The magical season that many Duck fans had hoped would end with green and yellow confetti and a big, shiny trophy, has officially come to an end, and while the high-flying Ducks came up short in the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship Game, the word “failure” shouldn’t even come to mind. If you asked 100 Duck fans if the loss to Ohio State was heartbreaking and disappointing, I’m sure all of them would say, “yes.” But sometimes in sports, and certainly in life, you have to put things in perspective.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this was the most historic season in the program’s history. Whether it was Marcus Mariota‘s legendary season, which saw him become the Ducks’ first-ever Heisman recipient, or the multitude of obstacles and injuries the team had to overcome, this was a season unlike the program had ever seen before. What I’ll remember about this season won’t be the dropped passes or the missed opportunities in the national title game; I will always remember the magical ride that this team took everybody on. I’ll always remember the exciting buzz that the fans at Autzen Stadium created, and I’ll always remember being there for Mariota’s last home game.
Head coach Mark Helfrich said it best during Monday night’s post-game interview: “It’s unfortunate and a little bit insulting in a lot of ways that whoever loses this game, that the world ‘failure’ comes up.”
While that may be unfortunate, what Helfrich understands is that no one will ever break the bond that his team created on this unforgettable journey. Of course, you never want to get this far into the season only to come up short, but every single player in that Oregon locker room left it all out on the field, and that’s something that both the players and Helfrich can be proud of.
“This was an unbelievable journey,” Helfrich said after the national title game. “To get to this point with this group of guys, it’s something that none of us will ever forget.”
Top Photo by John Sperry