Politics, Jimmy The Greek and Naranche

Let me get political here for a second. I promise it will only be a second.

If Barack Obama beats Mitt Romney next Tuesday night — and that is a pretty decent sized if — we will know at 9 p.m. Butte time.

That’s when the networks will call the election.

Sure, MSNBC might jump the gun and call it for Obama sometime tomorrow, and FOX News has been calling it for Romney for about three and a half years.

By at least 9:01 p.m., though, the credible networks (if there is such a thing) will call the election for Obama if he indeed wins.

That’s what happened last time. The networks announced Obama beat John McCain as soon as the polls closed in California, where Obama won big and polls show the president crushing Romney this time around.

Winning in California put Obama over the 270 electoral votes needed to win in 2008, and it will do it again if he wins next Tuesday.

The networks knew the Republican had no chance of winning the state that the great Mike Royko called the world’s largest outdoor insane asylum, the they didn’t waste any more time. They called the election long before it was officially (or really, even unofficially) counted.

McCain called it, too.

At about 4 p.m. Saturday, we could basically be in the same place at Alumni Coliseum in Butte.

If Montana Tech beats Montana Western — and that is also a pretty decent sized if considering the Orediggers needed double overtime to beat the up-and-coming Bulldogs earlier this season — the Orediggers will be the Frontier Conference champions.

Of course, they won’t officially clinch the title unless Southern Oregon also loses at Eastern Oregon, which probably isn’t going to happen.

The Orediggers hold a one-game advantage over Southern Oregon and Carroll College. Tech holds a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints, who they finally passed in the polls on Monday.

By the way, it is just silly that it took Tech that long to pass Carroll. Sure, the Saints have clearly earned some big-time respect with six national championships since 2002 and 12 straight conference titles, some via the tiebreaker. That, however, has nothing to do with this season, and, unlike the high school poll, the NAIA poll greatly impacts the playoffs.

No matter what the number in the polls, though, if Tech wins Saturday, they can’t lose to the Saints. Tech still has to play Southern Oregon on Nov. 10. The Orediggers beat Southern Oregon in Butte, and the teams would go to the second tiebreaker if the Raiders win and both teams finish 8-2.

The second tiebreaker is points allowed. In that category, the Orediggers lead the Raiders by 102 points going into the final two games.

So, if the Orediggers beat Western Saturday, go ahead and celebrate. Do your best Wolf Blitzer and call the race. Break out the conference championship hats and T-shirts because the race will be over.

Go crazy, folks. Go crazy.

I’m no Jimmy The Greek when it comes to forecasting football games — or being a racist boob, for that matter — but I think it’s safe to say Romney has a much better chance of winning California this year than the Raiders do of beating Tech by more than 102 points.

Naranche welcome

Butte High opens the Class AA playoffs at Naranche Stadium Friday night. It will be the first playoff game at the storied stadium that most of us will ever see.

The Bulldogs are 8-2  on the season, and they rolled to a 5-0 record at New Naranche, which opened last season.

Yes, happy times are here again for the Butte High football program.

So, why are Bulldog fans so worried?

Why are they fretting after a weekend of worrying and arguing about the complex — and downright silly — tiebreaking scenarios?

Well, it’s probably because their first-round opponent is Billings Skyview, which isn’t a typical easy first-round draw for the No. 2 seed.

Not only have the Falcons been on a roll — they pasted Billings West last week — they are also one of the two teams to beat Butte High this year.

Coach Ron Lebsock, a Butte native who had a successful career playing at Old Naranche, runs the Wing-T offense that ran the ball for 461 yards in a 55-48 win over the Bulldogs Aug. 31 in Billings.

Butte High’s offense was record-breaking in that loss, which came on a hot, dry night on the Wendy’s Field turf.

Friday night could be cold, wet and windy at Naranche. Those conditions are clearly better suited for a running team than it is a spread option team. We all know stopping the run has been the Bulldogs’ Achilles’ Heel all year long.

So, some Bulldog fans seem to be extremely worried, and maybe justifiably so.

Fortunately, the Bulldogs have some magic on their side. The Magic of Naranche, that is.

No team in the state has a home-field advantage like the Bulldogs do with Naranche. No team in the Frontier Conference has such a home-field advantage. Some teams in the NFL don’t have such a home-field advantage.

The noise and historic intimidation of the hallowed piece of ground just off Main Street has taken teams out of their games all season. You’d think the field was dirt and filled with glass and nails like it was, as legend has it, in the old days.

Naranche also took some great coaches out of their game this year, too. While I’d have to see it to believe it, I heard one multi-title winning coach flipped a bird or two at the Butte High crowd because he could only take so much of the Butte crowd at Naranche.

Another coach considered assault and battery on one fan in particular.

It’s doubtful a great coach like Coach Lebsock would be taken out of his game, but it’s worth a shot.

I’m sure somebody knows a nickname that he used to hate or, better yet, his middle name. Imagine the fun the crowd could have with a nugget like that.

Actually, the crowd at Naranche Stadium doesn’t need to get personal against a great Bulldog alum. The number of screaming Bulldog fans should be enough to do the trick anyway.

Naranche Stadium holds about 4,200 people seated. Crowds of about that size have, along with the Bulldogs, overpowered the competition all year long.

The crowd this Friday will blow that out of the water.

Friday will be a historic night. It will be like those pictures we’ve all seen. You know those pictures of the standing-room crowd flooding out onto Main Street.

It will be bigger than Harry Truman or Evel Knievel. It will be bigger than Evel Knievel jumping with Harry Truman in a basket on the front of his Harley Davidson.

It will be like we all hit 88 MPH in the DeLorean and were transported back to the 1940.

I asked Butte High activities director Chuck Merrifield if he had any idea of how many people we can pack into Naranche for the playoff game.

“I don’t know, 5,700?” Merrifield said. “But I guess we’re going to find out.”

Yep, looks like Coach Lebsock and the Falcons are going to get a good old-fashioned Naranche Stadium welcome.

They’ll feel about as comfortable as Mitt Romney in Haight-Ashbury.

— Sportswriter Bill Foley, who is once again calling the election for Ralph Nader, writes a column that appears in ButteSports.com every Tuesday. twitter.com/Foles74

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