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

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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.

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.

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!

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