The Oregon Ducks open the 2019 football on the road to take on the SEC and the Auburn Tigers.
Our own John Canzano (Bald Faced Truth Weekdays 12-3pm on The GAME) wrote his thoughts in a column for The Oregonian on this crucial match-up for the Ducks to kick off the 2019 college football season.
Oregon will tell you it’s thrilled to play a meaningful game in the season opener. It will tell you it’s excited to be part of the big stage and get the exposure. And as a media member, I’m looking forward to it. But down deep, this game on Aug. 31 at ATT Stadium in Arlington looks dumb in so many ways.
Canzno wanted to take the temperature of the rest of the Pac-12 coaches and their thoughts on scheduling this high profile opener.
I took a quick poll of a few Pac-12 Conference coaches on Wednesday. None of them went on the record with attribution. Also, none of them thought the Ducks scheduling Auburn in the opener was a great, no-brainer idea, even if Oregon has a good chance to win the game.
Said one: “I don’t judge teams by first games in general, because everyone changes so much after their first game. I thought it was bad scheduling (last season) by Washington (to play Auburn).”
Said another: “If we didn’t go out of our way to make our path tougher than everyone else, we would all win more and get more respect.”
And another said: “The real problem is that we have a bad TV deal.”
The Oregon coaching staff feels prepared and understands the levity of this opening game.
This is a huge game for Cristobal, in his second season.
During Oregon’s off week in March, he brought his entire coaching staff to Tuscaloosa to attend an Alabama practice and meet with Nick Saban’s staff. Then, the road trip went to Georgia to observe the Bulldogs’ spring practice.
Those are Auburn’s two biggest rivals. He knows how vital that game is to his season.
It’s big for the UO athletic department, too. As part of the deal, Oregon purchased 6,520 tickets that it is reselling. It receives a $3.5 million payout for the game, which helps when your conference is operating at a financial disadvantage with the rest of major college athletics.
It’s big for fans and media, too. I’ll admit, I am far more interested in seeing Oregon play Auburn than, say, Arkansas State or Savannah State. But it’s a risky game for the Ducks, who could dig a hole for themselves while they’re still trying to figure out who they area.
The Ducks have a tough road schedule this season starting with this opening game in Texas.
This season Oregon will not only play Auburn away from Autzen Stadium this season, but also has road games in conference play at Stanford, Washington, USC and Arizona State. Also, a potential conference title game at a neutral site. If the Ducks swapped out Auburn for a patsy non-conference opponent and ran the table, they would still make the playoff.
Canzano really asks what is there to gain by scheduling this game when the outcome could put the Ducks out of the National Championship picture after the first week.
Again, what’s best for fans and television isn’t what’s best for Oregon football. Or the conference. And that’s underscored by the Pac-12 coach who said that the real issue is the conference’s television contract.
The Pac-12 hasn’t put a team in the playoff in two straight seasons and it has missed the playoff in three of the five seasons.
Oregon might just beat Auburn in the opener. It’s going to be fun to watch.
But the stakes feel big, don’t they?
Read the entire column here, and catch John Canzano on The Bald Faced Truth on 1029/750 The Game and 1029TheGame.com weekdays Noon to 3pm as he gives more of his reaction to the Oregon Ducks playing Auburn in their opening game.