It’s great to be an Oregon Duck these days.
After the highly-regarded football team took care of business and dominated Kansas State to win the BCS Fiesta Bowl, head coach Chip Kelly decided to return to campus instead of taking a job in the NFL.
The news was so exciting in Eugene that singer/songwriter and alum Mat Kearney just had to sing about it.
[Check out the entire Kearney song imploring Kelly to stay here]
Now, the entire athletic department — and the entire campus — is celebrating once again. Luckily, for those who have ever had to deal with a winter in the Pacific Northwest, this party took place inside.
By the time most folks on the East Coast were sleeping on Thursday night, Oregon had upended the previously undefeated and No. 4-nationally ranked Arizona Wildcats, 70-66.
The football team has gotten used to the spotlight and winning big games, but Thursday’s thriller might just be one of the biggest wins in the history of the Ducks’ basketball program.
This one appeared to be going the way of every other Arizona game this year after the Wildcats jumped out to an early, 11-0 lead. However, with campus hero Kelly himself in attendance, the Ducks were not to be outdone by the Mark Lyons and the rest of the stars wearing white.
Lyons finished the night with a game-high 21 points, but his scoring was not enough to overcome the overall excellence of 6-foot-6 senior forward EJ Singler. The younger brother of former Duke star Kyle, Singler put together an evening to remember. Sporting the neon greenish-yellow Nike jerseys the school became known for on the gridiron, he totaled 14 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
However, everyone was outshone in terms of theatrics by Ducks backup center Waverly Austin. In only 15 minutes of game play, Austin blocked three shots in such spectacular fashion that one might have thought the roof was going to come down on the raucous crowd.
The Ducks were up big, 67-55, with about three minutes to go, and after Nick Johnson hit a three-pointer with 50 seconds to go to seal, that rabid crowd could not be stopped.
The floor was a sea of bright green and yellow bodies late on a Thursday night in Eugene, Oregon. The fans love their teams, and the teams love their fans.
It was the type of environment that Chip Kelly simply could not give up, no matter how much money was thrown at him.