Ray Ratto

Ratto: Orange Bowl victory ushers new Stanford era


Ratto: Orange Bowl victory ushers new Stanford era

Jan. 3, 2010

Its always enriching to see folks who didnt see Stanford this year, see Stanford this year. The sense of goggle-eyed wonderment is, to us scabby old Stanford-watchers who have seen this for four months, delightful.Andrew Luck won the nation. Jim Harbaugh won a few extra job offers. Shayne Skov and Coby Fleener may have won NFL scouts hearts. The Cardinal won their 12th game, 40-12, over a typically shell-shocked opponent, this one ACC champion Virginia Tech, and it could have been 42-7 if not for one hilarious play, one misjudgment and two missed extra points.
RELATED: Stanford 40, Virginia Tech 12
Frankly, there was the slack-jawed amazement of discovery throughout the Orange Bowl. It was what Stanford plays for, even if the players dont cop to it that look on the opponents faces when the light goes on and the realization hits that its never going to get any better, and can only get worse.And typically does.That this was a team that cant be duplicated, so it may as well scatter and remember these days for what they were. That was the point they all tried to make in their subtle (and in a few cases, not so subtle) way, that this was too good to brush aside in a burst of career advancement.I just ask you to respect the game and the process and respect these players, was Harbaughs stocksnippy response to all inquiries about his future. This is about them.Well, yes, but so many of them have reached their collegiate crescendos that its hard not to ask.I want to enjoy this, talk to my folks, and make a decision in the next couple of days, Luck said in response to the same question.Translation: Bye-eeee.Secondary translation: What more could you possibly want from us?I dont want to be rude, Harbaugh said later, But Id rather enjoy this moment, every minute with these guys. This team. Something thats never been done in exactly this way in the history of Stanford football.The Cardinal, looking as brutally clinical as they have most of the year, dismantled the Hokies the way a snake eats slowly, methodically, and comprehensively.And in doing so, they not only set a new water mark for Stanford football, they hastened its new era new coach, new quarterback, new everything. There is more than this, true, but the difference is so small that only a fool would see the old gang trying to do it one more time.This was, in short, more than a beatdown. It was a goodbye-to-all-that party. Graduation Day, if you must.Luck finished 18 of 23 for 287 yards and four scores, for a quarterback rating of 258,929.26. Running back Stepfan Taylor gained 114 yards in 13 carries, and Jeremy Stewart 99 in five. Fleener caught six balls for 173 yards and three scores. Skov, the sophomore linebacker, finished with eight tackles, three sacks and said, I missed about four or five others. Owen Marecic, the two-way player of national renown, was the two-way player of national renown again. And on, and on, and on.In short, this was pretty much your standard Stanford performance feet to the floorboards, the imbalances between the two teams growing with every series. The players all pointed to the two-play, 97-yard drive early in the second half as the deal-breaker the 56-yard counter by Taylor, and the 41-yard post to Fleener on the next play but it had already begun before that.This was the New Stanford Experience, only not one that the rest of the nation had fully comprehended. They saw the scores, they read the stories, but their most intimate memories of the Cardinal came in the 52-31 loss to Oregon, the game they would all like to have back even now.
REWIND: No. 9 Stanford fades, No. 4 Oregaon wins
I think were better, Harbaugh said. I think weve gotten better and stronger as the season has gone on, and thats a character of a very good football team. Thats part of what I meant when I said they really respect the game and respect the process. You are allowed to get better as the season goes along. But now there is no more season, only career choices for the fortunate few. Starting with waiting for the first falling shoe -- Michigans decision on Rich Rodriguez. It will help Harbaugh see just how many jobs he will be eligible for starting Tuesday.One of those is with the Denver Broncos, whose new boss, John Elway, heartily approved of what he saw as he stood on the field after the game. Pretty impressive, is how he put it. Very impressive.Another is with the 49ers, though the general feeling is that that is probably one of his fallback positions. It is believed that Jed York would eat all the stucco and fixtures in a burning building to get Harbaugh, but other gigs will either pay more or offer more power or more sensible structure.
MAIOCCO: Would Lombardi deliver Harbaugh?
And Luck? Hes the new richest Carolina Panther ever, because they lost their way to the top draft choice and would not seriously contemplate Denvers logical (we assume) offer of Tim Tebow and the second pick for the first pick. Luck came off Monday as one of those natural superduperstars just waiting for a contract to sign, and he has nothing left to show anyone on this level.Nor, truth be told, do any of the Cardinal. What happened this year cant be repeated, because sports simply doesnt work that way. Theres a time to show and a time to go. Stanford showed Virginia Tech, and a skeptical nation wanting to be awed, Monday night. They were. You could see it, and you could hear it. The process was respected.Now it will be completed.

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

Celtics are the rivals Warriors fans need

You don’t think you needed this game to go this way, but you did, and you do.

The Golden State Warriors spat out a 17-point lead and lost, 92-88, in Boston Thursday night, in a game that was taut if not particularly elegant, and in a game that elevated the Celtics to a place that makes them the new heir apparent to the heir apparent.

The Celtics have been a difficult out for the Warriors during the Brad Stevens Era, losing six of nine but only being blown out twice, and Thursday was not one of those nights. The box score will tell you the shooting and rebounding problems, but the Warriors had that lead and didn’t hold it. Or, to be accurate, the Celtics had that deficit and refused to let it destroy them.

Which is exactly the kind of team you, the fully licensed Warrior fan, want to watch play your team in the NBA Finals. You want to see them genuinely challenged, forced to win outside their comfort zone, induced to show their greatness in the highest of high leverage situations.

At least we think that’s what you want. Maybe you prefer blowouts so you can drink and go to the bathroom without care or fear. After all, the Warriors have taught the area the true meaning of front-running by being in front so often.

But the Celtics play a level of defense typically reserved for the San Antonio Spurs, and yes, the Warriors. They have a spiky exoskeleton that the acquisition of Kyrie Irving has actually enhanced, and Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum give them a gifted precocity that fits well with veterans like Al Horford and Marcus Morris, and Boston’s overall youth (they are fifth youngest, while Golden State is third-oldest) ought to make them a more difficult conundrum than Cleveland or any other team in either conference.

They are not yet the superior team; that remains to be proven, and betting against the Warriors requires a level of irrational bravery left only for the truly self-destructive.

But they are, as we sit this evening, the team the Warriors will have to work hardest to finish, because on a night when they had the chance to do so, they didn’t. In other words, the fight for a third ring still goes through Oakland, but it looks more and more like a one-stop through Boston.

And as much as you may hate thinking about it, you’ll almost certainly remember, and savor, a Celtics-Warriors final more than another round of Cavs-on-the-half-shell.

Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor


Three reasons Draymond Green is the perfect college professor

Programming note: Warriors-Celtics coverage starts today at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live right here 

Draymond Green spoke to a group of students at Harvard Thursday on the subject of leadership, and if you find that incongruous, shame on you.
I mean, who else would you want as a college professor?
Green has led, and been led. He has learned, and he has taught. He has certainly lectured, as any teammate, official and media member will testify. He’d be a hell of a teacher, and the subject almost doesn’t matter.
For one, homework would be different, as in I’d bet there would be no written work. I don’t see Prof. Day-Day poring over essays about the Industrial Revolution, M-theory or pre-Raphaelite art. Not even the history of Basketball-Reference.com.

For two, having tenured faculty audit his classes may find his choice of rhetoric a little strident, as in “What the ---- were you thinking, dude?” is not typically approved instructional methodology.
And three, nobody would get a grade. Green would mark every exam with a “35,” as in his draft position, and besides, the exams would be students arguing with each other over whether that was a foul or a no-call, and who pulled the better face when the call was made. He’d give either an approving nod or give the loser a second technical foul and kick him or her out of class.
But it would be a hell of a class. Not at Harvard, of course, because Green probably would want to teach a school that could better use his brand of wisdom, and Harvard kids already have a healthy lead off third base. He’d want his students to make Harvard students cry, you can just tell.
But wouldn’t he look perfectly Draymond in a cap and gown on graduation day, pulling a bottle out of his sleeve to make the valedictory speeches less painful. “Damn, dude,” you could hear him yell. “Peaking?”