by: TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO - Nicolas Batum, beating Miami's LeBron James to a loose ball, were 33-36 and not out of the playing running last season, before losing their final 13 games.Tell me again:

• How Ohio State is so great and deserves to play for the national championship and would go unbeaten even if the Buckeyes played a formidable regular-season schedule with nonleague games against ranked teams.

Tell me again:

• How the Blazers didn't underachieve last season.

It was and still is my opinion that the Blazers, who had their same corps of four starters (Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge) should have been in the running for a playoff spot until the final week or two, instead of losing their final 13 games.

Yes, the team had some injuries and the starters played a lot of minutes, but with all due respect to Robin Lopez, Mo Williams, Thomas Robinson and Dorell Wright, I don't believe those 2013-14 additions are enough alone to turn an 0-13 team into a team that started 17-3.

The Blazers have merely taken the next step from what could have been close to a .500 finish last season.

Tell me again:

 How the private schools don't have incredible advantages over everyone else in Oregon high school athletics. And how the playing field is so level that a lot of teams easily could win state titles.

First, congrats to Central Catholic, which rolled to a 14-0 season and beat Jesuit 38-28 last week for the Class 6A title. No one touched the Rams this season, who looked like a junior college team. And Jesuit clearly was better than everyone but CC by the end of the season, despite a major injury to Joey Alfieri.

Years ago, the argument for increasing the number of teams in Oregon high school playoffs and lengthening the postseason was that even a fourth-place team in a good league, such as the Metro League, likely was better than some teams qualifying from weaker leagues — and that such a fourth-place team might even win a state championship.

In 1979, the Oregon School Activities Association raised the size of the large-school (then Class AAA) football playoffs from eight teams to 32 teams.

And the poster child for the expanded playoffs became the 1980 Beaverton Beavers.

John Linn was the coach of that Beaverton team, which lost its first three games and had four losses in all before marching to the state title.

Beaverton upset Medford 7-6 in the championship game.

In 1980, there were no play-in games as there are now — when all 42 Class 6A teams get to play beyond the regular season — and Oregon had four classifications, not six.

Could a four-loss team win the 6A state championship today?

Hard to imagine, unless Central Catholic or Jesuit or some other well-heeled program with a deep and experienced coaching staff had to forfeit four games.

Could any fourth-place team in a 6A league this year — Westview? Gresham? Canby? Newberg? South Salem? South Medford? — have beaten Central Catholic?

Could any other team with four losses — Southridge? Tualatin? Grants Pass? — have toppled the Rams?

No, that parity has gone the way of the drop kick.

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