July 21, 2011 by David Gillaspie
O – TIME O’CLOCK ON THE DUCK WATCH
A hat and shirt from professional sports teams won’t get the same run as college team tags.
A fan wears Dallas Cowboy gear?
Teams and organizations with multiple championships gather fans world-wide. If you spot someone wearing a Seahawk jersey, you know they support the local NFL franchise, for better or worse. Who else would wear it?
College football jacks it to another level.
If you wear a college jersey, or hat, you’re signaling you are die-hard. Either you played at the school, attended the school, or you’ve been waiting on a team from your state to win often enough for you to break out your fanhood.
University of Oregon football deserves that kind of fan. They’ve earned it from their march up the national rankings.
Winning the PAC 10 helps. Playing in Rose Bowls and the BSC title game helps. Winning the last game helps more, but getting there is a huge step.
Oregon football made their statement in places like Tennessee and Michigan, football powers with storied tradition. So why is it people living in Oregon continue wearing hats and jerseys from other schools?
Go to any gym and you’ll find Kansas, Texas, even Minnesota in the house. Sure, it’s good to know your roots, but this is Oregon’s time, O-TIME; this is now.
You might argue that it’s not important, or it’s just marketing, and maybe the person isn’t aware of the gear’s significance.
It happens. I was in Spain and saw a man wearing a Texas Longhorn shirt. I smiled and raised my hand in a fist with the pinkie and pointer fingers raised and yelled, “Hook ’em horns.”
He ran like the devil was chasing him. Or Vince Young.
On the other hand, when I headed south, I visited Baton Rouge and the LSU campus and saw only LSU gear.
Oregon has a different attitude than other schools and states for good reason.
Here’s why: You don’t hear about people getting their Ohio State t-shirt ripped off their body, or their Penn State hat stomped into a mud puddle in Oregon. The fan who went to Auburn and poisoned the trees at Toomer’s Corner wasn’t from Oregon.
The relaxed attitude toward other schools’ colors traces back to Oregon statehood.
People from the Midwest came to Oregon for a better life. Some in the Midwest moved up from the south before hitting the Oregon Trail. They all played a part in transforming Oregon with their culture and customs.
If you hear a reference to Orebama, Oretucky, even Orehoma, it’s because Oregon got the best those states had. The people who journeyed two thousand miles to be here knew a better place was just over the hill, and kept pushing.
They are drivers.
New arrivals, then as now, find the same things in Oregon. They learn the difference between the hills they called mountains, and real mountains; between a Great Lake and the Pacific Ocean; between a river valley and the Columbia Gorge.
Oregon Duck football teaches a similar lesson.
These aren’t your father’s Ducks with players who made bigger splashes after they turned pro. Dan Fouts and Bobby Moore were great, but even brighter stars in the NFL. They didn’t show up in the Rose Bowl or a title game. Those reservations were held for true football powerhouses of their day.
Oregon football plays that game now, and wins without the riots, defoliation, or victory fire on the yard couch.
So, go ahead and slip on your Wisconsin hoodies and Iowa hats if you must; carry your keys on a Missouri key ring. We all know why you chose Oregon over the last place you lived, and so do you.
Better yet, toss your ‘other school gear’ and show the O.
This is Oregon time as the clock ticks down for LSU and Cowboy Stadium while the nation waits.
To keep it interesting, why not a side bet between the schools? When Oregon wins, The Duck gets a victory lap inside Mike’s travel cage.