Saturday, September 2, 2023

Good Luck Ducks, Week 1: Aggravation


One last ride. 
When I was a child, I would get really bored at home. I don't think this is unique to me or most children my age, of course. We had games at home, but many of them were deemed off limits as far as playing them with my parents, either because the games weren't stimulating enough for an adult's intellect or -- much more likely in my brain -- the adults were afraid to lose to some obnoxious kid.

One of the board games that had a permanent space on the top shelf in the closet was something called Aggravation. I have no idea how this game was supposed to be played anymore, but I imagine that I was good enough at it to annoy the crap out of my parents, and as a result, the game was unofficially banned in our household. (An alternate theory is that my mom just thought the game plain sucked, which is fair. But... I was really good at games!) That didn't quite stop me from tinkering with it. On a particularly heavy rainy day, I was known to bust out the Aggravation game and make up my own thing with it, which generally involved the plastic colored marbles that were included with the thing, and using the board as a makeshift ramp for my... well... alternate game.

The marbles came in several different colors, and I was able to map these colors to most of the teams in the Pac-10 based on what uniforms they would typically wear. We watched a lot more basketball than football growing up, and this was during the height of Oregon State's powers (the '80s!) Still, this cemented my familiarity with the conference, and I would soon learn more about its history including how the Arizona teams joined (before my time) to make the ancient Pac-8 into the Pac-10 that we knew and loved.

Orange was Oregon State, of course. Unless they felt like being brown. Oregon could be Green, although white was available (for most home teams in basketball, anyway.) There was also a very UCLA blue, and maybe a red that fit an Arizona school. It wasn't too difficult to get creative with the colors, in any case. I don't remember the rules or much about the game I made up, but it always involved pitting two teams against each other in some sort of marble-based knockout competition.

The Pac-10, which expanded to 12 teams in 2012, is dead now. After a huge flurry of movement a little over a decade ago, a second wave of college sports conference "realignment" kicked off in earnest around the the time that USC and UCLA jumped ship and decided to join the Big Ten over a year ago. Or... maybe it happened when Texas and Oklahoma decided that the SEC was the place to be in 2021. With college football (and, really, this is all about college football and greed) already becoming more of a pro sport than many actual pro sports of late, the notion that certain schools would prioritize chasing money from football TV deals over basically everything else is certainly not surprising. What is surprising, at least to me, is how quickly and decisively this all happened. Ten of the current Pac-12 teams have now reached agreements to join different conferences by next year. The Ducks will soon be establishing new rivalries with the likes of, I don't know, Iowa?

This might well be the last season I really care about college football, but I suppose I should muster up some interest in the conference's final ride. Bo Nix is back, baby! I absolutely loved watching Bucky Irving last year and am hoping for big things from him again in 2023. The Quack Attack lost two huge ones to the NFL on the defensive side in Christian Gonzalez and Noah Sewell, but I am excited to see who steps up this year. This will be the final season of the Civil War rivalry game, which has lasted... gee.. let's see... one hundred and thirty years! I'll look forward to seeing that end, I guess. If this pushes everything towards an interesting and fair and equitable playoff series format, finally, I guess it will not be completely without merit, but I do think the underlying financial greed is disgusting.

Notes and other things:
  • This is where I'd normally talk about the game today, or the opponent, or something. The Ducks are up against the Portland State Vikings. It should be a nice warm-up for number 15 ranked Oregon. Normally conference favorites, the Ducks are one of five teams in the lame duck conference ranked in the top 25, and are among several with Heisman hopefuls like Bo Nix.
  • Speaking of Mr. Nix, it's quite a treat (and unusual) to be able to share a card of a current player on the team. NIL has done some interesting things, but for trading cards there's only been a select few players that have signed on to be included in sets. I'm not sure there will ever be a comprehensive trading card set of current college athletes in any sport, but that's probably okay. I'll settle for a new NCAA football video game.
  • I honestly have nothing against the Big Ten, aside from their awful logo. It should be fun, in theory, to see the Ducks play all of those teams on a regular basis. I'm just not sure I have the stomach for it all. This is all very sad for me.
  • Game time is 12:00 PM PDT on the Pac-12 Network in Eugene. Go Ducks!


  1. I wasn't all that surprised when the two California schools left for more money, and I didn't think that Oregon and Washington would be so easily swayed, but like you said, college football has changed a lot in recent years; and in my opinion none of it has been for the better. My fandom over the last five years or so has pretty much been reduced to just reading the recaps of Ducks and Beavers games, which I can see ending this season, as I have zero interest in supporting them going forward.

  2. Living in NYC, college football just isn't a thing. And no I don't count Rutgers. So in one sense it is hard for me to relate, but- I did go to an Oregon/Oregon State game once. Beavers were the home team and they actually won. Have to say it was a top 5 sport moment for me and I did not even have a horse in it.


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