My esteemed colleague makes some salient points, but I’m going to go ahead and have my say anyway.
Essentially, this is a post about pride. While this offense isn’t necessarily an exact copy of what Oregon is doing – and while Oregon isn’t the first school in the history of the world to utilize a high-speed, run-first type of offense – we’re definitely imitating the essence of what it is that has made Oregon such a powerhouse over the last decade.
I think we can all agree: everyone hates Oregon. The state is pretty useless, and the university is the absolute worst. I can’t imagine why anyone would choose to live in Portland over Seattle, and that’s coming from a guy who rags on Seattle pretty hard. As such, there is no team I would rather beat this (and any) year than the Oregon Ducks. I’d settle for a 1-11 record as long as that one win was against you know who. As such, it would stand to reason that I would willingly accept any tactic at our disposal in order to GET that win.
But, let’s look at it this way: let’s say that the Huskies beat Oregon on October 12th. No funny stuff. It’s just one team’s best shot against the other team’s best shot, and at the end of the day, Washington has more points than Oregon. You don’t think we’ll be rushing the field in Husky Stadium? The school might have to elicit another round of donations, because I guarantee the melee is bound to fuck some shit up. Hell, the city might burn to the ground in our drunken reverie, we’ll be so happy.
Still. There will be an emptiness about it. The storyline won’t be, “Washington Defeats Oregon”. It’ll be, “Washington Defeats Oregon Using Oregon Tactics”. Smug Oregon fans all across the land will smirk their way through the excuses: “The Huskies couldn’t beat us until they started playing like us.” And, what’s worse is: they’ll be right.
Oregon CAN be beaten other ways. If you’re big enough and talented enough and catch a break or two, you can slow the game down and slug it out. Stanford proved that last year. Auburn proved that in the BCS National Championship Game. The Huskies probably aren’t big enough or talented enough to keep doing what they’ve been doing the last three years and expect a different result. We’d probably be able to keep the game close, but in the end I think we’d be overwhelmed.
With the new-look offense, though, we have a real chance. It’s not just trying to score with one of the best scoring offenses in the nation, but it’s all the practice time our defense has been exposed to. Our defense should be quicker and more resilient. It won’t be like in years past where Oregon was flying around in jetpacks while we were running around in quicksand. We can keep up with this team now! This new-look offense makes the whole team better in a variety of ways. So, it’s a necessary evil.
That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt my pride a little bit. Beating Oregon this year won’t be like beating USC in 2009. There won’t simply be this unfathomable joy. In that land of rainbows, there will be one small, dark cloud.
That’s when I’ve got to swallow my pride and put away the ol’ man card for a minute. What would I rather have in a football coach? Someone who keeps blindly pounding away, the same way he’s done everything, all the while never getting over that hump? Or, do I want someone who is willing to adapt? Someone who is smart enough to realize what works and what doesn’t work for his football team. Someone who sees what this other team is doing – even if it’s our most bitter rival – and goes about borrowing some of their key elements to make his own team better.
The game of football is constantly changing. You hear this all the time and it’s true all the time. It’s a cutthroat, ruthless business. You do what you can to evolve and succeed, or you find yourself on your ass. That’s just the way it works.
Win at all costs. That’s kind of been my motto when it comes to the teams I follow. I want my teams to win, bottom line. If everyone else is cheating, using steroids or whatnot, then I want my team using steroids too. If everyone else is succeeding by running this up-tempo type of offense, then I want my team doing that too.
And if we do what Oregon does, only we do it better, then good. Because Fuck Oregon. It’s still going to be annoying to see our sideline holding up those asinine signs as they call in the plays, but who cares? Fuck Oregon is all that matters now.