Today, I wish I had the Ducks defense
My radio pal at KPAM, Victor Boc, works very hard at a special year-end feature for his program that is a compilation of the dumbest things said or written in a given year. On the very first day of 2002, I made it very easy for him to get his new list started.
I predicted Colorado to beat Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl and even offered that I thought the Buffaloes' running game would blow the Ducks off the line of scrimmage. I didn't think Oregon would even be able to keep the game close.
Of course, your average Duck zealot takes that as a wish that Oregon will lose the game. Other fans of the team just automatically expect their team to win every game. I hope those people are having a great time with all the money they won because if they were that sure about an Oregon win, they would have won a lot of dough betting on them Ñ because they were underdogs every place I looked.
Other Oregon fans said (after the game) they were delighted I picked the Ducks to lose because of how stupid I am. Of course, I wasn't that dumb when I picked them to win the Civil War by the exact point spread.
But I'm perfectly willing to live with being wrong. Have to be, because it happens all the time. In this case, I'm even happy to be wrong because I have so much respect for what they've built on the Eugene campus.
Mike Bellotti is one of the best football coaches in the country. Period. And more than that, he's assembled an incredible coaching staff that knows how to recruit and how to coach Ñ a very rare combination. By the way, for all those people who go so nuts over recruiting, the Ducks have risen to the top while never having one of those hotshot, blue-chip recruiting classes.
The Fiesta Bowl will be forever known as Joey Harrington's finest hour, and that's appropriate. He's been a wonder. At the same time, nobody should forget the contribution that defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti has made to this program. His plan New Year's Day was incredible. Oregon did things on defense that even their staunchest supporters could not have predicted. The Ducks' offense is a given and always has been since Bellotti arrived.
But to be a top team, you need a great defense. On Jan. 1, that's what the Ducks had. As for me, there really is no defense. I was wrong.