FLYOVER COUNTRY—The Hammering Is About To Commence

I have no direct experience when it comes to facing sports juggernauts, but my eldest now does since this past spring one of our district’s five Little League teams went through the season undefeated. My son’s team only lost six games and finished second, but five of those losses were to the undefeated team.

Two of those defeats were by three or four runs, and one was a blowout. One was an unfortunate come-from-ahead-loss, and the last was an extraordinary nine-runs-down-comeback-effort that sent the game to two extra innings before the victors hit a walk-off home run.

Little League: With 2.5 Million Participants Playing Qualifiers For a Global Tournament, It's By Far The Highest Stakes Youth Sporting Activity.

What we both found out is that facing off with a team that doesn’t seem to be capable of losing is extremely demoralizing. Try to combat the negativity that seems to come unbidden, but a point is reached, even in the stoutest hearts, when confronted by inevitability. It’s an inner voice of doubt that says, “No matter what we do, they find a way to win.”

Finally, the season is upon us. As I write, the official Ducks depth chart has been released. Marcus Mariota is the next apparent star QB for Oregon and the chart is replete with underclassmen, and a light salting of juniors and seniors.

In knowing my son’s frustration, I got a better sense of our foes in the P-12 North this summer. They want to believe that they can beat Oregon, but objectively, they can’t point to anything in the record to give them rational hopes. All that awaits them, some way, some how, is merely another hammering.

Just look at the division’s record against Chip Kelly. Since 2009, Cal’s Jeff Tedford is 0-3 against the Ducks. Wulff at WSU was 0-3. Sarkisian at UW is 0-3. Riley at OSU is 0-3. Shaw at Stanford is 0-1 and Harbaugh was 1-1. Chip Kelly is currently 14-1 against the programs of the Northern Division.

What happens in the face of an all but unstoppable force is pretty much everything my son’s ball club tried. You practice harder. You tinker with the lineup. The coaching staff goes to outside advice from anyone who is perceived capable of helping to turn the tide. After changing everything, you go “back to basics.” It’s all increasingly reactionary.

You try all of these things and more—and then you keep losing. Your players parrot back the right words, but the seeming impossibility of beating a team who won’t be beat starts to take the fire from their eyes and their recitations of coach-speak start sounding hollow. They no longer REALLY believe winning is possible.

Then, whether spoken or not, this team-wide “psych out” affects the fans. They too want to believe, but their eyes refuse to lie to them. They can see that a win will have to be “miraculous.” However, with the advent of the Internet (or ‘teh internetz’ to the layman), no fan in the division is forced to passively await divine intervention. One can instead become unhinged on line—ranging anywhere from a mildly delusional sunshine-pumper to a full-blown whack-job conspiracist with secret sources for nefarious tales of Ducks villainy, instigated by some all-knowing entity known as Dr. Poop (shockingly I wish I was only making that up, check the link), who in turn learned it from a Husky messageboard post from four months ago…because that’s a totally reputable, unbiased source of insider info on Oregon I’m sure.

Looking around the division, the five other fan bases take variegated approaches to dealing with their frustrations. Some are harmless while others, ahem, UW, are so toxic as to be hazardous to one’s longer term mental health.

CAL
Here one mostly sees the air of resignation with an undercurrent of discontent. Jeff Tedford has certainly burned through most of his goodwill with the fans, but he’s also largely responsible for their football capital investments of late in the first place, so he’s tolerated so long as he keeps taking them to meaningless mid-tier bowl games, underachieving in contrast to the consistent talented recruiting classes lured to Berkeley.

Can't Mention Cal Without Once Again Calling Out Their Fake Injuries


OS(U)

Losing the Right Way for two straight years has given rise to a case of mass unfounded optimism this fall, for reasons unknown beyond the typical delusion experienced in Corvallis anyway. Some way, some how, the beavises are going to magically improve by four-to-six wins while everyone else they play is apparently going to regress, and all without any semblance of a running game yet again.  How they will do this while being one deep along both lines and without a D-1 quality linebacking corps remains wholly unexplained.

"Hey Chip, thanks again for not going over 70 points on my squad back in '08"

Stanford
There is only one Stanford fan regularly online. It is ESPN blogger Kevin Gemmell’s notion that the Indians will remain a Top-25 caliber club without #1 NFL draft pick Andrew Luck. Some guy called Nunes has the unenviable job of following up the Legend of Ol’ Neck Beard. I hope he’s a clean shaven chap because he’ll soon be sick of continual comparisons to his predecessor.

"You're right Andrew, this is clearly hopeless."

UW
They remain the usual cesspool of resentment and praying to the NCAA for our knee-capping, but with a ray of charmingly delusional sunshine over Justin Wilcox, now his reputation as a perennial thorn in his alma mater’s side after defeating the Ducks twice while at Boise, then giving the Ducks trouble at Tennessee, and now of all things immoral and ungodly actually turning Husky on us.

What they perpetually fail to see is that in repeated blowout losses to Stanford and Oregon, as well as in pillow fights with the likes of OSU, it’s not the defense that’s been the problem so much as it was that disappearing offense of theirs that made them uncompetitive. Wilcox also shut it down the first time he saw it in April.

"No, as a matter of fact I cannot explain why I can't get within two touchdowns of Oregon."

WSU
Here is the one also-ran fan-base in the division that legitimately can feel good for another month about their prospects, because this time they hired a coach who has actually beaten a team the caliber of Texas. However, their dreams of being competitive end abruptly in Seattle during Week 5. At least give ‘em credit where it’s due though, they did what they could to at least try to match Oregon in unique coaching persona–they still failed–but at least they tried.

"Piracy? I gotta say I am totally against that."

 

In one respect it’s sad that so many of our divisional foes are reduced to hoping against hope that the NCAA hammers us over the Lyles situation. Then again, when you’re up against the very real world prospect of seeing Oregon run roughshod over your team yet again—you take comfort anywhere you can find it—even if it’s in the fantasy land of “What if…?”

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Canard

Canard

Canard is what he is, a character. So lighten up.

  • RV Joe

    Tongue-in-cheek? Maybe you just cheekie? That’s some mighty fine writing about an almost embarrassing situation in the Land ‘o Duck. This was the best morning’s smile I’ve had in some time and a fine discussion which could have included Uncle Phil, another point of contemplation for our Northern brethren.
    I wonder if the fusky athletic director will come to Autzen this year slobbering his drivel onto the national landscape as happened on their last visit. I hope the Poi puppies have had all their shots.

  • GreenEastCoastBias

    Funny. And frankly pretty accurate. I’ve followed Pac-8/10/12 football since the Dick Enright era, and don’t recall a time when one team was literally 10 points (or more) better than the rest their league (talking North, but lets see if a worn down $C stacks up in November and Dec vs Ducks). I sound like a homer (although I live in New York), but it is really remarkable how Oregon has distanced itself in terms of talent, approach and winning ways form the rest the Pac….

  • rowdydog

    at 43 years old most of my memories are of us bending the duck over time and time again. The fact that the cycle has turned is temporary. truth be told I’ll start to worry about the great Oregon when the actually win more game head to head against us… which will never happen in our lifetime. We had our worst team in History and Oregon its best. Oregon beat us just like the rest of the PAC-10. oregon is not USC oregon will never be Washington. seattle > eugent. Always was always will be in the end. So let these words sting your pride…

    • fishduck

      Thank you for your words, sir….for it is fans like you that have me unfulfilled with only eight victories in a row over the Huskies, and how 70 points is never enough. Your history before the mid-80s through early 90s was mediocre, and you have since regressed to your mean.

      Husky fans like to preen about their past….yet for a recruit considering the two schools right now–he has not seen Washington beat Oregon since he was in the third grade! In other words, it’s not even in his consciousness. For these recruits…we have always owned you.

      • AC Slater

        There is no myth….UW won 10 conference titles and played in 10 Rose Bowls in your “mediocre” period. Need I mention, overall, UW has won 8 BCS bowl games, something only a handful of schools have done. Prior to the Depression years, UW had the 12th best record overall.

        Sure, Oregon can out-recruit now but it will be interesting to see where things stand in 2 years when UW is comfortably back in the top 20 with a new stadium and Oregon is on probation with a new coach.

        • http://www.facebook.com/blindlyb.blindlyb Blindly B Blindly B

          you can do better than that fusky fans!! i know it suks you live only with your memories of days of yore, and your in a city that is fourth rate and insonsequnetial to the real cities of america,, still you have your coffee shops to sulk in,, but reall,, you goota let all that hostility and frustration out!! don’ hold it in,, it might kill you the way things are looking for your future!! let it out!! comeon,, with passion and consumption,, hate to see you so sad!! ..;-)

        • Smitty

          The BCS didn’t start until 1998, Sherlock, and to the best of my knowledge, the Huskies have been to one (1) BCS bowl.

  • chipdouglas

    I’m a Cougar who feels no hostility toward Oregon. In fact, it’s fun watching you play, and I look forward to actually giving you some thrills this year. But I’d say watch the snarky writeups–I enjoy the takedowns of UW (the Uncle Rico of the PAC-12), but don’t what few allies you have elsewhere in the conference.

  • REM503

    Hard to argue with any of this.

  • http://twitter.com/dismicr carlton smith

    The ducks are flying hard and fast right now, only an idiot would deny it…but as columns like this show, they are looking around so enamored with themselves that they fail to see the windshield that is coming at them (called the NCAA) harder and faster.

    • http://www.facebook.com/blindlyb.blindlyb Blindly B Blindly B

      are you really worthy of a reply??.. no, but what the heck,, just for the fun of it.. lol!!

      You mean the windshield that hit usc?? oh yeah,, that one really hurt them, didn’t it??! .. Be sure to come back next year with a little more anger and little more furstration after another loss to the team you cannot beat!! Yeah that one down south in that ‘inferior’ state, that sophisticated successful washingtonians, having that world class first rate city that is seattle!! leader of the world don’t ya know, rulers of baseball!! mariners!! go willie!! or seahawks!! dominating the nfl!! go willie go!! .. or ,, oh ok, wait, duhhhh… ok,, then cultural pinnacle of the world, if only in grunge delusion!!.. yeah thats it,, technically
      (mr softie!!) ie, more intelligent than anybody in the world!! yeah,,, rah rah!! seattle seattle,, it only rains 2 out of 3 days a year! but we rule the world!! we are the greatest!! so who cares!!,,

      ok ok,, so we are narcisisitic in seattle, at least us fusky fans, we hate that we can’t even beat oregon, that lowly nothing logger red-neck state, our apples are better than yours anyway!! lol.. oh but,, how can’t we beat that doormat in eugene anymore??!! we are the kings of the world in our own little minds!! ,, ahh ,, just wake me up when the nightmare is over. yours truly, nyduck!! lololol!