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Crystal ball puts nice spin on 2008

Fair Game

A week into the new year, here's a look (sometimes wishful, sometimes cynical) at how the state's sports world could unfold in 2008:

Jan. 20: The Pac-10 schools announce they are buying their way out of an agreement with the Sun Bowl that extends through 2009 and will adjust other contracts in this new arrangement: No. 1 team vs. Big Ten champion (or somebody better than Illinois) in the Rose Bowl; No. 2 team vs. Southeast Conference No. 2 in the Capital One Bowl (you don't think Northwest fans would travel to Orlando, Fla., for New Year's?); No. 3 vs. Big 12 runner-up in the Holiday Bowl; No. 4 vs. Big Ten No. 3 in the Alamo Bowl; No. 5 vs. Big 12 No. 4 in the Insight Bowl; No. 6 vs. Mountain West No. 2 in the Las Vegas Bowl; No. 7 vs. Big East No. 5 in the Emerald Bowl.

'Our fans have spoken,' Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen says, 'and I always listen.'

Feb. 1: Oregon's Jonathan Stewart declares himself for the NFL draft and says he will take part in the combine Feb. 20 through Feb. 26 at Indianapolis.

'A running back has a shelf life of only so many years,' the junior tailback explains. 'I'd be risking injury that could jeopardize my pro future. I'd be passing on millions of dollars, and I really have nothing more to prove at the college level. Otherwise, it would make sense for me to come back to school.'

Feb. 2: C.J. Giles collects 23 points, 15 rebounds and six blocked shots to lead Oregon State past Oregon 75-72 in Eugene for the Beavers' first Pac-10 victory.

'This is the start of something big,' OSU coach Jay John declares. 'This is what I was expecting of C.J. all along.'

Feb. 6: After missing practice the previous two days, Giles is kicked off the Oregon State team.

'Can you blame me?' John says. 'Some things are more important than winning.'

Feb. 10: Brandon Roy is added to the West roster for the NBA All-Star game. He celebrates by taking his offensive line, er, teammates out to dinner.

March 11: The day after Oregon State beats Arizona State to finish 2-16 in Pac-10 play, John is fired. OSU Athletic Director Bob De Carolis announces North Carolina assistant Steve Robinson as successor.

March 16: The Winter Hawks lose 6-1 to Spokane to end the Western Hockey League season 12-60-1, the worst record in the franchise's 31-year history. Owner Jim Goldsmith says a new replay screen for Memorial Coliseum is on its way.

April 9: The day after Connecticut beats Tennessee for the title at the Women's Final Four in Tampa, Fla., Oregon Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny announces he has hired UConn coach Geno Auriemma as the Ducks' new coach, replacing Bev Smith. Auriemma signs a 10-year contract worth $1 million per season.

April 16: The Trail Blazers go into their final regular-season game at Phoenix needing a win to make the playoffs. Greg Oden begs General Manager Kevin Pritchard and coach Nate McMillan to let him play. They demur; the Suns win and the Blazers are out.

'Some things are more important than winning,' McMillan explains.

April 26: Stewart is chosen by Kansas City with the fifth pick in the NFL draft, agreeing to a six-year, $64 million contract - $30 million of it guaranteed.

'He could have gotten more money if he'd stayed another year,' UO coach Mike Bellotti says.

May 20: With Roy representing at the NBA draft lottery, the Blazers buck 0.54 percent odds and land the No. 1 pick.

'There ought to be an investigation,' says Zach Randolph, who represents the Knicks at the dais.

June 21: Pat Casey coaches Oregon State to its fourth straight College World Series berth, but the two-time national champions are ousted by Texas before reaching the finals.

'We're the best team in Oregon,' declares George Horton, coach of the UO team that will begin play in 2009.

June 28: The Trail Blazers select French forward Nicolas Batum with the No. 1 pick.

July 26: De Carolis announces he will try to schedule all of Oregon State's future football games on Thursday nights.

'It's just an all-around great night for college football,' De Carolis explains.

Aug. 23: The Pac-10 announces a new policy for football officiating: When there is a question about a call, the play will be reviewed, even if a coach doesn't call for it.

'I don't know why we didn't think of this sooner,' Hansen says.

Sept. 15: The Blazers sign a 10-year, $20 million contract with Les Schwab Tire Centers for naming rights of the arena. The new name: the Rose Garden. 'We're an Oregon company, we support athletics, and we didn't want to see the name changed,' Les Schwab Chairman Phil Wicks says. 'We think it will pay off for us in other ways.'

Oct. 25: Justin Roper throws for 330 yards and four TDs to guide Oregon to a 35-28 win over Arizona State to push the Ducks' record to 6-1.

'Why did anybody ever question the guy?' Bellotti asks.

Nov. 15: Sean Canfield takes over for an injured Lyle Moevao and throws for 345 yards and three TDs to lift Oregon State past California 31-28, the Beavers' fourth straight win after a 2-3 start.

'Why did anybody ever question the guy?' OSU coach Mike Riley asks.

Nov. 22: Appalachian State beats Portland State 41-34 in the first round of the playoffs, the first time the Vikings have made the postseason since 2000.

'We didn't dominate,' PSU coach Jerry Glanville says, 'but we will.'

Nov. 29: Jeremiah Johnson's 70-yard run in the final minute gives Oregon revenge in the Civil War game at Corvallis, a 27-24 Duck win. Officials are booed out of Reser Stadium after several questionable calls go against the Beavers.

'They were the better team,' Riley says of the Ducks.

Dec. 22: Oden's 22 points and 18 rebounds propel the Blazers to a 111-107 victory over Boston and gives Portland the NBA's best record at 20-5.

'I like this team's culture,' Pritchard proclaims. 'Our talent ain't bad, either.'

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