After all the off-field troubles the Oregon Ducks caused themselves last winter, I predicted on March 20 that all those arrests and all those player dismissals from the team, including Heisman hopeful Jeremiah Masoli, would result in the Ducks making it to the National Championship game.
Here's what I said then:
And, I predict a trip to the National Championship game next season. Why not? Bellotti bailed coaching before the Ducks made it to the Rose Bowl and now he leaves altogether before the Ducks' greatest achievement. Kelly's goal all along has been a national championship. With all the problems the team is experiencing right now, no one expects great things from the Ducks. And, that suits Nike U just fine.
Although I haven't been a diehard Duck fan for many years, Saturday's victory over Oregon State was a watershed moment, in tears alone, for all those who have waddled with Oregon over the decades.
Listen to the end of the game from longtime Oregon broadcaster Jerry Allen, who let his emotions do the talking. I'm sure he spoke for many long-suffering, rain-soaked Duck fans.
The "12-0" t-shirts were available at the Duck store on Sunday. There have been many times in Oregon's past when the team didn't win 12 games over four years.
Inferior was the word then. Superior is the word now.
A one-time perennial Bottom 10 dweller now flies over all but one team -- Auburn -- in the land.
It really is an astonishing turn-around and it lets the Cals and the Arizonas of this world know that anything is possible.
It's inspiring on many levels and it's something this state has desperately needed since the Portland Trail Blazers won the NBA championship in 1977.
Kudos go to many people, especially Nike owner Phil Knight who has spent millions upgrading the facilities at the university in Eugene. In fact, some have suggest that Eugene be renamed Phil.
But, it is head Coach Chip Kelly who deserves the most credit for righting a sinking ship last winter and leading his team to victory after victory this season. Perhaps that is why the coaches' poll lists Oregon as No. 1. They know how tough it is to do what Kelly has done.
For his impact on the game, check out this long piece from the New York Times Magazine.
As for the actual game on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Arizona, I can't really predict an Oregon victory since their opponent, Auburn, seems so dominant now.
But, I learned this year to never underestimate the Ducks. They never give up. Anything is possible.