I have to admit, I really got off on Win The Day.
WTD with wings. So cool.
Yeah, go Ducks!
I wish I had thought of that bit of advice when I was a young father. I would have used it on my kids before they turned two and were two steps ahead of their father. The motto that Chip Kelly brought to Duckland from New Hampshire was deeply philosophical and could be applied in so many ways.
Now, the Ducks have a new football coach and a new football slogan. Do Something.
Do something? Really?
It just doesn’t have the melodic ring of Win The Day.
But this new version of Win one for the Gipper is a natural extension of the mantra that the Chip Kelly Ducks lived by during its recently disrupted Renaissance of mighty fine football. Whereas the brief Mark Helfrich era failed to either infuse its own energizing affirmation or to fully mobilize the spirit of Win the Day, Willie Taggart has shifted the focus from the abstract concept that Kelly applied to the details of every student-athlete’s day to the nuts and bolts of those details.
When Willie Taggart arrived in Eugene, long before his coffee pot and Willie Taggart Jr‘s dirty socks found their ways, his new worldview was quick to become endemic in Duckland. In no time at all, Do Something stole the wings from Win the Day.
Or did it?
In order to Win the Day, a true mark of personal and team success, the Fighting Ducks players and coaches will have to Do Something. And they’ll have to Do Something in every practice and every game, play after play after play from one end of the season to the other. If the team is to be successful, there will be no room for not doing something.
I could see that in order to protect us all from becoming overtly mind-altered before we knew what was in this new Ducks kool-aid, I’d have to act quickly. Football 2017 is upon us! So, I began wading through the fading mind-fields of short- and long-term memory of past Duck seasons, looking for examples of moments when Duck play met the minimum requirements of Do Something. As you might guess, those two words have serious Duck precedence.
Not in the words themselves, but on the field where, it turns out, Ducks have been doing something for decades.
Instantly, Kenny Wheaton (and Jerry Allen calling the play-by-play) came to mind. How could it be any other moment in Duck history? His pick-six against the #9 Huskies at Autzen in 1994 continues to be a milestone not only because it launched the Ducks into the first Rose Bowl since the US launched its first satellite into orbit and 14-year-old Bobby Fisher won the US Chess Championship, but because it announced profound progress in the agonizingly slow ascendance of Ducks football.
Next, Byron Marshall came to mind. After being the leading Ducks ball-carrier with over 1000 yards 2013, to make room for Royce Freeman, he moved to wide receiver the next year and then added over 1000 yards catching to his Ducks Do Something resume’.
And then I remembered Casey Matthews in the 2011 Natty, when the Ducks were doing everything they could to climb back into that game. Down eight, with time running out, they needed the ball. Matthews chased down Cam Newton and knocked the ball out of his hands, Cliff Harris pounced on it, and the Ducks quickly tied the score a few moments later.
Darron Thomas was not my favorite Ducks QB, but the kid’s mix of knuckleheadness and magic damn near won us that same Natty much the same way that, at the other end of his career, it saved the Ducks from being completely humiliated by Boise State in 2008. As a freshman and the Ducks’ fifth-string QB the week before the game, Thomas, burned his redshirt and threw three fourth quarter passes for touchdowns in a rally that nearly brought the Ducks all of the way back from what would otherwise have been a blowout at Autzen. Over the course of his career, for every mistake Thomas made, he usually did enough somethings to get the Ducks within reach of the Big Trophy.
In 2015, the Ducks defense rose to the “do something” occasion, when they sacked Jake Browning three times. And when Ugo Amadi intercepted a Browning pass in the fourth quarter, the Ducks’ much maligned “D” sealed the Ducks’ unprecedented twelfth win in a row against the Huskies.
Remember the Utah game when what appeared to be a TD AGAINST Oregon turned out to be a TD FOR the Ducks? Joe Walker had the presence of mind to grab the confused football that Kaelin Clay had dropped before crossing the goal line, and then carried it 100 yards in the other direction accompanied by a whole gaggle of fellow quackers providing protection for their do something linebacker.
Kiko Alonso‘s interception of a Russell Wilson pass at a time when the Ducks desperately needed a shift in the momentum of the 2012 Rose Bowl was an amazing demonstration of urgency, awareness and athleticism, certainly three key ingredients in the art and science of doing something.
How about freshman LaMichael James doing an amazing something against Tennessee in 2010.
The memories didn’t stop there. Who could forget Kenyon Barner‘s incredible 38 carries for 321 yards and five TDs against USC (2011) in which he would be the first to say, “I could not have done it if my teammates had not been doing something”?
There are so many memorable do something moments in Ducks history. What’s your favorite Ducks Do Something?
Top photo credit: John Hefti / Icon Sportswire
A native Left Coaster with roots in Caveman land, Michael grew up in the East Bay Area before highschooling in the Tahoe-Reno area. He was an alpine racer, soccer defenseman, small, slow running back, and curve-challenged hitter at Southern Oregon College where he became a Ducks fan, began writing and survived the 60s with a liberal arts degree.
Among his many career credits: freelance sports reporting, stringing for a regional daily, and eventually full-time reportijng for a small town weekly in northwestern Washington, all before beginning a 6-year career as a recreation programmer. He coached junior high track, basketball, softball and football before focusing entirely on high school basketball for five years.
Since midlife he has been all over the place, recently landing in Enterprise, Oregon, where he is retired and writes short fiction in full view of the majestic Wallowa Mountains.
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