Yesterday I found myself in the Eugene for the first time in months, friends and family gathering to make some memories on a warm summer weekend. We had plans to make our way to “The Bite of Eugene”, the annual summer festival taking place at Alton Baker Park, next to Autzen Stadium. It was, for me, an opportunity to see the glorious stadium again, something that I cherish, no matter how many times I have been there.
However, this trip took on a different feeling as the new facilities came into view.
For months we have been reading all about Oregon’s new Football Operations building, a state-of-the-art, multi, multi-million dollar facility that would help keep Oregon in the driver’s seat of college football’s Arms Race. It’s been controversial (see: Hot tubs), it’s been knocked (Too much money for a building that is limited to football) and it’s been lauded as the next generation of operation.
Nothing, however, could have prepared me for seeing it in person for the first time. The monstrous building looks more like the Transformers’ Headquarters than a football building, more NASA than Casa.
(See what I did there? Casa, as in Casanova… the building Oregon is moving away from… ok, bad joke.)
It’s a giant fist pointed sky-high, a symbol to all that try to take them down, that Oregon is going nowhere. The building began construction long before any sanctions-results were revealed. Long before the uncertainty of the coaching situation was settled. (It was originally designed with Chip Kelly in mind)
The new building is a sign from Oregon, and the many boosters involved, that no matter what, the Ducks are in this to win it, and for a long time. This isn’t a nice little run that someday will fade away, with nothing but nice memories to keep it alive. Phil Knight and Rob Mullens are all-in. Success is not ever-lasting in college football; every program goes through turbulence. The schools that make the effort — i.e., money — are the ones that bounce back quick.
Alabama is never down for long.
Michigan doesn’t have ten-year lulls.
Ohio State won’t go five years straight without winning 10+ games.
Why? They are all-in. They know the game is money-based, and their chips are all on the table. And Oregon has just signaled that they want to be more than a nice little story. They want to be an Alabama, West Coast edition. And there’s nothing wrong with striving for that.
Phase one was to be competitive. Done. Phase two is to remain competitive. That, it appears, is underway.
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Joel Gunderson grew up in a small town, where the only thing he did for fun was worship the Oregon Ducks. He later moved to Eugene, where he studied journalism at the U of O. After working in radio, he married the woman of his dreams and settled down. Joel now spends his days studying Journalism and the fine world of grammar, all the while worshiping the ground that Charles “Chip” Kelly walks on! Follow him on twitter @gundy85
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