On Tuesday, millions of Americans exercised their rights as citizens, headed to the polls, and voted. And now, those who have been elected (and re-elected) must abide by the will of the people. It's what makes this country the greatest on the planet.
It's not that simple in all walks of life, though. In football, the fans can't get what they want simply by making their voices heard. Football is not a democracy.
If it were, the regime change at quarterback that many Stanford fans were clamoring for wouldn't have come this past week. If it were up to the people, that change probably would have been made during or after the Washington game back in September. As it is, David Shaw made the move this week, toppling the Josh Nunes statue and replacing it with a Kevin Hogan bust.
In last week's 48-0 rout over the hapless Colorado Buffaloes, Nunes got the start for Stanford, and his two series ended in punts. Meanwhile, Hogan's possessions went touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, field goal, touchdown, and punt. There is no better illustration of how much more efficient, fluid, and productive the Stanford offense became once Hogan started taking the snaps.
Hogan made plays with his legs, made strong and accurate throws, got the Card in and out of the huddle quickly, moved the ball, and punched it into the end zone. He looked much more decisive in and out of the pocket. He seemed to raise the level of play of those around him as well. Kevin Hogan looked like the quarterback that Stanford had not seen since the second half of the win over Arizona.
Now, the cynical part of me says that this was against Colorado. And the Buffaloes are bad. Really bad. Maybe not 2008 Washington State bad, but close. So a part of me wants to take that performance with a grain of salt. I mean, let's face it, beating Colorado at football is like beating Snooki at Words With Friends.
And part of me remembers the old adage that backups are backups for a reason. I remember Oakland Raiders fans spending much of the 1998 season screaming for reserve QB Donald Hollas. And why not? He was tall, lanky, had a good arm, and wore number 12. Raider fans tend to like that combination, you know. Then Hollas got his shot, and Raider Nation was happy…until he threw six interceptions in a career-ending loss to Miami. Hollas was never seen on an NFL field again, and that was that.
So the fact that Kevin Hogan guided the Stanford offense with more precision and purpose against Colorado doesn't mean he will have all the answers against Oregon State this weekend. Or that he'll be the Cardinal's catalyst in Eugene next weekend. Or that he'll be the difference against UCLA in the regular season finale.
Heck, if Hogan stinks up the joint in Stanford's three biggest games of the year, the Card are right back to square one. And those who screamed loudest for Josh Nunes to be demoted will be screaming even louder for the next flavor of the week. That's how these things tend to work.
So, to those who wanted Josh Nunes' era as Stanford's starting quarterback to end, you got what you wanted. The people spoke, and now the Card have a new signal caller. But don't mistake this for another example of democracy at work.
When it comes to on-field personnel decisions, college football is a near-absolute dictatorship, with the head coach reigning as Supreme Fearless Leader. In most cases, his power rages nearly unchecked and unchallenged. And if there is any opposition, it is crushed swiftly, vengefully, and publicly. Woe be to the fool so bold as to question the great and powerful Nick Saban. The streets will flow with the blood of those who dare oppose the almighty and all-knowing Bill Belichick.
And that, quite honestly, is probably as it should be. Fans don't know what the assistant coaches know. Fans don't know what the coaches' game tape shows. Fans don't know what the practice films show. Fans don't know what the trainer knows. Fans don't know what the program's in-house objectives truly are, and what methods the team has put in place to achieve those objectives.
The head coach has that information. And it is his job to put a winning team on the field based on what he knows, not on what you or I think. While I'm sure David Shaw appreciates the fans' concern, I'm also pretty sure he didn't make this change just to make Cardinalmaniacs happy. Something tells me he wasn't driving home from the office at night wondering whether you or I would approve of this move.
This isn't to say that fans don't or shouldn't have a voice in anything a team does. When it comes to off-the-field, gameday experience issues, fans can have extremely critical and valuable input. Teams had better listen to the fans when it comes to those issues. After all, the most effective way for fans to truly make their voices heard is by "voting" with their wallets and their remote controls.
But what if personnel decisions in sports were left up to the public to decide? What if true democracy was the law of the land in all areas of sports? One professional franchise is actually interested in finding out. The Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer are letting their season ticket holders vote on whether the team's general manager should be retained or be given a vote of no confidence.
Simply put, Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer could actually be voted out of office. It's a way of life for politicians, but unheard of for general managers.
It's a nice gesture by the Sounders, and it could be argued that there could be no better way to illustrate that a team's front office is ultimately accountable to its fans. But that doesn't mean I think it's in anyone's best interest to have fans making a team's personnel decisions. That approach, in my mind, is doomed to failure.
While Barack Obama is set to begin his second term as President, regime change has come to the quarterback position at Stanford. Time will tell whether it is change that Cardinalmaniacs can believe in.
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RANDOM PAC-12 THOUGHTS
Stanford's defense. My God. I mean, that wasn't even a fair fight. Colorado wanted no part of the Treefense right from the start…
What a weird game in Berkeley last week between cal and Washington. Both teams made a season's worth of circus catches. The Bears actually found themselves in second and 31…then converted on third and 23 when C.J. Anderson gained 64 yards on a draw. And the Huskies scored a touchdown on third and goal…from the cal 29! It may not have been pretty to watch, but that game certainly provided its share of "just when you think you've seen it all" moments…
Zach Maynard leaving the game on a cart? You knew that was just a matter of time…
It's a senior sendoff in Berkeley, as the Bears have their home finale this Saturday. Question is, will it be Jeff Tedford's home finale too?
Big thumbs down to the uniforms UCLA trotted out last week. But since they scored 66 points in them, I'm sure they're going to be wearing them again soon…
I have run out of things to say about Oregon. I really have. Man, they make it look easy…
I never thought I'd see the day when a U$C defense gave up 730 yards in a single game. Wow. Not that I'm heartbroken over it or anything, but still…
The U$C defense has been rewriting its history books over the past four seasons. Unfortunately for them, the categories that keep getting rewritten are "most points allowed in school history" and "most yards allowed in school history"…
Not a Pac-12 thought, but… overtime in Notre Dame? Pitt fans, I saw that movie once before. And I didn't like the ending then, either…
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Colorado @ Arizona If you've got frustrations, and if you need to get back into the win column fast, there is no better sight than seeing Colorado walking into your stadium. I like Arizona by 32.
Arizona State @ U$C. You're not out of the woods yet, Monte Kiffin… the Sun Devils can rack up the yards, too. But can they punch it in the end zone with consistency? I'm not so sure. The Trojans stagger back into the win column here. I like U$C by two.
Oregon @ cal. There is nothing out there to indicate that the Bears can stop the Ducks. Nothing. I like Oregon by 36.
Utah @ Washington. Ute freshman QB Travis Wilson has looked in good in home wins over cal and Washington State. But how will he do in his first start on the road? I'll put it this way: I like Washington by 14.
UCLA @ Washington State. Night kickoffs in the Palouse always make me weary of the road team's chances. But with the Cougars defense playing so poorly, and Mike Leach losing his mind more and more by the week, it would take a lot for me to think Wazzu has a real chance here. I like UCLA by 18.
Last week: 5-0 (straight-up), 4-1 (ATS).
This year: 24-7 (straight-up), 17-14 (ATS).
Last year: 27-19 (straight-up), 28-18 (ATS).
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Troy Clardy is in his 20th year of following the Cardinal as a columnist, broadcaster, and announcer. In its 11th season of Cardinal commentary, Clardy's Corner appears Wednesdays during the college football regular season on TheBootleg.com. You can also check him out online at TroyClardy.com, hear him on Pittsburgh's Sportsradio 93-7 The Fan, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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