The 2016 Athlon Sports College Football preview is out and the predictions in it are bound to raise some eyebrows. Of course, this is exactly what Athlon wants – stir the pot, create some controversy, entice fans to purchase the voluminous annual. In today’s era of high-frequency news the hooks are ever more important. Indeed, despite a number of revisions to this first paragraph, we are aware that our dear readers may already be losing interest.
So, to cut to the chase, let’s take a look at the Athlon predictions for the Pac-12.
- The Washington Huskies are expected to win the Pac-12
- Nationally, the men of Washington are ranked #11, one ahead of Stanford at #12.
- Other members of the top 25 include UCLA (#15), USC (#23), and Oregon (#24)
At Kazi, we run a diverse organization with representatives from both Washington and Oregon so opinions are most certainly mixed. As a Washington guy, I look at these rankings with hope and no small element of trepidation. Our Oregon surrogates view them in denial (for clarity, I’m not referring to the river in Egypt).
And I can sympathize with my Duck brethren. Just a couple years ago, they had everything – the shiny stadium, the Heisman trophy winner, and reflective helmets..
Today, they have less direction, less success, and less hope. The BCS National Championship game now seems a distant memory. The unbelievable depth of Ohio State’s QB position is a pox on the ghosts of Autzen Stadium. It wasn’t supposed to happen this way – Oregon was to go from strength to strength, success to success.
But, of course, that’s not the way things work. Other teams improve, star players graduate, coaches leave, and Seattle starts to look a much more attractive destination than Eugene.
The fall from “dominant” to “good” has taken the student body by surprise. I gave a talk at the University in January. I broke the ice by quipping “Yes, I’m from UW, but I don’t really call it a rivalry. Because you have to be competitive to have a rivalry and in my freshman year we lost to everyone – even the Cougs.” (Laughs) Then I delivered the punchline: “Losing to WSU doesn’t happen around here, right?” (Boos)
To be sure, memories are raw, but come on – you gotta be able to take a joke.
And so, I issue a warning to Athlon, who may elicit some snarky commentary from the Oregon faithful…but they’ll sell gobs of the magazine which is, after all, what it’s all about.