Fast. Loud. Chaotic.
As Oregon Duck fans, we all know that those words have been used to describe a Chip Kelly coached practice. Sports media outlets in Oregon have been obsessed with how many reps per hour the Ducks were able to run in practice for the past few years. That practice style led to abundant success at the college level.
Sitting in a Philadelphia hotel room this past weekend on business, it was almost like having deja vu. Except this time it was Comcast SportsNet Philly and Chip was wearing a green hat instead of a white visor. The local sports personalities were rambling off all of the catch phrases we have associated with Chip for years. They obsessed over the fact that "at one point, I saw 5 quarterbacks throwing at the same time. How could they possibly evaluate them all?"
I was hoping it would come to this.
Early this baseball season, people were talking about how good both Oregon State and Oregon would be in 2013.
While looking at the hot starts for both the Ducks and Beavers, fans would cast one eye on the schedule and see the series between the teams May 17-19 at PK Park. The question that usually went unspoken was ... would a Pac-12 Championship be on the line? Could both teams make the World Series?
Until now, those thoughts were followed by a lot of eye blinking and cobweb-clearing head shakes.
The question can be asked now.
The answer is “yes” to both questions.
Every dog has his day, but the Oregon Ducks are in the midst of an unprecedented run of excellence, and if you’re not a fan, that day can’t end soon enough.
Nearly 20 years ago, Phil Knight had a vision for Oregon football, and his money, their effort, and a little good fortune was all they needed to turn that vision into a reality for a program in the infantile stages of a historic resurrection. Yet, no one could’ve thought that that money, that effort, and that good fortune would’ve put Oregon amongst the elite athletic departments in all the college game … and “haters” aren’t down.
Riding the wave of a half-decade’s worth of “elite” football status, the Ducks have not-so-quietly put themselves squarely in the middle of the NCAA’s cream of the crop. The last calendar year has included many success stories, including:
When former Portland prep star Mike Moser announced earlier this week that he was transferring from UNLV to the University of Oregon for his senior season, it barely moved the curiosity meter.
“Oh good,” Duck fans thought, “he ought to help the team.”
Before Dana Altman showed up in Eugene, UO basketball players arrived in town either toting their high school diplomas or the transcripts saying they did in fact complete their associate’s degree from that juco.
Rarely in those pre-Altman days did a transfer make a lasting impression – with the notable exception of Mr. Ivan Johnson. Anytime a transfer showed up, he brought with him questions about his character. Otherwise he likely wouldn’t have left the school at which he started.
But as the façade of the NCAA caring about academics has continued to fade, players are exploring their freedom more frequently.
Altman seems to spend more time recruiting on college campuses than he does in high school gyms. In his three years as Head Duck, he has now brought in seven players with either one or two years of eligibility.
And it’s not a bad strategy.
As the school year inches to a close and spring sports approach playoffs, it’s easy for University of Oregon students and fans to reflect on the markers of this year’s success. The football team won the Fiesta Bowl, volleyball was runner-up at the national championships, and the women dominated cross country and indoor track and field for two more national championship titles. Of course, trophies and championships aren’t the only ways to measure this year’s triumphs. Several individual athletes are worthy of recognition and have played a major part in the Ducks’ success. In fact, the women of Oregon especially have come to national prominence, and it seems safe to say that after this year, the Ducks boast some of the greatest female athletes in the country.
Whether it’s on the court, the track, or the field, Oregon has a variety of talent. In fact, the Pac-12 conference as a whole tends to be a destination for premier collegiate competition in women’s sports. While Oregon’s teams have climbed to the top this year, a handful of individuals have stood out – and the attention has been national. In just the last week, three lady Ducks have represented the green and yellow on top national recognition lists.
Last night was monumental for the Oregon Ducks football program, a night that will give the Oregon coaching staff yet another tool when they hit the recruiting trail in the coming years.
The Ducks saw their former defensive end, Dion Jordan, get drafted third overall in the 2013 NFL Draft and former offensive lineman, Kyle long, get drafted 20th. It was the first time since 1972 that the Ducks had two players drafted in the first round. Oregon is best known for their fast-paced offense and the seemingly endless rotation of stunning jerseys, but what they aren't known for is their ability to produce top-NFL prospects.
Before last night, Oregon already had a lot strengths when it came to recruiting: the recent on-field success, their rabid fan base, their style/swagger, their facilities, their desirable campus lifestyle and last but definitely not least, Mr. Phil Knight and Nike.
The spring season comes to a sprint this weekend for the University of Oregon as teams across the board suit up and return to the field. For Duck fans, there’s a little bit of everything, whether your calling is on the diamond at Autzen or even on the soccer field. To help sort through the excitement and influx of scores and players that we’ll likely hear over the next few days, here’s a rundown of what to watch and what to expect:
The Oregon Ducks baseball team is as hot as it could be heading into the biggest two week span of the season.
With UCLA and Stanford coming to PK Park this weekend and next, the Ducks can make it a two horse race for the Pac-12 title with OSU if they can take the next two series.
Is that a big if? It might be. UCLA and Stanford are two of the traditional powerhouses in the Pac-12. They are loaded with players who know that two wins over the Ducks in Eugene would register as 'big wins' for their programs in the eyes of the NCAA selection committee. They also know that a deep run in the postseason can start midway through the Pac-12 season, which is right where we are.
Despite all the Ducks have accomplished, they haven't won anything yet. Everyone on the team knows that. So far, Oregon has established itself as a contender for the Pac-12 title and hosting a regional in June. From here on out, Oregon will get the very best effort out of everyone they play.
And, it is a long loooong way to the finish line.
Oregon dumped documents Monday night. A lot of documents. Over 200 pages, showing how the Ducks flaunted NCAA rules, engaging in all kinds of naughty behavior, a list of actions topped with Chip Kelly’s painfully illicit dealings with Willie Lyles.
The Ducks say there was no lack of institutional control.
No lack of institutional control when Oregon has already admitted to “Underlying major violations coupled with failure to monitor violations involving the head coach (2009 through 2011) and the athletics department (2008-2011)''.
Basically, Kelly could have been the next Pablo Escobar and Oregon would have turned the other cheek.
With half their conference schedule complete, the Oregon Ducks’ softball team finds themselves leaping to the top. After an impressive 5-1 record in their last two series, the team is first in the conference and recently ranked No. 6 in the nation. Their success comes as little surprise after last year’s impressive run for the college world series. With that same goal in mind and a strong core of returning players, the Ducks are on pace to have their best season yet. The squad is undefeated at home and stands at 33-6 going into their series against Arizona on Friday.
The Ducks’ success can easily be broken down into what every great team boasts: pitchers and hitters. Of course, maybe that’s a little over simplified. After all, they had these things last year. But this season the team appears more polished, poised, and also bears more tools in their arsenal. Perhaps the most lethal of those tools has been Cheridan Hawkins.