Posted tagged ‘National Championship’

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).

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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:

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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)!

It’s an Oregon Ducks Day

January 10, 2011

I’m not a religious person…but I’ll be saying a prayer for an Oregon Ducks victory tonight in the National Championship game in Glendale, Arizona!

I’m sticking by my prediction of a 44-41 Oregon victory over the Auburn Tigers. This should be a game for the ages but only time will tell!

Go Ducks!

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.

Boise State Does it Again

January 5, 2010

Congrats once again to the “Little Agent That Could”.

In a battle of non-BCS schools, the Boise State Broncos knocked off TCU 17-10 last night in the Fiesta Bowl.

With the game tied at 10-10 in the 4th quarter, coach Chris Petersen dug into his bag of tricks and pulled out a fake punt on a 4th and 9 play from their own 33 yard line. The play worked to perfection as the Broncos gained 29 yards and went on to score the winning touchdown.

What a game! Not quite as dramatic as the earlier Idaho vs. Bowling Green match-up but still, both teams put on a great show! 14-0 is something to be proud of Boise State, even if you won’t be National Champions.

From Fox Sports:

The latest BCS upgrade happened here Monday night when the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl assisted in crowning the first Irrational Champion.

Let’s use the I-word, because we’ve been a bit numbed by the extravagant caterwauling coming from both sides of the TCU vs. Boise State issue. As you may recall, a lot of BCS haters were greatly agitated when it was decided that two unbeaten teams — each representing a non-BCS conference — would celebrate this regular-season perfection by playing each other instead of some traditional powerhouse from a supposed big-league school. And the pro-BCS crowd has been a bit heavy-handed in insisting that teams from non-BCS leagues aren’t worthy of national championship contention.

Anyway, with the sixth-ranked Broncos (14-0) posting a 17-10 triumph over the fourth-ranked Horned Frogs (12-1), we now are obliged to figure out what we learned while watching two unbeaten teams slug it out in a game with no real championship on the line.

From Yahoo Sports:

Between hugging teammates, hugging cheerleaders, hugging coaches and hugging more cheerleaders, Boise State linebacker Derrell Acrey took a moment from the postgame Fiesta fiesta and declared that one day his Broncos weren’t going to play in just any BCS bowl. They were going to play in the BCS bowl.

The one for the crystal football.

“Sooner or later it’s coming,” Acrey said. “One of these days … one of these days.”

How about one of these days coming in 368 days, Jan. 8, 2011, when on this very field in suburban Phoenix the BCS championship game will be held.

It’s then Boise State might – just might – be able to break through college football’s final wall and become the first team from outside the traditional six major conferences to play for it all. Or put it this way, if the Broncos deliver a third consecutive perfect regular season in 2010 and they aren’t selected, the teams picked ahead of them better be the Colts and the Chargers.

Boise did its Fiesta Bowl thing again Monday, winning here for the second time in four years, this time 17-10 over fourth-ranked TCU. They finished the season 14-0 and should wind up ranked in the Top 3 of the final poll. They’ve won 26 of their last 27 games. They return 21 of 22 starters and 42 of their top 44 players on their two-deep roster. That includes sophomore quarterback Kellen Moore, who just had a season where he threw for 39 touchdowns against just three interceptions.

Minimal Changes in BCS Rankings

November 22, 2009

Here’s a look at the BCS rankings for November 22, 2009:

Florida remains No. 1, followed by Alabama, Texas, TCU, Cincinnati, Boise State and Georgia Tech. Oregon jumped up three spots, to No. 8, with their dramatic victory over Arizona. Pittsburgh and Ohio State remained ninth and 10th.

Only one non-Big Six team is guaranteed a spot in the BCS if it meets the criteria. Any others would be at-large candidates. At-large candidates must have at least nine victories and finish in the top 14 in the final BCS standings.

From Rivals.com:

The three components of the BCS standings are the coaches’ poll; the Harris poll, voted on by media members and by former players, coaches and administrators; and six computers. Each of the components counts one-third. The best and worst computer rankings are thrown out, and the sum total of the remaining four is divided by 100 (the maximum possible points) to come up with the BCS’ computer rankings percentage.

While strength of schedule isn’t a BCS component, all six computers have a strength-of-schedule factor in their rankings.

The fourth-place team in the BCS is important because Alabama and Florida play each other in the SEC championship game, meaning the fourth-place team has a chance to jump to second should Texas lose either its regular-season finale to Texas A&M or to Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game.

USC Hangs on to Defeat Notre Dame

October 17, 2009

USC should have dominated this game, but they kept letting Notre Dame get back in it.

I thought in the end that Clausen was going to send it to overtime, but the Trojan defense held on.

With Florida and Texas nearly getting knocked off, and Virginia Tech having trouble with Georgia Tech, I wonder how the Top 10 will look on Monday. Alabama should jump to number one, in my opinion, if they win, and win big over South Carolina.

From the Associated Press:

Jimmy Clausen threw three incomplete passes into the end zone in the closing seconds as No. 6 Southern California held on for a 34-27 victory and its eighth straight win against No. 25 Notre Dame on Saturday.

Notre Dame’s streak of last-minute victories ended at three, but the Fighting Irish at least showed they could compete with their longtime rivals this season.

Referees Give #1 Florida Gators a 23-20 Win

October 17, 2009

UPDATE: Virginia Tech knocked off by Georgia Tech! Check out my BCS predictions here.

UPDATE 2: Good story on the BS that is the BCS.

Arkansas played well.

Florida played awful.

The referees were the worst. *A close second goes to the two missed kicks by the Arkansas kicker who could have won the game for them*

I’m not a Razorbacks fan, or a Gators fan, just a college football fan. This was embarrassing to watch. Usually, you see one or two bad calls in a game. But in this game, there was bad call after bad call including two on a 4th quarter drive that got Florida back in the game and eventually the win with a 29 yard field goal with only 9 seconds left to play.

Nice attempt at the hook and lateral on the kickoff, though, by Arkansas.

So Florida hangs on. Texas hangs on. Alabama and Virginia Tech still to play. Who’s number one?

I’m not going to downplay how good the SEC is. They are the best conference in all of college football. But they ONLY PLAY EACH OTHER.

Most of the teams play patsy schedules, outside of their own conference. I saw during the game today that the announcers were talking about the BCS Championship game and how if all the teams end up with one or even two losses, that an SEC team should automatically play a Big 12 team. Honestly, that would probably be a GREAT game. But it should not be automatic because the teams play in the Big 12 and SEC.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: WE NEED A PLAYOFF! That’s all I can say. Whether it be an 8 or 16 team playoff. It’s necessary. Look at a couple years ago when Boise State upset Oklahoma. Last year when Utah routed Alabama. Just because teams play in conferences that are considered “weaker” than others, they get no respect. I would love to see the teams play it out on the field, and not amongst voters and computers.

Just my opinion. What’s yours?


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