As I watched the Oregon Ducks play softball during a windy but otherwise beautiful spring Sunday, my mind returned as it has so often to a what-might-have-been season.
Rather than lose the third game in a series to Oregon State University, I envisioned the Ducks drawing the strings tighter on another Pac-12 championship and being in an excellent position to win the World Series.
That won’t happen because Texas hired our coach. Then three of the nation’s top pitchers and many of the other players turned in their Duck uniforms. Some followed Mike White to Texas; others went separate ways.
Granted, Oregon probably wasn’t flush enough with cash to match the $400,000 Texas offer, but I continue to wonder how the university can pay the men’s baseball team coach a half-million if money is in short supply, especially given the fact that the Ducks haven’t shown up lately in the World Series.
Of course, matching the Texas offer would have created other challenges. For example, Oregon would have been faced with increasing the salary of the women’s basketball coach, who led the team recently to the Final Four and the team is ranked No. 1 entering next season.
After rechewing this excuse for Oregon’s poor showing on the softball diamond, I was reminded that an even more important principle often is overlooked in the discussion: commitment.
If the talented women recruited by While were truly committed to Oregon, they would have persevered and stuck with the program this season.
Rather than voice disappointment when some challenge rears its ugly head and makes you want to quit — to get ever, to protest — consider what may be the most important element in being a team member.
If these varsity players were committed to play for Oregon, they would not have thrown in the towel. Respect White as a person and as a coach, but coaching also is a business. White chose the money. Let him go. Batter up. Play ball.
A number of newcomers joined the Ducks this season. They stuck with the program and have competed well. Give the new coaching staff time and the Ducks may make another run for the Pac-12 crown and maybe bring home a Series crown.
As I watched Sunday’s game, I was certain that the outcome would have been different if White’s entourage had truly been committed to play for Oregon?