Hello, I'm Andrew Greif, and I cover the Oregon Ducks for The Oregonian/Oregonlive of Portland, Ore. I'm on my second season on the Ducks beat, and I've traveled with the Ducks all over -- from following Marcus Mariota on his Heisman Trophy trip to New York City in December, to every game since I started. That makes this the second season in a row I've ended in Texas (after the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio last year). Today we're in Dallas, doing our AMA right before we head to AT&T Stadium for the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Along with me is Doug Lesmerises of The Cleveland Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com. He covers the Ohio State Buckeyes. Together we've seen just about everything this season.

So what would you like to know?

Proof: https://twitter.com/AndrewGreif/status/554707296802975745

EDIT: Doug's proof, too: https://twitter.com/DougLesmerises/status/554687154954063872

EDIT, Part II: We'll start at 2 p.m. ET and go for 45 minutes. Then, once we reach the stadium, Andrew will resume answering more questions if they come in. Thanks!

EDIT, Part III: It's 2:42 p.m. ET and we've got to bail to get to the stadium on time. Andrew will take a few more once he arrives. Enjoy the game everybody, and thanks for this. A fun first AMA.

Comments: 96 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

GurlinPanteez13 karma

Doug: What do you think the QB situation is going to be like next year at OSU?

AndrewGreif13 karma

Doug: I think there's a way for all three to come back. Braxton Miller's shoulder injury is serious, so he could certainly find another school, but he won't be ready to throw for a while. J.T. Barrett is the QB of the future, and while Cardale Jones could transfer eventually, I don't know that he'd do it right now. I don't think it's impossible for all three to be back and for the Buckeyes to have the best QB depth in the country.

Kibbles933 karma

So in this QB situation, with all three back, who ends up being the starter? Do you think any of them will play a different position?

AndrewGreif8 karma

Doug: I think it's J.T. Barrett's job, based on the way he played this year, his leadership and the uncertainty of Miller's health. Cardale Jones may go back to being a great backup, and I think Urban Meyer could find a way to use Miller in a way that isn't as a starting quarterback. But that could mean still playing quarterback some of the time, but maybe moving around a bit. First, they all have to get healthy, which only Jones will be for spring football. But I do think the future belongs to J.T.

GurlinPanteez3 karma

I think it would be hard to deny Cardale the starting job next year if he wins tonight.

AndrewGreif15 karma

Doug: Why? You don't think Barrett would have done the same if healthy?

Frankly, that logic could apply to Miller as well.

Jones has been great, but when all were healthy, the coaches deemed him No. 3.

dimplejuice10 karma

If Oregon did not have Phil Knight as its primary benefactor, would the program still be as successful? I recall an article in the NYTimes a few years ago about how their locker room and training facility looked more like a pro team than college team.

AndrewGreif17 karma

Andrew: There's no doubt the Ducks wouldn't be here without Knight, and Nike. The oft-told story is that after Oregon's loss in the Cotton Bowl after the 1995 season, Knight sat down with coach Mike Bellotti and told him, "What do you need to compete?" Within a couple years they had an indoor facility, which led to the locker room, which led to the uniforms... But Knight wasn't very interested in the program until the 1994 Rose Bowl season. Ever since, he's invested and UO's been on the rise.

HollaBucks10 karma

Andrew and Doug, thanks for taking the time just before the game to answer our questions. Andrew, how has the mentality been for the Ducks in the past few days? We've seen a bunch about how the OSU guys are loose and joking, but not much from the Oregon camp.

Doug, you've covered both Tressel and Meyer. Which one gives the better "coachspeak answer" to presser questions?

AndrewGreif15 karma

Doug: Tressel was more into coachspeak. Both have great records on the field, but Meyer wins in the news conference. You might get more from Meyer in 5 minutes than you did from Tressel in 20. But that was all part of Tressel's plan.

AndrewGreif7 karma

OK, we have to leave to get to the stadium on time. Andrew will take some more once the media arrives (by police escort, mind you). Thanks again everybody.

dimplejuice6 karma

Last time I checked, the spread was 6.5 or 7pts in favor of Oregon. Thoughts?

AndrewGreif8 karma

Doug: By the way, Andrew and I are at the same computer so we are sharing a sign-in. Anyway, I'm a little surprised this isn't closer to a pick 'em.

Andrew: I'm also surprised the spread didn't budge much after the Carrington suspension. Some people have been downplaying his influence by calling him a "second team" guy -- which is true, until you realize how big of a player he was in the last two games.

hurrykane6 karma

Andrew - as a UO alum, is it tough to keep fandom and job separate?

AndrewGreif5 karma

Not at all, actually. Several of my friends still find this hard to believe. I grew up liking the team (my dad's a UO grad) because my hometown is only a couple hours away from Eugene. But once I knew journalism was my goal, I found it really easy, actually, to leave the fandom behind.

buckeye105 karma

The players typically get huge amounts of swag and free stuff for bowl games. Do media members get anything cool for these playoff games? Anything cool for the first ever CFP championship game?

AndrewGreif11 karma

Andrew: The welcome committee was giving out backpacks when we arrived. Some T-shirts were thrown out last night at a media party in downtown Dallas. I think the thing that most wouldn't know is that we're fed at major bowls breakfast, lunch and dinner in the hospitality room. It's pretty nice, especially when you're writing all day from your hotel room, to know you can pop downstairs for some food.

Doug: There was a rather accomplished country music singer performing at the media party last night. She seemed nice. Almost felt bad she had to sing for us idiots.

jmilrod5 karma

What did you guys bet each other for the game tonight?

AndrewGreif4 karma

Doug: Guy who gets his story done last has to walk back to the hotel from the stadium.

runninreif235 karma

What is the overall mood in both locker rooms especially Oregon with Carrington out?

AndrewGreif9 karma

Andrew: The Ducks were disappointed in him, you could tell. It's been a pretty above-board group all season, and for this to happen the day before they travel to Dallas? They certainly didn't like answering questions about it all Saturday. But they also seemed pretty confident they'd do what they've done all season, which is plug and play someone else.

Doug: Ohio State doesn't have much to lose in a year when they weren't expected to do this. They've had a pretty good vibe to them the entire playoff.

green_and_yellow3 karma

Both teams have played on big stages before. But do you think one team has a bigger advantage, as far as managing the bright lights, big stadium, and pomp and circumstance go?

AndrewGreif4 karma

Doug: Ohio State, like most major teams, is so used to playing in prime time that the bigger issue for the Buckeyes is getting up for games when they start at noon. I don't think the stage will be an issue tonight, but I don't think it will be for Oregon, either.

HalfBredGerman3 karma

How are each of you feeling going into this game and what do you believe are the keys to the game?

Also why do an AMA here instead of /r/CFB?

AndrewGreif5 karma

Andrew: I think we're doing it here because the AP was holding an AMA over at /CFB, and we weren't sure anybody needed two live chats on the same sub. As for how I'm feeling -- I think I've overanalyzed this game at this point from just about every angle. If you ask me now, I think Oregon wins by three. But then I remember how much Ezekiel Elliott improved since November (about 50 more ypg since then) and I think Ohio State will run it on Oregon like FSU did, but actually punch it in in the red zone, unlike FSU.

Your thoughts on the game?

Doug: I'm not sure where we are. Is this AOL? I think Ohio State's run game may determine the outcome. If it works like it has the last two weeks, with Ezekiel Elliott having huge games, the Buckeyes may be in very good shape. If Oregon's back seven runs to the ball and tackles and makes Elliott work for his yards, the Oregon offense could control the game.

Kibbles933 karma

What are your thoughts on the current playoff system for college football? Is four teams enough to truly determine the champion or are you guys of the mindset that an 8 team playoff would be superior? How should conference championships tie into playoff bids?

AndrewGreif11 karma

Andrew: I love the playoff, personally, as opposed to the BCS. But I think it might be a best practice to include an auto bid for every Power 5 conference winner in a future format. Not sure how you'd re-arrange scheduling to fit all those games in, but I'd like to see it happen.

Doug: The BCS stunk. This is one thousand times better. I always thought I was an eight-team guy, but I think this season may have me believing four is best. I'd rather leave out a really good No. 5 team than let in an iffy No. 8 team. Michigan State lost to both Oregon and Ohio State this season and in an eight-team field very well may have been in. Would the Spartans have deserved that? I think there can be tweaks to the system, but keeping the bowl feel to the semis and making the championship more like a regular game has also worked. An eight-team playoff would kill any bowl idea for those eight teams. My main complaint now - why did it take so long for us to get here? Man, the BCS was terrible.

dimplejuice3 karma

Are you seeing more Ducks or Buckeyes fans around the stadium area today?

AndrewGreif5 karma

Andrew: At the Rose Bowl, it was 70/30 Oregon. Today, I'd expect it to be much more down the middle.

Doug: Buckeyes fans travel like crazy. At Cal for a road game last year, they dominated the stadium. I expect a lot of red. Sugar Bowl was maybe a slight end to Bama, think OSU will have a slight edge today.

Kibbles932 karma

What are both of your favorite pieces that you've written and why?

AndrewGreif3 karma

Andrew: I think mine from this season is this feature from August, on the murdered Oregon recruit who inspired the movie "When The Game Stands Tall."


Doug: I did a killer practice update this week about the stretching.

kmwsoon2 karma

Plenty of Buckeye fans point to the last time these two teams played. I think that's a useless argument, but is there anything at all to be taken from that game?

AndrewGreif2 karma

Doug: I think a lot has changed since then. The idea that Ohio State held Oregon to 17 points is the Rose Bowl five years ago is hard to believe. Both team could have 17 tonight be the end of the first quarter. That was a defense-first Ohio State team with 40 days or whatever to prepare for the Ducks. This Oregon team has a much better QB and better talent, and is facing an offense-first OSU team that has has 11 days to prepare. It's interesting for OSU fans that they have seen this Oregon attack up close before, but I don't think it means much for this game.

AlphaTrion02 karma

Andrew: How has it felt being able to cover this great team and this great season? Also, if you see Kang, tell him we'll try not to wreck his apartment too bad tonight if Oregon wins.

AndrewGreif1 karma

I'm about to see Kang in about 10 minutes, actually, so I'll let him know. He's riding a high today after getting published in the NY Times. Pretty cool to see that happen for him.

osufan772 karma

Question for both of you: Having seen both teams practice, which team seems to have the overall advantage in speed?

AndrewGreif1 karma

Andrew: We don't get to watch Oregon practice all season until the bowls, when we get to watch a few practices, but for only the first 15 minutes.

MightyMitre2 karma

If you had to characterize your team as a player from the little giants who would it be?

AndrewGreif1 karma

Andrew: Marcus the kicker. Because of Marcus the quarterback.

dgelli2 karma

Are u on the sidelines of every game and if so how crazy is that experience?

AndrewGreif4 karma

Andrew: We get sideline access before most games, but then watch from the press box. Then, with about 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter, writers are allowed to come back to the field. At the end of the game, it's pretty interesting to be down there. You see a lot of things you wouldn't notice from the press box. At the Rose Bowl, an offensive lineman needed to use the porta-bathroom on the sideline in the final seconds, only to find it was broken down. He was pretty upset, but then we saw him jumping around on the podium a few minutes. Didn't seem like it hurt his vibe at all.

Senno_Ecto_Gammat2 karma

Why do you think the quality of journalism has been declining?

How do you feel about the overwhelmingly pervasive advertising present in televised sports these days?

AndrewGreif2 karma

Doug: Lots of people with opinions. Less people doing reporting. Not the best.

PriceIsRight751 karma

Doug, do you have any insight into how OSU's offensive line has been able to gel over the course of the season with such a lack of prior experience?

AndrewGreif2 karma

Doug: Ed Warinner is a great line coach. They're a rather smart group. Taylor Decker is a good leader at left tackle. And those guys have a good relationship, bust on each other, work hard, have no egos and go about their business. A lot of credit to Warinner, because I didn't think they'd be this good this year.

iranai1 karma

With the excessive amount of "garbage time" that Oregon has had in the past two seasons, why has there not been more time spent normalizing the game stats so we can compare productive play time between teams?

AndrewGreif2 karma

Andrew: I'm not sure, but I'd like to advanced stats movement to come full-force into college football like it is in MLB, NBA, etc. I'm torn on using stats like F+, etc., this season, because for most of the readership it's such a foreign concept. But you can feel a wide divide between what the fans get for stats and what the teams compile. The Ducks put GPS trackers on their players during practices to track energy uses, most efficient practicing habits, hydration, more. From that kind of data, I'm sure there are very interesting conclusions that can be pulled out of if you know what to look for, but coaches will obviously be loathe to see that info out there.

The biggest gripe Oregon has with statistics is the use of total defense. They prefer yards per play be the stat that tells how they play, because of how many downs they go against on defense. But even then, that doesn't tell the whole story because, like you said, Oregon plays its starters in only a few fourth quarters all year.

AtoZZZ0 karma

Who are you guys going for?

AndrewGreif3 karma

Doug: A fast game. But that's the thing about fast offenses - they make for a slow game. We may be looking at 100 points and a 7-hour battle.

Ghostwolf517-1 karma


AndrewGreif7 karma

Doug: Alabama.

DeadHead--3 karma


AndrewGreif5 karma

Doug: I drink a lot of Diet Coke and maybe the aspartame got to me. But thanks for tracking my ballots!

DeadHead--4 karma


AndrewGreif5 karma

Doug: I vote how I vote. Kind of a silly argument to have now since all ballots are meaningless. It's a playoff world where the committee rules, and that's a great thing. When you cover your team all day for 12 hours, it's also kind of hard to watch all the other games. Which is why this new system is much better. But in the old days, I'd put my ballot up against anyone. And if you notice now, the committee actually operates a lot like I always did, with focusing on a clean slate each week.