Embracing the ‘O’: Why Oregon’s Football Success Is Good For Everyone

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How can a single team that dominates a conference be good for the sport? The answer is that it’s not. It diminished the value of the Pac-12 and takes away from the respect of the conference. Now that we have had significant conference realignment, strength of schedule is going to be more important now than ever before.

That’s where the Ducks come in.

Powerhouse programs are needed for the good of the sport. Fortunately, the Pac-12 features a team that has accepted the challenge of becoming just that. The Oregon Ducks have steadily launched themselves from an enjoyable “mid-major” to one of the most exciting and unstoppable forces in college football. Every time a star player leaves, it seems like an even better version of him steps in to take his place. The Ducks didn’t suffer when Jeremiah Masoli was booted from the team; they gave the ball to Darron Thomas and went undefeated instead.

Whenever the Ducks see someone important to the program leave, the person who takes their place seems to vault the program into the next step. Masoli got the Ducks over the hump against USC, but Darron Thomas blasted past them en route to an undefeated season. Jeff Maehl stepped out and De’Anthony Thomas stepped in and was even scarier. Mike Belloti brought Oregon into the eyes of the national audience. As soon as he left, Chip Kelly took the team to three majors bowls in a row–including a title run–and they have constant threat ever since.

The Pac-12 needs Oregon to continue performing like this. There are 12 fantastic universities competing in Pac-12 play. Several of these universities are among the tops in the nation for multiple different athletic and academic programs. They all have fantastic coaches and wonderful athletic facilities that have trained champions in many different sports. But what makes Oregon USC’s biggest threat? The answer is simple, actually.

Oregon has everything that a student-athlete could want. Love them or hate them, their uniforms attract recruits to their school. Students love seeing universities trying to be different and flashier than others. Arrogance is the new sexy in college football. Oregon has the threads, they have the product on the field, and they have a coach that seems to embrace the ideas these kids have about playing football.

Chip Kelly loves to use unique and inventive ways to send in the plays during a game. His system has received so much attention that other schools have adopted the very same ideas and incorporated them into their schematics. Kelly also loves to run up the score. He doesn’t give a damn if he’s up by 20 with a minute left, if he’s on the 1 yard line, that ball is going into the endzone. He allows his players to put up video game-like numbers in video game-like costumes and they’re winning.

It’s no wonder kids are leaving sunny LA to play in rainy Eugene with prospects like that!

Another huge selling point for the Ducks is the fact that Phil Knight and Nike are directly involved with the university, and that influence speaks for itself. Oregon has some of the best athletic facilities in the entire nation and that fact is not lost on young athletes who have dreams of making it to the NFL. When you couple this with the fact that Nike seems to invent new uniforms by the week, it’s like a personal heaven for the athlete concerned with appearances.

And how many of those do you know?