Goodbye to the Oregonlive Vikings blog

In a tragic turn of events, the Oregonlive Vikings blog has died. Well, euthanized would be a better word. It’s proprieter and content generator Ian Ruder decided that after almost 700 posts, it was time to hang up the keyboard and pursue other interests. Since I’d become used to sporadic postings, I only caught wind of this today.

I worked with Ian many years ago, during my first year at PSU. He’s a talented writer, a solid reporter and an insightful observer of everything Portland State. His commentary will be missed.

In the meanwhile, check out the Vanguard sports section for all the latest news.

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Nooooooooooooooo!

Keep MLS out of Portland!

Keep MLS out of Portland!

Portland, Ore. – Portland city leaders are willing to talk about borrowing as much as $75 million to help bring Major League Soccer to Portland.

At a news conference today, City Commissioner Randy Leonard and Merritt Paulson, owner of the Portland Timbers and the Portland Beavers, agreed it will take public participation to help turn the Rose City into a big-league sports town.

Paulson is applying for one of two MLS expansion teams that will begin play in 2011. If he succeeds, he wants city help making $40 million in improvements to PGE Park downtown and building a new home for the Triple A Beavers. A new minor-league park could cost $35 million.

Wow that sounds like a great idea! Let’s waste $75 million on a fucking MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER team, which in itself is an oxymoron because there is nothing major about soccer in the U.S., and the group of teams that make up MLS can hardly be considered a “league,” unless it’s a league like the one you play in on Wednesdays after a long day at the office.

To the city of Portland: No one cares! Give up! Don’t waste my fucking tax money! Look at it this way: soccer is SOOOO unpopular I could only find one decent pic when I typed “Major League Soccer” into google. That is just sad. Honestly, I’d rather see the city pursue an arena football team, or look into buying the Seahawks, changing their name to the Thunder and relocating them to Lincoln High School for a couple years while a new stadium is built.

Is that just piling on Seattle fans? Still, it’s more likely to happen than Portland getting an MLS team and actually having fans support it for an extended period of time. Portland City Commisioner Randy Leonard says there’s risk, like the risk he took when he got in his car this morning. No….it’s more like the risk you take by making out with an electrical socket—it might not kill you, but there’s no fucking point in the first place.

So here’s the question, Beer Gardeners: Are you excited for MLS in Portland?

Clowned down

Why the long face, Ty?

Why the long face, Ty?

Dude, can it be the awesome era of Tyrone Willinghandjob is almost over at UW? Everyone who knows me realizes that I can’t stand the Huskies, and after the 44-10 loss the mutts took at Autzen I’m really not surprised that the pundits and talking heads are calling for this dude’s head just one freaking game into the seaosn. Come on, let the guy lose to BYU before we get all drastic here!

Since arriving in time for the 2005 season, Willingham’s dogs have gone 15-26, becoming the perennial trash of the Pac-10. As for Willingham, hey, I’ve got news for you dude—Notre Dame fired you because you are an egregiously AWFUL coach. Live with it, take your severance package and move the fuck on. Either that, or learn how to recruit. Your choice, really.

A win is a win. Does that comfort PSU fans?

Vikings stud Bobby McClintock dives for the endzone.

Vikings stud Bobby McClintock dives for the endzone.

Wow that was ugleeeee! Portland State kicked off its second season under Jerry Glanville with a 31-14 win over Division II bully Western Oregon. Overall, it was a pretty disheartening win, if such a thing exists. The Vikings had three times as many penalty yards as rushing yards and spent the entire first half looking confused, disinterested and finally, just plain frustrated. Vikings starting QB Tygue Howland didn’t even last a half. Many of the others looked as if they wished they could join him on the sidelines.

After skulking back to the locker room with a tenuous 7-0 lead, the Vikings let back-up QB Drew Hubel (he of the 9 TD performance against Weber State last year) take the reins, and the kid did alright. He went 28-40 with 305 yards and a pick, and did enough to matriculate the ball into the redzone, which is where bruising Bobby McClintock took over and punched in three second-half TDs to go along with his first-quarter score.

Let’s be clear, Vikings: play this way against UC Davis in two weeks and risk being absolutely embarrassed. There’s lots wrong, starting with the team’s mental discipline and ending with the brewing quarterback controversy. Personally, I don’t see that there’s even a real choice—Tygue Howland is through, which is sad because the dude’s only played in four career games.

But if the Vikings think they have a real shot at doing ANYTHING productive this year, then they must let Hubel continue to start. The offense looked crisper and much more comfortable with him behind center. I was on the field to snap some shots, and I could hear no panic in Hubel’s voice as he directed four workmanlike second-half scoring drives. Howland is probably going to have to Tonya Harding Hubel if he hopes to reclaim his starting role. One guy got the job done. The other guy didn’t. Sorrrrry.

The Vikings take next week off then travel to Davis, California. They are 1-0. Enjoy it.

Back at it

Former PSU star Shaun Bodiford.

Former PSU star Shaun Bodiford.

Portland, Ore. – Standing composed and confident on the Stott Community Field following Portland State’s short walk-through Friday morning, the glimmering smile on Tygue Howland’s face was tough to miss.

The beaming grin that the junior quarterback owned followed a few short words that encapsulate his more than three years in the South Park Blocks.

“I’ve been waiting three years for this,” Howland said.

The this Howland is referring to is, of course, the Vikings’ matchup with Western Oregon Saturday at 1:05 p.m. at PGE Park.

The Vikings are back in action Saturday afternoon with a must-win matchup against Western Oregon to kick off the 2008 season. Vanguard beat writer Nate Hellman has the scoop, which apparently is that Vikings starting QB Tygue Howland still has a lot he must prove, especially since he’s only thrown 13 completions in just three career games.

If you’re a Vikings fan, that isn’t heartening news. I’m not usually a hater, but there are few things that cause me more pessimism than Portland State football. We all know Jerry Glanville isn’t going to put a decent team on the field until at least next year, and we all know that there are huge problems with everything from the O-line to the itty-bitty running backs that Mouse Davis is trying to turn into receivers.

The Oregonian picked the Vikings to go 5-6 this year. They’re going to be lucky if they win four games, and that is being generous. Let me put it this way: lose THIS game, and the program will be destroyed for years to come. Actually, I think Vanguard sports editor Skyler Archibald put it this way: lose this game and it will literally ruin your program for a bit. Agreed.

Beat Western Oregon, then we’ll worry about confidence and dreams fulfilled. If Howland can keep his knees intact, that’ll be a victory in itself.

Note: The dude about to score a TD is former Vikings player Shaun Bodiford, a good guy with a motor mouth who is now, I believe, a kick returner and wide out with the Green Bay Packers.

Last images of the Duck

The Big Man, the day of his death.

The Big Man, the day of his death.

The Blazers sent these pics of Kevin Duckworth to Vanguard sports editor Skyler Archibald, who hooked up the Beer Garden. These were taken on Monday, just hours before his death. They are a fascinating glimpse into what Blazers media wiz Bill Evans calls “the essence of the man we knew.”

The Blazers are hosting a memorial service at the Memorial Coliseum Saturday morning starting at 11 a.m.  Parking at the Rose Garden will be free to the public. Come pay your last respects to a local legend. The Beer Garden will have a report from the service.

Doing what he loved best.

Doing what he loved best.

Dumbass.

Dude, is it worth the rest of your career?

Shawne Merriman risks it all. Stay tuned.

So get this. Shawne Merriman, he of two ligament tears in the same knee, has decided to play this year instead of opt for season-ending (and possibly career-saving) surgery. My buddy Swan is a huge Chargers fan, and I know this thickheaded decision strikes fear into his heart. Merriman has virtually no reason to play this year, other than that doctors haven’t forbade him to in the strictest of terms, and he doesn’t want to miss out in case his buddies make it to the Super Bowl.

And I do mean in case. The mighty AFC has plenty of contenders, not least of which is last year’s runners up—and the Patriots will be looking to exact revenge on the rest of the league for the insult of 18-1. Hey Shawne, doesn’t it make more sense just to sit this one out, get healthy, and avoid the wrath of a fired up New England team? No?

I think we can all see how this is going to end for Merriman. It ends with him writhing around on the ground clutching his left knee after a tackle. It ends with him getting carted off the field. It ends with season-ending surgery. It could end his career, but Merriman needs to wake up, for his own sake, and realize that it must end here. Get the surgery, protect your team’s investment in you and your own ability to make a living (what else are you good at, bro?) and come back for 2009. No one will think less of you, unless you get hurt so badly that 40 career sacks in three seasons means nothing more than wasted potential.