“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
Last week I wrote a satirical article in an attempt to point out the unrealistic expectations of many Oregon fans. It was heavy on irony, saying exactly the opposite of what I meant in most instances.
And now, just one week later, reality and expectations came crashing down upon us in the form of a 62 – 20 drubbing at the hands of the Utah Utes. There is no need for irony and satire now. Reality is the only medicine.
For a moment I do not even want to talk about Oregon. Lets get rid of the emotions that involve your favorite team–for me a team I have been following religiously since the mid 1970’s. Lets talk about Alabama.
This gem is from Wikipedia:
“The Crimson Tide is among the most storied and decorated football programs in NCAA history. Since beginning play in 1892, the program recognizes 15 of the national championships awarded to the team, including 10 wire-service (AP or Coaches) national titles in the poll-era, the most of any current FBS program.”
And Alabama is not a past power that has lost its winning ways, like Army. It remains a top program even today and has regularly challenged for National Championships over the past 20 years (as I’m sure you already know). Here’s the catch: over the past 20 years, they have won less than 70 percent of their games.
Do you remember 2014 when they finished 12 – 2? Also remember 2004 when they were 6 – 6.
Do you remember 2013 when they were 11 – 2? Don’t forget 2000 when they were 3 – 8.
Alabama, with some of the best storied traditions in college football. Alabama, with loads of top recruits right in their backyard or, at worst, in a nearby state. Alabama, where football is more like a religion than a sport.
When it’s not our team, we do not notice the bad years that are eventual and inevitable. This is a zero sum game—for every winner there must be a loser and the average aggregate winning percentage is .500. Oregon has one of the very best winning percentages in college football over the past 20 years. That includes a few down years under Mike Bellotti. In the future it would have included a couple of down years under Chip Kelly, had he chosen to stick around. It will inevitably include a few down years under Mark Helfrich.
Oregon is 2-2. There is a long season ahead that will be filled with exciting games and upsets by teams across the country (Texas Tech almost pulled off a miracle last night, for example). It’s college football and that’s probably one of the reasons many of you are fans. We have no idea what will happen. Oregon could win out, somehow sneak into the playoffs and win it all. Or they could lose every remaining game. Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes is probably more realistic. But, whatever happens, keep things in perspective. And remember, in college football, nothing great can last forever. What goes up must come down. And, eventually, the bell “tolls for thee.”
Top photo from Kevin Cline