If one thing is true in college football, it’s that programs aren’t created equally.
A handful of teams rule the landscape, and, as evidenced by the fourth straight year of Alabama versus Clemson in the college football playoff, championships are generally won by the same exclusive group of perennial, blue-blood programs.
To this point in their history, the Oregon Ducks haven’t been able to join the traditional mainstays. But they’re inching closer.
The Ducks kicked off the decade with their best stretch in team history, which included two trips to the national title game and plenty of wins along the way.
But for all of their success during that run, they weren’t able to finish the job. And, although they were one of the winningest teams in the country for much of the 2010s, they were unable to win a title and join the powerhouses of the sport.
The Ducks are now putting the pieces in place for another run that should bring them to the verge of a title yet again. After a sharp decline in 2016, Mario Cristobal has the Ducks trending in the right direction. Their 9-4 campaign and monster early signing-day haul to end 2018 has the country buzzing.
While the team has questions it’ll have to answer about its offensive direction and potential holes on the roster, there’s no doubt that Cristobal has stabilized the program.
No one is asking the Ducks to bring home the hardware in 2019, but expectations are once again high in Eugene. Cristobal is one of the top recruiters in the country, and if he continues to bring in elite talent, the Ducks will have the horses to go the distance in the near future.
The question is, can they finish the job this time around and win a title before long? And if they don’t, then is it possible that the Ducks have simply reached their ceiling as a program?
It’s a fair question. The Ducks were unable to win a championship when they had one of the most prolific offenses in the country, along with underrated defensive units, under Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich. If they can’t deliver under Cristobal, presumably with more talent than they’ve ever assembled before, maybe it’s unrealistic to expect the Ducks to become a powerhouse program.
There are plenty of programs that string together a few dominant seasons, only to regress to the mean thereafter. Are the Ducks destined to be a program that competes for titles every so often and then reverts to mediocrity? Or is Cristobal’s trailblazing recruiting sustainable, and effective enough to push the Ducks past their competition and vault them into elite status?
Let us know in the comments below what you think Oregon’s ceiling is, and whether or not we should expect them to consistently compete for titles moving forward.
Morgantown, West Virginia
Top Photo by Ahsan Awan
Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester Tennessee.
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