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:
- A #2 ranking in football
- A run to the “Sweet 16” for men’s hoops
- A women’s cross country national championship
- A trip to the College World Series for the softball team
- A top-4 finish for men’s golf
- A 2nd place finish for women’s volleyball
- A 3rd consecutive national title in acrobatics and tumbling
- The baseball team was a game away from last year’s College World Series and is making a strong push this season
- Track and field swept the Pac-12 Championships for the 5th straight year
- The women won their 4th straight indoor national championship
- This season’s women’s golf team is headed to nationals for the second time since 2010.
Not bad for a year’s work.
What Oregon is doing – with the backing of Knight and the commitment of the athletic department – is completing a successful transformation from a school creating attention via billboards and uniforms, to a program earning that same attention through sustained success on the playing field. No longer are the Ducks a sideshow known more for their outrageous garb than their results while wearing it, but rather a regular contestant on collegiate athletics biggest stages.
They matter across the board and due to such, those who love to “hate” have oh-so-more to hate on. Due to Nike’s strong influence on the school, and primarily their athletic endeavors, the Ducks have become a popular bandwagon destination for fringe fans of the college games and more-so the target of competitors venomous attacks. There’s nothing in-between the love or hate for the Ducks. You’re either in or you’re out when it comes to “Nike U” and if you’re in, you’re all the way in and if you’re out, you couldn’t be further out. No one kind-of liked Chip Kelly, no one sort-of liked LaMichael James, and when it comes to Oregon and their teams, no one rides the fence.
The Oregon Ducks are soaring at an all-time high. They have become the poster-child for what’s possible for any athletic department with the backing and the commitment to winning at the highest level. If you’re a fan, enjoy the ride. If you’re not, get used to it. Things are good in Eugene, and it appears they’ll be that way for years to come … like it or not.