Shockingly, Oregon is the highest ranked team from the Pac-10 in ESPN's first pre-season poll for the 2010 season.
USC, the perennial power, is at 15th. Amazingly, Oregon State is at 20th and Stanford is at 24th.
I moved to Bend in 1984, the year after the infamous Civil War 0-0 Toilet Bowl, when no one outside the state of Oregon could tell the difference between UO and OSU.
My, how times have changed.
Washington, nor UCLA, rank in the top 25.
Oregon would have likely ranked higher if the dumb-bell Jeremiah Masoli didn't decide to throw his career away with the frat-house heist.
Still, Oregon is deeemed the most respected football school in the Pac-10.
Let that sink in. Who could have foreseen such a day.
No one could, outside of head Coach Chip Kelly whose ultimate goal is a national championship.
I think he has a chance of achieving that goal this coming season. Yes, that prediction can be considered "counter-intuitive" to say the least.
However, no one thought the Ducks would do anything last year after the debacle at Boise State and the loss of its No. 1 running back, LaGarrette Blount. All the Ducks achieved was the Pac-10 championship by the widest margin in nearly 20 years.
Say what you will about the Ducks and their lamentable off-season, the pollsters respect them.
Of course, they once respected Cal, but have been burned much too often with the Bears. And yes, this is just a pre-season poll in April, which is essentially meaningless.
But, hats off to the schools in Oregon. They've come a long way from the 0-0 debacle.