These folks reside everywhere. It is when reality hurts the most that they come out of the woodwork to show their true colors. To wit, there resides in Portland a Duck friend of mine named Dave. Ostensibly perpetrating an act of kindness, Dave called at my work to check in on me following the Miami debacle. I wasn't available to take the call, but he spoke to Dawn, who is my boss.
The conversation reportedly went as follows:
Dave the Duck (trying to mask his glee): "So, how is Derek holding up anyway?"
Dawn: "Oh, overall, pretty well. He took this one kind of badly, but he's doing all right."
Dave the Duck: "You might want to keep him away from all sharp objects. Go to his desk and take away his scissors, pencils, etc. If he needs to write, he can use crayons."
Dawn: "I'll be sure to tell him that."
Dave the Duck: (feigning concern) "So truly, how badly did he take it?"
Dawn: "Well, from what he said, I know he was pretty upset that Miami was running up the score late in the game. I guess they were throwing into the end zone on fourth down. He says that Don James would never do that."
Dave the Duck: "Well, in the 1996 Cotton Bowl, Neuheisel was coaching Colorado against the Ducks, and he ran a fake punt on fourth down when they were ahead 31-6... So I am glad that it happened, as he deserves It. That Miami game was fun to watch."
So even among people considered as friends, humanity is not always the strongest of virtues.
Which brings us to this most recent of BCS debacles. In the wake of Sunday's announcement that Nebraska will play Miami in the Rose Bowl, Oregon is left out in the cold and will play Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl. This despite posting a 10-1 record while playing in the nation's toughest conference this year. This despite boasting the #2 national ranking from the Associated Press and CNN Coaches Poll. This despite having one of the most exciting offenses in the country.
Their lone loss was by a touchdown to the nation's 9th-ranked team. Unlike the teams ranked above them, they didn't lose a game by five touchdowns and surrender 62 points in their loss. They didn't lose twice during the season. They actually won their conference.
This has been a dream season for them, but they will always wonder if Nebraska played in the Rose Bowl due to their name and being a much bigger media draw. There will always be a nagging hollowness, a cringe-inducing sentiment of "what might have been".
Washington fans are familiar with this scenario. There have been a handful of times where the Dawgs were on the short end of the stick.
So the Ducks can begin writing their own chronological list of historic slights, adding to the 1958 episode when Washington's vote for Cal kept Oregon out of the Rose Bowl. From what I have heard, Oregon Quarterback Norm Van Brocklin still does not forgive the Huskies to this very day. But then again, he still probably never forgave a young Fran Tarkenton for scrambling so much and ruining his beautifully diagrammed offensive plays when he was his head coach before Bud Grant. Of course, Tarkenton turned out to be a nothing (tongue in cheek).
Ducks, Husky fans know your pain.
The bottom line is that I empathize with the Ducks, and I feel it is too bad that their presence as a Pac-10 representative will not take place in this year's Granddaddy of them all.
Derek Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org