Friday Q&A: Silicon Valley Takes on Pac-12 Football


A key component of the Pac-12’s branding emphasizes its regional ties to Silicon Valley and Hollywood. The conference spotlights these ties at the beginning of each football season with media days at a major film studio lot, and at the end with the Championship Game held in Santa Clara.

Ahead of the 2017 college football season, The Open Man Q&A goes further in-depth, exploring the Pac-12’s connections to both Hollywood and Silicon Valley — with the HBO series Silicon Valley providing the lens.

Not to put pressure on other Q&A participants, but this may set the bar for the best question to date.

We have to start with an acknowledgement that current Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott *is* Gavin Belson, right? For the sake of this analogy, that would then make the Conference of Champions Hooli, and Pac-12 Network is Nucleus.

To a certain extent, that would make Tom Hansen Big Head.

The Pac-12 airs games on Fox Sports, until recently headed up by Jamie Horowitz — Russ Hanneman, in Silicon Valley parlance. I put debate-yelling on TV!

For the sake of this comparison, however, we have to get down to the core group within Erlich Bachman’s incubator. Let’s start with Erlich, a self-professed master of…well, everything, but primarily marketing.

To this end, he’d be an intriguing candidate as conference commissioner. However, his boisterousness might alienate potential distributors — more so than in current reality. Besides, his braggadocio better fits the SEC.

Gilfoyle and Dinesh are brilliant nuts-and-bolts guys, but neither has the personality that a commissioner needs to present in public. Ditto Richard, whose awkward and indecisive nature cost Pied Piper hundreds of millions.

That leaves Monica, Pied Piper’s voice of reason. Ambitious, intelligent and measured, Monica is the really the only candidate from the Silicon Valley universe with the qualities necessary to be Pac-12 commissioner.

Yeah, so the talk of NBA Summer League following Lonzo Ball’s monster performance Wednesday focused on his shoes. Ball ditched the Big Baller Brand ZO2 for a pair of Nikes and played his best game since leaving UCLA.

It’s gotta be the shoes…right? It may seem silly on the surface, since great players are great players no matter what they wear. I think specifically of an anecdote Damon Stoudamire told in a SLAM Magazine article several years back about playing with men in the parks of Portland, some of whom showed up in Timberlands and still dominated.

An NBA court is much different from a playground, however. I can’t speak authoritatively on the quality of ZO2s, but they certainly look uncomfortable. If a shoes is rigid or causes foot pain, it can absolutely hinder a player’s performance.

Big Baller Brand still has plenty of opportunities to infiltrate the market without Lonzo sporting the ZO2.

Indisputably true. Since KUSHIDA beat Hiromu Takahashi at Dominion to win Mr. Belt (the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship) — another inanimate object more over than most of the current WWE roster — the Ticking Time Bomb has coped with his therapy companion, Daryl.

That Daryl has such an understandable backstory, central to one of the major feuds, further emphasizes the strong booking of New Japan. Daryl has a clearly explained, understandable storyline tied into a championship angle. Because it fits Takahashi’s odd persona, it makes a helluva lot more sense than had he — I don’t know — attempted to kill KUSHIDA with an ambulance.

Full disclosure: I did not own a Nintendo 64. My mid-to-late ’90s generation console purchase was the PSX, but like most youngsters of that era, I had plenty of friends with other systems, and we’d either get together to play or trade consoles.

I consider myself well versed enough in Nintendo 64 to give a fair assessment — though I’ll first offer my PSX Top 3 in the interest of fairness: 1. Resident Evil 2; 2. Tekken 3; 3. NCAA Football ’99.

Now, onto N64:

3. Mario Tennis

In an upset, Mario Tennis edges out Mario Kart 64 to make my Top 3. Mario Kart 64 is certainly the more fondly remembered game, and why not? We still broke out the N64 my later years of college, as the release of the Wii, XBox 360 and PS3 put the N64 two generations into the past. That’s a real testament to the staying power of Mario Kart.

However, Mario Kart was a game best played in groups. Mario Tennis was an excellent multiplayer game, but just as fun with one player.

2. WWF No Mercy

You just knew a wrestling game was going to make the list, and the N64 boasts the greatest lineup of wrestling video games ever produced. I had to pare it down to just one from a quartet of worthy candidates.

All were produced by Jakks Pacific, starting with WCW vs. NWO World Tour. As the forerunner, this game gets points. However, Jakks refined the game engine with further releases, including 1998’s WCW-NWO Revenge.

The World Wrestling Federation snagged away the Jakks license in 1999, and debuted WrestleMania 2000 that same year. It wasn’t until 2000 that the game was perfected with WWF No Mercy.

With multiple game modes, the most in-depth Create-A-Wrestler function and a staggeringly deep roster, No Mercy was the perfect wrestling video game. Nothing’s come close to matching it.

1. Goldeneye

Was there ever any doubt? Goldeneye remains the gold standard (pun ABSOLUTELY intended) for first-person shooters.

It’s the perfect multiplayer game, functioning as the cornerstone for many party nights. The story mode was also enjoyable. Gameplay is top-notch, something that future first-person shooters lacked; it’s challenging enough to hold interest, but not so difficult as to induce nausea.