We must confess that we can't wait each year for the crunch of shoulder pads; for cleats churning up chunks of turf, and red-faced coaches screaming from the sidelines. But enough about lacrosse. College football season is upon us, and to celebrate, we're going to get back into tiny tidbit mode and present four things you didn't know about each major conference. If you have a little-known fact about your team or conference, strap it to a freshman, point him in our direction and whack him on the ass. Or, mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Today: The Pac-10.
• 1. Crosstown Rivalry. At 27 years old in 1988, former University of Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel was the quarterbacks coach for UCLA while at the same time, a third-year law student at USC. (He tutored quarterback Troy Aikman, the same year that Todd Marinovich was a "promising USC quarterback prospect"). Neuheisel, currently the quarterbacks coach for the Baltimore Ravens, played his college football at UCLA, beginning his career as a walk-on, holding for placekicks. (Thanks to Patrick Yemenidjian).
• 2. Mind Me Platypus Duck, Bill. Oregon's Duck mascot is, in fact, Donald Duck, the only film character to appear as a mascot for a major college sports team. Walt Disney gave Oregon the rights to use Donald in 1947 (after the University's own design of the mascot began to drift suspiciously close to copyright infringement) ... The Oregon-Oregon State rivalry (the "Civil War") is the sixth oldest college football rivalry and currently has no traveling trophy, but briefly used an abstract maple-carved statue of a platypus (because a platypus looks kind of like a cross between a duck and a beaver). The Platypus Trophy was awarded from 1959 to 1962, after which it disappeared. In 2005, the trophy was found in the back of a closet at Oregon's MacArthur Court and there is a move to revive the Platypus Trophy going forward. (Thanks to Joe Patrice).
• 3. The Play's The Thing. There's an area above Memorial Stadium, Cal's home field, where many fans congregate to watch the game. Because the seats are free, the area is referred to as Tightwad Hill. Those same cheapskates fire off a cannon every time the Bears score.
• 4. Mmmmm, Rowdy Tradition .... The tortilla has been a staple at Arizona State since 1996, when the Sun Devils took an unbeaten record into the Rose Bowl with Jake Plummer at quarterback — losing to Ohio State. Used in celebration and in protest, the student body has taken to tossing tortillas (flour or corn ... the latter getting more distance) onto the field. While the school has tried to crack down on this sacred tradition by requiring the male fans to be searched before games by lifting up their shirts, the females have not been subject to such scrutiny and have been able to sneak in the edible flying disks with impunity. (Thanks to Matt Duarte).