The fallout from Oregon's unfortunate 42-16 loss to Arizona yesterday in Tucson is yet another example of how expectations leapfrog reality for a large segment of the Ducks' fanbase.
Oregon's fans are of two types--the long-suffering fans like myself who appreciate reality when they see it, and a cadre of "bandwagon" fans steeped in arrogance and a completely unrealistic view of college football and what they think ought to be happening on the field at any given moment.
Fans are dilettantish, and most of them are ignorant.
The bandwagon is in a full-on attack mode now, going so far as to call for a wholesale coaching change in Eugene. Talk about misplaced priorities and an unrealistic view...the new coach is 9-2 in his first season.
Talk to me next year if he's 2-9 and I might support your facile reasoning. Short of turning a blind eye to pedophilia, a football coach is not fired at 9-2, particularly at Oregon, where winning is still new and an entire long-term staff has contributed to the team's recent success.
Helfrich gets next year if he wants it, despite your reckless stupidity. In other words, it is way too early to pin two losses on a failed culture at Oregon. It is way too early to claim Helfrich is a bad coach. It is way too early to say anything other than keep playing and showing effort.
I confess, I do not understand this kind of reactionary nonsense. First, coaches make mistakes just like everybody else, and it is never a given that the coaching has failed simply because a team loses. Did Helfrich and company really make that many mistakes yesterday? I don't see that they did. How can you say it is the coach's fault when a player muffs a pass on the sideline and it falls into a defenders hands, killing a game opening drive, as happened yesterday in Tucson?
Was it a vanilla call? The quick out to a good receiver like Bralon Addison is an Oregon staple, and has been for years. I question anybody who thinks Addison is an entitled ass--good lord, he's an excellent competitor, which you would know if you've been paying attention to the team this year.
He did not make the catch, got it?
Coaches are given way too much credit when a team wins, and way too much blame when it loses.
That realization is lost on the bandwagoneers, most of whom have never been in a football game with 70K howling fans giving you the razz from the opening whistle. If you don't know by now that everyone gives Oregon its best shot and has for years, you're missing the subtlety of the game, the very essence of competitive sport at its highest level.
You're missing the point of just how good Oregon has been for five seasons.
Where was Oregon's defense throughout the day? I'll tell you where. Three of the best linebackers Oregon has ever had, the starters from the past three seasons who were the heart of the Ducks' defense, are in the NFL. The guys playing in their stead are nowhere near as good as those three--face reality.
Don't tell me these undermanned, undersized players weren't trying. I won't buy it. I saw too many good plays by this group that transcended its inherent skill level. I also saw a great runner shred Oregon's defense behind excellent blocking.
Despite that, I saw too many effort plays by Oregon to buy what you're selling. Tell me that Chip Kelly left the cupboard bare at linebacker before going to Philly and you might be closer to the truth.
On Oregon's second drive, after the initial epic failure of the defense to stop Ka'Deem Carey, the country's leading rusher, De'Anthony Thomas dropped a pass that would have moved the chains. Is this the first pass Thomas has dropped in his career at Oregon?
I don't think so. Over a career that has seen the little guy do more good than harm to the Oregon team, I'm not going to pin this loss on Thomas' attitude, or that singular drop. Thomas is an exceptionally good player, and when he speaks about his expectations for himself and his team he is speaking honestly. The Ducks would not be where they are/were if Thomas had chosen USC over Oregon as he initially planned--be realistic.
If you want tempered, automatic and pleasing responses from young people you're unrealistic. If Oregon's players offended by counting their chickens before they hatched, then some fans were even worse offenders.
I've never heard so much bullshit talk about a national championship before the season even started. The players weren't talking about it, though they may have believed it. The fans were doing the talking; the players were striving to succeed.
Thomas did not have a bad day all in all yesterday, other than his drop. He didn't play like a guy who has mailed it in. He ran possessed and gave it his all, including making a one-handed circus catch near the goal line that set up an Oregon score.
That doesn't matter because, you know, Oregon can't stop a run up the middle. This is Thomas' fault? Give me a break.
This is Josh Huff's fault because he is heartbroken for not making it back to the NCG? God forbid that Huff shows a human side and expresses disappointment in a season that turned bad in Palo Alto.
Huff is not an automaton, believe it or not, and if you've never had a dream crushed you're unique. To top it off, Huff was a major reason Oregon got to the NCG versus Auburn three years ago when he played as a true freshman on an unbeaten team. Why shouldn't his expectations as a player be high?
Oregon, particularly Thomas and Huff, did not quit yesterday, except in the minds of those whose own expectations ignore reality. Oregon was beaten by a team with better talent overall, particularly on both lines.
But tell this to the unrealistic fan and he'll try to run you out of the room.
Here's the reality, folks. Oregon wasn't better than Arizona yesterday, nor was it better than Stanford two weeks ago. The Ducks lost because they aren't who some people--namely the unrealistic--thought they were.
They weren't who they thought they were, either. If you don't think they know that now you're nuts.
The game is played on both lines in a bubble of hand-to-hand fighting. You've never been in a fight if you don't know that, and you've certainly never played the game.
And if you haven't been in a fight, even lost a few, you have no room to talk.