By SPENCER McLAUGHLIN
Contributor, 750 The Game
The internet was buzzing last week when Oregon and Washington unveiled some big news. It had absolutely nothing to do with a looming showdown in Seattle that will be the highest-ranked matchup of all time between the longtime rivals.
Their Big 10 schedules from 2024-28 were released, giving fans their first tangible piece of information to hold onto as they embark on a realignment journey next year.
I did not care in the slightest.
I have many objections to realignment, including what’s bound to happen to the Ducks’ and Huskies’ in-state rivals. Oregon State and Washington State don’t deserve what’s happening to them right now. They are unlikely to be in a power conference next year, and both are currently ranked inside the top 20 nationally–and rightfully so. Meanwhile, Cal and Stanford get to join the ACC after a season in which one of them MIGHT make a bowl game. SMU gets to go too, for the same reason Draco Malfoy made the Slytherin quidditch team: “A very generous donation”.
We wait for nine months for football to come back after bowl season wraps up for most teams at the end of December. NINE MONTHS!! And now it’s here, it’s glorious, and there’s a showdown of monumental proportions this Saturday: Two great teams that are bitter rivals, competing with Pac-12 championship and College Football Playoff implications on the line. Why should we allow this realignment craziness to overshadow that?
I’m not saying to completely ignore it, or that it isn’t worth mentioning in any water cooler conversations. But for more than a little time during the weekend bye for both teams, fans were focused on something that won’t happen for over 300 days. I would rather talk about the implications of a potential matchup of Oregon’s No. 3 wide receiver and each of the Huskies’ 4-5 starting defensive backs.
I host Locked On Pac-12 all year round, 5 days a week. I talked about realignment this past year a lot. It was the biggest story in the Pac-12 as it teetered on the brink before ultimately collapsing. By the time fall camp opened across the league, I was beyond exhausted with it and ready for football to start. I’m really happy it’s here, and though I don’t like the league’s downfall I’m appreciating how fantastic it is right now.
When I was in middle school, I went to a basketball camp at Willamette University. It was hosted by Kip Ioane, who left the program earlier this year after a long tenure at the D3 school. He said something to all of us campers that has stuck with me ever since. He talked about living in the moment, and how when you’re really enjoying something you should close your eyes, take a breath, and process everything around you. Maybe it’s a smell, a sound, a feeling, or a combination of the three. Doing this helps create sharper, more lasting memories of happy times. I do it every time I’m on vacation, whether that’s at our family cabin or at Disneyland.
Living in the moment and appreciating where you’re at. That’s what I would like Oregon fans to do. And I’m sure it’ll get back to the 2023 season as the Washington matchup gets closer.
Oregon State and Washington State fans HAVE TO wait for the next realignment move because it affects their uncertain futures. I’m willing to bet they would prefer to have the luxury of just focusing on football and nothing else.
I’m not coming on here to say I’ll never talk about the Big 10 this offseason on either of my podcasts. I certainly will, because that’s when it will become relevant. By the time that comes around, we will all be sitting around yearning for the moment we are in right now: the heart of football season with endless possibilities abound.
Until that time comes, let’s take a page out of Coach Ioane’s book. Duck fans have waited almost a year to see their team avenge last season’s letdown against the Huskies at Autzen Stadium. Game week is here. Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr. will take center stage with chances to boost their Heisman campaigns. Another iteration of the “Border War” will finally come to pass, the last time in the Pac-12.
Let’s take a breath and take in our surroundings as fans, rather than falling into the trap of constantly looking ahead to what’s next. Let’s live in the moment.
Spencer McLaughlin is an Oregon Ducks football contributor to 750 The Game. He also hosts the “Locked On Oregon Ducks” and “Locked On Pac-12” podcasts and has work featured throughout the season here.