Oregon vs Auburn 2011 National Championship Game feelings

Years ago, I would post blogs of my Oregon Ducks football experiences, mainly from the 2009 and 2010 seasons, my first two years as a season ticket holder even though I was just a high school kid 300 miles away in Seattle. I’ve never written about three games from those seasons though. The Civil War for the Roses in 2009, the Rose Bowl against Ohio State that season, and the National Championship Game against Auburn after the 2010 season. I never will write about the Civil War for the Roses, because it’s the coolest most magical awesome game I’ve ever been to, and I don’t have any words to describe that experience. No videos, pictures or words. I was there, and that’s all that will ever matter. It’s my happy memory to cherish forever, no matter how cruel life gets. *tears pouring down my face writing that*

The Rose Bowl Game against Ohio State, even though we lost, I will never write about that either. It’s the Rose Bowl Game, and I was there. The Rose Bowl, even in the era of the National Championship Game, is the most special game in all of college football. It truly is, as they say, the Granddaddy of them All. Words don’t do it justice. Just watching the Rose Bowl on TV, even when Oregon’s not playing, gives me goosebumps. So yea, point taken, it’s the Rose Bowl, and I was there, so I’ll always be able to say I’ve been to a Rose Bowl Game. The Rose Bowl Game is simply magical. If you want to understand the feeling, you have to go to a Rose Bowl Game.

Lastly, the ‘Natty against Auburn. I couldn’t go to it, so you’d figure since I experienced it by watching on TV, I could write about it, especially eight seasons later. I still can’t though. It still hurts. That game will always hurt. I try to erase it, to forget about it. All I’ve ever wanted in life, is for one fleeting moment, for one moment in time, to feel like I’m on top of the world. To be so happy that time stops. For those who know me, I have loved and still do love Oregon football with an unending passion. To see Oregon win a ‘Natty that night would have been, I don’t know, heaven? It hurts so much still, because of how close we came, because of the journey it took to get there, both for Oregon and for myself.

2007 was when I truly, deeply, fully fell in love with Oregon football. When Dennis Dixon was the QB. With our uniforms, and the Chip Kelly offense, it was magical. When two tailbacks would line up beside Dixon, with the lights shining on the diamond parts of the uniform making it glow, and Dixon would fake to Stewart and then two seconds later Dixon was 10 yards down field with the ball, or on the edge pitching it to Crenshaw on the triple option… it was magic. Or Dixon turning his back to the line of scrimmage to fake a jet sweep, and he’d pause for a second, and he’d turn around and throw to an open receiver. Or the fake statue of liberty. It literally felt like Oregon was some team from outer space, like Oregon was from another galaxy, and our offense wasn’t even an offense, it was simply magic in the form of football. We were ranked #2 for the first time ever, Dixon was going to win the Heisman, and we were going to win the National Championship. Oregon. Then Dixon got hurt, and I cried so much, because the magic was over, and I was so hopeless because it’s Oregon, and we may never have another chance to win the ‘Natty.

Then 2008, we go 10-3, and finished ranked in the top ten. We have USC at home in 2009 though, and we beat them at home in 2007, so when I thought about running away from home in spring of 2009, my sophomore year of high school, I decided instead to use that money to buy Oregon season tickets. Then 2009 happens, as I have many blogs about. So I get season tickets again in 2010. I have many blogs of that season too.

The time, money and energy I poured into Oregon football from my freshman year of high school to my senior year. All the weekend road trips, because even though nobody else believed me, I believed Oregon could get to the top of the mountain and I could have my one moment in the clouds. All the joy and dancing and heart break and sleeping in the car and losing my voice and losing sun glasses while rushing the field. All the excitement on a Friday in class to leave early to go down to Eugene. The magic of it all.

So here’s my Ducks, with our space-age uniforms, with the wings on the shoulders now, literally glowing neon socks, our magic offense from another galaxy, our defense who’s personified by Cliff Harris who’s really a great white shark. We’re actually in the ‘Natty. Playing Auburn, with Heisman winner Cam Newton, eventual NFL Starter in the Super Bowl. Oregon is the first new team to be playing for a ‘Natty in over 20 years. In other words, basically the same group of teams play for every National Championship, even today in the playoff era. Also, Oregon was trying to become the first team to ever win a ‘Natty without having two or more top ten recruiting classes. Every team to ever win the national championship has had at least two top ten recruiting classes. Our 2010 team had zero top ten recruiting classes. Zero. Our 2010 team produced zero NFL first round draft picks. Auburn had a lot of them. They were bigger than us, and fast enough to keep up with our guys.

Just like how we got there, we were trying to become the first team to ever win a ‘Natty on x’s and o’s. If we could do that, it would change football forever. Not the spread offense, or the up tempo no huddle stuff. No. The idea you could scheme your way to a Natty. Oregon had always been different, and I found it to be magical. I loved Chip Kelly, and I still do, and I always will. Chip would change our offense every week to attack certain weaknesses of our opponents. For Auburn, he had taken our spread option offense and mixed it with the wishbone offense. If we had executed our wishbone plays properly, meaning make the right read, pitch/don’t pitch, we would’ve won. We had them. That’s what hurts so much. Then the Dyer run at the end to get Auburn into field goal range. The short field goal to win it. It hurts to this day still. What might have been. How it might have changed things. We were so close. I had to be restrained from smashing my TV that night I was so crushed. The light at the end of the tunnel, the floating above the clouds, I could feel it in my heart, I could see it all throughout that game. It was so close, at the fingertips, yet never further away.

Since then, Oregon’s appeared in another national championship game, but lost big to Ohio State, when we had the Heisman quarterback, and Mark Helfrich was the coach, not Chip Kelly. We had recruited top 15 classes the last three years of Chip, and the team was mostly Chip’s guys and one Helfrich class. Once we started getting good players, we went to a pretty basic spread offense with zone read and up tempo being our scheme if you will. Starting in 2012, we had the talent to beat 95% of teams without having to out-scheme them, which was okay until the ‘Natty against Ohio State in 2014, when they were bigger than us and just as fast with superior talent. Speed being equal, and not having Chip as coach then to out scheme them, their size and talent put us away.

Most everybody in college football now runs a basic spread offense with zone read and uses up tempo no huddle. Everybody’s just battling to get the best recruiting classes so they can win championships. Nobody since Chip from 2007-2011 tries to out scheme their way to a ‘Natty. Nobody runs triple option one week, inside zone read from an outside zone read formation and vice versa the next week, wishbone the next week, toss plays the next week and so forth. Nobody since Chip’s Oregon teams changes their offense literally every week to attack their opponents weaknesses. Everybody just has their offense they run every week, and they recruit the best players to run the offense. Even Oregon now with Willie Taggart is this way, although I don’t fault him. We currently have the #1 recruiting class in the country, I don’t know how, but we do. Right now, we’re gunning for the ‘Natty in 2019, after we hopefully get another top ten recruiting class next year too. Our offense scores a lot when Justin Herbert is healthy, but that’s because he’s a future NFL first rounder, future pro bowl quarterback.

If we win a national championship in the near future, I’ll be happy, but it won’t be as magical as it would’ve been in 2010. Those were the Oregon Ducks, those were my Ducks. We were a team from another galaxy wearing glowing sparkling uniforms with an offense of magicians using witchcraft to destroy the old boys club. We were chaos, organized chaos, but chaos nonetheless, and it was magical. We were so close, and that’s what still hurts so much to this day, because we had them.

If and when Oregon wins a Natty, it’ll be because we joined the club, not because we smashed it and burned it. It’ll be because we recruited at least two top ten classes in a four year span. It’ll be because our uniforms most weeks just have a stripe or two on them now instead of diamond plates or wings that shine under stadium lights, or neon socks that can be seen from outer space. It’ll be because we have the best players, guys that go on to be NFL pro bowlers. If we win a Natty, it’ll be because we have the best team, not because we’re magicians from another galaxy using witchcraft to cast spells and create chaos.

So yea, that’s why I won’t ever write about the Auburn game. Those Oregon Ducks were more than a football team. Chip Kelly was more than a head coach then. Those Oregon Ducks were magic. They were an escape from depression. They were the stars in the sky when I looked up at night. They were the universe. They were all the wonders in life. They came from some galaxy we haven’t discovered yet and stole my heart with witchcraft. If we had won, beaten Auburn, I would’ve been taken to whatever galaxy it is where that Oregon Ducks team came from. It would’ve made time stop. That’s why it still hurts, because I wanted THAT team to win it, because it would have been truly magical.

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