Sometimes life can be pretty good. The unfortunate thing about real life: we don’t always get a storybook ending. Life goes on. For Oregon, that’s a good thing, because the best days of this football program are still ahead.
I know Monday night was painful, Oregon fans. But I’m here to reassure you of one thing: the Ducks aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re just getting started.
Any comment inferring that Oregon’s offense simply doesn’t work in big games should be met with amused indifference, since Ohio State’s coach faced a lot of the same questions once upon a time.
However, time is a flat circle.
It’s easy to forget that, back in 2006, Meyer was in a similar situation as Helfrich is now. Coming into the game with an underdog Florida Gators team, running an offense that many labeled as a gimmick, he faced a heavily-favored Ohio State team featuring a Heisman-winning QB and a prolific offense. Using a tough run game and a relentless defense, they absolutely throttled Jim Tressel’s Ohio State Buckeyes.
The limited debate over who is the best coach in college football involves the only two men to win national championships with two different schools: Nick Saban, and now Urban Meyer. Currently, Meyer seems to have the upper hand. However, Oregon fans should take solace in the fact that the man who leads their program is without question not far behind. Anyone who believes that building on Chip Kelly’s success is as simple as handing off the keys to the next guy doesn’t know a thing about how hard it is to manage, motivate, and guide a group of over 100 players, coaches, and support staff to victory week after week.
Oregon fans should take pride in one thing: when the chips were down, with the game was on the line, the Ducks stuck to what they’ve done all year. Mark Helfrich didn’t apologize for it. On the college game’s biggest stage, and on a night when ESPN saw the largest audience it has ever had.
Anytime a team loses a game, there will be and should be a certain amount of introspection and self-examination. Mistakes were made, and they need to be addressed. But let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture.
In less than a decade, the Oregon Ducks have built a culture that revolves around an exciting and fast-paced brand of football. That doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t disappear due to any single loss.
Oregon fans are in the midst of a golden age of football in Eugene. Go to any major city in this country and you’ll find Oregon Duck fans who follow the football team each Saturday in the fall. That doesn’t go away overnight.
Platitudes and cliches about certain programs never winning the big one are for the fans and the media. The guys behind the scenes know what they have and how lucky they are to have it. Know this: by the end of this week, the coaching staff will be back on the road, recruiting to make this team better.
Most importantly, never forget that the success of a program is entirely reliant on the people within it, and the way in which they work together. The Ducks have an amazing leader in Mark Helfrich. Even if offensive coordinator Scott Frost decides to leave, Oregon fans can rest assured that the principles that have guided this team to an elite level of college football are staying in place.
Featured image courtesy of John Giustina