Oregon’s offense is known for its dizzying combo of tempo and speed.


The ball is snapped on the average every 13 seconds.

Sometimes the same “read-option” play is run three times in a row.

The offensive brain-trust doesn’t care. The objective is to spread the defense across the field, exhaust them, and eventually overwhelm them with score after score. Damn impressive.

When it becomes clear that victory is near, the same juggernaut offense starts taking the maximum amount of time, nearly 35 seconds in-between plays. The plan is to achieve first downs and keep the clock running.

Finally, it will be time to line up in “Victory Formation” for a series of administrative kneel-downs followed by informal chats with Oregon’s vanquished opponents, a scenario that has played out 46 times in the last four years.

It’s nice to run out the clock when that is your intent.

The scene shifts to the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

A 69-year-old man-jitterbug with more than a few miles on his personal odometer is prancing around the stage to the chords of Freddie King’s “Going Down.” Guitarists John Mayer, 35, and Gary Clark, Jr., 29, are backing the singer…who is twice their age. Hopefully they have the tempo and the speed to keep up.

Watching Mick Jagger on last December’s globally televised special, one has to wonder if it is possible to have this much energy, this much stamina, this much moxie and mojo at the completion of a seventh decade.

Jagger is slim and trim, reportedly a 30-inch waist. The man, everyone thought would be dead years and years ago, is backing him on rhythm guitar, Keith Richards. Charlie Watts is keeping time at 71, while the “youngster,” Ronnie Wood, is playing lead guitar at the cradle-robbing age of 65.

And yet there are those who question, why do these old guys keep doing it? Why do they keep writing new music (e.g., Doom and Gloom)? They have more money, fame and prestige than any band has ever accumulated. Their place in history is assured.

They are certainly not content to run out the clock.

It is a typical Friday night at the Jiffy Market in South Eugene.


The “Jif” is a living contradiction. On the outside, it appears to be your standard stop-and-rob small liquor store/market. Inside are six Formica tables set on a well-aged linoleum floor.

What makes the market different is the fruit of the vine, a surprisingly impressive collection of Oregon, California and foreign wines. The deli serves a halibut and chips plate that would make any mackerel snapper happy, even back in the days Rome would send you to hell for eating meat on Friday.

And every Friday night, sits a man running out the clock…the clock of life.

You can find him nursing three 16-ounce cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon or “PBR” for those who think that dreadful lager is cool. He has that same unappreciative look on his pouchy face with the well-nurtured convulations over his belt.

There is little doubt he will be there next Friday night and maybe every other night as well.

My question is what went wrong?

Something went awry. Did he drop out of high school as so many have before, and continue even to this day? We know that education is expensive, until you consider the cost of ignorance. Did he just say that he would go to work, and worry about school later? Later never came…Or was it “self-destructive” addictions that are crippling so many, retarding potential and inhibiting achievement?

My point here is not to condemn someone who I do not know, and chances are, never will. What I am concerned about is the waste of human talent at a time that our society is struggling to emerge from the longest, protracted economic draught in modern times.

How many millions of people are sitting around running down the clock on their unproductive, boring and stultifying lives? What is worse: being alone or being bored?

What are the strategies that we should be taking in our 20s, 30s and 40s to make sure that we don’t have desultory lives in our Golden Years? How can you achieve your bucket list when your foot is stuck in the bucket?


Shouldn’t we be nurturing our vessels, our bodies…both physically and mentally…so we can make the journey of life? What can we do to the equivalent of a Mick Jagger, amping up the crowd, rather than be prematurely incapacitated as a result of a sedentary lifestyle?

The alternative is not pretty. Running out the clock is basically counting down the remaining days of life. The end may be hours of suffering followed by a funeral that no one attends and internment in a cemetery no one visits.

The clock reaches zero.