If the rumblings are true, Oregon’s fearless football leader and master of the abrupt sound bite could be headed for the NFL at the end of the season. Last night’s Monday Night Football game may have served as a pseudo audition, as talented underachievers like Carolina and Philadelphia begin to circle the pro football toilet bowl with 3-8 records. Their fans will drool at the thought of Chip Kelly devising schemes with the likes of Cam Newton & Jonathan Stewart or Mike Vick & DeSean Jackson at his disposal. Mike Bellotti has called Chip’s departure to the NFL “inevitable.” SI’s Peter King has touted him as the #1 NFL coaching candidate. Some say the only reason he didn’t take the Tampa job was because Mark Helfrich wasn’t guaranteed to be the heir apparent in Eugene. It doesn’t help our cause when there will probably be a lot of pro coaches getting pink slips for Christmas (sadly, I’m looking at you Andy Reid).
Rumor-mongering aside, the Fiesta Bowl could represent Oregon’s last dance with arguably the greatest coach in program history. But that’s not the only reason why you should be stoked about attending an Oregon game in the desert. Here’s a few things that make a Fiesta Bowl berth worth getting all quacked up about:
Catch A Wild West Shootout
Both of our potential Big-12 opponents represent tasty matchups for different reasons. In Oklahoma, there’s a squad, and a coaching staff, that no one likes. There’s no love lost, as Duck fans will remember Brady Leaf living up to the family name with an interception in the end zone to seal the 2005 Holiday Bowl as Oregon fell to Adrian Peterson and the Sooners. (OU later vacated the win for cheating, so Leaf was redeemed. Ok, not really.)
OU fans still scowl about the 2006 regular season rematch, where the Pac-12‘s finest zebras blundered their way into helping Oregon secure an onside kick without actually securing the football.
I would be remiss for not mentioning that the refs also blew a few calls their way.
And of course, everyone loves to see Mike Stoops get ticked off!
Oregon vs. Kansas State was briefly a BCS title game matchup, before some lucky leprechauns in South Bend stole our pot of gold. K State ducked the Ducks, canceling their 2012 non-conference matchup (probably a smart move), and proceeded to run the table for 10 weeks as BCS darlings before getting exposed by Baylor’s aerial attack. QB Collin Klein will probably end up in New York as a Heisman finalist. Top WR Chris Harper was once a Duck. Fans of both squads will wonder what could’ve been. Scoreboards will be tested. Call it the “Marlon Brando Bowl.” (Coulda been a contender!)
Soak Up Scottsdale
The Fiesta Bowl offers the second-best BCS location, behind Pasadena for obviously Rosy reasons. Let’s face it, unless you’re playing for the title, no one wants to go to New Orleans (long way to go for the extreme levels of humidity and hungoverness), or Miami (play a little Grand Theft Auto Vice City to get a taste of what South Beach is like these days). The Phoenix area presents luscious golf courses, delicious steakhouses (go to Donovan’s, thank me later), and a lot of Duck fans will appreciate a 70 degree reprieve from soaking wet sneakers in the Northwest. Old Town Scottsdale has a little something for everyone — from loud night clubs to nostalgic old restaurants. If you’re really ambitious (and under 30), hit Mill Avenue for New Years Eve.
Fond Fiesta Memories
Ok, most Duck fans will cringe at the thought of returning to that weird spaceship of a stadium in Glendale. As someone who bawled his eyes out in the parking lot in 2010, trust me, I get it. But do yourself a favor, and flash back to 2002 when Joey, Samie, and MoMo were the country’s darlings, and an obviously outclassed Colorado team (foreshadowing?) felt our wrath in Oregon’s first BCS berth.
So take your friends, your family, or just your golf clubs and book that trip to PHX. It might be the last time Chipper dons an Oregon visor, and it’s a great bowl game destination. Or, save your money for Pasadena next year, where we’ll get another shot at the belt.