Oregon Magazine

Pigskin Pete
Oregon Erases Doubts
That Program's Superb

 by Fred Delkin

   January 3, 2012 -- OK, we want no more doubts that Oregon's Ducks can 'win the big one.'  Chip Kelly's crew erased that notion with their 45-38 Rose Bowl victory.  Wisconsin was big, brawny and led by a brilliant quarterback and Heisman-worthy running back.  Not enough to humble the Quackers, who any viewer would now declare very capable and oh, so entertaining!   

And this isn't the end of Duck dominance on the gridiron.  Consider that this current UO squad is young and virtually all its key components return.  Yes, LaMichael James will undoubtedly give up his senior year to enter the NFL...but veterans return at every position on offense and defense and James' stardom will be repeated by DeAnthony Thomas and Kenyon Barner, while the quarterback phenom Darron Thomas returns to throw to a host of quick & fast receivers (not even Rose Bowl MVP Lavasier Tuinei will be missed).  Defense?  Linebackers Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso are back to repeat their starring Rose Bowl roles. Starting Defensive ends Dion Jordan and Terrence Mitchell return.  Both kickers, Maldonado and Rice, are back.   

Duck fans can count on a sterling class of recruits upcoming.  True freshmen on the current team were forced into starting positions in the defensive secondary and by bowl-time, they performed like veterans.  No team in national Division I ranks can surpass, or even equal, the longevity of the Ducks' assistant coaching ranks...a certain reason why squad training goes so well.   

Oregon must be favored to repeat its Pac12 title next season, though USC regains its eligibility to challenge for the championship.  Everyone else is regrouping, with new coaches taking over at UCLA, Washington State, Arizona and Arizona State   Washington got the Oregon fever, by canning defensive coordinator Nick Holt and hiring former Duck stars Peter Sirmon and Justin Wilcox, both lured away from Tennessee.   

Pigskin concurs that Holt deserved to walk the plank after the Dawgs gave up a bowl-record number of points while fainting before Baylor in the Alamo Bowl.  Utah was the only other Pac12 team to triumph in this bowl season, edging Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl (and Ute coach Kyle Willingham will continue to earn his keep).    

ROSES & RASPBERRIES...buckets of blooms have been earned this NFL season by Green Bay and San Francisco (Pigskin's favorite teams ever since we've followed play for pay)...no plaudits earned by Paul Allen's stumbling reign over Trailblazer fortunes, but his devotion to advance space travel is, simply, out of this world!...now it's going to be a long, chilly winter and spring with football concluding and basketball ranking as a second-rate substitute at any level of play.

© 2012 Oregon Magazine