By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Destiny a blanket of positive anticipation

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It’s shades of 1939 for collegiate athletics, as the University of Oregon and Ohio State University face off Monday in the first-ever NCAA Division 1 (1-D) football playoff championship game.

Almost 76 years ago, the same two schools met in Evanston, Illinois, for the first-ever NCAA basketball championship. When I reminded a local OSU fan that Oregon won that game 46-33, he responded, “Weren’t they still using peach baskets back then?”

Fans from each school claim theirs is the “team of destiny” in this classic contest. Of course, that’s a little bit of nonsense. But it’s harmless nonsense that offers passionate fans a warm blanket of positive anticipation.

People relish being part of destiny. We savor good fortune, and we enjoy it even more when it seems somehow predetermined. It doesn’t take a full understanding of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche or abiding religious beliefs to appreciate the power of optimism and the serenity of faith.

Ohio State rebuilt its offense twice this year after injuries to its top two quarterbacks, then overcame much-favored Alabama in its semi-final playoff game. Oregon’s early-season defeat by Arizona, plus the loss of several key players to injuries, made its advance to a national championship seem far-fetched at best.

Clearly, the Buckeyes and the Ducks are teams of destiny, but as we know, destiny doesn’t believe in ties.

Fourth-quarter comebacks made Florida State fans assume destiny was on their side, and Alabama fans think destiny is the middle name for Crimson Tide. And how about those Central Michigan University Chippewas?

CMU trailed Western Kentucky University by an insurmountable 35 points with 12 minutes left in the Christmas Eve Bahamas Bowl. But CMU quarterback Cooper Rush threw five consecutive TD passes. The last one, with 1 second to play, covered 75 yards, included three desperation laterals and left CMU trailing by a single point as time ran out.

CMU went for the 2-point conversion … went for the win … and … and … missed it! They lost 49-48, and the Chippewa fans suddenly realized that destiny, thy name is whimsy.

In sports and in life, we know that belief in destiny doesn’t give people enough credit for the talent, preparation and hard work that actually produces success. Given that, Ohio State is certainly capable of winning the big game on Monday, right?

Of course not. As a typical Duck fan, I must remind you that Oregon is the team of destiny in 2015.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.

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