| March 18, 2018

Column: Winning Cycle

October 20, 2016

I come from a house divided. Both of my parents are hardcore Oregon fans, but I adopted Washington as my school at a young age. It wasn’t until the past few years I fully engaged in the college football world and the difference in teams has always been a point of contention.

Unfortunately for me, this happened to be a time when my team was hanging in the bottom of the Pac-12 ranks. My father’s loud-and-proud team was consistently in the top 10 and flirting with a national championship.

I’ve watched my team get crushed every year for as long as I can remember. I brushed off the criticism saying, “They are only going up from here,” and “The Ducks won’t stay at the top forever.”

This year, my Huskies sit at No. 5 on the AP Poll. Meanwhile, the Ducks are 2-4.

As much as I enjoy being right and watching my team move back into the national spotlight, it is simply part of a regular cycle. The Huskies are one of the most recent beneficiaries of this cycle, while the Ducks fight through the ugly downturn.

To an extent, all teams can have good years.

There are many programs that historically excel —Michigan, Florida State, Notre Dame and Texas fight through cycles often.

These teams can be considered college football powerhouses but even the most dominant fall.

When referring to college football powerhouses it is necessary to consider Alabama.

In the past 50 years, the Crimson Tide has been ranked in the AP Top 25 every season but two. The Tide has entered the season as a top two team every year for the past 10 years.

Prior to the arrival of head coach Nick Saban in 2007, Alabama dealt with consistent shuffling of coaches and an inability to win throughout the early 2000s.

Alabama was a team that struggled to maintain its win record for about 10 years. The cycle may look different for Alabama, but the Tide experiences the cycle just like other teams.

USC is a classic example of a hit and miss team.

Between 1960 and 1990 USC was ranked in the AP Poll for 23 out of 30 seasons. In the ’90s, the Trojans had several coaching changes and struggled to maintain a winning record. It took former head coach Pete Carroll to turn things around for the program in the early 2000s. The Trojans then began to climb up and hold a top five position.

While Alabama looks to be on the upcycle with the strongest team in the country, USC seems to be slipping down once again as their rank continues to fall.

The cycle has not limited its effects to USC and Alabama — teams have fought the ups and downs for decades. Fans are left to hold on and hope it is the year their team breaks through.

I have waited for 10 years. I looked with skepticism as my Huskies started the 2016 season at No. 14. I’m excited to watch them continue to climb. Duck fans can only hope they, once again, will be as lucky.

Meredith Spelbring can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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