Thank you, Cody Hoffman, for providing a local entry point to my annual column about what’s wrong with college football.
As I journeyed to the Willamette Valley for a family visit Saturday morning, I was probably driving alongside some of those Del Norters going to the BYU-OSU game in Corvallis to watch the former Warrior in action.
He didn’t disappoint, catching nine passes and playing the finest game of his young college career. And all that cheering from the Del Norters sprinkled around Reser Stadium wasn’t lost on the media. Triplicate Sports Editor Bill Choy was in the press box, where a couple of Utah journalists mentioned the Cody loyalists from Northern California. One joked that BYU should figure out how to get them to all its games, since they obviously bring out the best in Hoffman.
The Del Norte connection was also noted in the Portland and Salem newspapers Sunday morning. By then, I’d spent a few hours at my brother’s house in Hillsboro before making it to my parents’ place in time to watch my alma mater on TV. Oregon came from behind Saturday night to rip Arizona State even though the Ducks’ top two players were out with injuries.
These are heady times at what, I should note, is the closest major college campus to Crescent City. Eugene is now home to one of the elite programs in the country. Oregon has won two straight conference championships and spent a good chunk of last season ranked No. 1 nationally.
But any Wall Street protester will tell you that corporate greed corrupts, and that’s certainly true when it comes to college football.
Big money is behind the wheel, making this sport the only one on America’s campuses that doesn’t crown a true national champion. To maintain the financial advantages enjoyed by the largest universities, TV networks and bowl games, those in power deny the rest of us a post-season tournament of, say, the top eight or 16 teams in the country.
They enlist pollsters and computers in their conspiracy, creating a confusing formula that selects two schools at season’s end to play for the “national championship” while all the rest of the teams are shunted off to other bowl games that make a lot of money for the aforementioned culprits.
Last season Oregon was one of the two magically anointed teams and lost on the final play of the “national championship” game to Auburn. Ironically, since the affair was decided on the field, that was the only season of late when I couldn’t proclaim my Ducks to be the national champion based on the lack of a post-season tournament to prove otherwise.
Okay, rant over. College football is a great sport in spite of all that, especially when it elevates to the national spotlight small-town heroes like Cody Hoffman.
One of the many attributes of our sports editor is that he continues to track Del Norte athletes as they move on to college and beyond. We’ve been following quarterback Buck Pierce’s exploits in the Canadian Football League for years. Someday soon we may be writing about another pro football star who grew up out here in the boondocks.