Ducks got a near-free pass; shake-ups coming in local talk radio


Ruminations on a variety of subjects as we proceed with another sports week ...

• It's clear that the 10-member regional selection committee for the NCAA baseball tournament had its mind made up going into the final weekend of the regular season.

Oregon (42-17) got swept in its final three-game series with Oregon State yet still commanded the No. 5 national seed.

The Ducks deserved to be one of 16 teams to host first-round, four-team regional tournaments, but not to be one of the eight national seeds.

The national seeds, in order, are Florida, UCLA, Florida State, Baylor, Oregon, North Carolina, LSU and South Carolina.

Gaining a national seed is big, because it means by winning a four-team regional, you are guaranteed to play host to a super regional the following weekend.

In Oregon's case, victory at the four-team Eugene regional means the Ducks will play host to the winner of the Gary, Ind., regional (hosted by Purdue) in a super regional.

Oregon, which went into the final weekend with a one-game lead over Arizona, finished third in the Pac-12 behind UCLA and Arizona. UCLA got the No. 2 national seed, but Arizona was left out of the national seeding.

The Wildcats will play host to a regional this weekend, but must travel to North Carolina the following weekend for a super regional showdown if both teams claim regional titles.

Oregon State (38-18), which tied for fourth with Stanford in the Pac-12 standings, travels to sultry Baton Rouge, La., where the Beavers will have to get past No. 7 national seed Louisiana State to advance to a super regional. OSU is the only team among the top five in the Pac-12 that will go on the road for the regionals.

LSU is ranked from No. 1 (Collegiate Baseball) to No. 7 (USA Today/ESPN) in the major polls. The second seed at the Eugene regional, Cal State Fullerton, is ranked from No. 12 to 19. Oregon is No. 10 in the three major polls. Oregon State is No. 16, 17 and 18.

The NCAA selection committee uses Ratings Performance Index (RPI), a computer program that figures in winning percentage, opponents' success and opponents' strength of schedule.

Oregon's early-season sweep of Vanderbilt helped boost an RPI that fell only one to No. 6 after the lost weekend at Corvallis. The Beavers' RPI climbed from No. 38 to 27 with the sweep of the Ducks.

Interestingly enough, the Iterative Strength Ratings (ISR) - which weigh even more heavily strength of schedule - have six Pac-12 teams among the nation's top 10. UCLA, Stanford and Oregon are 1-2-3, with Arizona eighth, Oregon State ninth and Arizona State 10th.

Even given that criteria, it's hard to believe Oregon passed the eyeball test with the committee, which includes only two representatives from the West Coast - Big West Conference Commissioner Dennis Farrell and Randy Buhr, associate athletic director at Washington State.

Buhr replaced Todd Stansbury, the former Oregon State associate AD who was to join the committee this year. Stansbury left OSU in January to become the AD at Central Florida.

It can't hurt Oregon's cause that Coach George Horton is the Pac-12 rep who reports to Buhr about the comparative strength of teams in the conference. This is Horton's third year in that role.

• The Pac-12 should consider a postseason baseball tournament, which most of the nation's other premier conferences - including the Southeast, the Atlantic Coast, the Big Ten and Big 12 - have gone to. It gives a team that started slowly but peaks at the right time a chance to influence the selection committee.

Each Pac-12 team plays 30 conference games, though, so the schedule would have to start a week earlier, when weather is more of an issue.

Maybe, too, the Pac-12 should move up the final weekend of play to end on a Saturday, as do most of the other premier conferences. Pac-12 officials have resisted because they like the better gate a Friday-through-Sunday finale provides. But Thursday-through-Saturday would give more time for evaluation for a selection committee that obviously needs all the help it can get.

• Major changes are in the offing at both of Portland's sports talk radio stations.

At 'The Fan' (KFXX 1080 AM), Travis Demers will start with a noon-to-3 p.m. local show beginning Monday.

Demers spent seven years at The Fan - performing a variety of producing, board operation and on-air duties - before moving to Washington D.C., 18 months ago for a job doing updates and hosting a college sports show with XM satellite radio.

Now Demers, 30, and a co-host will move into the slot ahead of Isaac Ropp and Jason Scukanec from 3-7 p.m. No partner has been announced, but I'm hearing ex-Duck grid great Josh Wilcox could be the man.

The Fan's lineup will have a pair of national shows in the morning - Colin Cowherd from 7-10 a.m. and Scott Van Pelt from 10 a.m. to noon.

At some point this year, there will be a shakeup at 'The Game' (KXTG 750 AM), too, with the impending acquisition of Dan Patrick's national show that has been airing on a delayed basis from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on The Fan.

The plan at The Game is to run Patrick live from 6-9 a.m., followed by Jim Rome from 9 a.m. to noon. John Canzano would move up to fill the noon-to-3 p.m. slot, followed by Chad 'The Body' Doing from 3-6 p.m.

Not sure where that leaves Brian Berger, whose midday show currently runs from noon to 3 p.m. The guess is he would be retained but used on a more limited basis, perhaps returning to his 'sports business' show on Sunday afternoons.

• Speaking of Cowherd, why does the former Portland sportscaster continue to refer to Seattle as his hometown? Cowherd grew up in rural Grayland, Wash., about 100 miles southwest of Seattle on the Washington coast and about 110 miles from Portland. He ought not to be embarrassed by that.

• Trail Blazers President Larry Miller is facing back surgery in about two weeks.

Miller will undergo a procedure called a microdisectomy to remove part of a disk for the second time in three years.

'The first time I was dealing with the left side,' Miller says. 'This time it's the right side.

'It was pretty easy last time. I was up and around in a couple of days. Hopefully, that will be the case again this time.'

• Portland chiropractor Dean Clark will be working with Nike in its track and field athletes' training program at both the U.S. Olympic trials at Eugene in July and the Olympic Games at London in August.

Clark, 60, will be the only U.S. chiropractor working for Nike at London. This will be the second Olympics and the fifth U.S. trials call to duty for the former All-America steeplechaser from Washington State.