Thearon W. Henderson
Oregon currently sits at 11-1 as it prepares for the Fiesta Bowl. But does that make this season a successful one, or does the promise of more spell disappointment?
121 FBS football teams will end the season without a national championship. 120 of them won't even get a chance to play for a national title. 111 teams did not win a conference title. And four or five teams* won't be playing in a bowl game this year. But are all those teams failures? Of course not. Take our friends at Oregon State for instance. After going 3-9 in 2011, I don't think there were many people outside of Corvallis, and not very many inside, that expected the Beavers to win more than three or four games this year. Markus Wheaton and company told everybody to shove it with a 9-3 season that included wins over five bowl teams, including Big Ten champion Wisconsin and Pac-12 South champion UCLA. No matter the outcome of OSU's Alamo Bowl date with Texas, I think it's more than safe to say that the Beavers had a successful 2012. On the flip side, I don't think there's anyone that considers USC's season a success, despite making a bowl game. Oregon's case is much less clear-cut.
Despite winning eleven games thus far this year, Oregon hasn't won anything; the Ducks will not play for the national championship despite being undefeated on November 16th, and finished lower than first in the Pac-12 for the first time since 2008. If Kansas State is able to get the best of Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl, the only championship that will reside in Eugene for the spring is the Civil War. Can that really be considered a successful campaign for a team that started the season in the top 5, and never left it?
On the flip side, think about the history Oregon has accomplished: four straight ten-win seasons, a 34-3 Pac-12 conference record, and four straight BCS bowl appearances. Only Miami, Ohio State, and USC have ever been to four straight BCS games. Not Alabama or Florida, not Oklahoma or Texas, and certainly not washington. That's a really big deal, titles be damned. The Ducks won eleven games this year, seven of them over bowl-eligible teams. Their only loss was an overtime defeat to the current #6 team in the country, who is favored to win the Rose Bowl. If this season is considered a failure, we have a really fucked up definition of what success is. Which we might.
Personally, I'm on the fence. This season's been great, and a win in the Fiesta Bowl - our second straight BCS bowl win - would cap off another one of the best seasons in Oregon history. But we were so damn close to playing Notre Dame in the national championship game. It's hard not to feel disappointed. It's a little irrational, but sports fans are irrational people. And we're allowed to feel upset about not everything going our way, it's human nature; just think about how many people complain about their cell phone. It does practically everything, fits in your pocket, and it sucks. People in 1992 would look at today's cell phones and wonder what the hell we're whining about; who gives a shit if Apple Maps isn't perfect, its a map of the world that talks to you and is the size of a deck of cards, and will also send pictures of your junk to anyone you want! And just like those people, if you showed 1992 Oregon fans a snapshot of this year's team, they'd think we were crazy to complain. Well, first they'd think the world was overrun by robots. Then they'd think we were crazy to complain. And we probably are. But that doesn't mean we aren't allowed to.**
*Only an estimate. Pretty sure it's close though.
**Yeah, I ended on a double negative. Haters gonna BRRRRRRPPPPPPPPPPPP.