For a sport that carries such enormous weight here at Oregon, football season always seems regrettably short.
Thirteen games — 14 if you’re lucky — simply doesn’t feel like enough in one year. Maybe this will change in 2014 when the angels sing and trumpets sound, and the NCAA institutes a playoff system. But until then, the season seems unfulfilling. Maybe this is why I love it so much.
Unlike an NBA or MLB season glutted with months of meaningless games, college football truly must be approached with a Chip Kelly mentality: “Every week is the Super Bowl.” And for me, a kid who grew up with no connection to professional sports, it has been a rewarding season.
I grew up in Billings, Mont., nestled in the pro sports black hole of America. It’s not enough that my home state has no professional sports teams; none of its surrounding states do either. My relationship with sports was through my parents’ basement television. I’d curl up with a blanket and watch my mom’s Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday and my Dallas Cowboys on Sunday (remember, no home team. Cut me a little slack).
Sports was always theatrical. Each season had heroes and villains, winners and losers; themes, plots, twists. In more ways than one, that’s how this Oregon season felt.
Early on, we learned the season’s new characters — thrilling freshman Marcus Mariota, backup-turned-superhero Kenjon Barner, a secondary filled with unfamiliar names ready to make a splash. Injured seniors Carson York and John Boyett provided uncertainty and drama when it was announced they would sit out the year.
And then came the wins.
Like a Motown montage from “Remember the Titans,” Oregon steamrolled the Pac-12. It almost felt rote for the media. Oregon was a stick of dynamite, and each week it was only a question of how long the fuse was. Sometimes it would be wire-to-wire, other times it would take a third-quarter pointsplosion, but the Ducks always got the job done. I remember writing my Oregon-Colorado game story by the middle of the fourth quarter. All I had to do was update the score and the stats.
And then, of course, the hero of the story gets knocked down.
Stanford’s win over Oregon was as shocking for the media as it was for the fans and left many in the booth reconsidering their postseason plans. For the Ducks to come so close and ultimately fail left a bitter taste in the mouths of Oregon’s media. Anyone who says otherwise is clinging tighter to objectivity than reality. A journalist can be fair and still want to see a team do well — the Ducks’ season was special, and who doesn’t want to be a part of something special?
But like any good story, redemption is achievable.
A Fiesta Bowl win would mean a lot: back-to-back BCS bowl wins for the first time in program history; a third 12-win season in three years; a fitting senior sendoff for fourth and fifth-year players who have been with Chip Kelly their entire collegiate careers. It’s all there for the taking.
Of course Kansas State is trying to write their theatrical ending, but that’s how it should be.
One final battle before the credits roll.