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As most of you are aware, the Oregon Ducks are not very good. Losing to the Cougars of Washington State last night was essentially a ho-hum affair, as the Ducks’ run defense looked like The Donald’s tax bill.
Ye Olde Pirate Coache Mike Leach was his usual self after the game, regurgitating Run n’ Shoot guru June Jones and playing it off as clever when he stated that the punditry will soon be able to call the Crimson Cougs’ offense balanced because he’s only going to throw the ball the next game after going all Chip Kelly on the Ducks’ asses last night. In all honesty, the loss was nothing if not expected after witnessing the lock-step unraveling that had preceded last night’s turd sandwich. This season, folks, is going to be looooonnnnggg.
Some of last night’s game was great – the blocked kick by Tony Washington Jr.’s jersey, Royce Freeman looking like the running back Kelly never had but always wanted (seriously, go back and watch Freeman direct traffic on his long TD run and tell me that he won’t be playing on Sundays for the next decade. Seriously. I’ll wait. No, I won’t pick up your dry cleaning if you watch it. See? Told you so.), Chaz Nelson’s kick-off return, and Justin “Don’t Call Me Bobby” He(r)bert’s TD (looked legit).
Some of last night’s game was not so great – like everything else not previously listed. I will leave it to the rest of FishDuck.com‘s abler-bodied and handsomer of face writers to dissect yesterday eve’s putrefaction, but suffice it to say that the Ducks were the bad guy from Roger Rabbit and Wazzu was the steamroller.
It is neither bombast nor bellicosity which drives this writer to say that the Fightin’ Ducks of 2016 are not the Fightin’ Ducks with which fans of all vintage have become uncomfortably comfortable. Seriously, even the uniforms are starting to suck. (Last time I checked, Oregon Athletic Department, most kids are not clamoring to play sports while looking like a cartoon character that has gone the way of Ted Williams (*hopefully* cryogenically frozen).) We are missing a certain je ne sais quoi that all quality programs have. No matter how you slice it, we just can’t find it. At least not under Helfrich.
Miami had a similar problem after Butch Davis left. It was called Larry
Helfrich Coker, the Kojack of College Football. Under the young turk Davis, Miami had continued its Dennis Erickson-initiated rise, culminating in the Hurricanes’ victory over the team currently known as the Nebraska Fightin’ Rileys in the 2002 Rose Bowl. Funnily enough, that was the same season that Oregon announced its arrival on the national stage. Of course, the U continued its downward spiral, and recently hired the Ghost of Mark Richt to resurrect its program under the guidance of QB Brad Kaaya, whose name literally means Small Nail Marijuana.
It seems like certain programs will always be with us, because, for better or worse, they have become synonymous with the sport. When an exceptionally popular and totally great podcast has a running (I’m using the term loosely here) bit on whether thing X could beat Alabama, I’m pretty sure that one day our kids will refer to watching college football as “watching Alabama.” Oregon has had the look and sound of a program that is and ever will be fixed in the nation’s mind as one of College Alabama’s Football’s major players over the last 15 years. Unfortunately, while they have maintained the look and sound, the Ducks have lost the feeling that is central to such standing. This feeling, the feeling that every year could be our year, is critical to the fan base’s belief and trust in the program’s vitality and dynamism. Last night, the Ducks looked more Central Catholic than Central Michigan. Another season and a half of this crap, and the Apple Green and Lightning Yellow will be little more than dabs of color in the highlight reel of future Pac-12 champions.
However, I think there’s one thing to be gained from this crapfest of a season that will likely culminate in the 2016 Civil Snore, a game sure to be known to future generation of fans as the Toilet Bowl 2.0: Stockholm Syndrome. I am now firmly in the “there’s always next year” mindset that ritually abused fans readily adopt in the face their tormentors’ best efforts. Now, could Oregon rip off a series of wins, each more improbable than the last? Yes.
Other things that could happen: me winning a World Series ring this year, monkeys flying, manna raining from heaven, honesty being spouted from the bully pulpit, this year’s parade of celebrity deaths being something of a cruel joke (RIP, Prof. Snape), and Canton Kaumatule playing college football. However, none of these things are/will happen, and so we, Duck fans, are left with a choice: depression or the Eagles. I, for one, am choosing Don Henley, because last night was just one of those six-rushing-TDs-from-an-Air-Raid-offense-night nights. Sing it, Japanese Don Henley!
Top Photo by Gary Breedlove