When my wife emailed me at work yesterday to let me know that Chip Kelly was going to the Eagles, it felt like someone punched me in the jejunum. All I could type was, “no…” before hitting send. I didn’t want to think about the possibility. I didn’t want to see the inevitable fallout. I didn’t want to know the truth.
When I finally got on my favorite Duck message board, what I found was almost as depressing as being dumped by my 4th grade girlfriend (more on that later). Fans of other teams were coming over to gloat while many Duck faithful were behaving like a sad, angry drunk man getting poked with a stick.
A day later, it’s not any less gut-wrenching. Being a die-hard fan of any team comes with ups and downs. Yesterday definitely reminded us of the rain that has made the sunshine of the last four years so memorable. Chip’s departure, whether we admit it or not, is frightening. Deep down, most Duck fans fear a return to mediocrity. We fear that what our USC frienemies have been saying all along is true: that Oregon’s 15 minutes of fame is almost up, that the program isn’t here to stay.
While our fears may or may not come to fruition (no one really knows), all is not lost. This team will be fine. Oregon will still be a top-5 team next September. Oregon will still be incredibly talented. The recruiting class may still turn out to be solid — or, it could be a disaster. We’ll see. For the time being, at least, Oregon will continue to be spoken of among college football’s elite.
Going back to my 4th grade girlfriend — we’ll call her Ch’Miqua — I’d like to share a life lesson I learned from that whole situation. When Ch’Miqua broke up with me, I was truly heartbroken. I thought she was the second finest thing to walk the face of the earth, trailing only Brittany Spears in uncorruptable beauty. Well, fast forward sixteen years and it appears that both Ch’Miqua and Brittany peaked back in 1996. And yes, getting dumped sucked, but guess what? My wife is super hot. I don’t mean to brag here, I’m just stating facts and making a point. Had my 4th grade self had his way, I’d be married to both Ch’Miqua and Brittany right now, and I’d probably be really sad. Thank God it didn’t play out that way.
One day, we might look back on this as a blessing. Maybe Mark Helfrich is a genius, too. Maybe, after having a ridiculous amount of success, he’ll commit to staying at Oregon for the long-term so we won’t have to hear NFL rumors every January. And maybe he’ll take a more aggressive approach to recruiting and build an even more talented team. Is that all likely? Not really, but in 4th grade, I would have bet my family home that I would never find a better looking wife than Ch’Miqua. You just never know.
Moving on to recruiting impact of Chip’s decision — it’s almost impossible to predict what’s going to happen with Oregon’s current commits. Many are predicting that Darren Carrington, Dontre Wilson and the Robinson twins are gone. That would certainly be a significant blow. Ultimately, this class will be judged on whether or not the staff is able to keep it in tact.
Let’s call a spade a spade: this class could be very, very poor, especially when measured against five of the last six classes, including the last three. And don’t let anyone tell you that one bad recruiting year can’t hurt you; it can. Check out the CFBMatrix if you haven’t already. Recruiting matters, and one year can and does change programs for the better AND worse. In order to continue being an elite program, it is important that Oregon’s coaches are able to salvage as much of this class as possible.
While keeping current commits committed will prove to be the most important factor in assessing this class, there are still other recruits looking at Oregon. Next week we’ll look at four prospects who are still likely to sign with the Ducks.
And Ch’Miqua, no hard feelings, ok? It was fun while it lasted.