On Manziel, Horton, Schonely and more
Poring over some subjects in the sporting world that pique my interest. …
• June Jones has another quarterback with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and it's a very big name.
Johnny Manziel has signed a two-year contract with Jones' Tiger-Cats, hoping for a new lease on a pro football career that went dead in 2015.
Jones — the Grant High grad and former Portland State quarterback — has been working on a deal with Manziel since shortly after taking over the Tiger-Cats last August.
"He went through all the hoops of getting a shot at the NFL before he came to us," says Jones, who took over the Tiger-Cats when they were 0-8 last season and guided them to six wins in the final 10 games.
Does the game of Manziel, still only 25, translate to the Canadian Football League's wide-open style of play — and in particular, Jones' run-and-shoot offense?
"Sure," Jones says, "but his game transfers well to the NFL, too. He was a No. 1 pick (of Cleveland's) for a reason. He can play. I watched video of his games with the Browns, and on plays when they had three, four or five wideouts, he made every throw he needed to make and looked just like he did at Texas A&M. Too often, they put him in other formations — two tight ends, two running backs. They made a big mistake. They should have put him in what he knows and let him play.
"With us, he'll fit right in and make the plays like he did in college."
Jones' starting quarterback last season was another familiar name — former Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli.
"Jeremiah can play, too," Jones says. "I think he's good enough to play in the NFL. He was the No. 1 quarterback in the CFL in the 10 games he played for me. He's better now than he was then. Johnny is going to have to beat him out. We have two quarterbacks who can make some stuff happen now, but Jeremiah is my guy."
• A source says Oregon athletic department officials have notified George Horton that this will be his final season as the Ducks' head baseball coach.
Horton, 64, has two years left on a contract that was extended last August. In 10 years, Horton's career record at Oregon is 345-247-1, but he is 137-148 in Pac-12 play and has never gotten the Ducks into the College World Series.
The Ducks (25-27 overall, 11-16 Pac-12) were swept in a three-game series at UCLA last weekend by an aggregate score of 37-7. They will finish the season with a series against Arizona that begins Thursday at PK Park.
A UO athletic department representative says the source's information is "false."
Does that mean that Horton will be back as coach next season?
"Yes," Jimmy Stanton, senior associate AD/communications, says via email.
• Oregon State finally has some help for its backcourt.
Coach Wayne Tinkle, who had signed three center/power forwards, added 6-3, 195-pound Jordan Campbell of Adelanto, California, and 5-10, 175-pound Antoine Vernon of Hamilton, Ontario. Both players are a year out of high school and attended prep school this year — Vernon to play, Campbell to get his academics in order.
"Having that extra year of physical maturity means they're going to be in better position to help us right away," Tinkle says.
Campbell, a left-handed combo guard, averaged 29.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 4.1 steals while leading Adelanto High to a 22-3 record. The two-time Desert Sky League MVP initially signed with San Diego State, but backed off after assistant coach Justin Hutson got the head coaching job at Fresno State. The Aztecs then released him from his commitment.
"Jordan is very athletic, very physical, with a body ready-made for college ball," Tinkle says. "He attacks the rim and is going to be a really good defender. He'll be one of our strongest and most athletic guards."
Vernon, a prototypical point guard, averaged 16.7 points, 7.6 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals in leading The Rise Centre Academy to the province championship.
"Antoine can handle pressure, can make plays for his teammates and can shoot it," Tinkle says. "He played in a very high-level prep league for his brother, who was the head coach. He's a shifty kid who can run the show and cause some havoc in the pick-and-roll game.
"Adding these two to the backcourt with Stevie and Ethan (Thompson) and Zach (Reichle) adds some dimensions we didn't have."
The Beavers still have two scholarships open.
"We may use one and save one," Tinkle says. "We'll see how things shake out."
• It's a busy summer ahead for Dick Fosbury.
The high jump legend's autobiography, "The Wizard of Foz," is completed and set for release. The former Olympic high jump champion from Oregon State wrote the book with Bob Welch, a Corvallis native who was a long-time general columnist of the Eugene Register-Guard.
"Bob is really good," says Fosbury, 71. "He explained how readers would perceive my words. I've told my story for eons. But in the book, there are stories that no one has ever heard. It's personal stuff. I think it will be a surprise to some people."
The Medford native, who lives in Ketchum, Idaho, will spend the summer on the stump after winning the Democratic nomination for Blaine County Commissioner in the first district. Fosbury, a retired engineer, beat incumbent Larry Schoen with 70 percent of the vote in the primary last week. Fosbury will run against Republican Kyle Kunz in the November election.
"I've made presentations to the city and county for over 40 years," Fosbury says. "I've been involved in planning and zoning for the last five years. It's a natural steppingstone. It's in my wheelhouse. I'm very interested in building a strong, healthy community and helping solve problems."
On July 2, Fosbury will be inducted into the National High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The Foz is already a member of the USA Track & Field, the U.S. Olympic and the Oregon Sports halls of fame.
Fosbury remains a member of the committee to restore men's track and field at his alma mater and recently participated in a teleconference with OSU athletic director Scott Barnes. Barnes' message was direct: Nothing will be done until the athletic department debt — currently more than $8 million — is eliminated. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education has issued a directive to have that done by 2020.
"Scott has obligations to fulfill before he can look at expanding programs," Fosbury says. "We know any addition of men's track must be balanced with gender equity under Title IX. It's complicated and an uphill climb, but we're not quitting."
The biggest shame is that Fosbury's committee had raised about $3 million in pledges, primarily from alumni who had become engineers. Long story short — before Barnes took the AD job in December 2016, the project got stymied, and the money wound up going to the OSU engineering department.
• Dennis Erickson is back in the coaching saddle after a two-year hiatus.
Erickson, 71, has been hired as head coach of Alliance Salt Lake, which will participate the fledgling Alliance of American Football.
"They wouldn't hire me in college, so I had to go somewhere else," quips Erickson, the one-time Oregon State head coach who last coached as an assistant at Utah from 2013-16.
The AAF has been formed as a developmental league for the NFL. Among those behind the league's founding are Hall of Fame former owner Bill Polian and ex-Pittsburgh Steeler greats Troy Polamalu (a Roseburg-area native) and Hines Ward. It's an eight-team league — other cities that have been announced are Atlanta, Memphis, Orlando and Phoenix — that will play 10 regular-season games from February to April.
"Of all the (alternative) leagues, this is by far the best," Erickson says. "There is more money behind it, and they're doing it for the right reasons. I'm going to be able to hire some really good coaches, and we're going to have a lot of fun.
"I'm excited to be back. Once you turn 70, there are not a lot of job opportunities. I'm pretty sure I can still coach."
• Former Oregon Stater Jim Jarvis is back in Corvallis after attending a 50-year reunion of the first American Basketball Association champions, the Pittsburgh Pipers.
The ABA lasted 10 years (1967-76) and featured some of the game's greats — including Julius Erving, George McGinnis, Rick Barry, Moses Malone, Artis Gilmore, David Thompson, Maurice Lucas, Spencer Haywood and Connie Hawkins — before a merger that brought four ABA teams to the NBA.
Basketball Hall-of-Famer Hawkins, who died last year, was the star of the Pipers, who beat New Orleans — featuring guards Larry Brown and Doug Moe — in seven games for the 1967-68 ABA crown. Jarvis, a reserve guard, was one of 10 players who attended a reunion in Pittsburgh that was financed by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, a Pittsburgh native who was a fan of the team as a 9-year-old.
"Mark flew everybody in, including wives, and picked up the tab for the whole weekend," says Jarvis, 75. "He didn't even come to the event."
Four of the team's starters — Hawkins, Art Heyman, Chico Vaughn and Trooper Washington — have passed. The survivors swapped plenty of stories and and relived memories from a half-century ago, especially about the great Hawkins.
"Connie was a really good guy," Jarvis says. "Playing with him was great for a guard. His hands were so big, he caught a basketball like it was a softball. I'd throw it to him, cut to the basket and he'd score. I'd throw it to him, cut to the basket and he'd score again. Then I'd throw it to him, cut to the basket and he'd get me a lay-in."
The Pipers, hailed as "the forgotten champions of Pittsburgh," lasted only one year. The franchise was relocated to Minneapolis after its only season.
Jarvis, who had also been drafted by the NBA's San Francisco Warriors, was traded to the L.A. Stars for his second ABA season. It was during that season that Jarvis was beaten savagely by Oakland Oaks guard Warren Jabali in an altercation during a game.
"He stomped on my head," Jarvis recalls. "Cut my eyebrows open, broke my nose, broke some teeth. Our coach, Bill Sharman, comes running out and says, 'Don't move him; he might have a broken neck.'"
The team doctor and a semi-conscious Jarvis retreated to the training room.
"I don't remember taking a concussion test," Jarvis says. "The doctor says, "We have to get you ready for the second half for psychological reasons." He washes my eyebrows, shaves my eyebrows and stitches me up, and I start the second half."
It was a different era.
"Two days later, we played at Denver, and I had my highest scoring night — 28 points," Jarvis says.
Jarvis, a two-sport star at OSU, also played one year of pro baseball in the Philadelphia organization as a second baseman, spending most of the season with the Eugene Emeralds.
• With one week of play remaining, California's Andrew Vaughn leads the Pac-12 with a .414 batting average, followed by Oregon State's Adley Rutschman at .402. It's a shame OSU's Nick Madrigal isn't in the running, too.
The junior second baseman, who is hitting a remarkable .435 in 26 games this season, missed 26 games with a broken hand. To qualify for a batting title requires that a player average 2.5 official at-bats and 3.0 plate appearances over the entirety of his team's schedule. Through a 56-game regular-season slate, that means at least 140 at-bats and 168 plate appearances.
With only this weekend's home series against UCLA yet to play, Madrigal has 108 at-bats and 122 plate appearances, so he'll fall short of the requirements.
• The Pac-12's rotating eight-year cycle for football scheduling begins in 2019. Oregon and Oregon State always play the other four North Division schools — Washington, Washington State, Stanford and California. In 2019 and '20, the Ducks miss UCLA and Utah, and the Beavers will miss Southern Cal and Colorado.
Other than Oregon State, there were no patsies in the Pac-12 last season. Every team won at least five games except the 1-11 Beavers.
The Bruins' coach now is Chip Kelly, which means the conference will be deprived of one of its most interesting matchups the next two seasons.
• Legendary ex-Blazer broadcaster Bill Schonely will celebrate his 89th birthday on June 1, little more than a month after surgery for an artificial left hip.
"I'm going to have a rehab session that day, so it's not going to be anything to get real excited about," Schonely says. "The other day, I was thinking, 'My God, I'm going to be 89.' I can hardly believe it.
"But I'm getting better every day. I started to drive last week, so I can go to the store and to rehab. I feel much better, but I'm not 100 percent there yet."
• Ex-world champion Stevie "2-Pound" Forbes, who is trying to promote a boxing renaissance in his hometown, has scheduled his second card for Aug. 25 at the Jackson Armory in Northeast Portland.
The Grant High grad, 41, is a former world super featherweight champ who staged the first boxing card in the area last December after moving back to the city from Las Vegas.
Other than shows featuring Roy Jones Jr. and Floyd Mayweather at Moda Center, boxing has been missing from the Portland area for about 20 years. Forbes' first card drew about 500 spectators to the Jackson Armory. He hasn't announced the participants on his next production, "but we'll have some good bouts," Forbes says. "We'll have some local guys and some others from the West Coast.
"We're getting hard-core boxing fans back again, which is good," Forbes says. "We need sports fans next."
Forbes was in Los Angeles last weekend to watch the taping of the fifth season of "The Contender." Forbes made it to the finals of Contender II in 2006.