It’s been a busy spring in Eugene, and there’s no shortage of buzz for all things green and yellow. But who has been the buzz-iest?
Even in late April, there’s nothing like an Oregon football game at Autzen Stadium. More than 44,000 fans were on hand to watch Mighty Oregon take on the Fighting Ducks. It was a record crowd for a Spring Game in the Pac-12, and more than the attendance at USC, Washington, Cal, Arizona and Stanford combined.
But yeah, keep saying Oregon has the worst fans in the Pac-12.
2. Chip Kelly
Closing spring practice generated a trumped-up, media-driven controversy—the epitome of a tempest in a teapot—but it was the right move from a competitive standpoint, and that was proven when the Mariota vs. Bennett brouhaha reached meltdown in the wake of the Spring Game. Can you imagine a month’s worth of that nonsense if practices would have been open?
Further, the value of Chip and his coaching staff rose tremendously in the wake of the NFL Draft. Oregon has won three straight outright conference titles with zero first round NFL talent. As Bum Phillips once said, “He can take his’n and beat your’n and take your’n and beat his’n.”
The Ducks are alone in first place as they hit the road for five games this week, including a weekend trio in Tucson against 2nd place Arizona. After losing two of three at home against Wazzu, and a non-conference match-up with OSU (also in Eugene) the Ducks rebounded with a three-game sweep of Cal, including a win on Saturday in front of a record crowd. If Oregon keeps rolling, they could be in line to host a Regional and possibly a Super Regional, which would be a big step for the fledgling program.
4. Women’s Lacrosse
Speaking of hosting playoff games, the Ducks will face Navy on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Pape Field in a winner-goes-to-the-NCAA-Tournament match-up. Oregon has won nine straight matches, including a win over Denver on the last day of the regular season to claim the conference title.
Last weekend, Oregon won the conference tournament on Stanford’s home field, ending the Cardinal’s run of seven straight league titles.
5. Marcus Mariota
In the wake of Saturday’s Spring Game, public perception is that Mariota has taken over as QB-one for the Ducks. Whether that’s true or not is hardly the point. Until practice resumes in August, the kid from Hawaii is the BMOC. But as Darron Thomas can tell you, heavy is the head that wears the crown.
6. Men’s Golf
Oregon finished second at the Pac-12 championship in Corvallis, their best effort in school history. The Ducks were tied with Cal after four days, and fell to the Bears on the second playoff hole.
Individually, Daniel Miernicki was two shots back in second place, and Eugene Wong earned a third place finish.
7. Acrobatics and Tumbling
At the NCATA Championship in Waco, Texas, the Ducks edged top seed Maryland to claim their second consecutive national title. Oregon also won six individual event titles, claiming duo, trio, quad, pyramid, aerial and six-element.
8. Track and Field
Hayward Field will be very busy over the next two months. Starting this Saturday, Eugene will play host to the Pac-12 championships, the Pre Classic and the U.S. Olympic Trials. Yep, that’s why they call it Track Town.
9. Terrance Mitchell
No Cliff Harris? No problem. He made two of the best defensive plays of the season in 2011, the steal-the-ball fumble recovery at Washington, and The Strip against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. At the Spring Game he picked off one pass, further cementing his status as Oregon’s resident big-play guy in the defensive backfield.
Did I mention he’s only a sophomore?
10. B.J. Kelley
The redshirt freshman wide receiver is big AND fast, a combination that hasn’t been seen a lot at the wide receiver position for the Ducks. We saw flashes of brilliance at the Spring Game, as he hauled in a long touchdown. Of course, he dropped a couple of balls, too, but the kid just oozes potential.
Four months until the opener. Sigh.