While every other team is overwhelmed with football this season, the University of Oregon is simultaneously playing a game of RISK. Like an annexation of Eastern Europe to finally fill the right half of the board with little red canons and cavalry, the Ducks firmly cemented a stronghold on everything west of Catalina Island with just a few tweets.
Yes, Oregon just took the Pacific. It's official.
On Wednesday, @goducks dropped a tweet hinting at their 3,206th alternate uniform of the Nike era - a collaboration with Hawaii artist Zig Sane. The new uniforms, named "Ohana", will be worn against UCLA this weekend and will honor the culture of the Polynesian islands.
But it wasn't a look at the new unis that circled Earth's largest ocean in a bright yellow O... it was this video....
In a minute and 37 seconds, a quiet artist sitting in his studio a few steps from the water gave a Knute Rockne-like speech very obviously aimed at football recruits and their parents.
Here is his speech in case you were distracted by the sights and sounds of Hilo, HI:
"Let us stand together. Our journey has just begun. Our paths have crossed at this moment in time, with the future ahead. Along with our team, our ancestors and each of our own cultural heritages, let us move together as one and conquer the world.
Polynesia is made up of islands stretched across the Pacific Ocean. Language, practices, and tradition are very similar. The raising of a child by the village is really the extended family. We are all responsible for the future generation.
The journey from Polynesia to Oregon draws a parallel to the seafaring Polynesian of ancient times. The goal to find one's place, to improve the family name, and to be the example for others is like all others.Whether from Oklahoma or Hawaii, South Carolina or Samoa, this is the team.
We are here because we are chosen - each of us is to deliver our part of the responsibilities. Let us invite our ancestors to play the game with us. Let us call the village neighbors so they, too, can join in with us. Let us stand together. Together we shall conquer.
To sum it all up, Zig is saying: "Commit to Oregon. Fight the good fight."
The video was moving in the realest sense. It played on the hearts of everyone and was a summation of everything I want to hear in the turbulent test that is 2020. If we come together for a common cause, we could achieve unity... and victory over any Pac 12 foe.
But, then I thought about it a little more. From 2,490 miles away as the Nene Goose flies, this local printmaker on a beach very unlike the ones you'd find within hours of landlocked, rainy, evergreen-infested Eugene, Oregon - is saying that the culture of Oregon football perfectly parallels that of the Polynesian Islands? Sounds like a stretch.
But, for some reason, it resonated. And to those kids from Oklahoma or Hawaii, South Carolina or Samoa... Oregon is made to look like the only program that takes pride in their players.
And the timing couldn't be better. Oregon is in a routine fight with other Pac-12 teams (and of course BYU) to secure recruits from the Hawaiian islands. So, what better trump card to pull than wearing these against the conference opponent that sits closest to the Big Island...
In a season where TV time for a Pac-12 team is cherished like a coconut tree on a desert island, Oregon will sport one of their best collaborations ever (not up for debate) against UCLA at 1:30 PT this Saturday on ESPN2.
From the microscopic patterns that look as if they are tattooed onto the fabric to the impersonated lei wrapped around the collar, these just hit a little differently. While these ones may have been anticipated for the Ducks somewhere down the road, they went above and beyond with this collaboration.
And all off the Bruins who came to Los Angeles from Polynesia as a freshman will be lining up against a stout Ducks team, looking at these uniforms, saying to themselves, "Maikaʻi loa."
Loose translation: "Those are sick."
So props to the creative team at Oregon for creating something meaningful this year. Props to Zig Sane for the thoughtful design and inspiration. And props to the Ducks for continuing to challenge the rest of college football.
Now the only question I have is: Will the entire team be doing the haka before the game?
I hope so. S'go Ducks.