Although basketball is referenced on the one hand and football on the other, there will occur a most remarkable event should the University of Oregon Ducks defeat the Ohio State University Buckeyes in the AT&T Stadium at Arlington, Texas on Jan. 12. There is simply a matter of 76 years that separate these happenings.
The inaugural NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament took place among eight teams in 1939. The final game of the tournament had the University of Oregon Webfoots (Yes, their nickname was Webfoots back then) defeating the Ohio State University Buckeyes. It wasn’t a rout but it was a decisive victory.
Years ago, it was commonplace for state college teams to count among their players, mainly young men from that state (women’s basketball teams did not exist before Title IX). The UO team of the late 1930s had five players from Astoria, three others from Oregon City, The Dalles, Oakridge and Ashland, and three from the state of Washington, including one each from Olympia, Raymond and Longview. As an aside, the UO’s 2014-15 basketball team numbers 15, only two from Oregon with not one from Astoria.
Along the way to the championship for Oregon, the Webfoots had to achieve the best record for what was known then as the Pacific Coast Conference, including a best-of-three conference-ending series against the UCLA Bruins held in MacArthur Court on the UO campus in Eugene. Oregon won the first two games and then it was on to the national tournament which started in San Francisco with UO defeating Texas first, then Oklahoma.
The championship game was held in Evanston, Illinois, on the campus of Northwestern University on March 27, 1939. The final score was UO 46, OSU 33.
We move ahead then to the inaugural College Football National Championship to be held at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. And, just think, if the BCS still ruled the final American football contest it most likely would have been Alabama versus Florida State University, and we all know what happened to them under new terms of play at the Rose and Sugar Bowls!
Should UO win on the 12th, it’ll add up to two inaugural wins for Oregon. Now that’s a special distinction in Men’s Division I basketball and football no other team in the U.S. can claim title to. Not now, not ever.
A sad fact about the contest is the ticket costs, as they are excessively high with nosebleed seats costing hundreds of dollars (bring your binoculars) and any location within easy viewing the asking price can be as high as $10,000. This is a Division I championship game that should be available to many more students from the two competing schools.
The price per seat therefore is so out-of-reach for the average college student that few have the financial resources to attend without incurring more serious debt. Meanwhile, this contest is a contest of amateur players with student fans in school spirit mode and not the Super Bowl where making huge gobs of more financial gain for owners, and paying obscene player salaries, is the be all and end all of the money-mad NFL.
Although issue is taken with the disgusting degree of profit motive behind the exorbitant seat prices at the AT&T Stadium, If I were as rich as a Bill Gates, a Koch brother, or many another among America’s “one percent,” I’d rent the stadium in its entirety and run a raffle at the two schools to select attendees who’d thereby include a proportionate number of UO and Ohio State students from poor and middle class homes, not just fat cats and their offspring as attendees.
(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)