When the 2014 season officially came to an end on January 12 after the College Football Playoff national championship, many Ducks fans instantly looked ahead to September to look at Oregon's 2015 schedule. It's got plenty of games that should prove to be entertaining, including a trip to East Lansing, Mich. to face the Michigan State Spartans on September 12.
But no one even batted an eye at Oregon's opener against Eastern Washington on September 5. This was just supposed to be another tune-up game against an FCS opponent to shake off some rust before playing with the big boys the following week. For Eastern Washington, it was another crack at a massive upset against a Pac-12 opponent. But now, the game has a whole new meaning.
Unless you've been living under a rock this week, you're aware that on Monday, former Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams announced he would be transferring to Oregon for his fifth and final year of eligibility. Thanks to an NCAA rule that has gained some attention this week, Adams will head to Eugene in June after he graduates from Eastern Washington and will be eligible to play immediately.
For Oregon, the rule is a blessing, allowing them to land an already developed quarterback during a transition year at the position for the Ducks. There was no clear candidate to replace Marcus Mariota this season, but when Adams announced his decision on Monday, that problem was solved.
For Eastern Washington, the rule is a nightmare. Eagles head coach Beau Baldwin spoke with ESPN700 in Spokane earlier this week, and he was not a happy camper. Baldwin said he disagreed with the rule that allowed Adams to transfer and immediately be eligible to play for the Ducks next season. As a result of the transfer, Eastern Washington will not allow Adams to work out with the team or use their facilities. He's essentially in limbo between the two programs. Baldwin said the team wouldn't "roll out the red carpet" for someone who is suddenly their opposing quarterback. Baldwin also went on to criticize the Ducks for not developing a quarterback during Mariota's time at Oregon, knowing he would soon leave for the NFL.
The next four months will prove to be the toughest for Adams, who cannot participate in practices with either school. He will have to find out how to do his football workouts on his own while he waits to graduate in June. Then, he'll get thrown into Oregon's offense and will have to learn the playbook quicker than most to have it mastered by September. Adams said his plan is to go to the rec center and find former players to workout with. He also plans on connecting with guys like Bralon Addison and Dwayne Stanford over the phone to start to try and develop some chemistry.
Sure, technically the coaches have to say Adams will need to compete for the job just like anyone else, but it's highly unlikely they would've brought him to Eugene unless they fully intended on starting him. The only way you'll see Adams on the bench next season is if somehow he fails to adjust over the summer while another quarterback thrives. Obviously, at the end of the day, Mark Helfrich and the coaching staff will do what's best for the program, but it's unlikely that Adams won't be able to grasp Oregon's offense which he already fits into well.
So that brings us to September 5. Suddenly, this isn't just a tune-up game against an FCS opponent. This is personal, at least for Eastern Washington it will be. Oregon openly talks about how they prepare for a "faceless opponent" each week. Essentially that means they prepare for a team like Eastern Washington in a similar fashion to how they'd prepare for Michigan State, which I think is hogwash for what it's worth.
Baldwin has a legitimate reason to be upset. Eastern Washington developed Adams into a talented quarterback who, while with the Eagles, threw for over 10,000 yards with 110 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. Now, Oregon will reap the benefits of that development to use Adams as a transition quarterback while they develop young guys like Travis Waller and Morgan Mahalak. Oh, and they get to use Adams against his former team to open the season. It'll be interesting to see how, if at all, Adams and Baldwin interact with each other before and after the game on September 5.
While it just happened to be a crazy coincidence (this game with Eastern Washington was scheduled back in 2012), this matchup to start the season just got a lot more interesting and should prove to be an entertaining game with plenty of storylines to keep us occupied between now and September.