Oregon quarterbacks would really appreciate it if the school would un-pluralize its nickname and go with Duck! instead.
Why? Well, dating back to October of last year, injuries to Oregon quarterbacks have been crucial, plentiful, and strangely, as predictable as oceanic tides (or arrests at Penn State):
October 2007: Nate Costa suffers a season-ending knee injury during practice.
November 2007: Dennis Dixon tears his ACL and is lost for the season.
November 2007: Brady Leaf, making his first career start, breaks his right ankle.
November 2007: Cody Kempt suffers a concussion against Oregon State.
August 2008: Nate Costa suffers a season-ending knee injury while participating in a non-contact practice drill.
August 2008: Justin Roper leaves the game against Washington with a concussion.
September 2008: Justin Roper leaves the game against Purdue with an injured left knee.
September 2008: Jeremiah Masoli leaves the game with mild concussion.
Now, people are just hunting for answers. Coaches, players, fans, disinterested alums -- they're all begging for answers to what's going on. They'll buy Ouija boards. They'll hire exorcists. They'll look up the kid from The Sixth Sense. They're desperate to know if there's a bigger black cloud looming over all Oregon-related interests. In which case, they'd love to fly the coup.
It'd be all too easy to pin this misfortune on Chip Kelly's spread-option offense. Of course, you could say Oregon quarterbacks are in greater danger since they're often asked to scramble outside the pocket. But when you consider that Oregon isn't the only team running a variant of the spread these days, and that nobody else seems to be gnawed down to their fourth or fifth quarterback, little argument remains.
And while there are probably a few other schools of thought out there blaming the Ducks' conditioning on the grounds crew or the BCS, the fact remains that being an Oregon quarterback right now is like skydiving without a parachute, and nobody in this world -- or maybe even the next -- has any idea why.
So instead of trying to rationalize anything, perhaps we should just go with the obvious, even if it makes little sense. Maybe there really is a curse. Maybe we should embrace it. Maybe we should caution our children against playing quarterback in the Pacific Northwest, going to Oregon, or even feeding ducks at local ponds. Maybe this could catch on! It's the Eugene Gene! It's the Nike Schnike! It's the Quack Attack! It's the Duck F... uh... well, make up your own rhyme. This could be huge.
Call it what you will, but it could be that we're witnessing the emergence of the next great college football jinx. And for what it's worth, the Sports Illustrated cover is thrilled to have some company.
HOPEFULLY, BILL STEWART SIGNED THAT CONTRACT IN PERMANENT INK
Two weeks ago, after their eighth-ranked Mountaineers scored only three points against East Carolina and lost their BCS Championship bid, officials at West Virginia reacted in the most logical way you would've expected: They signed their greenhorn head coach to a six-year extension. What's next, a series of fines for good play?
West Virginia's decision to hire Bill Stewart despite his lack of FBS head-coaching experience remains an enigma to many who follow college football with any degree of depth. Now, the Mountaineers are sitting at 1-2 with the meat of their Big East schedule yet to come. While we all should hold off passing judgment until Stewart has a few more games under his belt, signs certainly indicate West Virginia's rush to hire a coach landed a tad short of expectations. Instead of Stewart being the right guy at the right time, he may have merely been the nice guy at the right time -- when the entire state was drinking Rich Rodriguez Haterade.
And in the meantime, while you're trying to figure out why the heck Stewart was even offered an extension, see if you can figure out why this link is so strangely mesmerizing.
More SI On Campus