Dog Days of Off-Season Gives Time For Reflection

Joel Gunderson FishWrap, FishWrap Archive Leave a Comment

As the days drag endlessly by, awaiting the arrival of spring ball, the time for reflection has arrived for Oregon football fans.  Gone to Philadelphia is Charles Kelly, the man most often credited with taking the Ducks to the next level in the eyes of college football pundits.  He left a blistering 46-7 record, three straight conference championships and a brazen, we-can’t-be-beaten attitude.  That record includes a glistening 33-3 conference record — with just one of those losses being on the road — highlighted by two magnificent wins in the Coliseum, and a perfect record against the hated Huskies.

Not a bad resume, if you ask me.

Going beyond the numbers, however, is where the real story of Oregon’s ascension starts to take place. There’s a different attitude in Eugene than there was in 2008, and that, above all else, might be the biggest reason Oregon is where it’s at today.

A confident — bordering on cocky — attitude lies within the program.  That attitude is also lingering over Tuscaloosa, Alabama; it’s been spotted over North Bend, Indiana, and has even been spotted in Los Angeles, California.  It’s a necessary feeling for success.  Only the ones who feel they belong ever do.  To get to the ultimate goal – a title – as a program, there has to be a belief that we can get it done.

Thanks to recent history, Oregon has that belief.

To truly appreciate the wonderful time the Duck program is enjoying, one must only look back seven seasons.  Oregon, a program straddling the line of obscurity and relevance, needed a big year to solidify that it was here to stay.  Coming off a wonderful 10-2 campaign, with the two losses coming to Oklahoma and USC, Oregon was another 10-win season away from announcing their presence to the college football world.

Instead, a 7-6 season, highlighted by an embarrassing Las Vegas Bowl loss to BYU, kept Oregon squarely in the middle-of-the-road. Can you imagine a six-loss season now?  Would the fan base, who has embraced the current attitude of the football team, stand for that?  Sadly, the answer is a resounding NO.

Much will be made of this coming season.  How will Mark Helfrich handle his first year on the job? Will Chip Kelly’s offense be successful in the NFL?  Those questions have validity, and will have been answered when next January rolls around.

For now, simply tip your cap to Chip, thank him for a job well done, and wish him luck with his next venture.  For all the success Oregon had prior to the recent four-year run, nothing can compare with where Chip took things:  Four BCS games, with two wins.  A title shot, the first in school history.  Three straight PAC-10/12 titles.  Northwest dominance.  It’s all new, it’s all fresh…

It’s all here to stay, if things go as planned.

So I say to you, Charles, thank you. Thank you for the wins, the offenses, the attitude.  Thank you for taking the program to heights unbeknownst before your arrival.  If Mark can coach like you say he can, thank you for passing the torch for the next generation.

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