Sitting in the press box Saturday in Charlottesville, I kept seeing Duck fans complain about the ESPN commenttors for the Virginia game.
First, I will disclose, because I am usually either tailgating or at the games on Saturdays, I am not entirely familiar with all the different ESPN broadcasters. As such, I had no clue who Duck fans were talking about when they referred to "Cunningham."
Tonight, seeing the game on ESPN, I decided to watch prepared to be incensed at the clear anti-Oregon drivel I had been assured former Husky player Ed Cunningham had bombarded America with during his commentary. After all, Duck fans had told me he was basically saying that the Ducks weren't that good and that they got lucky Virginia was making so many mistakes.
Well folks, I watched the game and listened to the commentary. Much to my surprise, all I seemed to hear from the team of commentators was effusive praise for the Ducks speed and athleticism along with legitimate commentary on the areas where the Ducks did not perform as well and the areas where Virginia had some advantages.
So, I am not entirely sure what everyone else heard because, in all honesty, this was a fair commentary about a team who still has some areas of improvement that are needed, yet praising those areas where Oregon is clearly one of the top teams in the nation.
Oregon fans got so used to feeling like the team played better from an "underdog" role that sometimes I think that they just do not like hearing too much praise and they LOOK; I mean actively LOOK for something to use as motivation. As if the only way they can feel comfortable is if they feel someone is slighting the team in some fashion.
It's time, I think, for Oregon fans to let it go. Oregon is no longer the "little engine that could." There is no surprise. When a team enters the echelon of elite and is constantly being mentioned in the national championship picture, they will be scrutinized even closer. Oregon has some early season flaws; as do many contending teams. An analyst pointing them out is not negative bias against the Ducks. It is reality.
There is no longer a reason to feel uncomfortable with the role of front-runners.
Oregon fans, its time to learn how to run from the front.