Observations of a not-so-impartial observer

I'm struggling. While far less painful than being embarrassed or dominated on the national stage, it's difficult to appreciate the excellence that the 2010-11 Oregon Duck football team brought to the table so shortly following such a heartbreaking defeat.

Which is why I've waited; it's been four days, 16 hours and roughly 30 minutes since Auburn's Wes Byrum – whose name you've probably heard for the last time – kicked he and his "War Eagling" mates to the National Championship you and I were hoping to call our own. It truly was a memorable night, full of hope, pride and sadly…disappointment. And it's that disappointment which prompted me to watch, wait and observe.

Since the game ended and the post-game began, I've been making mental notes as to what I've seen, both good and bad. From comments, analysis, sights and sounds, I've been surprised at what has been said and how many have reacted to a game decided as the clock reached zero.

• I begrudgingly tuned in for the post-game –something I'm normally not prone to do following an Oregon defeat – primarily due to my interest in the professional analysis. I wanted to hear what the "experts" had to say about the outcome of such a closely contested game. I expected to hear that the best team had won, Oregon fought valiantly and the difference was in the interior line, because I believed that to be mostly true. But what I heard took me by surprise; Auburn had dominated the game, Oregon was completely overmatched and SEC dominance again reared its head.

Huh? I've never heard the word "dominance" used regarding a game decided by a last second field goal, in a game whose participant's total yardage differentiated by 75 yards, which neither team had led by more than 8 points throughout.

• I'm FAIRLY CERTAIN Gene Chizik has yet to acknowledge the Oregon Ducks as a formidable opponent, congratulated them on a quality season or credited Coach Kelly and his players for…well…anything, and I'm SURE he didn't do so in any of his initial 3 interviews following the game. I assure you that I'm not spewing sour grapes when I say that I don't believe I've ever heard a winning coach in an interview following such a big game (let alone nearly any other game) fail to utter even the least heartfelt congratulatory remark to the opponent. You know, "I'd first like to congratulate Coach Kelly on a great year," or "we definitely earned it, that's a quality opponent we faced over there," or even "I don't want to take anything away from Oregon, cause their a hell of team, but I felt like we just wanted it more." WAR HUMILITY, Gene, it's a virtue.

• What happened to Josh Huff? I saw him slip twice at the onset of the opening kick-off and vaguely recall seeing him since. A quick glance at the box score showed 2 kick-off returns for 35 yards and that be it. I dare not second guess the substitution pattern of coaches who obviously know more than I, but Josh Huff played a sizeable role in Oregon's 12-0 regular season and I am a tad puzzled as to his whereabouts Monday night.

• Why is it that venues, the NCAA or anyone else in charge of putting on these big games (be it Super Bowls, Bowl games, etc.) find it necessary to repeatedly completely replace the field surfaces prior to said games? Unfortunately, sub-par turf has played a role in far too many games of late, and while I don't believe it to be the difference in the outcome of the BCS Championship game, it would be nice to say it hadn't played a role.

• Wow, did those coaching analysts think little of the Ducks! Between Lee Corso's repeated comments about Oregon's offense using and needing trickery to even compete with Auburn, and Urban Meyer talking about Jeff Maehl as if he were a Pop Warner player, there seemed to be little respect for Oregon and what they'd accomplished. I was surprised at the overwhelming theme of "little ol' Oregon, great little story, but this is the SEC" running rampant before, during and after the game. It would've been nice if they could've mixed in a Pac-10 coach amongst the myriad of SEC representatives on ESPN's crack staff of analysts.

• I've always felt and am further convinced that the Ducks need a goal line package which enables the quarterback to get under center and the O-line get a push up front. Seeing the repeated inability of our spread to execute inside the 5 yard line against Auburn was frustrating at best. We've seen this in the past at times, but more than ever I think it's time to address it.

• Jeff Maehl is a heck of a good football player.

• Oregon needs to equip themselves with bigger, stronger, faster players on the offensive and defensive front in-order to take the next step (win national titles). Brilliant. I've heard far too many local media pundits - who shall remain nameless - pitch this to their followers over the last few days and act as if it's fresh and new. Do these people really think that Oregon and every other team and staff aren't recruiting Nick Fairley and those like him? Of course they are, they're just not getting them. Offensive and Defensive lineman are the most difficult players to recruit, and elite lineman are the most difficult players to find. There's a reason the Ducks and the majority of the FBS schools don't have players of Nick Fairley's caliber, and it's not because they don't want them.

• A Washington Husky poster on ESPN.COM the other day made a comment that they're tired of watching Oregon "make the Pac-10 look bad." Anyone making a comment like that should worry more about making themselves and their own university look bad. Playing in the BCS Championship game and losing to a last second field goal does not fall under my definition of looking bad. However, losing 7 straight games to that same "bad" team…that might qualify.

• I don't care if Michael Dyer's wrist was down or not, it's over, Oregon lost and there's absolutely nothing to gain by crying over spilled milk. It was a fluke play, it's no one's fault and there's really no one to blame. Yes, it stunk to have such a big game influenced by such an unfortunate circumstance, but it is what it is and I'd rather not continue to hash it out.

• Lastly, to the notion that winning the Rose Bowl in lieu of playing and losing the BCS title game may be a better alternative…really? I'm sorry, but if you're thinking that – sorry Jeff Foxworthy, but you may recognize this - then you might be a loser. If you're in the NFL, you don't aspire to make it to the conference championship game. If you play golf, you don't aspire to make the cut. And if you play college football, you don't aspire to win "A" BCS game, you aspire to win "THE" BCS Championship game. Ugh!

There you are; that's what I've seen and heard over the last few days. I'm sure you've seen and heard some of my observations, much like I'm sure you've seen and heard others for which I've failed to mention. But what I think we can all agree on is that you should be proud of your Ducks. It was a heck of a season, a heck of a post-season and a heck of a tough way to end the season, but I for one appreciate what I saw and look forward to what I'm sure I'll see in the future…more greatness.


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