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Beavers / Frogs Talk

Rumors and newspaper columns have been flying for a couple of weeks about ESPN's idea to have Oregon St. ditch next season's home opener against Eastern Washington in order to have the Beavers play a Sept. 4 season opener spectacular in Cowboys Stadium, against the TCU Horned Frogs.

Athletic Director Bob DeCarolis on Monday made the idea seem real, saying "We're still negotiating with ESPN, but I would hope in the next two weeks we'll be able to get this thing accomplished. It's looking good, but there are still some things that need to come together."

The thing that needs to come together is mostly finding someone for Eastern Washington to play.

The reasons for the move are simple, dollars and promises.

The payout is projected to be at least $300,000, with the potential to reach nearly $1 million, which just happens to be the amount DeCarolis projects the school's athletic budget to be deficient in the 2009-10 academic year. Of course, the fact that it could cost some $ to get the Eagles to go away, and the loss of a home game will cost the revenue of an crowd of over 40,000, plus the price of a road trip, will have to be subtracted from that payout.

It's also a way for Oregon St. to get the Rodgers brothers James and Jacquizz an opportunity to play a game in their home state. The Rodgers of course come from Houston suburb Richmond, Texas, about a four hour drive from the Dallas area.

Coach Mike Riley has bought off on the move, saying "We've wanted to take the Rodgers brothers back to Texas for a game before James graduates, and this is our last chance to do that. Plus, I've always liked the big games, and it's a lifetime experience to play in that stadium. I said go for it."

The last chance, unless Oregon St. reaches the Alamo Bowl next season.

The downside is probably the end of any hope of a BCS at-large bid before classes ever start, and yet another slow start to a season, record wise, and the chance of diminished selection for television, and reduced or non-existent rankings, during October, until the regularly scheduled Riley late season surge comes about. That reduced television revenue has to be subtracted from the ESPN check as well.

DeCarolis does consider it a gamble, but feels "If you're fortunate enough to pull off a win, you're in the national conversation. It also helps the players focus in getting ready for the season through the summer."

Considering this a gamble is an optimistic view at best, though.

For those questioning the probability of this gloomy scenario, keep in mind it will mean two road games to BCS bowl teams that return almost their entire roster in the first month.

Undefeated and third ranked TCU is on track to return 18 starters, and any notion that playing the Horned Frogs, who are from Ft. Worth, in Arlington, is a neutral site game is foolish. It's the same as playing the Washington Huskies at Quest Stadium and calling that a neutral site.

And at the end of the month, there is the trip to Boise. The sixth ranked and undefeated Broncos also return almost their entire starting lineup as well, and are 75-2 on their blue turf.

Even though the Beavers return 19 starters, that's a start that will mean the toughest schedule in college football, not just next season, but maybe for several years, as all the national/rational powers try to limit their non-conference schedule to just one game they have a good chance of losing.

The prospect of that start has to make projected new starting quarterback Ryan Katz more than a little nervous.

And while a 1-2 start would limit the BCS options to winning the Pac-10 in order to go to the Rose Bowl, that will be an accomplishment too. With the return of Jake Locker to Washington, it means all nine of the other Pac-10 teams are likely to have a returning quarterback with Pac-10 starting experience.

Makes one wonder how much DeCarolis knows that he isn't saying.

We do know De Carolis, who has repeatedly been identified as a prime candidate for the vacant Michigan athletic director position, knows more about that situation than we do. De Carolis, whose contract at Oregon St. runs through 2011, previously spent 19 years in the Wolverines' athletic department before coming west to OSU in 1998. And his oldest daughter is a junior at Michigan.

But when asked if he had even been contacted by Michigan officials, De Carolis said, "I'm not in a position to talk about that. Let them go through the process, and we'll see what happens."

What we don't know is whether this development is a tip that there is more than yet meets the eye regarding the future status of quarterback Lyle Moevao, who missed all but one play this season, due first to slow recovery from shoulder surgery, and then an ankle injury in practice.

We do know that OSU officials haven't yet filed the formal application to the NCAA Student-Athlete Reinstatement Committee for a sixth season of eligibility for Moevao, who has an 11-4 record as a starter.

The process includes submitting both a letter from the student athlete, and one from the school on his behalf, as well as copies of his transcripts and academic standings to the NCAA. Alex Parker, OSU's associate athletic director for compliance, says the school is waiting for Moevao to complete some paperwork if he decides to go through with the appeal.

Parker said "A decision from the NCAA is usually reached three to four weeks after submission. Most extra years are granted when two different injuries are suffered to cause two seasons lost beyond the control of the student-athlete."

But in Moevao's case, he redshirted his first year at Oregon St. after a season at El Camino Junior College in Torrance, Calif., but has only lost one season due to injury.

With the experienced Moevao behind center, the bold scheduling move, as well as the Beavers' Pac-10 prospects in a year where the conference of quarterbacks will again be loaded with bona fide gunslingers, will look much different.

The prospect of next season's possible schedule with a quarterback, Katz, who hasn't started a game by then in nearly three years, and that a high school game, or perhaps Peter Lalich, who at least has DI starting experience for Virginia, but no game action in nearly two years, harkens back to the dark days.

Not just the more recent days when Oregon St. took on games that produced numerous early season nonconference losses, many of them by lopsided scores, in recent seasons, but also way back in history.

The dark ages known as the nearly thirty years between the original giant killers and the coming of the "Age of Riley" were a direct product of this type of scheduling. Oregon State once would only play only three home games, and one in Portland, loading up with high profile road games. Pull off the upsets, and you are the giant killers.

However, reality was a lot of beat downs, resulting in depressed home attendance (Who are these guys anyway, we haven't seen them around in a month?), and collapsed recruiting (Would a good recruit prefer to win, or get beat in front of a hostile crowd?). And a downward spiral that led to very real talk of dropping down to the Big Sky conference. Where there would be annual opportunities to play Eastern Washington.

When suicide scheduling is something others come to you to do, instead of you being willing to do it, is when your program has truly arrived. Seven home games should be the goal, not a schedule that makes exceeding seven wins a major achievement.

Unless Riley and DeCarolis know something the rest of us don't, it looks like a step back in time, more than a step up in national prominence.