Somewhere between the FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) and the FCS (Formerly Division I-AA) lies a fictitious level of football reserved for those harboring thoughts of competing at the highest level, however due to a list of reasons too long to scratch the surface of, are failing miserably. Within this fourth dimension of Collegiate Football you'll find the Washington State Cougars. Now don't mistake the designation as a sign of disrespect. I appreciate the struggles they are currently enduring and wish them well in their efforts to rise above. Outside of a miracle though, a freak occurrence or infectious outbreak in or around the University of Oregon locker room, the Oregon Ducks will win this game and most likely do so by a comfortable margin. Under normal circumstances such confidence would be considered fodder for "karma" and "jinx" believers everywhere, but by recognition alone I've squelched the potential for any or all sports voodoo, shushing away the possibility of negativity surrounding your Ducks.
So, in lieu of game-speak regarding Saturday night's contest, I'm going to briefly hit on three topics concerning Oregon, it's fans, and anyone else concerned with the game we love. Without further adieu, I offer you the following:
One, anyone who's found it cute or offered up a "good for them" response to Washington's win over then-third-ranked USC two weeks ago should seriously consider what a Husky resurrection would mean to those in and around the Northwest's collegiate universe. Do you want the Dawgs taking your recruits? Do you want another difficult road game in a conference already bursting with such? And do you want a second-coming of the arrogant alpha-fan which seemed to rise from Montlake like Orks from the two towers in Tolkien's "Lord of The Rings?" When people speak to the "sleeping giant" in Seattle they point to a centrally located campus, history of winning, and the heightened level of support which would certainly accompany any increase in success. I point to the ego-driven fanbase who's been eating crow served up by the karma gods for the better part of a decade culminating with the 0-12 2008 season.
I was shocked at the level of reverie surrounding the Huskies win. Local sports radio shows rolled in it like pigs in their own poo, fringe fanatics spoke of a "northwest allegiance" and rival alums (U of O and OSU) spoke happily of a small picture event, without thought of the big picture perspective.
Well, I see it clearly and you want no part of a Washington resurgence. Who else would've been ranked after a 2-1 start which consisted of a home loss to LSU, a home win versus an Idaho team which they allowed 23 points, and a 3-point home victory over the third-ranked team in the country playing without their starting quarterback, numerous defensive starters, and who turned the ball over three times inside of Washington's 35 yard line?
Washington, that's who.
Luckily for anyone nauseated by the "Washington love-fest's" sake, the Huskies lost to Stanford last week and took their rightful place back amongst the national mediocre. If and when they return via a notable win or two, I for one hope that people think twice about showering them with praise, hoisting them up amongst the elite, and speaking of their rebirth as if we all benefit.
Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.
Two, what's with the USA Today "Coaches" Poll? Oregon ranked 6 spots behind Cal in spite of identical records and a lopsided margin of victory head-to-head? Virginia Tech ranked 18 spots ahead of Nebraska in spite of identical records and a one-point home victory over the latter a week ago? Iowa ranked beneath Penn State in spite of a 4-0 record to PSU's 3-1 and defeating the Nittany Lions heads up? 3-0 Houston ranked behind a 3-1 Oklahoma State team whom they beat?
In years past I'd chuckle to myself and excuse it as irrelevant, but based on the BCS formula the "Coaches Poll" is the one which figures prominently in its outcome! As if we needed further proof that the BCS system is failing miserably, we're offered a poll which is dependent upon votes cast by those (the coaches) who arguably watch the least amount of college football. In addition, depending on who you believe, coaches generally defer to an assistant or their SID (Sports Information Director) to fill out their ballot for said poll.
The BCS seriously becomes less reputable by the year. A system which has been flawed from the get-go seemingly gets worse with every proposed improvement. I understand that money makes the world go round and the college football planet orbits that same cash, but to think the current system offers the best possible outcome with the optimum financial return is preposterous!
Gather a handful of School Presidents, a couple television executives, an accountant and an intelligent consultant and put together an arrangement which results in a champion crowned on the field, and it can't help but amass a pile of cash. Show me the loser in that simple scenario?
I'm tired of being "told" the SEC is the best conference or that Boise State can't win a National Title, I want to see it for my own eyes. Until there is a playoff in college football, you, I and everyone else investing time in this great game will be left honoring a champion anointed, rather earned.
Lastly, the LeGarrette Blount issue reemerged Friday, as Chip Kelly announced a plan which offered Mr. Blount the OPPORTUNITY to earn his way back on the field. My first impression of Coach Kelly's announcement was that of surprise. I initially thought Oregon and Chip Kelly were making a mistake by merely doing an about face on the originally stated sentence, which I thought would reflect poorly upon the school, the coach, and a program which had surprisingly weathered a category 5 storm. I thought the local and national media would burn them at the stake of public opinion, raking them back over the coals which they joyfully drug them through the hours, days and weeks following that infamous night in Boise, and I think Chip Kelly thought the same. Which is why I find his proposal to be so impressive.
I believe Chip thought he'd be maligned, thought he'd be second-guessed, and thought he be labeled a hypocrite by those looking from the outside in…and he did it anyways! Why? Because based on the opinion of experts familiar with the situation, he thought it would be best for LeGarrette Blount. Kelly put HIS neck on the line, HIS reputation at stake, and HIS career in the hands of a young man who made a mistake. And to me that speaks volumes about a man with an awful lot to lose.
Ironically, little criticism has occurred. Most are onboard with the proposed opportunity and few have second-guessed Coach Kelly's change of heart. I believe this is a logical conclusion to a hasty, but necessary decision made September 4th following "the incident." While mistakes were made, attempts to atone for those mistakes are underway, not only by a running back desperate for a second chance, but by a coach desperate to give him one.
I wish them luck.
Game Day: Allow Me to Retort
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