series, was a five-star 2015 recruit who rated as the No. 2 pro-style quarterback in the country.  The California high school product originally committed to Notre Dame in November of 2013 before decommitting from the Irish in June of the following year.

Reportedly, Barnett is enrolled at a junior college with the hope that, utilizing a loophole, he can play at the FBS level in 2017 after sitting out the first four games next season.

WATCH: Utah stuffed at one-yard line on final play of game to lose to Cal

BERKELEY, CA - OCTOBER 01:  Head coach Sonny Dykes and James Looney #9 of the California Golden Bears celebrate with teammates after they beat the Utah Utes at California Memorial Stadium on October 1, 2016 in Berkeley, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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There have been a couple of heartbroken defenses in Week 5 thanks to a miraculous Hail Mary and a 54-yard field goal as time expired.  On the other side of the country, however, it was a defense that was feeling jubilation at game’s end.

At home, Cal took a 28-17 lead on No. 18 Utah with just over nine minutes left on a Davis Webb 58-yard touchdown pass, the Texas Tech transfer‘s fourth of the game.  A Zack Moss one-yard touchdown run less than three minutes later pulled the Utes to within five at 28-23 as the two-point conversion failed.

Following a Golden Bears punt, the Utes got the ball back with 4:21 remaining on the clock and 49 yards standing between them and the game-winning touchdown.  10 plays later, and aided by a fourth-down defensive pass interference call on Cal, Utah was at the Cal one-yard line with three seconds and one play remaining.

That one play, though, will be the stuff, literally and figuratively, of legend in Berkeley for years to come.

The loss was the Utes’ first after opening the season with four straight wins.  On the other side, this win is the Bears’ second over a ranked team this season; since the beginning of the 2009 season, they’d had three wins combined against ranked teams entering 2016.

The loss also means that the Pac-12 is down to just two undefeated teams — Washington and Arizona State, which, as of this posting, is down 24-6 to USC very late in the second quarter.

College football players continue to drop footballs voluntarily before crossing the goal line

Screen shot via FOX Sports.
Screen shot via FOX Sports

There are some things in this world I have grown to accept I may never fully understand. While I may slowly be getting the hang of Snapchat, one thing I feel confident in saying I will never understand is the allure of dropping a football as close to the goal line as one possibly can, which has happened far too often in the world of football, especially college football. It happened twice last night. Fortunately for the guilty parties involved.

Last night, Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon returned a kickoff against Ohio State 97 yards for a touchdown. Of course, the return should have only counted for 96 yards at the most, because video replays showed Mixon dropped the football just before crossing the goal line.

I am a strong advocate for goal-line cameras in every college football game, but you do not even need that to tell Mixon let go of the football before scoring a touchdown. Maybe the refs on the field missed it because they were too slow to keep up with the pace of the kickoff return. Maybe there should always be some sort of official on the goal line to spot these incidents as they occur on long plays. Or maybe the instant replay booth should be taking a look at this. The Big 12 admitted to messing up in the replay booth last week at Oklahoma State. The replay booth at Oklahoma messed this one up too.

But wait! There’s more. If you stayed up for the west coast action last night, you may have seen Cal running back Vic Enwere ran his way for a 54-yard touchdown right up the middle of the Texas defense, seemingly putting the nail in the coffin for the Longhorns in a wildly entertaining offensive shootout in Berkley.  Enwere also dropped the football right before crossing the goal line. This time, however, Texas was aware of the situation and Dylan Haines picked up the loose ball in the end zone, which should have resulted in a touchback for the Longhorns, thus giving Texas an opportunity to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. However, the officials determined there was no immediate recovery and the play had been ruled dead at the one-yard line. Cal was given the football at the one-yard line and the Bears took a knee to run out the clock rather than punch it in for one more score.

Just last week we had another one of these plays happen. Clemson wide receiver Ray-Ray McCloud drop the football right before crossing the goal line against Troy

Somebody please explain to me why football players continue to do this. What is the reason behind it? Has anyone ever given a reason why a player wants to drop the football as soon as they can? I think these players that continue to do this should have a football duct taped to their hands for a week the next time they do it, regardless of whether it hurts their team’s chances at winning or not. Maybe then it will begin to sink in that this just isn’t cool. It could be argued the team should be penalized for a premature celebration by the officials, but no official has gone that far. Maybe they should.

Here is a brief memo to all football players. Scoring touchdowns is cool. Dropping the football before scoring a touchdown is not cool. Stop that. Now.

That said, I look forward to ripping the next college football player who chooses to drop the football before he scores a touchdown in the next week or so.