1917. On this morning, we all know what that number signifies. However, I don't think we realize how long ago that really is.
My grandfather died in October at the age of 82. He was born in 1928, a world of time passing before I ever entered the pictuer, and his funeral was amazing to me, an personal introduction to a world that I had read about in history books, but never had a of personal connection to. He worked as a conductor for Southern Pacific for 40 years, seeing first hand the entire development of the West Coast during that time. World War II, Korea, Vietnam. The rise and fall of the Soviet Union as a superpower. The assination of President Kennedy. The civil rights movement. The moon landing. All of this occured within my grandfather's lifetime.
Thinking about this while driving home after the funeral, an sad thought passed through my head: my grandfather passed without ever seeing Oregon win a Rose Bowl. In fact, that last Rose Bowl victory predated him by nearly twelve years.
Now, my grandfather was hardly a die hard Oregon fan. In the last decade or so of his life, he allowed himself to get caught up in what much of this state got caught up in with regards to this football team. He watched most of the games, enoyed them even, but certainly didn't live or die by them.This story isn't really about my grandfather, so much as it is about those die hard fans. How many have come and gone without ever seeing the Ducks win this game--for many, still the game? I see articles in the papers "have Oregon fans become complacent being in BCS bowls?' etc. Maybe the fair weathers and the Johnny Come Lately's. Most of us who know the history of this program scoff at the thought of it.
I'm lucky. Football wasn't a part of my life until the magical run of 1994, when at the age of 11, I got swept up in it like most of those growing up around Eugene. But, since that time, I have been friends with a lot of people who have been fans far longer than I. I may be too young to have been a die hard through the suffering, but I know the suffering through those people that have been close to me. I know that we can never truly put that era in the past until we get one more win--this win.
95 years. 95 years of frustration. If today goes right, I will see something my grandfather never saw. We will all see something that generations of Oregonians--and no more than a small handful of people alive today--have ever seen. The monkey on the back of this program will be gone, and the party will not stop until late into the night.
Or, it could be just another bad taste left to linger another long offseason. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to find out.
Win. The. Day.