Pac-12 football — We'll have college football in Oregon in 2020, as the Pac-12 plans a seven-game season that starts Nov. 6 and culminates with a championship game Dec. 18.
In a twist, not only will the North Division champs take on the South champs on Dec. 18, but all the teams will have games scheduled for the same day. The Pac-12 believes an undefeated league champ will get strong consideration for the College Football Playoff, but it remains to be seen. Clearly, it's an issue at Oregon, which was the only Pac-12 team to be ranked (14th) once the Associated Press integrated Pac-12 and Big Ten teams back into the poll.
The Ducks, defending Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champs (12-2 in 2019), are considered to be a CFP contender, based on their strong defense, although it figures to be without three starting defensive backs in Jevon Holland, Deommodore Lenoir and Thomas Graham Jr., who as of Monday had opted out of the season.
The Ducks still have a lot of personnel on defense, including with defensive backs Brady Breeze, Nick Pickett and Mykael Wright, linemen Jordon Scott and Austin Faoliu, defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux and linebackers Mase Funa and Isaac Slade-Matautia. And, true freshman Noah Sewell is expected to be a big-impact linebacker.
Another Sewell, Noah's all-everything offensive line brother Penei, made the decision to opt out of the season to prepare for the NFL Draft — he'll be a top-five pick. It appears Penei Sewell will still sit out the season, even after the Pac-12 chose to play football rather than wait till the winter/spring 2021.
So, the Ducks will have to replace all five starters on the offensive line, which figures not to be a big concern, because the Ducks have recruited well for the O-line and it's a specialty and emphasis for head coach Mario Cristobal. Tyler Shough has competition at quarterback with transfer Anthony Brown, and the QBs will have plenty of skill players, including running back CJ Verdell and receivers Johnny Johnson III and Mycah Pittman.
Oregon State is going to have running back Jermar Jefferson and QB Tristan Gebbia back, and an improving defense received good news when D-end Hamilcar Rashed Jr. chose to play this season. OSU went 5-7 last year, trending upward under coach Jonathan Smith.
Training camps are expected to start next week, after team meetings, walkthroughs and strength/conditioning work. The schedules are going to be released this week.
Pac-12 teams will play divisional opponents and two teams from the other division.
Despite an expected rigorous testing, the Pac-12 does have some concerns about moving forward during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everybody involved will be crossing their fingers.
"We have a group that's ready to attack this," Cristobal said, "and do whatever it takes to get it done right."
NBA Finals — The NBA Finals has distinctive Portland flavor with Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra. A lot of newbies to Portland might not realize that his father, Jon Spoelstra, worked as senior vice president and general manager for the Trail Blazers, and Erik Spoelstra grew up in the Rose City and played basketball at Jesuit High and University of Portland.
Now, he has helped take the third Heat team to the NBA Finals. He served as an assistant to Pat Riley on the 2006 NBA title team that include Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal, coached LeBron James, Wade and Chris Bosh to four NBA Finals appearances (two titles) and now coached a well-balanced team with one perennial All-Star in Jimmy Butler to the finals.
Oh, and former Blazers post Meyers Leonard plays for the Heat. In his first season in Miami, he appeared in 51 games (49 starts) and averaged 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. He's only played in one playoff game, as Miami has surged with Bam Adebayo playing post.
And, of course, the Heat's opponent, James' Los Angeles Lakers, eliminated the Trail Blazers in the first round. Remember when Charles Barkley predicted a Portland series win and possible sweep?
The NBA Finals schedule (on ABC/ESPN): Game 1, 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 30 (won by Lakers); Game 2, 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2; Game 3, 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4; Game 4, 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6; Game 5 (if necessary), 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9; Game 6 (if necessary), 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11; Game 7 (if necessary), 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13.
Three Week 3 stars — Daniel Popper of The Athletic wrote Sunday that Justin Herbert will be a star. Bold words, after the former Duck from Eugene fell to 0-2 as an NFL starter. But Popper correctly praised Herbert's poise, pointing to his 11-for-12 third-down passing. Herbert, who likely gets his third start this week opposite Ndamukong Suh and the Buccaneers, finished 33 of 49 for 320 yards, a TD and a pick.
Ugo Amadi came up big for the Seahawks, helping their beat up secondary repel Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys for a 34-30 win. The former Oregon Duck made seven tackles (six solo) and was credited with two passes defensed. This week, the very entertaining Seahawks take their show to Miami (10 a.m. Sunday, FOX 12).
Jordan Poyer was in on 14 tackles (10 solo) for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. The contribution of the former Oregon State and Astoria High standout helped the Bills escape with a big win over the Los Angeles Rams — after L.A. rallied from a 28-3 deficit to lead late.
Oregon Sports Hall of Fame — The Oregon Sports Hall of Fame officially inducted its 2020 class on Saturday with a virtual ceremony televised on KGW TV.
The hour-long program recognized inductees Craig Hanneman, John Jaha, Rockne Freitas, Tom Jernstedt and Tiffeny Milbrett.
Hanneman was a defensive lineman 1968-70 at Oregon State and played for the Steelers and Patriots in the NFL. He became a mountain climber who scaled the highest peak on seven continents, several after being diagnosed with ALS.
The center on Oregon State's 1965 Rose Bowl team, Freitas played 10 seasons with the Detroit Lions. After football, he became an educator and administrator at the University of Hawaii.
Milbrett starred at Hillsboro High and the University of Portland, scoring 103 goals for the Pilots. She was the leading scorer for the 1999 Women's World Cup champions, played in three World Cups and scored the gold medal winning goal at the 1986 Olympics in Atlanta.
Jaha was a baseball standout at David Douglas High who hit 141 home runs over a 10-year career in the majors.
Jernstedt starred at Yamhill-Carlton High before attending Oregon as a quarterback, but made his name with the NCAA and is credited with turning the NCAA basketball tournament into the lucrative spectacle now known as March Madness. Jernstedt died last month.
Additional honors included a special Commitment to Community award to former Trail Blazer Brian Grant. Six high school athletes received $3,000 college scholarships: Lesly Lujan Lopez (Beaverton High), Johnny Martinez (David Douglas High), Taylor Ramirez (Gresham High), Maxwell Reed (Oregon City High), Gabriel Knox (Harrisburg High) and Jillian Rudolf (North Lake High).
To watch the ceremony, visit the KGW YouTube page.
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