Though the Ducks came up short, the best Pac-12 Championship Game ever featured the two schools who were afterthoughts to the B1G in the realignment game. While USC — the only team the B1G wanted but had to take UCLA — was exposed as a total fraud in limping to a 7-5 record.
The fact that USC was so vehemently against the Ducks joining the B1G with them makes it all the sweeter. By moving to a better conference, the Trojans saw this as an opportunity to finally assume recruiting dominance on the West Coast as they would have a better product to sell recruits.
And guess who USC can “thank” for this? None other than good ole Neon Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes. Their desire to rejoin the Big 12 set the wheels in motion for the mass exodus and death of the Pac-12. Hence, the Ducks join the Trojans on their easternly venture.
Make no mistake about it — USC still has an “Oregon problem.”
The Huskies will drop off after this season. The past two seasons they have been led by an irreplaceable quarterback and an amazing group of wide receivers, while the rest of the team is good but not great. Kalen DeBoer and the Huskies are not great at recruiting, especially compared to bitter rival Dan Lanning and the Ducks.
Per Rivals.com, Washington ranked 24th in 2023 and sits at 46th in 2024. The Ducks came in 9th in 2023 and are currently 6th in 2024. Also, the Ducks finished 13th in the portal in 2023 while the Huskies came in 40th. The Ducks have more depth and are set for more consistent success in the coming years than the Huskies.
Liberty? (And no justice for all)
Such a deflating ending to an outstanding season for the Ducks. In my opinion, the top Group of Five champion should have to meet a minimum CFP ranking of 15th at the lowest. Otherwise, it serves as a punishment for their opponent. So, 2024 spring football starts in January for the Ducks. I will probably have the game on in the background while I fold laundry or something. I am not captivated at all by this matchup. Might as well play Cal again.
Getting Rid of Divisions
While getting rid of the divisions in the Pac-12 has served to create a more compelling championship game matchup, it also put the conference at risk of losing an entry into the playoff. The Huskies would have had an easier time against Arizona (yes, I know it was close in the regular season and Arizona got better, but let’s be real here) had divisions remained, hence lowering the chance of the conference missing out on this year’s playoff.
I do not think it is an accident that the SEC and B1G kept their divisions. A Michigan-Ohio State rematch would have put the conference at risk of missing out, while a UM-Iowa game all but guaranteed they would be in.
While I understand that sometimes a team needs a quality win in the championship game to upgrade strength of schedule to perhaps propel them into the final four, I think the risk outweighed the reward.
USC’s New Defensive Coordinator
USC just went ahead and stole UCLA’s defensive coordinator, D’Anton Lynn. Another reason why the Bruins should have fired Chip Kelly. With USC’s defensive standing as the missing piece to prominence, the Trojans did what they should have done by stealing away the best guy they could. Lynn has done an amazing job in two seasons in turning around the UCLA defense.
College Football Committee Outrage
What the hell did we all expect? We knew something like this would happen eventually. I do not blame the committee at all, and I would not have blamed them if they had left a Pac-12 champion Oregon team out. The committee is essentially tasked with the impossible, with making 2+2=5. A completely imperfect system is going to provide some perfectly imperfect results.
As I said in 2014, the playoff should have expanded to six teams. The five Power-5 champions and the highest-ranked non-conference champion (at-large Power 5/Group of 5). Any team thinking they had been snuffed as the at-large team could go suck on an egg as we could all simply reply, “Well, then, you should have won your conference.“
No debate, no hassle, and life is good. But, that has always made too much sense in the world of college football.
The committee is tasked with selecting the four best teams. I believe they failed on that (my beef) because does anyone doubt that Georgia would be the odds-on favorite if they were in? Not many. (My best four: Michigan, UW, Alabama, Georgia.)
Having said that, with the 12-team playoff starting next season, something that should have happened decades ago, it does not matter. The future of college football is now upon us; better embrace it or you might as well become a soccer fan.
Top photo credit: Tom Corno
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in technology in SLC, Utah.
Darren Perkins is a sales professional and 1997 Oregon graduate. After finishing school, he escaped the rain and moved to sunny Southern California where he studied screenwriting for two years at UCLA. Darren grew up in Eugene and in 1980, at the tender age of five, he attended his first Oregon football game. His lasting memory from that experience was an enthusiastic Don Essig announcing to the crowd: “Reggie Ogburn, completes a pass to… Reggie Ogburn.” Captivated by such a thrilling play, Darren’s been hooked on Oregon football ever since. Currently living in Spokane, Darren enjoys flaunting his yellow and green superiority complex over friends and family in Cougar country.
New 2024 FishDuck Publishing Schedule….
During the off-season the FishDuck.com publishing schedule will consist of articles on Mondays and Tuesdays. Do keep checking as new articles could be published during the week when a writer has something to say.
In mid-August of 2024, we will go back to the seven-days-a-week of articles during the football season as we did in the football season of 2023.
The Our Beloved Ducks Forum (OBD) is where we we discuss the article above and many more topics, as it is so much easier in a message board format over there. At the free OBD forum we will be posting Oregon Sports article links, the daily Press Releases from the Athletic Department and the news coming out every day.
Our 33 rules at the free OBD Forum can be summarized to this: 1) be polite and respectful, 2) do not tell anyone what to think, feel or write, and 3) no reference of any kind to politics. Easy-peasy!
OBD Forum members….we got your back. No Trolls Allowed!