For die-hard football fans, the calendar is broken up into two sections, football season and the off-season.
The off-season is primarily spent wishing for the runaway train of football season, where once the season starts, die-hard fans jump on and bid adieu to their friends and family until the winter. Only the absence of footballs at season’s end brings the sobering reality of how much time we actually spend watching football in the previous months. It begins in August with just Saturdays, and builds to a crescendo in November, when MAC games air on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, creating a world where football is on every night of the week!
At the same time, retailers are filling their stores with all manner of holiday merchandise, something that die-hard football fans, ever attentive to their games, of which they remain blissfully unaware. A Black Friday sale has no impact on them, because “that’s the same day as the Civil War!”
Then during Championship Week, the football fan wonders, “where’s the mid-week football?” before realizing that it’s already gone, that only a single regular season Saturday remains, before the blur of a season evaporates.
Once the opiate fog of football dissipates and the die-hards become aware of their surroundings, they realize that the holidays are close at hand; specifically they have only three weekends ’til Christmas. With that realization, they make plans to get on top of that gift list this very weekend.
Then Championship Saturday arrives, and checking the schedule, the die-hards realize what the day’s slate of games contains. This year it was waking up to Bedlam, aka the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game, a brief window of Baylor-Texas before the SEC Championship, followed by the triple-barreled presentation of the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten Championship games and even a nightcap of the Mountain West League. It’s the last week of the college football season. Christmas presents? Those can wait.
On the Sunday after the regular season ends, bowl games are announced — this is like eating a great meal and learning there is dessert. Oooh, more football with wall-to-wall games all through the holidays! Now die-hard fans only have to make it to the morning of the 21st, and things will be back to normal! Plus, Army-Navy’s this weekend, so I won’t have to go a single Saturday without college football until 2014!
Then those die-hards look at a calendar and realize they don’t know when they are going to get their Christmas shopping done. One weekend clearly stands out. An early afternoon Army-Navy game and Heisman Trophy ceremony, that no one outside of Tallahassee cares about, are the only obstacles between the games and completing all their shopping.
Unfortunately, if you are reading this today and haven’t finished yet, that weekend just passed you by.
The good news is that at this time last year more than two-thirds of Christmas shoppers weren’t done, and one in seven hadn’t started. But the wait isn’t all bad: If you’re shopping for a Duck fan, here are a few helpful suggestions for finding gifts for them:
Alamo Bowl Tickets
Yes, tickets are still available! While a more cynical fan might complain about the prospect of attending a non-BCS bowl after four straight seasons in one, think about the game itself independent of the bowl hierarchy; not as a bowl, but as a stand-alone game. It’s an Oregon-Texas match-up, and it’s relatively inexpensive.
Tickets for the Alamo Bowl start at $55, less than all but one game, home or away, the Ducks played all year against FBS teams. Plus, the Ducks are playing a Texas team with eight wins, more wins than Oregon’s opponents had in all but four of those games with more expensive tickets. It’s Texas vs Oregon again this year at the Alamo Bowl and it is important we win it for Oregon pride. Don’t forget, the University of Texas beat Oregon State there last season, 31-27.
Best Bet: Grab seats in the corners of the lower bowl (100s section) for $110 each. If you can pay $99 to see a “storied program” in five-win Tennessee, what’s a few more dollars to see the second-winningest program in college football history get blown out by four touchdowns?
Like all presents, the trick to buying an Oregon jersey is to find something current while having its relevance last as long as possible. With the Ducks changing their jerseys every three seasons, and with the jerseys available often belonging to star players who can leave early for the NFL, picking one long-term option requires some thought.
In 2009, I thought I had successfully figured out the system, picking up the jersey of freshman running back LaMichael James. With James being a redshirt freshman and with it being the first year of the winged jerseys, I knew that the jersey would be good for a minimum of two seasons. Instead, the following season, the jersey design changed from gray numbers to yellow numbers, and my plan backfired.
In today’s lineup of jerseys, the best choice belonged to those who were buying a No. 24 jersey last year, belonging to Kenjon Barner in 2012, and then conveniently becoming Thomas Tyner’s number this season. Provided Tyner keeps the same number next season (*cocks eyebrow at Darron Thomas*), those with No. 24 jerseys would have successfully navigated the three-year window without having to pick up a second jersey.
Point being, if you want your purchase to stay as current as possible, you need to do some research, and a little luck, in picking the right one.
Best Bet: No. 8 jersey, as worn by Marcus Mariota. Jerseys in numbers other than 6 and 8 are scarce. (Although if found, a No. 20 jersey could be a nice grab when Chance Allen has a breakout year next season.) Mariota has announced he is returning next season, while De’Anthony Thomas has not yet done so (and likely won’t make a decision before Christmas). Given that it is the last season of the current style, all the jersey choices will be reset in 2015, no matter what.
I’m not here to pimp for Nike (oh wait, I write for an Oregon Ducks’ website, I’m definitely here to pimp for Nike), but if you can get one of those Nike Therma-FIT hoodies, do it. There are plenty of styles available, and if you can afford one, it is definitely worth your while.
Best Bet: As mentioned above, go with the performance hoodies. If a more classic style of hoodie is preferred, I recommend a stitched design over a painted one.
If those don’t seem like the ideal fit for the Duck fan you are shopping for, a little creativity and a few minutes on Google should help find the results you are looking for.
Besides Christmas, what else do you have to do until the 30th?