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KERRY EGGERS ON SPORTS/MLS playoff format needs tweaking -- and so does targeting rule in college football

Musings on the sporting world. …

• As the search continues for Oregon State's next football coach, a source says that Les Miles is NOT a candidate for the job.

June Jones is, however.

So are Jonathan Smith and Beau Baldwin.

Any of those three would pass my muster.

Jones, 64, was twice a head coach in the NFL (Atlanta, San Diego), is the greatest coach in University of Hawaii history and quickly turned a moribund Southern Methodist program to respectability, though it ended in a sputter.

This year, employing the run-and-shoot that he ushered into significance along with Mouse Davis, Jones took over a Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL club that was 0-8 and won six of his 10 games.

Jones is a Grant High and Portland State grad who knows the lay of the area, has a high-caliber coaching staff at the ready and knows how to win. His energy and enthusiasm suggest a man much younger than his age.

Smith, 39, has apprenticed under Chris Petersen for six years, the last four as offensive coordinator. He's an excellent football mind, and he seems ready for a head job.BALDWIN

No question that Baldwin, 45, is ready. He had a tremendous nine-year run at Eastern Washington, including a national FCS championship and five Big Sky titles. His Eagles, led by Vernon Adams Jr., came into Corvallis and beat Oregon State 49-46 in 2013.

Baldwin looked damn good calling plays as California's O-coordinator in the Bears' 37-23 win over OSU last Saturday in Strawberry Canyon.

I'd be surprised not to see all three on search firm coordinator Glenn Sugiyama's short list.

• Football, despite a legislating effort to the contrary, remains a contact sport.

There are always going to be head injuries, and rules-makers should always do what they can to make it a safer sport.

The recent influx of targeting penalties in college football, however, defies reasonable expectations.

Helmet-to-helmet contact has been eliminated. That's a good thing.

But face-up helmet contact with a ballcarrier's chest, as was the case in Oregon State linebacker Bright Ugwoegbu's recent "transgression" against California?

It looked like a clean, efficient tackle to me — and not against a defenseless opponent.

Coaches are teaching the shoulder-first tackle now — again, the correct thing to do.

Maybe it has to be that a tackler can't use the helmet to initiate contact at all.

But it would seem there should be an "intent" provision included in the targeting fouls. Perhaps some hits would be worthy of a 15-yard penalty but not a one-half expulsion. Ugwoegbu's tackle certainly didn't seem to warrant the latter.

• If Diego Valeri doesn't understand the MLS's "away goals tiebreaker" in the playoffs, I'm wont to make any sense of it.

MLS playoffs are home-and-home affairs until the MLS Cup finals. If the teams battle to a scoreless draw in the opener — as happened in the Timbers' recent series with Houston — it puts the home team in Game 2 at a mathematical disadvantage. When the Dynamo scored to tie the game 1-1 at Providence Park, that put the onus on the Timbers to score again to claim the series and move on. Instead, Houston got another goal, in the 77th minute.

The answer to all of this, of course, is to go to a best-of-three format.

Too many games, you say? Well, trim the regular season — Portland's slate ran from March to November — and provide a little wiggle room for the postseason.

No other major pro sports league uses a best-of-two system, because it doesn't make sense. They may do it that way in European soccer, but that doesn't mean it's right.

• We're hearing the term "two-way contract" in the NBA now. But what does it mean, and how does it work?

For the first time this season, an NBA team is allowed to sign up to two players who are also contracted with a G-League affiliate. (The Trail Blazers' two signees are guards CJ Wilcox and Wade Baldwin.) They do not count against the NBA team's 15-man roster and can sign one- or two-year deals.

Players can spend up to 45 days with the NBA team. While in the G-League, they're paid $75,000 — way more than the regular G-League salary of $26,000. While in the NBA, the players are paid commensurate to the rookie minimum, which, if it were for 45 days, would be about $204,000.

Some players will play their way out of the two-way contract. Mike James is starting at point guard for Phoenix. The Suns have until Dec. 6 — the end of his 45-day period — to turn the former Grant High standout's two-way pact into a full-fledged NBA deal. To do that, they'd have to cut someone from their roster of 15 with a guaranteed contract.

• Hated to see Damian Lillard getting into it with a heckling fan Tuesday night — at Moda Center, no less.

If a spectator is using obscene language, a player should alert security, which will take care of the problem and, if it persists, escort the offender out of the arena.

If it's simply the normal abuse from a knucklehead fan, well, the paying customer has the right to make himself heard, however unseemly that may be. The pro athlete has to turn a deaf ear to all the extraneous noise out there. Getting into a verbal exchange is never the right thing to do.

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@kerryeggers

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