I'll admit that I was disappointed when I heard we were leaving Colorado. I was in the fifth grade, and I had a lot of good friends. I loved living in Belmont, and my folks were really good about taking my sisters and me up into the Rocky Mountains. Pueblo, Colorado, was a fine place to be, and I wasn't thrilled when Ross and Mike came to the house to help us move to Oregon.
We moved into a house that was owned by the United States Forest Service. Our front yard was a motor pool for USFS vehicles--we're talking dozens of green machines parked out in the yard.
John Day was...different, for sure. It's a town of 2500 souls. The main industry there is logging, and that shut down when the Spotted Owl legislation crippled Oregon's timber harvesting.
But a funny thing happened during those years in John Day. Oregon got into my blood.
I made more friends in John Day. I played soccer and basketball and baseball. I swam for the JDST. I tried to catch every trout in the John Day River. I fell in love with the Portland Trailblazers.
We moved to Pendleton, and I made more friends--some that I still spend lots of time with. I began to follow college athletics, and the Ducks became my team. I was accepted at the UO, but I chose Linfield because I could play soccer and run track there.
Back when I was in high school, the team was run by guys like Bill Musgrave and Danny O'Neil. I loved watching Dino Philyaw and Saladin McCullough and Kenny Wheaton and Akili Smith and Maurice Morris and Herman Ho Ching and Keenan Howry and Jeremiah Masoli and Jeremiah Johnson and Joe Harrington and...and...and the list goes on and on.
I've spent a lot of days in Eugene. I've warmed a seat in Autzen many times. I've stood with my fellow Oregonians and roared for the Ducks time and time again--at Mac Court and the Pre Classic and in Autzen, where it never, ever rains!
And I'm so proud of this football team and so happy for the people of Oregon. The Ducks stuck to the plan last night and they were rewarded on so many levels. Tuinei, whose drops were pretty glaring in the LSU game earlier in the year, played a fantastic game. What a clutch performance by Darron Thomas! LaMichael was, as always, untouchable. Kenjon played really well and Kiko Alonso paid off Coach Kelly's faith in a big way. Mike Clay made plays, and DeAnthony Thomas is simply a transcendent player. Maldonado even made a clutch kick!
These guys stuck together and I couldn't be more excited about their achievement. If they would have lost, it wouldn't have been the end of the world. Coach Kelly is now 34-6, and that's a winning record that just speaks for itself.
But I won't lie--the air is a little sweeter today. The sun is a little brighter, the world a little more joyous. This is Oregon's first win at the Rose Bowl since 1917.
Congratulations, Oregon. Unbelievable...