Last year when we checked in on the Oregon Ducks’ world of sports during Thanksgiving time, things weren’t looking so great. The football team had just suffered the first of two blowout losses to the Utah Utes, falling from their No. 3 spot in the nation; the No. 9 men’s basketball team was quickly exposed as fraudulent; the women’s basketball team was tanking in the standings after back-to-back losses as the No. 12 team in the nation.
Of course, things didn’t get much better from there, either. Oregon’s football team went on to get blown out in the Pac-12 title game by Utah again and watched as their head coach Mario Cristobal jetted to warmer weather. Dana Altman failed to align the Rubik’s Cube and missed the NCAA Tournament. Kelly Graves had his squad competitive, but nowhere near as good as we expected going into the year.
By comparison, the Ducks sure do have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.
Not only did the football program bounce back in a magnificent fashion with an up-and-coming head coach that looks to be among the best young signal-callers in the nation, but Altman and Graves also have things rolling in the right direction on the hardwood.
On top of the tangible success, Oregon is still Oregon, and Phil Knight is still the greatest Uncle in the world. The Ducks have some of the best facilities, best uniforms, best coaches, and best players in the nation, and routinely are in the conversation among the best teams across all sports.
So on this Thanksgiving Day, as we gather with friends and family, we thought it would be nice to reflect on what Oregon fans should be the most thankful for this year. Here’s what we came up with:
Uncle Phil Knight
Is there any man more influential to the Oregon Ducks athletic program than Nike Co-Founder Phil Knight?
He’s nicknamed Uncle Phil for a reason, and the Ducks aren’t referred to as ‘Nike University’ just for fun. The unbelievable amount of money that Knight — a former Oregon alum — and his company have donated to Oregon over the years is astounding, and the university certainly wouldn’t be where it is today without him.
The uniforms, the facilities, the players, the coaches; everything that we will go on to talk about today and be thankful for, none of it could be possible without Knight and the resources that he has given to the University. Beyond even the athletic department, Phil and his wife, Penny,…