The last home game brought about a moment I am most embarrassed by; the booing of a college player. Has there ever been a more maligned player in Oregon history than Alejandro Maldonado?
Criticism of players is fair game in my opinion; it is what we do. But as George Wrightster told me last week, it is okay to criticize the performance, but not to insult the person or his family. Booing a college player, to me, extends beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior.
While there is scholarship money provided, and I will be the first to say that the money is close to sufficient compensation for their work (excepting that the scholarship should reflect true cost of attendance), these are still NOT professional athletes.
The common theme is that "he (Maldonado) cost us (Oregon) two shots at the National Title in a row."
Um, no he did not. Sorry to say, but anyone who thinks that Oregon was going to get a rematch with LSU in 2011 is drinking a really good SPIKED kool-aid. It would not have mattered had the Ducks beaten USC in 2011, the perceived manner of their defeat to LSU combined with Alabama's perception would have kept Oregon out of the title game regardless. Stop using the green goggles; just wasn't happening.
As for 2012, why don't people blame Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (who dropped a sure fire pick 6); or De'Anthony Thomas (whose missed block stopped a would be touchdown)? Both plays would equally have changed the outcome of the game.
We could also blame Chip Kelly whose refusal to try anything new resulted in repeating the same situation hoping for a different result.
The difference from a fan perspective is that each of those other players has dozens of opportunities, so one mistake seems less important. A kicker, meanwhile, is in for so very few plays that any mistake is magnified.
I get that.
It's just too bad that Oregon fans feel the need to belittle someone who committed to playing football as a student-athlete and simply came up short in a couple of magnified instances.
This week Mark Helfrich ended what is perhaps the most over-scrutinized two plays in college football since the words "wide right" were etched into the psyche of Florida State fans.
With the promotion of Matt Wogan, Alejandro Maldonado's Oregon placekicking career is virtually over; barring injury.
I want to take the time to thank Maldonado for his efforts and perseverance. It takes a strength most of the boo-birds cannot muster to keep coming back from failure and trying.
For those of you that booed him; well, I am glad I don't sit next to you.