Dear Mr. Football: Rich Rodriguez refers to Eugene as "YEW-gene" not the favored "u-GENE" pronunciation. Hasn't he been paying attention?
A: RichRod gets the Bill Frieder Award, given to the latest Michigan man coaching in the Pac-12. When ASU hired Frieder away from Michigan's basketball team in 1989, he would chronically say "Ore-a-GONE" when the Sun Devils would get routed at Mac Court.
One night, at the Valley River Inn near the UO campus, Frieder discovered that his hotel room had been robbed of more than $1,000. He came into the hotel saloon and told a group of Arizona reporters, "Every time I come to 'Ore-a-GONE' I lose my shirt."
Someone said, "Hey, Bill, it's "Ore-uh-GUN." And without missing a beat, he said "If I had one, I'd shoot the guy right now."
That's tonight's theme too: Arizona might need extra ammo to hang tight with the Ducks.
Dear Mr. Football: Were RichRod and Oregon coach Chip Kelly offensive geniuses from the beginning?
A: In his first year as a head coach, 27-year-old Rich Rodriguez led Glenville (W.Va.) State to a 1-7-1 record in 1990, which included a 63-0 loss to Wingate (N.C.) State.
That same year, Kelly's first year as a college coach, a 26-year-old assistant at Columbia, the Lions went 1-9 and averaged 11 points per game. Both coaches paid significant dues.
Dear Mr. Football: Was Kelly a history major at New Hampshire?
A: During his weekly press briefing Tuesday, attempting to defuse a question about the origin of the spread offense, Kelly said Knute Rockne was an offensive innovator "as far back as 1938." (Rockne died in 1931).
Kelly further said Notre Dame's fabled Four Horsemen were running a shotgun offense "way back in 1913" (the Four Horsemen rode to fame in 1924), and that TCU coach Dutch Meyer rose to prominence by coaching a spread-type offense in 1950.
Meyer's TCU team went 11-0 in 1938 running a single wing with Heisman Trophy winner Davey O'Brien, and moved into the spread a decade later.
Dear Mr. Football: Rodriguez said "there's no catching" Oregon speed back De'Anthony Thomas. Is he the fastest football player ever in this league?
A: Mr. DAT, who graces the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated, would've had difficulty making USC's 1967, world-record-setting 4x100 relay team that included O.J. Simpson.
DAT also would be looking at the backside of UA receiver Michael Bates, who won the 100 and 200 at the Pac-10 track championships in 1990 and 1991, then won a bronze medal at 200 meters in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. ASU receiver Ron Brown was part of the USA's 4x100 gold medal relay team of 1984, fourth overall at 100 meters.
From 2000-02, USC tailback Sultan McCullough led the Trojans in rushing for three seasons but was probably more accomplished as a sprinter, running 100 meters in 10.18. I would also suggest that USC's Earl McCullouch, no relation, who won the 1976 NCAA championship in the 120 high hurdles, would get a spot in the Fastest Foursome in Pac-12 football history: Simpson, Bates, McCullough and McCullouch.
Dear Mr. Football: Has Arizona ever been a 22 1/2-point underdog before?
A: In this millennium alone, the Wildcats have been an underdog of 21 to 35 points in nine games. The biggest spreads: 38 at No. 1 USC in 2005 (the Trojans won 42-21) and 35 at No. 1 USC in 2004 (the Trojans won 49-9.)
Being a 22 1/2- point underdog is not a promising trend: Arizona came reasonably close in only one of those nine games, losing 20-3 to No. 3 USC in 2006 when the Trojans were 21-point favorites.
Dear Mr. Football: RichRod refers to Oregon benefactor Phil Knight as "Uncle Phil." Does Uncle Phil give all his money to the Ducks?
A: On Tuesday, the Oregon Health and Science University announced that Knight, co-founder of Nike, gave them $125 million to establish the OHSU Cardiovascular Institute.
The medical school said Knight's gift will be a "game-changer" in research for stroke, cancer, neurological, diabetes and cardiovascular disorders. In 2008, Knight donated $100 million to OHSU's Knight Cancer Center Institute.
So there goes the I-hate-Uncle Phil angle.
Dear Mr. Football: Do the Ducks ever recruit anyone but a 4-star high school player?
A: The Ducks can turn over rocks with the best of 'em. Their 2008 recruiting class included two NFL-bound tailbacks, LaGarrette Blount and LaMichael James. How's that for hitting it rich?
Also in that class was a combo-back from Riverside, Calif., Kenjon Barner, who was initially rated a 2-star recruit. His first offer was from ASU, which wanted him to be a cornerback. He then visited UTEP. In early October 2007, Rodriguez at West Virginia phoned and made preliminary inquiries about Barner's playing for the Mountaineers.
Finally, Barner signed with Oregon (his rating had been adjusted to 3-star), and was about as far down the depth chart as a freshman can be. In the last two seasons, Barner has rushed for a 143 yards against UA as a second stringer. Now a starter, he might get 243 tonight.
Dear Mr. Football: Is it true Arizona defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel had more trouble with the Shippensburg (Pa.) Raiders than he is likely to have with the Ducks?
A: When he made a name for himself as a young defensive coordinator at Shepherd (W.Va.) University, 1991-99, the Rams defense was known as the Ca-STEEL Curtain.
But it didn't come any easier at Shepherd than it will at Arizona for the man behind the Curtain. In his first game at Shepherd, Casteel's club yielded seven touchdowns and lost 49-28 to Shippensburg.
It takes time and Casteel knows it. His Shepherd teams lost the season opener to Shippensburg again in 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995. Finally, in '96, Shepherd beat the Raiders 24-22. It may take that long for Arizona to reach Oregon's level.
Dear Mr. Football: Do you realize that dating to 2007, the fewest points Oregon has scored at home is 31? Does that mean Arizona can win with 32?
A: In his final days as Michigan's coach, RichRod beat Indiana 67-65. That's what it will probably take tonight to beat the Ducks. Remember this: Arizona was the last team to outgain the Ducks at Autzen Stadium (527 to 504) in 2008, but Oregon won anyway, 55-45.
This UA team isn't anywhere near that good defensively. The Cats will pay tonight for the sins of Mike Stoops' 2008 and 2009 recruiting deficiencies. Ducks 52-34.