Year of the Ducks.
With their weekend sweep of Southern Cal and UCLA to win the Pac-10 basketball championship, the Oregon Ducks joined some heady company in the annals of the conference. With the Ducks also winning the Pac-10 football title last fall, the University of Oregon is the second school in the conference's 23-year history - the other was UCLA in 1982-83 - to win both championships outright in the same academic year.
Two other Pac-10 schools have come close to matching the Ducks' accomplishment, but Oregon and UCLA are in the record books alone in the football/basket- ball combination of gold rings. USC won the Pac-10 football title in 1984 and tied for the basketball championship the next spring. And Stanford won the conference football championship in the fall of 1999 and shared the basketball championship in the spring of 2000.
As Register-Guard sports columnist Ron Bellamy pointed out Sunday, the football and basketball championship teams have several similarities: "great chemistry, great work ethics, entertaining styles, and a commitment to winning over individual stats." Bellamy also noted another shared characteristic: an ability to win big games in the final minutes - and for the basketball Ducks this past weekend, in the final seconds.
The basketball Ducks also exorcised several ghosts over the weekend. They won in UCLA's Pauley Pavilion for the first time since 1984 - when Ronald Reagan was in his first term. They won at Arizona for the first time since 1985. And they became the first Oregon basketball team to win a league title outright since the Tall Firs of 1939.
Some contend that college athletics have gotten out of hand - that they overwhelm the true mission of a university, which is to educate. While there is no doubt that college sports have exploded into gigantic entertainment enterprises and multi-million dollar businesses, it is also true that successful athletic programs help give greater exposure to a school and its environs. And that, in turn, can often lure the best and brightest to a university. There doesn't have to be an either/or choice between athletics and education. They can - and do - coexist to the mutual benefit of both.
So congratulations to the Ducks for their double championships. The players and coaches earned their laurels on the field and on the court through teamwork, talent and tenacity. As one of the Ducks' stars, Freddie Jones, said of winning the Pac-10 basketball title: "We have a league championship that nobody can ever take away from us." How very true for both the football and the basketball teams. Thanks for the ride, Ducks.
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|Title Annotation:||Football, basketball champs in same year; Editorials|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Mar 5, 2002|
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