Despite the bitter title game loss, rest assured: Oregon will be O-kay

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Author @TheCoachBart

The world has now had a day to digest the finality of the first College Football Playoff, which ended with an Ohio State championship.

You’ve probably read a healthy amount about those Buckeyes … and rightfully so. This will never happen again, a third-string quarterback coming off the bench and starting three games all year, a conference championship game, a bowl game, and a national championship game … and winning.

To quote James Woods at the end of the legendary (to me at least) boxing movie Diggstown to Louis Gossett, Jr., “What you did tonight … couldn’t be done.” That could have been said about Cardale Jones and Ohio State.

But as the Buckeyes revel in their victory, their opponents go the other route, probably forgotten after a few years as the name to a trivia question or two sometime down the road. People mostly only remember winners or those who lose spectacularly.

As bitter as this morning must have felt to the Oregon Ducks and their fan base, seemingly forever kicking that “best program to not win a college football championship” can down the road, I’d just suggest everyone ease up on the Bacardi 151.

The narrative is out there. Not tough enough, not big enough, gimmick offense. It all stings extra bad when it doesn’t work again. I always related Oregon to the early 2000s Phoenix Suns teams of the NBA, which played a beautiful brand of basketball that allowed you to get sucked into their style of play, the fast pace, quick shooting, and you look up and all of the sudden you’re having one of the best days you can recall in certain phases of the game.

But the Suns were still winning because you were playing their brand of ball. It’s the same with Oregon. They’re brilliant at getting you to their level and then beating you with it by having more experience, but if you find the combination that allows you to stymie their pace and how they want to do things, they showed last night that they had no adjustment to it. Forget for a second the fact that the Suns never got over the hump before blowing the operation up. It screws up the comparison.

It’ll be O-kay for UO, and here are a few reasons why …

1. Pac-12 respect: The Pac-12, in no small part due to Oregon, is roundly seen as either the best conference in the country or one of the top two these days. While that doesn’t necessarily mean jack as we’ve seen this season, it does help when getting into the playoffs. Think: had we witnessed an eight-team playoff, Ole Miss would have been in. Because of perception. Yuck. So as long as Oregon keeps hanging around the top of the Pac-12 … and there’s no reason to expect the Ducks won’t, even as the league gets appreciably better every year … they’ll garner the respect needed to get into a playoffs even with a slip-up or two. Again, the Pac’s respect is heavily dependent on what Oregon has been able to contribute to it.

2. Recruiting: This is the life blood of college football, and Oregon does it well. The Ducks have built themselves as a brand, where elite high school players are interested because it says “Oregon” on the letter in the mail, and there’s no immediate sell job to get them to understand how successful the program is and has recently been. The last four years, including the projections for this current year (, Oregon has had every single recruiting class ranked at least in the top 26, meaning that the talent on the roster is there and owns some staying power. Oregon has reached a level where there’s a floor to how poorly it can recruit just simply because it’s a brand name.

3. The style:
Say what you want about how it works at the highest level … and certainly you can choose to look at the thrashings they’ve taken on the ground against (first) Auburn and then Ohio State during their two trips to the largest of stages in the sport … but the style is almost automatically built for 10 wins per year so long as you get a quarterback that can make that first read throw on the move. Oregon also has a plethora of talent coming back. The Ducks’ top two receivers (the guys out for the CFB Playoff title game), Devon Allen and Darren Carrington, are redshirt freshmen, meaning that if Marcus Mariota takes it on the arches as most expect, serious talent awaits the next guy starting.

Oregon will need to change some things, however. The Ducks simply can’t get murdered on the ground like they were against the Buckeyes in 2015 and the Tigers in 2011. Auburn had over 250 in that game four years ago; OSU had nearly 300 Monday night. Oregon’s foil is a little of what they do: mobile quarterbacks who can run the ball down your throat when needed.

Whether it fits their style or not, Oregon needs more big bodies on the defensive line. In the third quarter, their linemen were sucking wind hard, and it had nothing to do with pace. It had to do with getting trucked over like you didn’t exist. What was that stat from earlier today that was making the rounds? Ezekiel Elliott had over 10 carries where he wasn’t touched for at least five yards? Ouch.

This is a school that’s produced some decent linemen in its recent day. Haloti Ngata of the Baltimore Ravens has been one of the most fearsome linemen in the league for nearly a decade. Dion Jordan went as a top three pick to Miami two years ago.


Last night sucked for the Ducks, no doubt. You get that far, you deal with the build-up, you carve through the regular season and playoffs as you did and then get shelled on the biggest stage of all — nothing feels good about that.

But this isn’t a fly by night operation (horrible play on words). Oregon will be O-kay, and back sooner rather than later, tasked with finding the makeup this time to cover up zits that were there in 2011 and evident again last night. At long last, they can be the prettiest gal at the bar.