Monday, August 22, 2011

WHEN GREEN TURNS TO BLUE

The Oregon Ducks made it to the NCAA national championship football game last season, losing a close one 21-18 to the Auburn Tigers. The Ducks are ranked in the national Top 5 teams in all the preseason polls. So why do I find myself less excited than I should be? The season opener is about ten days away... the Ducks go to Arlington, Texas to play highly-ranked Louisiana State University in that huge stadium the Cowboys play in, it's an ESPN Game of the Week, etc.! What's not to be excited about?

I attended my first Ducks game at Autzen Stadium in 1977. For a few months out of every year since then, every week has involved a lot of anxious waiting around for Saturday afternoons or evenings to arrive. After baseball, my favorite thing to watch is college football, particularly if my Ducks are playing.

In recent years, the UO football program has scaled new heights. No longer one of the league doormats, Oregon now finds itself perennially in the nation's NCAA Football Top 25 polls. While this is great for recognition for the school and for the state of Oregon, with it comes other kinds of notoriety.

Just recently, it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to enjoy watching my team without having a few twinges of guilt. As a relative newcomer to being a fan of a big-time football program (not just perennial Top 25, but getting to be more like perennial Top 10 now), I am also new to the intense media scrutiny the Ducks face, and to being a fan of a team whose players who get in trouble with the law (and whose methods of recruiting players are now coming into question to the point that possible penalties loom for the program).

It gets tiring reading about such ominous things in the paper every day.

It also brings about the realization (and an obvious thing that can sometimes be obscured by being a sports fan) that college should maybe be about learning and academics, and not so much about stud athletes.

I want my team to be the best in the country. It's what any fan wants for his team. I just want them to do it the right way.

Those things aside, my prediction for this season is a 10-2 regular season record, with losses to LSU in the opener and then to Stanford (at Stanford) during the regular season. That ought to be good enough for second place in the PAC-12 Conference and a very high-profile bowl game. But given the strength of Oregon's schedule, a 10-2 prediction could be optimistic.

Oregon has tough road games against the University of Seattle and the University of Arizona. The USC Trojans will be tough for the Ducks, although that contest is a home game for Oregon.

And the Ducks will face a tough challenge in their "Civil War" game with the Oregon State Beavers as always, but this year the game is in Eugene and the Beavers will likely find themselves outmanned.

Two or more losses will keep the Ducks out of the Bowl Championship Series, but they'll be very good, and highly entertaining to watch.

As long as their key players stay out of trouble, that is. No marijuana use in cars traveling 118 miles per hour, please.

And as long as the NCAA doesn't hand down any harsh penalties for recruiting violations... please, coach Chip Kelly! You and your staff need to stay on the up-and-up!

If the University of Oregon gets punished, it will get what it deserves. It's what usually happens when people push the envelope in such circumstances.

Did Oregon's coach Chip Kelly push the envelope too far? Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. We'll be finding out more about those things (and many others) during the coming year.





6 Comments:

Blogger T. Paine said...

I hope the Ducks win every game this season EXCEPT the one against my under-achieving Beavers.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Dave Splash said...

Nebraska has been under the microscope for a long time, as they have been in Oregon's position for the entirety of the 70s, 80s and 90s. In our case, though, we have been suffering in the 2000s. I was always used to seeing NU in the pre-season Top 10, and having sports reporters always talk about Nebraska. We lost that for about 5 or 6 years, and you don't know what you've got til its gone. Enjoy the good times, because they won't last forever.

But, we are on the mend. However, this is Nebraska's first season in the Big 10, so I have no idea what to expect.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

Thanks, T.! 8-) I can say the same thing you said, just subbing in the word "Beavers" for the word "Ducks" of course!

Thanks Dave, I will enjoy it while we have it. I can foresee the Ducks losing it for maybe just a short time if they can keep things clean. If not, they'll need to replace their coach, rebuild a bit, etc.

12:48 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

I know what you mean,Snave. I generally root for the Ducks because that's the school I graduated from but the program has almost gotten too big and powerful and corruption prone.

To be honest, I'm really more of a Washington Husky fan anymore. They're not as good as Oregon but they have a lot of heart and I really like the coach.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

The Huskies are not where the Ducks are at this point in a number of respects, and one of the important ones is that they seem to be trying to do things the right way. Still though, for me being a diehard Duck and fan of the state of Oregon in general, when it comes to PAC-12 sports I cheer for the Ducks first, then the Beavers, then the Cougars.

Until about ten years ago, I really hated the Huskies in every sport. Nowadays, because they are from the Pacific Northwest, I can cheer for them at least half the time. 8-)

Who's #4? That can be toss-up when the Huskies are playing Stanford, but at worst UW is #5 for me in the PAC-10 despite all their dominant years in the past and despite them foisting Neuheisel on the NCAA football coaching world a number of years ago.

The Huskies are way past Neuheisel now, and they have been pretty mediocre recently. I think it's more fun when they are competitive. I think there is a very good chance UW could beat Oregon this year, with the game being played in Seattle.

So when it comes to a game between the Huskies and the Ducks, of course I will cheer for my home state and hope Oregon annihilates UW, even if the Ducks are on probation by then. LOL! I have to go with my Ducks, and suffer through the problems they are having. You guys in Seattle did it with UW a while back but have remained fans of the Huskies, and Dave Splash has suffered as a fan but has hung in there with his Cornhuskers.

What Oregon is going through right now makes watching the Ducks a bit less fun, but I'm still with 'em. I'm interested in seeing what I think about two months from now! 8-)

10:17 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

Well, looks like the Ducks have a pretty lackluster defense so far... it's only the first game, they'll put some things together, but to lose like they did tonight was pretty bad. Sadly, the Beavers were pretty much even worse. Could be the Civil War game will be pretty good this year!

8:42 PM  

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