My Take...

24 November 2013

Turning Point for a Program or Simply Another Bump in the Road?

Last night Oregon lost a football game to Arizona, 42-16. OK. It wasn't the end of the world. But did they lose more than that?

Today I am reminded of a specific game some time ago. One team had been struggling and a frustrated fan base was grumbling, "Fire the coach!". Another was riding high with a high ranking and felt entitled. Cocksure.

The ranked team was certain they would be able to simply show up and the victory would be theirs while the unranked team seemed to be on a mission. The year was 1994. The Pick - 1994 The teams were Oregon and Washington. The game has been forever known as "The Pick".

In that case, the teams both fought hard. It came down to "The Drive" by Oregon. Then came the OTHER drive by Washington where everyone in the stadium was thinking, "Uh Oh. Here we go again...".  Oregon had basically been dominated by Washington for years.....Then came "The Pick".  And the courses of two programs were altered significantly. Washington has struggled in mediocrity while Oregon has continued it's climb to PAC-12 dominance and national significance.

We have lived off the fuel of the power of The Pick for two decades.  Now the fuel is spent.

Leading up to the Arizona game, there were unfortunate comments by a couple players. De'Anthony Thomas and Josh Huff had indicated their - some would say - disdain for playing in the Rose Bowl. Granted that was misinterpreted by many.  We understand they are highly competitive student-athletes and continue to strive for the highest achievement possible.

That would be the MNC (Mythical National Championship).

They were not trying to condescend when they made these comments. The comments were sincere and only meant to inform others of their high-level competitiveness. We understand. But they must also have known that Oregon is not the only school with highly competitive student athletes with lofty goals.

Chip Kelly had it right. WTD. And DON"T give out any quote that could otherwise be misinterpreted or used against.

Arizona has been a doormat for the last several years.  Then they hired someone who might just have them on a similar trajectory that Oregon has traveled since 1994.  And they have a moment that they can use as fuel to take them to the promised land.

Will that now become known as The Pick?

Time will tell. Arizona has not been to the Rose Bowl. Do you think THEIR players would be making the comments we have heard last week from ours? Is that a sentiment held by the majority in the Oregon locker room? Have WE developed a sense of entitlement? I hope not. I still believe we are simply highly motivated to succeed at the highest level.

Another question MUST be asked. Does Mark Helfrich have the fire to be a top line CEO on the sidelines?  I THINK so. I HOPE so. He as all the other qualities you love to have as a coach. Organization. Loyalty. Team Spirit. Humor.  And for fans and the media? Accessibility. But does he have the FIRE? Can he take the turmoil and use it to forge a NEW ascending arc? Continue to build on the foundation laid by previous regimes?

Can we ......?

I give you "IF" by Rudyard Kipling.....

Turning Point for a Program or Simply Another Bump in the Road? Time will tell................