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  • 22 May 2015

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LETTER TO HOME: Unprecedented excitement

DALLAS -- We did not charter an Oregon Ducks fan plane from Portland to Dallas. It sure felt like it, though. The plane was packed with Ducks fans. The color of the day on the Southwest Airlines flight my colleague, Jason Vondersmith, and I flew from Portland to Oakland and then Oakland to Dallas was green and yellow (and black and silver).

There was an excitement in the air that I have never witnessed from Ducks fans in my six years covering the team. That excitement has percolated from Oregon’s Rose Bowl win over Florida State, gurgled and bubbled through the week leading up to Monday’s national championship game against Ohio State.

When Jason and I checked in at the airport, the concierge talked to us about the game. She, like so many others was excited about the Ducks.

During both flights, I put on my Bose headphones and listened to some Bruce Springsteen to try to get some sleep. Had I kept the headphones off and stayed awake, I am sure the only thing I would have heard would be conversation about the Ducks.

I covered Oregon in 2011 when the Ducks played Auburn in the national championship game. And as excited as everyone was, it does not compare to what I have seen around the state this last week.

Maybe that is because the college football playoff has done exactly what it was supposed to and created more drama and anticipation. Maybe it is because when the Ducks went to their first national championship game, fans were just happy their team was there. Maybe fans are hungrier for a title now. Maybe it is because, unlike in 2011, the Ducks are favored by many pundits.

In a way, it is humbling to me that I am covering a game that so many people care about. The same way Oregon always talks about playing faceless opponents and treating every game like its Super Bowl, I treat each assignment like my Super Bowl. Whether I am covering a national championship game or a PIL football game in September, I try to write each story as well as I can, and if I am lucky better than I can.

But there is something exciting about knowing how many eyes are on this game.

This will be a shorter trip for the Tribune than the Rose Bowl. We are only here for four days. That means we will have to work to grab as much content as we can as quickly as we can.

It is amazing how much jetting around the country beats you up. My ears are still clogged and I am still stiff from sitting in the cramped airplane seats.

Dallas is cold. Like, Portland cold. I am glad I took the time to check the weather before I left. A few days ago, I was planning on bringing only shorts and T-shirts.

It is two hours later here in Dallas than it is in Portland, and we have an early morning with player and coach availability. The bed is calling my name. Write you tomorrow.