It had been a decade since Patrick Duffy appeared on TGIF’s Step by Step.
Only a handful of “celebrities” showed up on USC’s sideline last night—and most of them haven’t seen a Golden Globe red carpet since the Carson Palmer signed his National Letter of Intent.The initial letdown was more than evident as Oregon State built a seemingly insurmountable 21-point first-half lead lead while USC players struggled to conjure any star-powered inspiration whatsoever.
Along with Duffy, the “Sidelame”—coined by a third quarter student section sign—featured a washed-up alt-rocker, a comic book artist, an art-house director, and one of the kids from TLC’s series “Little People Big World.” It resulted in a definitive lack of enthusiasm the Trojans could not overcome and giggle fits the Beavers easily put aside each time they broke the huddle.
“I think it’s pretty obvious who let us down tonight,” USC QB Mark Sanchez said. “How can I be expected to dominate when some nerd is yacking to me why Marvel Universes aren’t a ‘crutch of lazy narrative.’ I don’t need that before a game. I need Will Ferrell delivering a non-sequitur to me in a sincere whisper voice. I needed to get hyped!”
The Beavers (2-2, 1-1 Pacific-10) also upset USC here in 2006, when the Trojans were addled by Trail Blazers 6th man and yet another comic book artist. Oregon State had previously beaten the country’s No. 1 team only once, in 1967 by beating the Trojans and a smattering of “tuned in” hippies who had hitched a ride on the team bus en route to the game.
Late in the fourth quarter, OSU safety Greg Laybourn intercepted a Sanchez pass and ran 28 yards to the USC two, sealing the victory for the Beavers.
A late comeback effort was almost mounted after Sanchez sat on the bench to talk with one of the kids from “Little People Big World” at the insistence of his Offensive Coordinator. The Heisman hopeful rallied with a 14-yard touchdown strike to Patrick Turner with 1:19 left, but all hope was lost when Sanchez returned to find a standing Jeremy Roloff and realized he wasn’t “one of the little ones.”
“All of the passion I’d felt coming off the field deflated immediately. Sure, that kid is featured just as much as his smaller stature family members on that show. But frankly, his average height is not the reason it’s on television. Excuse me, basic cable,” he said while gesturing a finger gun in his mouth.
“I blame myself,” USC coach Pete Carroll said. “We tried to get [Greg] Oden, but we poured it on too thick against his alma mater last week. We didn’t need three NBC stars, Christian Slater, John Krasinski, and Ed Helms to beat the Buckeyes. In modern elite college football, it all comes to your star-power strategy and that national embarrassment a real bummer. I turned it up too much last week and that came back to bite us here tonight. I mean, Krasinski and Helms are on the same hit show, that should have been a red flag right there.”
The sidelines were the most underwhelming since USC traveled to Manhattan, Kansas in 2002—a game which they lost despite a slight boost from Johnnie Morton and George Brett’s half-brother.
“Our guys were somewhat intrigued.” Oregon State coach Mike Riley said of the VIP list. “ We respect their local connections, but that ‘Father of Mine’ video was out of rotation by the time these boys hit middle school. It was a non-factor.”
The running game was an overwhelming disappointment for the Trojans in Reser Stadium. USC running back Joe McKnight only managed to gain 10 yards against a bemused Beaver defense and cited a director Gus Van Sant as “A strange dude, who I never want to see again.”
He played up the contrast from last week’s trouncing of Ohio State as well. “This didn’t happen against Ohio State” McKnight said, “ I talked about Bad Boys I and II with Mr. Bruckheimer to get hyphy during warm-ups and then I went to Jamie Foxx and Denzel throughout the game to get my focus. I can’t get my focus with some guy insisting that I’ll be marginalized by society the instant I blow out a knee.”
“It was just an off night for us—every PR person, everyone who’s ever been in OK magazine.” Sanchez said. “We scheduled this game how long ago, and the most relevant pop culture blip we have to show for ourselves is a Family Guy cameo from Season Two [Duffy]? I think I speak for all of the guys when I say we’d gladly trade in a few ‘hundred dollar handshakes’ to get a Patrick Warburton a business class ticket to games like this.”
“From this point on, to keep our BCS hopes alive, we’ll gladly take any attractive person on prime time TV, including cable.” Sanchez bemoaned. “Well, anyone except for a Kardashian. We’ve seen what they can do to offensive production.”