Checking in with Portland State two weeks before Oregon
A trip to the Park Blocks was supposed to come without realignment talk. But then college football happened.
PORTLAND — A few minutes inside of Portland State’s football practice is an overload on the senses.
There’s a Segway Tour rolling by outside the gates. Above, drones are collecting footage and there’s no rhyme or reason to any of this music booming from the speakers at the Park Blocks. It’s 10:45 a.m. and Cat Scratch Fever has now transitioned into Baby I Love Your Way as quarterbacks rip throws to receivers in the back of the end zone and whistles sound across the field from the coaches working with special teams.
Now this is why I left the house. What a breather from realignment and TV contract talk.
BREAKING NEWS: The Vikings will not be joining the Big Ten. Or the Big 12. Or the Pac-12.
Mike Lund, Portland State’s longtime sports information director, says he doesn’t even need to go run that by his bosses. He’ll just go ahead and confirm it now. The Vikings are what they are: A blue-collar FCS team fighting for survival in the Big Sky.
They’re also a reliably good time. There aren’t too many Division I football coaches who end practice by emceeing a Rock Paper Scissors competition between the offense and defense, with the victors getting Chipotle gift cards for lunch instead of Subway, like Bruce Barnum is now.
As Barnum introduces the contenders — receiver Maclaine Griffin and defensive back Ronan Gay — he’s alternating between the styles of a 1920s public address announcer and WWE hype man.
“Show them your scar!1 Turn around and show them your scar!” Barnum roars to Gay, who fires up the defense as he points to his face.
“He got that during shark week!”
Barnum’s got a talented team here in 2023, one buoyed by a few FBS step downs and the best recruiting class since he’s been here. Dante Chachere is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the Big Sky when healthy, though the defense spent most of Thursday getting the better of the offense.
Until Griffin took two of three, and the burritos, from Gay.
“If you see Dan Lanning, let him know he can come up here and watch my entire practice if he wants,” Barnum tells me as things conclude.