Huskies Insider Blog

Pac 12 picks: Getting to the root of people's issues with ROOT sports

Before we get to my slightly psychotic ramblings and ADD-esque meanderings about the Pac 12 and the local sports network, I thought I would post my record on picks since it will surely drop like the UCLA attendance with the Pac 12 playing mostly league games, starting this week.

So I might as well brag while I can. Yes, I’m 27-5 in picking games straight up. But is it that hard to pick Cal over Presbyterian or Washington State over Idaho State?

And yes, I’m 22-10 against the spread (I’m giving myself the USC-Utah game that the Pac 12 messed up as only it can). Then again, it’s not that hard guessing that certain coaches, who’s names rhyme Trip and Dane will run up the score on a team if given the chance.

Here's a spreadsheet of the games I spent far too long working on:  9-22 --- pick results

So let’s get to the headline of this pick’s post. Of the five games this week, three are on ESPN or ABC or some combination of both. Meanwhile the Husky game is on ROOT/Fox Sports National and UCLA-Oregon State is on Prime Ticket, which is LA’s version of ROOT but they don’t call it ROOT, they call it Prime Ticket. Their motto: "because if it wasn't for fans, nobody would Prime?" Ok that doesn't work.

As a whole, I have no problem with ROOT sports. I consider Brad Adam and Jen Mueller friends from my Mariners days. I like the baseball broadcasts. And I think a local station is important, and I watch it often. It’s helped the Huskies have every one of their games on television this season, while Washington State has had two of four. So a game televised is better than not televised at all. But with that being said …


That’s all people are asking for. And it’s not just me doing the asking. My dozen twitter followers and four blog commenters also feel the same way. And I see complaints from others as well.  For me, I can’t hear the announcers. I have no idea what, if any, information the sideline reporters are offering, nor do I care. But for the love of the football gods, just a show few more replays. There are so many plays in the course of game that people want to see a slow-motion replay of, and yet, we get a shot of some fans holding up a sign for rally fries, err, I mean "Go Huskies!"(sorry force of habit).

I once joked that ROOT stood for Replays Only On Touchdowns. But at times, it feels that way. Many fan express their frustration watching at home when a key play happens, or a controversial call is made, and there is no replay, none. I would hope most have a DVR, but some people don’t (these people also have flip phones). More often than not, the original play is tough to see from the wide angle shot, so they are waiting for another angle that shows the play closer up. Often, they keep waiting.

For the writers, it is tough when you are covering a game at Husky Stadium since the press box is only about a 100 yards from the sun. It’s hard to see exactly what transpired on a play. So when a big/controversial/amazing play happens, the first inclination for every writer is to look up to the handful of 20-inch TVs  in the press box to see a replay so we can get even more detail. It’s the beauty of technology. It’s the wonder of slow motion. It will only help us. It never comes. We sit heads craned up waiting. And nothing. It’s so unfulfilling, like only eating sushi for a meal.

As a sports viewing nation, we have become dependent on replays. How dependent? Well, every touchdown in the NFL is reviewed on it and at least six to seven plays in every college games are double-checked by replay.

Could you imagine a ref during today’s game going under the hood at Husky Stadium to view a replay, and the ROOT people say, “Oh sorry, we don’t have that replay anymore, but here’s some footage of a co-ed holding up a “Chris Polk, will you marry me?” sign.

Admittedly, some of the teams play such uptempo and sometimes no-huddle offense that it’s difficult to get a replay before the next play is snapped. But a replay a few plays later won’t bother viewers.

Watch an NFL game or a big time college game and count how many replays you see. It’s not comparable.

So that is my complaint/rant/plea/observation. I’m sure it does me no favors with the ROOT folks. But at the same time, if I don’t put in the score or leave out the name of the guy who scored the game-winning touchdown or another integral part of my story, people would complain. Replays are integral part of the game-watching experience. People need more. They are begging for them. I know, I’ve heard their cries. Error on the side of too much and all will be good.

The picks ...

UCLA at Oregon State (-5)

I’m surprised any TV station decided to televise this game. Surely Prime Ticket could find something else it might want to televise instead of these two dysfunctional teams. Maybe there’s an old highlight show of the LA Sparks championship run or even just a continuous loop of bad Vernon Wells at-bats for the Angels – there’s certainly enough of them. But instead they will show the two of the three teams in the race for last place in the Pac 12.

Rick Neuheisel’s march to the unemployment line takes him to Corvallis: "I can't be the only one who cares!" This week he’s named Richard Brehaut the starter over Kevin Prince, which is like choosing Jack in the Box over McDonalds at 2 a.m. They will both will be lukewarm and probably give you heartburn. Meanwhile Brett Hundley, who is clearly the Taco Bell of this analogy - the best tasting option possible (love the $5 box), – is sitting on the bench waiting for his chance. Will Neuheisel burn the talented freshman’s redshirt to save his job?

Speaking of talented redshirts, wide receiver/slashback James Rodgers will play in his first game this season. How much of a difference will he make?  Maybe not as much as the return of Joe Halahuni and Markus Wheaton will make. They will give new starting quarterback Sean Mannion a plethora of options that his predecessor Ryan Katz didn’t have in the first two games.

The pick … The return of Rodgers, Halahuni and Wheaton are big additions to an OSU offense that has been anemic at best this season. The Beavers are also coming off a bye week, allowing them to be rested and healthy. UCLA is beaten up physically and mentally. The constant talk about Neuheisel is already starting to wear on the Bruins. It will be an ugly game that Beavers find a way to win at home.

If I were a betting man … I would take the Beavers and give the points. The line started off with OSU as a 1.5 point favorite and has grown to 5. Most people would run away from the Beavers, but they will cover the five as TJ Simers cranks out just under 800 words ripping Neuheisel.

Colorado at Ohio State (-16.5)

Head coach Jon Embree won his first game with the Buffaloes and was rewarded with a trip to Columbus to play in the Horseshoe. Normally, you’d say this would be a 40-point blood-letting, but this is a different Buckeyes team thanks to a tattoo parlor, some autographed memorabilia and Jim Tressel’s lack of understanding of his work email and the Freedom of Information Act. So now a gutted Ohio State team - fresh off a loss to Miami in the NCAA In-eligi-Bowl, which knocked the program out of the Top 25 for the first time in six years - will look to regroup before Big 10 play.

The Buckeyes have serious questions at quarterback. Colorado looked better against Colorado State. But it’s Colorado State, and the Buffs looked far from dominant. The Buffs would need to play significantly better, like out-of-their-mind better to have a chance. Quarterback Taylor Hansen is good. Wide receiver Paul Richardson is good. Running back Rodney Stewart is sort of good, and shorter than me by like a half inch, so he’s cool.  And the rest, well, there’s a few bordering on the sort of good.

The pick … This game is going to be uglier than a MLB writer’s wardrobe. But this isn’t "The Bachelor," and ugly can win. The Buckeyes are simply too physical and too deep. They will pound it out on the ground to offset whatever ineffective QB is in the game.

If I were a betting man … I’d tease the Buckeyes with Oregon (see below), but that’s not what we are going for here. OSU has been less than dominant this season. And the fans are getting restless. Because of that, first-year head coach Luke Fickell will try and win big if given the opportunity, so give the points and hope that Ohio State’s quarterback – whichever one that isn’t playing worse – can make a couple of throws.

Oregon (-16.5) at Arizona

You know that vein that kind of comes out on Mike Stoops’ forehead when he gets mad during the game. Usually, it goes away after his three and half hours of screaming, hyperventilating, gesticulating, pacing and carrying on. But during this stretch from hell, it just hasn’t gone away. Maybe it’s permanent. Certainly going up against Oregon doesn’t make that vein any smaller after getting abused by Oklahoma State and Stanford. Did I mention, Arizona still has to play at USC next weekend? Could you imagine being Arizona AD Greg Byrne and having to pass Stoops in the hallway during the week? What do you say? “Um, hi Mike, how are things going? Good? Good.” And you get this ….

There is some thought that maybe Arizona can compete with the Ducks in a shootout. Um, no. The Wildcats are last in the Pac 12 in total defense – even lower than Washington – giving up 473 yards per game. A porous defense going up against Oregon? That’s not a good situation, like riding shotgun with Cliff Harris. Speaking of Harris, he’s back, he’s playing and he will make a difference against this game, particularly on Arizona stud receiver Juron Criner.

The pick … Oregon is going to win. I don’t think too many people would disagree with me. The Ducks are just too good on offense while the Wildcats are just giving up chunks of yards the size of now vacant housing developments in Arizona. Expect David Paulson or Colt Lyerla to catch at least one touchdown pass.

If I were a betting man … I’d give the points and take the Ducks. Yep, grandma, I’m breaking your rule and betting against a home underdog. Why? Cause we known all the rules don’t apply to Chip Kelly.

USC at Arizona State (-2.5)

This is probably the most interesting Pac 12 game of the weekend narrowly edging out UCLA-Oregon State. It sort of has Pac 12 South implications, well, at least for ASU. Remember, USC is still not allowed in postseason play. The Trojans are like the lonely guy in the faux-designer jeans standing outside the velvet ropes at some trendy Hollywood club with a one-syllable name - usually with an umlaut - and $12 drinks  -- no that comparison isn't from past experience.

Because this game is so important for the Sun Devils and because they are coming off a frustrating loss to Illinois last week, I expect Vontaze Burfict’s rage gauge to be about 50 on a 10-point scale. I find Burfict to be one of the most entertaining, interesting and frightening players in all of the Pac 12. He is Ray Lewis, only more intense and angry. I can’t help but watch his games because you never truly know what to expect. He might pick off a pass and outrun everyone for a touchdown. He might fight off two blockers and pummel the quarterback. He also might be an unsportsmanlike penalty flag waiting to be thrown. Remember when the Trojans used to have guys with similar talent? Well, Burfict had committed to USC before changing his mind when Hurricane Dennis came calling. There is some thought the USC players might be trying to get into Burfict’s head. Is it really worth being decapitated for?

USC will be playing its first road game this season. The Trojans were actually better on the road than at home last season for some odd reason. I blame Nick Lachey’s presence at the Coliseum, or maybe the Santa Anna Winds, which cause people to do strange things, according to what Dylan McKay told Kelly Taylor on 90210.  Did you know the last time ASU beat USC was in 1999, roughly when a 90210 reference would have been up to date.

The pick … For some reason, I like USC. I don’t know why. I think Dennis Erickson is a better coach. I think the Sun Devils might have more balance overalls. And they are playing at home. And yet, I’m going to go with the Trojans and the more experienced quarterback, who is going up against a beaten up ASU secondary. Burfict will be a beast. He will get a couple cheap penalties because Pac 12 officials will be refereeing the game and they will be watching him. And we know how misguided they can be.

If I were a betting man … Take USC and get the points. They are going to win.