Flyover Country: Star Searching in the PAC-12 North

Flyover Country: Star Searching in the PAC-12 North

Reported by Canard on February 1, 2012
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It’s that time of year again. The coaches of the PAC-12 North, the only division in the conference that matters until further notice, have scoured the nation looking to woo the highest rated prospects they can possibly sign. The fan bases of each program generally break into two factions every February–positive and negative. It’s either “We’ll be fine no matter what!” versus “This program is a flaming wreck unless we get more stars onboard!”

Of course, this debate is much more subdued amongst Ducks fans. Most realize that the upside to being called a “system offense” or a “gimmick” is that there is in fact a proven offensive system in place since 2007 that has worked to lethal effect with a variety of personnel featuring wildly different skill sets and experience.

Then there are fans I have taken to calling Turduckens. Yes, we have some fans on the internet who are the human equivalent of boneless Ducks, stuffed with a boneless chicken, with the exterior of a boneless turkey. They happen to lack guts too. You may have seen them getting water kneed a fortnight ago when Tampa Bay came a-courting. You certainly wouldn’t want these “guys” having your back in a tough situation. I make only one demand of a Ducks fan—don’t be a Turducken about your own program. It’s a pretty easy standard to meet.

Without further adieu, let’s compare each PAC-12 North’s 2012 team recruiting vibes with their spiritual star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.


1. Oregon

A Celebrity Before His Time

See that symbol below the name? Donald earned his place with a career in movies. It took the University of Oregon to make him something more–a multimedia sensation simply known nationwide as “The Duck.”

That coast to coast presence is making for good returns in recruiting as the Ducks close in on a star studded class that draws from a pool of geographically spread high school football players. Will we land everyone we want? No, but then again, we’ve been coaching up who we get better than just about everyone in the nation.


2. Stanford

It Has Something To Do With A Fella Named Einstein

A nice story developing out of Palo Alto this off season is one of how Stanford really isn’t like everyone else playing major college football. All hoi polloi institutions make more offers relative to their spots available to ensure they can fill their classes. Non-brainiac schools will tell a marginal football commit that his offer may be pulled or they may be asked to grayshirt if a higher rated commit comes along in a reasonable time-frame. Not Stanford. If you are only a two star commit, but you have a 4.0 GPA and a 26 on the ACT (85th percentile), they let their admissions department do their dirty work for them and deny you admission to their hallowed halls while admitting your more athletically inclined classmates with lesser academic credentials.

It’s not just anywhere that an actual scholar-athlete can get treated like a junior college commit with too many PE credits on his transcript.  However, what can one say in criticism of the Cardinal? They are the only ones who might know who or what their Hollywood star refers to without googling it.

3. Washington

You were breaking into the modern scene in the 70s with your feel good story. You started becoming a sensation in the 80s but there was something disturbing about you, and it wasn’t just your preference for purple. In the early 90s you were on top of the world—until legal troubles involving minors derailed you. Your last hit was in 2001, when anyone sane thought you were a criminal despite your denials and cries of “CONSPIRACY!”

Sark's Really Going To Clean Up This Mess?

Now? You’re dead, walked over by anyone with a pulse, but remembered by delusional fans. The unkindest cut of all? This year’s crop of the perennially overrated King County All Stars thinks you and your legacy are uncool despite the extreme attempts of your fans and free spending athletics director to force your much filmed corpse to remain relevant. At least Never Neverland is undergoing a facelift.


4. California

Your fans call you a West Coast power–without a hint of irony. You’re irrepressible. Unsinkable. Yet suddenly you’re so calamitous that some rats have left the ship after the Captain hit the iceberg some time ago? That’s right, no one is coming forward to buy out the Captain’s ridiculous contract so you while away the time by rearranging the deck chairs and talking about disintegrating #gangs.

But hey, look at the ship’s shiny new gym, fresh paint, and recently polished bright work. Ignore the drift. And the listing. And the deathly kiss of icy water lapping through your Huaraches. . . .Maybe you’ll get lucky and freeze to death before having to watch Zach Maynard attempt quarterbacking again.

Just Like Tedford, He Built Something Impressive And Then Sank It

Just as in James Cameron’s epic, everyone already knows the ship sinks. What every red blooded male in America really wants to know in the meanwhile is who’s posing as your irresistible Kate Winslet now that Mr. X-Box has taken his Lake Washington boat ride away from your disaster?


5. Washington State

Who are the Cougs? What is their identity? Does anyone even care? Well they went out and bought themselves a higher profile, with Errol Flynn Mike Leach.

Rapier Wit in The Palouse? Don't Count On It

Now they too are full out swashbucklers, splendidly dressed in crimson and gray. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Will it matter for their recruiting list? It could, if you see them signing 13 recruits who are wide receivers.


6. Oregon State* (*University)

Let’s get something straight–the beavises don’t care about star ratings for their recruits–until they go ga-ga over getting just one five star recruit this silly season, one who will supposedly change the course of beavis offensive line futility forever.

Be Thankful beavis, This Was Almost The Star For The Munchkins You Ankle Biters

As an added bonus, for the second year in a row the beavis coaches have had an extra month to hone some pitch about the virtues of animal husbandry, trying to look good in orange, how great it is to play before non-sell out crowds, to rarely be on TV, or how to spin away a loss to Sacramento State. The blank star, for movie achievement no less, really fits at Buster Douglas College as they spent yet another year flopping on and off screen.

Will the silly season of signing really save anyone’s 2012 football season today? It’s exceedingly unlikely. That said, never forget that all of these ranking stars are handed out to boys who have never played a down of Pac-12 football. Some will disappoint and some you don’t expect to contribute much will be a revelation. Whatever happens when the latest signees can be justly evaluated, if you are a Ducks fan, don’t be a Turducken down the road. Everyone we signed this year will come to Eugene in good faith—even those who do not pan out. It’s never their fault that recruiting is inexact.


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CanardCanard is what he is, a character. So lighten up.View all posts by Canard →



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  • Idontrollonshobbas

    I love me some Canard

  • Death Valley Duck

    Great job.  As ususal.

  • http://Lbgtmsf.com Ted Werth

    Love your profile at the end of the article.  Article was great also.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BSQHTHSRVJBRSOAYHF6ZCHT32I Darius

    It’s true, Stanford only rejects its low-rated commits.


    Ifeadi Odenigbo

    Louis Young


    • Canard

      There’s no error in comedy.

      Look, we get it, Stanford is a LEET university. Being so, they can play the recruiting game differently than can the rest of D-1 football.

      Odengibo is a tweener on the field. Young thought Stanford admissions was taking too long to evaluate him and he “cheated” by having an official visit to Georgia Tech.

      The rest of CFB deals with these situations annually. Maybe the coach has an issue with figuring out how a kid is going to fit the scheme. He pulls the offer. It sucks, and it looks bad, but it happens somewhere every year. In other situations, a recruit commits and then for any number of reasons, reevaluates his situation and resumes using his visits. Many run of the mill programs will pull an offer from a commit who “flirts,” especially if he is not all-world.

      Not Stanford. Don’t want a kid? Deny him through the admissions process. It serves two goals. The coaches get to paper over their evaluation mistakes or cut a wavering player loose. The University gets to maintain the fiction that they won’t allow just anyone in, though Harbaugh forced them to soften up admissions standards for football.

      The truth of Stanford’s tactics in this regard is revealed not by who they reject, but by those guys they take who are well nigh academically indistinguishable from their less fortunate colleagues.

      But ooohhhh, look at that, the “black box” of Stanford admissions has claimed another “academic casualty” during the Cardinal effort to fill their class!

      It’s ridiculous, but if it makes you feel warm and cozy to think that Stanford is above such tactics, go ahead and think that such collusion between Shaw’s staff and Admissions is impossible because their missions are at odds.

      The reality is that one hand is washing the other.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BSQHTHSRVJBRSOAYHF6ZCHT32I Darius

      No. You’re reading much more than is there into the comment.  But I do think it’s comical to insist the school managed the roster situation when:
      a) the school gave out fewer scholarships than they had openings
      b) They continued to visit Tillman well into January. If they were planning on cutting him loose, they were wasting their time in a very inefficient fashion. They could have called him, for example.

      The rest of your comment reveals a lack of knowledge about Stanford recruiting. Young “cheated” with a Georgia Tech visit? That seems hard to believe–in just this class we had at least two or three guys take visits after being committed, and it’s really hard to believe they would be harsher on a highly-rated cornerback than a highly-rated defensive end. (Which one is harder to get to Stanford?) You’re living in a faraway universe if you don’t think Odenigbo was high on the board for Stanford coaches. And that’s only two examples…if Stanford coaches could manipulate their classes to get a disproportionate number of highly-rated recruits admitted, Stanford football would be a much better program.

      • Canard

        I write for effect and do not claim to be an insider as regards Stanford recruiting though I do not see you addressing the heart of the charge, i.e. that Stanford admits football players who are equally as “non-qualified” as those it turns away. That phenomenon creates the perception, fair or not, that perhaps because of Stanford’s recently renewed position as the “nerd school” that actually plays competitive football, they can sort of have their cake and eat it too. When it comes right down to it, losing prospects as “admissions casualties” who wind up at Northwestern and GT, in no way indicates that those players were valued as elite on the field as they may have been valued as student/athlete taken as a whole. Conversely, were Stanford rejecting a recruit everyone else in the BCS AQ wanted, and said player went to Cal, ND, Michigan, Texas, or somewhere else with impeccable academics and a football pulse, such rejections by Stanford would be above reproach.

        But as things stand, they aren’t. That gets back to the fact that Stanford admits many guys with the same relative academic profile as possessed by those who are rejected. Then one sees that these rejects land somewhere else that are not football powers, bringing into question whether their football ability was simply too marginal for a spot with the Cardinal. Stanford “admissions reviews” that drag on towards late January for some prospects seem especially suspect when there is no earthly reason, given what’s at stake for the recruit, that it should take so long. Were one as cynical as myself, one might say that such “horror stories” would be useful to the football staff to encourage early commitments from top Stanford targets.

      • http://twitter.com/Tryn2Bbrief Martian Ambassador

        I think it is amusing that you are expecting expert analysis of Stanford recruiting in a humor article. No one outside of Palo Alto cares about Stanford football.

        Stanford would be a much better program if they had the coach of the SF 49ers.