2020 Oregon Sports: The Year That Could Have Been

Darren Perkins Editorials 17 Comments

Recently I was chewing the fat with a friend of mine up here in Spokane. He was rambling on and on about how this was the year that the Gonzaga Men’s Basketball team was going to win it all; all the pieces were in place, this was it!


As an Oregon fan, I found it hard to conjure up any sympathy for him. You can probably already guess why.


Men’s Basketball


While the Ducks, unlike the Gonzaga Bulldogs, did not have all the pieces in place to win it all, does anyone doubt that Payton Pritchard would have taken the Ducks on a wild ride? One that would have taken them deep into the NCAA tournament?


Tom Corno

The Oregon Men’s team was stripped of a chance of a magical run.

Pritchard, the first-team All-American and Pac-12 player of the year is the picturesque example of how a player is to develop over his four years in college. In our era of one-and-done, he is a throwback to a more innocent time. To cap off his senior year, no doubt, there was one more magical wave of the wand to cast upon Oregon fans.


Women’s Basketball 


The ultimate robbery. If my Spokane buddy felt robbed about his Gonzaga team’s chance at a title, then multiply that by 10 for fans of the Oregon women’s team. The Final Four was a given, with, in my humble opinion, a 75% chance to win it all.


Led by arguably the best college player of all time in Sabrina Ionescu, the Ducks had three players drafted in the top 8 selections of the WNBA Draft. They had a great post player (Ruthy Hebard), an outstanding wing (Satou Sabally), and possibly the best point guard of all time (Ionescu). It was to be the ultimate fairy tale season for the Ducks and their destiny.


Tom Corno

The Oregon Women were robbed of their magical season.



Maybe there will be a season; maybe there will not. Even if there is and the Ducks have great success, it just already feels as though the whole season comes with one great big asterisk. Sure, the Ducks have questions at quarterback and offensive line, but given their recent recruiting success, the Ducks are officially a “reload” program, not a “rebuild” program.


The defense, led by the best backfield in the country, would be stout. Toss in some uber-talented, albeit young, players along the front seven. Then, sit back and watch them run wild as the offense under new OC Joe Moorhead and quarterback Tyler Shough find their footing and then explode onto the scene.


Dear 2020


Please, 2020, throw us a bone. Give us a little magic. While I do hold out a small amount of hope for something positive, I am preparing for the worst.


But, who knows? Perhaps, like the 2001 football team, we are better off not knowing. While we clamored for the Ducks to make the National Championship game that year, it is possible that the Joey Harrington-led team would have gotten destroyed by those NFL talent-laden Miami Hurricanes.

Craig Strobeck

Kind of seems no matter what happens this football season, there’s a big asterik attached to it.

Perhaps in 2020, the men’s team does not make it out of the opening weekend, the women’s team gets upset, and the football team flounders to a 7-5 season. 


But I doubt it. That 2001 football team was in a different era. Back then, there was a sense of, “Will we ever get this close again?” At the time, Oregon was an up-and-comer, and that’s just not the Ducks anymore.


In 2020, The Ducks are expected to do well. Oregon, in college’s three biggest sports, is built for sustained success and is in the process of becoming elite, if the Ducks are not there already (it’s women’s hoops who probably hang a banner this year). So, odds are at least one or two of them, if not all three, would have lived up to expectations in 2020.  


So here’s to 2021 (or whenever) when I expect the men’s basketball team to make a March Madness run, the women’s team to compete for a natty, and the football team to win the Pac-12 and compete for the CFP.


Oregon athletics: where our sense of, “Will we ever get this close again?” is always just a calendar year away.


Darren Perkins
Spokane, WA
Top photo credit: Tom Corno

Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the financial technology industry in Bozeman, Montana.

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Some very tough news…high school football in California (CIF) is being delayed until a December review, with a tentative January revival targeted.


That’s grim indeed. The liabilities for high school winter/spring football are similar to those college athletes:

  1. they’d wind up playing two full seasons in calendar 2021 – way too much injury / wear & tear;
  2. would be much more risk and in poor shape to move on to college ball the next summer;
  3. Training camps games starting in the rainy season for NorCal;
  4. Conflict with all spring sports.
  5. All seniors missing out on their Srs years – similar but worse than what happened to high school basketball players and all the kids looking forward to spring sports.
  6. The unquestionable losses in academic progress, and overall health and well being.

That’s for all the kids. The ones with college ball aspirations who can’t afford to go through all the camp circuit activities will also be left way behind.



Jon Joseph

Thanks Darren. Could the FOOTBALL team be making a March Madness run come 2021?

BTW, wore my Oregon Ducks hat and obligatory mask, when I dined Saturday night at The Varsity Cafe in Tuscaloosa. Had some good and interesting discussions with Tide fans. Because of Mario’s time at Bama and the Nike cache, Bama fans were most kind in their comments about the Oregon program.

Of course a couple said, tp paraphrase, ‘Maybe Y’all can be Bama when you grow up; or, at least Auburn?’

Now in Aiken, SC so I cannot shout to the roof tops how housed over was Sabrina and friends by USC (e) being AP #1.

Hopefully, we will get to see CFB and CBB played in 2020.


Fresh today – Urban Meyer thinks the ACC/BIg12/SEC will work out a way to not only play, but to save some Out of Conference Games


No one owns a functioning crystal ball, but meanwhile, our conference commissioner (and University President) continue to march in the opposite direction.


The words of Meyer and the Arkansas AD weren’t anything more than hoping. The importance of football is well known in the SEC, and in the Big 12, not so much in the ACC, except for Clemson, and I’ve no doubt that “Footbawl” will have to be yanked from their hands to shut it down.

Jon Joseph

Conference only? Do G5 and FCS OOC opponent get paid? Hard to argue force majour when you are playing football vs conference teams.

While we all agree with your regret about the seasons lost…your article also helps us count our blessings, and know that great things await Our Beloved Ducks and their fans. Thanks Darren.

Santa Rosa Duck

Nice perspective Darren. We as fans always have the hope “There is always next year”. This has to be a heart break for people like Sabrina and many others now in 2021 to be determined. I really miss college sports. Pro sports not so much. I miss my annual trip to Eugene. On Saturday the San Francisco Chronicle had an article about vaccine researchers at the University of California teaching hospital which is UCSF. They were losing faith in the ability to produce a vaccine because the antibodies seem to be breaking down fast and perhaps not providing immunity beyond 30-60 days.


Ah, Darrren, I feel soooooooooooooo bad for your Gonzaga buddy. I know, sarcasm is rude. What I could do is ask him to remember back to the beginning of the season, when the Bulldogs escaped with a 1 point win over the Ducks. Who’s to say that the Ducks couldn’t find their way back to the Final Four and maybe find an extra basket if they faced the Bulldogs again?

I agree that practical speaking we can dismiss the hypothetical when it comes to the Women winning it all. With all due respect to USC, they didn’t have the “game” to stay on the floor with the Lady Ducks…and speaking of Lady Ducks, what about the softball team? 22-2? Three Aces in the circle, and an offense with pop through the line up. No doubt something great at, The Jane.


Track and Field teams may not have challenged for their respective National Championships, but both could have been in the mix for top 5, and the men’s middle distance group in particular (crushed the NCAA national record in the Distance Medley Relay) was primed for break out performances. Several of those athletes will likely move on to their national teams or the pros even if granted another year of eligibility.


It’s like, you saved up the money to pay off the mortgage and on the way down to do so the car breaks down, taking it all so you can’t.

There’s always something that comes along to prevent it from happening.

How long can you keep doing it ?? – – – – – – – – – – – – – – As long as it takes.