Colorado and their head coach Deion Sanders are coming to Eugene this weekend and, love him or hate him, you have to respect him. So much of the Sanders hatred out there really comes from how the media is fawning over Colorado, which is a good team but, let’s get real, they aren’t going to make the College Football Playoff or even win the conference this year. As Oregon fans we are used to being overshadowed by the eternal USC hype machine and even at times a Washington resurgence that makes the Huskies a more trendy pick than the Ducks.
But, Colorado? Really?
This isn’t something we are used to — being overshadowed by a lesser program. Sanders has put a lot of energy into Colorado and given them life where they really haven’t had much hope of being competitive since 2016 when they won the Pac-12 South, only to get demolished by Washington in the conference title game.
In the modern age of football, Colorado is an upstart program, they haven’t had a lot of recent success and the fan base is hungry. Colorado did collect a National Championship back when National Champions were determined by who finished the season ranked highest in the polls. These championships only count if you have them, to everyone else they are a quaint relic of the past. And it’s a credit to Colorado and its fans that they are opting to live in the present and not just live off some past success.
Sanders has made football relevant to Colorado again, and the fans and university are embracing “Prime Time.” As I watched the game between Colorado and Colorado State I saw an ad for the University of Colorado and it was all about being “prime” in everything they do; they have embraced this new identity as their own. Colorado is an upstart program right now and certainly the trendy program for the media to point cameras on. As Duck fans it is reasonable to be bitter about this. After all, we used to be the new hotness.
Just 14 years ago when Oregon promoted a hot shot offensive coordinator by the name of Chip Kelly to head coach, Oregon took the football world by storm. The offense was flashy, the uniforms were different every week and the Ducks were winning against teams they weren’t supposed to be competitive with. Kelly ignited the football world and the Oregon fan base in a way that hadn’t been done in Eugene before. And though Oregon fans love Dan Lanning, he isn’t flashy. He leads an established program with high expectations.
Kelly even had an edge to him during his press conferences where he was often short and illusive when it came to direct questions. Kelly created drama with how Oregon played on the field, and off the field he annoyed reporters by not answering their questions in a satisfactory manner. As Oregon fans, we loved it.
Oregon’s rise to prominence under Kelly infuriated USC as the established program in the Pac-10, and it even gave Alabama’s Nick Saban pause as he questioned whether spread offenses were safe for players. Oregon disrupted the college football world and turned it all on its head. Kelly was not the only one who implemented a spread offense, but Oregon elevated it in popularity.
Sanders isn’t innovating how the game is played on the field, and Colorado has been good but not revolutionary in terms of their on-field play. What makes Sanders an innovator is what he did off the field when he first took the job: he turned over around 90 percent of his total roster. This was, and still is, a controversial move to dismantle a roster and load up with players from the portal. It does seem to fly in the face of what college sports has historically been about, but that is the age we live in.
Sanders isn’t alone in doing this. Even Oregon turned over a large percentage of its roster from last year. But Sanders’ style was vocal and he engages with the media in a different way than the vast majority of coaches. It brings cameras onto his program and promotes his personally and his team. If there is one takeaway that can be gleaned from Colorado’s first three games, it is that his team has taken on Sanders’ personality and embraced it. This team has all the swagger in the world and it can be frustrating to other fan bases who don’t believe Colorado has earned it.
And that’s OK, because this Saturday Colorado comes to Autzen where they will face an opponent that is deeper and more talented than any of the opponents they have played to date. They will have a chance to prove themselves but the Ducks aren’t going to make it easy and even though Colorado is the media’s darling right now most pundits are backing the Ducks to win this one and rightly so.
Oregon isn’t the new hotness anymore. Instead, over the past two decades, Oregon has established itself as a major power — not just in the Pac-12, but in the country. Since 2010 Oregon has appeared in two National Championship Games and won three Rose Bowls, a Fiesta Bowl, and five conference championships. The Ducks have also put together five consecutive Top-10 recruiting classes, according to Rivals.
Colorado has embraced the phrase “We Coming” and even put it on some of their t-shirts, but the reality is that Oregon is already here. So let’s welcome them to Autzen and send them on their way after their defeat. It took us a long time to get to where we are; it’s the least we can do for Colorado.
Top Photo By Fox Media YouTube
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in technology in SLC, Utah.
David Marsh is a high school social studies teacher in Portland, Oregon. As a teacher he is known for telling puns to his students who sometimes laugh out of sympathy, and being both eccentric about history and the Ducks.
David graduated from the University of Oregon in 2012 with Majors in: Medieval Studies, Religious Studies, and Geography. David began following Ducks Football after being in a car accident in 2012; finding football something new and exciting to learn about during this difficult time in his life. Now, he cannot see life without Oregon football.
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