Posted tagged ‘College Football’

How the 2014 Oregon Ducks Helped Make Me a Better Father

January 13, 2015

I’m not going to lie. This loss stings. It stings a lot. But like all things in life, you can’t let it get you down Ducks fans. Sometimes, there are more important things in life than the outcome of a football game.

My dad passed away on August 11, 2014. Those first few moments after I got the call from my brother to tell me, it felt like the end of the world. After weeks of trying to understand why this happened, and attempting to get my life back to normal, August 30 came around. This marked the beginning of the college football season. Sure, it was a game against a team perceived to be an inferior opponent (South Dakota), but it was the first bit of normalcy I had in my life since my dad’s death. As I sat quietly on the couch watching the game, alone, one by one my three kids (ages 9, 7 and 2) came and joined me.

They asked a lot of questions. “Who’s playing daddy?” “Did they score?” “Who’s winning?” I think that day was the first time I smiled in weeks.

It’s funny. My dad and I had a close father/son relationship, but it was always this sort of “unspoken word” relationship. Two things we had in common: a love of music and sports. Sure, we watched games together as a family, both in-person and on TV (and even on this thing called a radio), but there was never an emotional attachment. I remember when I was little, sitting on my dad’s lap watching a San Francisco Giants or 49ers game, but we just never had those truly bonding moments that you see on TV or in the movies. I figured that it’s probably just a fantasy that doesn’t actually happen in real life, but I have strived to be different with my kids (and I think part of that has been done both consciously and subconsciously). It’s not bad that my dad and I didn’t have this, it’s just something that I look back on and wish could have been a little different.

Which brings us to the National Championship game and the basis of this post. My kids were very excited once they got home from school and they stayed up and watched most the game with me again last night (note that the 7 year old didn’t make it into our Kreuzer “team” picture below).


They don’t like sports all that much, but they have been to a few games with me. Mostly minor league baseball games. But I formally introduced them to Oregon football this season with that South Dakota game on August 30 and they watched a number of games with me this season. Sure, I’ve been a Ducks fan since 2002 when we first moved to Portland. But watching Oregon football this year was an opportunity for me to teach them the game. To teach them to love a team. And most importantly, to have bonding moments with them. Unfortunately, I think they got spoiled with this great team.

Last night, the two older kids were nearly in tears (like I was…not gonna lie) as the game got out of hand in the 4th quarter. They kept saying “it isn’t fair daddy.” “The Ducks are supposed to win daddy.” “Can’t we do anything.” It gave me the chance to talk about winning and losing. How there are going to be times where you have to understand that you can’t always win. During those final minutes of the game, they disappeared. I wasn’t sure where they went, and to be honest, it made me a little nervous that I couldn’t hear them.

But then they came back with these drawings in an effort to make me feel better about the loss that was about to be made official:




I couldn’t help but smile and give them the biggest hugs I think they’ve ever had. I realized at that moment that, like I had told them just a few minutes earlier, it wasn’t about winning and losing. It was about the time we spent together over the past six months, culminating with the National Championship game in Dallas. It was about healing from personal loss. Finding that one thing that brought us together.

Even though the Ducks didn’t have the fairly tale ending that we had hoped for, we were all together. We were spending those moments on the couch that I will never, ever forget. Dealing with the hardest time of my life through college football, while it sounds crazy, had not pulled us apart, like it seemed it would in those first two weeks. It had made us stronger. In reality, looking back, the 2014 Oregon Ducks had helped make me a better father.

When I look back at the season, I can’t help but be proud of this team and the coaching staff, just as I’m proud of my own kids. What a story of inspiration. I can’t think of another team that had to battle through so many injuries, and yet found themselves winning a conference championship, a major bowl game (and not just a major bowl game, but the Granddaddy of them all: The Rose Bowl) and played for a national championship. Let’s not also forget that Marcus Mariota brought the first Heisman Trophy to the University. All great accomplishments and much of the credit goes to coach Mark Helfrich.

Sure, people will say the Ducks aren’t tough enough. They make fun of the infinite number of uniform choices (thanks Nike!) But, at the end of the day, they finished this season behind only one team: The Ohio State Buckeyes.

I have to give a lot of credit where credit is due. The Buckeyes came into this game hungry. They, like Oregon, have had to deal with their own fair share of injuries. Can you imagine winning your conference championship game by 59 points, against a good Wisconsin Badgers team, with Cardale Jones, a 3rd string quarterback? Then, to take down the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl, again with a 3rd string quarterback? You get the idea. The Buckeyes won the National Championship with a 3rd string quarterback. A guy with 3 career starts! Phenomenal.

Let’s not forget the play last night by Ezekiel Elliott. Just a sophomore, he ran the ball 36 times for 246 yards with four touchdowns. Yes. four touchdowns in the National Championship game. This was his third straight game with more than 200 yards. He was named Offensive Player of the Game and broke the record for highest rushing total by an FBS player in a championship game. Again, phenomenal.

Finally, there’s Urban Meyer. You must now consider him arguably one of the greatest head coaches in college football history. I have no problem ranking him up there with anyone on the Mount Rushmore of college coaches. What he has done at Ohio State is amazing and I can’t help but think that there could be a dynasty forming in Columbus.

As for the Ducks, I just want to reiterate that this season was not a failure. So much good came out of this year that fans should not hang their heads. I’m not…and you shouldn’t either!

I know that we played hard, through adversity, and we will be back again next year. Yes, we didn’t achieve our end goal of winning a National Championship, but we played our hardest and finished as the second best team in the country. Again, we won the Pac 12. We won the Rose Bowl. Mariota is the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Don’t be sad. Be glad that you were there to witness history.

I leave you with a few of my favorite lines from the movie “The Mighty Ducks”. Yes, it’s a hockey movie, but I think that the words ring true for us today, tomorrow and forever as Oregon Ducks fans:

“Have you guys ever seen a flock of ducks flying in perfect formation? It’s beautiful. Pretty awesome the way they all stick together. Ducks never say die. Ever seen a duck fight? No way. Why? Because the other animals are afraid. They know that if they mess with one duck, they gotta deal with the whole flock. I’m proud to be a Duck, and I’d be proud to fly with any one of you. So how about it? Who’s a Duck?”

While I never attended the University of Oregon, I have made many, many friends along the way who did and I consider myself to be a Duck. Like each and every one of them, I’m damn proud to be a Duck (and a father of the three best kids in the whole world)!

Sandusky Expected to Speak at Hearing

October 8, 2012

Jerry Sandusky has been working on a statement that he plans to read before his sentencing hearing tomorrow. This, according to his attorney, Joe Amendola.

Back in June, jurors determined that Sandusky used his access to university facilities and a foundation he founded for under-privileged youth to sexually abuse ten boys over a 15-year period. He faces life in prison.

From CNN:

The statement is expected to be a reassertion of his proclaimed innocence, according to co-counsel Karl Rominger. He has been advised against speaking freely.

“Contrition without admission is always my advice,” Rominger said.

At least of three of Sandusky’s victims are expected to be in attendance on Tuesday, according to their attorneys. Two of them plan to address the former coach directly, while the third is expected to have a statement read by prosecutors.

Former Penn State Coach Joe Paterno Dies

January 22, 2012

As announced by his family this morning, former Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, died early Sunday morning at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College after losing his fight with lung cancer. Paterno was 85.

I think I’ll have to agree with ESPN analyst Matt Millen (for the first time). I truly believe that although it was lung cancer which took Paterno’s life…it stands to reason that after the past few months, his death was in part due to a broken heart. The man was a legend for half a century at the University and in college football as a whole. Accumulating more wins than any other college coach in history.

But November, 2011 seems to have been the beginning of the end for Paterno. His lung cancer was disclosed by his family back on November 18, just nine days after he was fired by the Penn State’s board of trustees in the wake of the child sexual-abuse scandal that was revealed following the indictment on November 5 of Sandusky.

It’s safe to say that his all-time wins record will probably never be broken. In today’s game, coaches don’t last 50 years anymore. Yes…there has been a major recent scandal involving the school and it’s coaching staff. But today, I’m going to try to remember the coach that I remember idolizing as a kid growing up…wanting to go to Penn State. Wanting to play football for the great Joe Paterno.

From CBS News:

Paterno’s son Scott announced Nov. 18 that his father was being treated for lung cancer, which was diagnosed in mid-November during a follow-up visit for a bronchial illness.

The storied career of “JoePa” included 409 wins in 46 seasons and two national championships.

But his reputation for success with honor was shattered when a former assistant was charged with molesting 10 boys during a 15-year span, including some in the Penn State athletic complex.

Is It Time for Joe Paterno to Go?

November 8, 2011

It has been a very interesting time in college football this week. Not because of the “Game of the Century” between Alabama and LSU. Not because of the BCS controversies with who should be #3, #4, #5 etc… Not because of the great Heisman Trophy debate between Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson (among others).

No, the talk of college football this week is the sudden and saddening turn of events in Happy Valley with Penn State University. As most of you know, the University has  had its football program turned upside down this week with allegations of sexual abuse taking place over a number of years, with a member of the coaching staff involved and others knowing about it.

Joe Paterno

Former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is at the center of the scandal. Penn State senior vice president Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley have already surrendered on charges that they failed to alert police to the complaint about Sandusky. Pennsylvania attorney general Linda Kelly has stated that Joe Paterno is not a target of their investigation into how the school handled the accusations but she didn’t say the same for university president Graham Spanier.

The question remains: how much was known and who else should take the fall? A lot of people are calling for Paterno’s resignation. So…is it time for Paterno to go? I’ve been a fan of Penn State football since I was probably 6 or 7 years old. I always looked up to Paterno as one of the greatest coaches of all time. Now his legacy is in question and in my eyes, he holds at least some of the responsibility.

Paterno’s weekly news conference, which was to take place today, has been canceled. It had been scheduled for noon (ET) where he would meet with members of the media, as he does every week. No reason has been given for the cancellation, but one can only speculate that the session would have been dominated about questions surrounding the sex scandal.

Did Paterno do all that he could? Should he be held legally responsible…or morally responsible?

From the Associated Press:

The Pennsylvania state police commissioner said Paterno fulfilled his legal requirement when he relayed to university administrators that a graduate assistant had seen Sandusky attacking a young boy in the team’s locker-room shower in 2002. But the commissioner also questioned whether Paterno had a moral responsibility to do more.

Jerry Sandusky: Credit AP

I’m sure that more will come out in the coming weeks but for now the question remains: Is it time for Joe to go? He’s 84 years old and has coached the team for 46 years. Until last week, his legacy would have been that he could arguably be the greatest college football coach who ever lived. Now…who knows?


Andrew Luck to Return to Stanford

January 6, 2011

Great news for Pac 10 and Stanford Cardinal fans! ESPN is reporting that Andrew Luck will return to Palo Alto for his Junior year in 2011.

Can you say Heisman? National Championship? Maybe! I bet the Carolina Panthers are a little upset right now…

From ESPN:

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 pick in this spring’s NFL draft, announced Thursday that he will stay in school and play his redshirt junior season. “I am committed to earning my degree in architectural design from Stanford University and am on track to accomplish this at the completion of the spring quarter of 2012,” Luck said in a statement. The school announced that Luck wouldn’t be made available for comment.

The Carolina Panthers own the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft and indicated earlier this week that they would be interested in drafting Luck if he decided to leave school.

ESPN Announcer Fired Over Innapropriate Comments

January 5, 2011

ESPN has fired announcer Ron Franklin after he allegedly made an insulting comment to a female, sideline colleague.

From CNN:

“Based on what occurred last week, we have ended our relationship” with announcer Ron Franklin, ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said Tuesday night in an e-mail. He would not elaborate on the decision.

Franklin apologized Monday for the incident, which involved Jeannine Edwards and occurred Friday during a production meeting before the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

“I said some things I shouldn’t have and am sorry,” Franklin said in a statement released by the network. “I deserved to be taken off the Fiesta Bowl.”

Happy Holidays!

December 23, 2010

No time for updates on Casey and Caylee Anthony, Julian Assange or the plethora of College Football Bowl Games!

Today we have Jeff Dunham and his friend Achmed the Dead Terrorist!

“I got though checkpoint A…but not though checkpoint B…that’s when I got shot in the A$$ by the US Military…”

Happy Holidays to all…and to all a good night!


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