Last weekend, as the world watched Phil Mickelson stumble to another second place finish in The U.S. Open at Merion, I couldn’t help but correlate his failures to a more local team.
The squad that huffs, and puffs, but can never blow the house down.
It’s too soon to compare the Oregon Ducks football team to “Lefty,” who has come in second at the Open a record six-times. It’s only been the last three season where the Ducks have truly made a run at the crystal ball. A couple more close calls, however, and you might start to wonder if their fate lies just short of stardom.
The stars aligned in 2010. Stanford was just beginning to realize the star they had in Andrew Luck, and were a year away from being in Oregon’s league. Oregon State, Washington and Cal were all down. Oregon caught lightning-in-a-bottle with Darron Thomas and had a mega-star in LaMichael James. The defense was underrated yet timely, and the special teams was, without further ado…special.
A blown-call in the title game — yes, his forearm was down, and that counts — is all that has kept Oregon from entering the world of champions.
In 2011, the pieces seemed in play for Oregon to go all the way. They had all of their stars back, and added in super-recruit De’Anthony Thomas. The schedule was manageable, with a showdown at Stanford appearing to be the only obstacle between Oregon and a return trip to the ‘Natty. Then, USC entered the fray and dashed our dreams.
In 2012, the same story repeated as the year before. Coming off a big win or wins in California (in 2011 it was Stanford…in 2012 it
was USC and Cal) Oregon was just three wins from playing Notre Dame in what would have been a blowout victory.
This time, Stanford ended the run.
2013 looks to be another promising season, with loads of talent returning to both sides of the ball. Despite the loss of Chip Kelly,
the coaching staff seems to be in capable hands, and there is veteran leadership across the board. If they manage the middle part of the schedule, and avoid the late season trip game, Oregon will assuredly find itself in the best position for a title.
Another stumble, and another second place finish, however, and the heat will rise on the Lefty debate.