Mike Merrell’s Three-And-Out: Where Have All the Villains Gone?

Rick Neuheisel

Before getting into this week’s Three-and-Out, I have one comment that I haven’t seen anywhere else about the big MSU game: Of Oregon’s 46 points, 38 were scored by underclassmen. With Jeff Lockie looking much improved from a year ago with 11-of-12 passing against South Dakota, don’t worry about 2015. There will be life after Mariota. Now, on to the main feature …

For better or worse, the love of hate is an important part of our entertainment. After all, where would Batman be without the Joker? Where would Superman be without Lex Luther? What kind of a movie would Jaws have been without Jaws? Face it: We flat out need our villains.

Pac-12 football is no exception. Having some key figures that we love to hate is an important part of the entertainment of the game. Unfortunately, we have taken one hit after another, to the point where it is hard to come up with someone to boo with any real sincerity. The sorry state of hate in the Pac-12 is this week’s Three-and-Out.

1.  Coaches. Ah, the good old days! Remember when we had Rick Neuheisel. As if being totally bush league at Colorado wasn’t enough, he moved on to hated Washington, then to UCLA, where he finally got his pie in the face in the 2011 Pac-12 Title Game.

Only his true harmlessness stood in the way of achieving archvillain status.

flickr images

Only his true harmlessness stood in the way of achieving archvillain status.

Mike Stoops at Arizona entertained us with his sideline antics. Dennis Erickson was at Washington State and Arizona State, with a stop between at ethically-challenged Miami. You just knew he wasn’t the kind of guy you could trust. Now he’s at Utah, but too much in the background to get worked up about.

We had Mike Price at Washington State, and you just knew there was just something a little off about the man. He proved it to the world by nailing down the head coaching position at Alabama in 2003 only to get canned for spending school money on strippers before he even coached a game.

Even Pete Carroll at USC was easy to hate. He just looked so “SC,” and let’s face it, his teams just plain won too often. And then after Carroll, the Trojans came through in flying colors with Lane Kiffin, a silver-spooner committed to cheating. We were absolutely spoiled with coaches to hate, and now we have … Mike Leach? Mike Riley? David Shaw? Seven-Win Steve? Chris Petersen?

With this guy gone, Pac-12 villainy will never be the same. We miss you. Sort of.

from video

With this guy gone, Pac-12 villainy will never be the same. We miss you. Sort of.

2.  Referees. Despite what USC Aathletic Director Pat Haden may have to say about the matter, after the first two weekends of the season it appears that Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott’s efforts to upgrade the officiating may actually be working. Worse still, Glasses Ref retired, so we don’t have him to stimulate our hate instinct anymore.

I got excited for a moment watching the Arizona State/Weber State game. They had a glasses ref calling the shots! Unfortunately, the crew seemed to be disgustingly competent, and Glasses Ref II, much as the villains in too many sequels, totally failed as a villain, completely lacking the requisite pomposity in delivering the word on penalties. While I’m sure we can count on Pac-12 officials to deliver some “hate” moments before the year ends, it just won’t be the same without the original Glasses Ref. I present this video as a fond memory of what we are missing.

3.  So what are we to do? There’s always the possibility that Petersen might actually turn it around at UW with part of the game plan being to take out opposing quarterbacks with late hits, but that hasn’t happened yet, not at UW, anyway. Shoot, he barely made it past Hawaii and Eastern Washington.

My first impulse is that we need to give up on the Pac-12 and go national to focus on Alabama as the villain to end all villains. With the four-team playoff in place there’s always the chance that the Ducks (or at least someone in the Pac) could end up playing the Tide at some point in time. With Slowdown Sabin at the helm, Kiffin running the offense and Tosh Lupoi as acting coach an intern to help with recruiting, they would be so easy to hate, even without the S-E-C chant.

But there’s actually a villain right here in the Pac-12 that is so smooth and seemingly clean that most people haven’t even recognized the boos they deserve. I’m talking about Stanford, and it’s not just because of the losses over the last two years and all of this “kryptonite” talk floating around the Internet.

Stanford deserves the little respect they have for everyone and everything that isn't Stanford.


Stanford deserves the little respect they have for everyone and everything that isn’t Stanford.

Who brags that their graduates make more money than you do? Stanford. Though it’s popular to label Oregon fans as obnoxious, Stanford does have at least one obnoxious fan of its own who can turn an article on Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma into a commentary on Stanford superiority and my somehow responsibility as a Duck supporter living in North Idaho to end clear-cut logging in the Eugene area. See comments section here.

Who plays the PC card to the hilt? The former Indians, that’s who, the ones whose fight song is “Come Join the (Indian) Band.” And speaking of bands, whose marching band got banned from the state of Oregon for putting together a half-time show ragging on Oregonians’ attempt to make a meager living at logging? It “was we-make-more-money-than-you-do” Stanford, that’s who. And that’s far from their only transgression.

The Stanford band is still banned from Disneyland for their antics on the Storyland Canal boats. They’ve been banned from Notre Dame because their drum major dressed as a nun and directed the band with a wooden cross at a game in South Bend. During jury selection for the O.J. Simpson trial, band members got a slap on the wrist for playing the Zombies’ “She’s Not There” outside the L.A. County Courthouse. After the trial, when USC visited Stanford, as part of the halftime show, band members drove around the track in a white Bronco with bloody handprints. Back in the day, the band even considered doing a halftime routine including the song, “Saturday Night and I Ain’t Got No Body” to commemorate Jayne Mansfield’s death.

Stanford University occasionally gives its band a slap on the wrist, but never takes real steps to bring this student-led organization under control. Going back to 1972, Stanford actually turned down a $1 million donation from an alum because it had the string attached that the band be criticized. You have to believe that Stanford is smart enough to know what they’re doing, and what they are doing is using their band to promote the concept of their own superiority in a most disrespectful manner.

All of this I might be able to get past, but they took it one step too far. They have committed the unforgivable sin of making me a USC fan, even if it is for only one day a year. Congratulations and a big “Thank you” to the Trojans!

Top Photo from Video

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Mike Merrell

Mike Merrell

Mike (Editor-in-Chief) is a 1970 graduate of the University of Oregon where he attended the Honors College and received all-conference honors as a swimmer. After college, Mike ran for the Oregon Track Club and narrowly missed qualifying for the US Olympic Trials in the marathon. He continues his involvement in sports with near-daily swimming or running workouts, occasional masters swim competition (where he has received two Top-10 World rankings), providing volunteer coaching to local triathletes and helping out with FishDuck.com. Mike lives on 28 acres in the forest near Sandpoint, Idaho, where he has served as a certified public accountant for most of his working career. His current night job is writing novels about Abby Westminster, the only known illegitimate daughter of Britain's finest secret agent who has to bring down arch-villains plotting dastardly deeds. And, yes, Abby is also a DUCK!

  • Ducksince54

    Sports hate list: 1) As a friend of mine says, “Die, Washington, Die!” 2) Tie, OSU and Stanford, then after that, UCLA for all the dirty hits last year and for injuring MM and bragging about it. If we could wax someone in the Pac by 80 points this year, I would want it to be UCLA, and then I’d want them to win the south so we could do it again in the championship game. I don’t know much about their coach Mora, but I hope he has the class to teach his players not to intentionally try to hurt others.

    • Mike Merrell

      Ducksince54 —

      I was there for the post-game press conference with Mora last year and came away believing that he has genuine villain potential. It was maybe because he’d just been pasted, but he definitely had the Type-A thing going big time. And there wasn’t much in the way of credit to Oregon — just his disappointment that his team wasn’t there yet. But credit where credit is due: they didn’t restrict their late hits to Mariota. They were obviously going after DAT as well.

  • Joseph

    The Stanford band is a villian indeed Mr. Merrell. Last year at the Oregon vs Stanford game, the band made fun of football during half time. I have never seen a group of people supposedly so smart be so stupid.

    • Mike Merrell

      Joseph —

      Hey, we’re friends now, aren’t we? Please call me Mike. I think what the Stanford band has is what’s called “Swiss cheese intelligence.” Where there’s cheese, it’s as good as it gets, but where there’s no cheese, there’s nothing but air. They’re smart enough to come up with something nobody else thought of, but when it comes to thinking about why nobody came up with it before — whether it’s because it’s in poor taste, totally out of place, or just plain stupid — the cheese has holes.

      Where it crosses the line to villainy is where the school actually seems to endorse the actions, despite the occasional hand slap to appease the public and promote the ill-deserved perception that Stanford does the right thing.

  • BaileyinBend

    “They have committed the unforgivable sin of making me a USC fan”

    Mike, nooooooooo…..say it ain’t so!

    You don’t actually mean you would root for USC do you?

    We’ll okay, we’ll forgive you, but only if you limit your support for USC to the 27th when they play Oregon State.

    • Mike Merrell

      I am often so sorry that it isn’t possible for both teams to lose.

      • hokieduck

        I was right there with you, Mike. And I tasted a little throw-up in my mouth…

  • hokieduck

    I can’t join in on your hate for the Stanford band, Mike. They do in fact epitomize the superiority complex of the Furd, but they do it with some pretty serious humor. I have to laugh even when the guns are turned on me and mine. And they are kids. And they will never, ever, ever live down the ignominy of being the only marching band in the history of the world to lose a game for their team. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!


    • Mike Merrell

      Ah, “The Play,” one of the classic moments in the history of college football!

      I can appreciate that most of the time they succeed with their humor, ut when they do things such as ruining a boat ride for little kids at Disneyland and circle the field in a Bronco with bloody hand prints on it, …. well, I’m pretty liberal in what I consider funny, but at some point it becomes more “look at us” than having any genuine humor.

      Still, I get your point. They are often actually entertaining. But, we are really hurting for a poster child for villainy in the Pac-12. It’s kind of like those years when some crappy thing that escaped rather than got released wins “Best Picture” just because the competition is so lame.

      I am really open to suggestions here. I think ducksince 54 has some good ideas (below). I especially think that Petersen at UW and Mora at UCLA have some potential for poster child villainy, but, as Mora said, they’re just not there yet.