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A careful look around the sporting landscape reveals the difference between good and great.

Good is good enough. A #2 rolls with the punches and works the problem, a winner who barely runs out of time in losses.

Great goes beyond the pale. A #1 warps time and space to create a world of need where winning fulfills everything and losing is the darkest of pits.

Good players, good teams, and good coaches use their best effort as a calling card. They’ve got the ‘ball bounces the same for everyone’ attitude. They are good sports.

Great players on great teams with great coaches take a different angle. They’ll do whatever it takes to win and march to the beatdown of that drummer.

An old saying holds that the difference between winners and losers is winners do what losers won’t. If it seems mean spirited, picture Ray Lewis on his baddest day.

For a less terrifying example, most agree the New England Patriots are a great AFC team. Three Super Bowl wins in four years does that.

Secretly filming opponents was a slap at their awesomeness, but die-hard fans didn’t blink. It was only Coach Belichick trying to win games, not an Oscar. No one said he lured Steven Spielberg off the Minority Report set to game plan sixty minutes of football into mathematical equations of probabilities. It just sounded that way.

On the NFC side, the Dallas Cowboys settle for good enough, though you’ll never hear that from Texas. After their three Super Bowl titles in four years they went from great, to good, to what is the real problem.

Jerry Jones might be a #1 in other professions like stadium building, but not in the NFL General Manager bidness. The last Cowboy Super Bowl came in 1995, the most recent playoffs was 2009, but they’re still America’s Team, once and forever.

Dynasties rise and fall over time, but greatness ends fast. Jimmy Johnson took it with him when he left Dallas and it hasn’t come back. You can track his shelf life of his greatness from the Herschel Walker trade to the million dollar walk-away check.

Talk of the rise and fall of pro dynasties always slides over to college football, where any responsible discussion begins with the Oregon Ducks and their #1 Chip Kelly. He’s proven good enough isn’t where his Oregon trail leads to.

Good enough punts on fourth and kicks field goals at the usual times. That’s not Kelly’s  style. His decisions are informed by the science, by the math.

But, is he a real #1, or just a guy with a good gimmick? Are Kelly and the Ducks a dynasty without even their first national championship? I’ll take a shot and say yes. Here’s why:

Rasheed Wallace likes to say, “Ball don’t lie.” If he’d stayed in school longer he might say, “Math don’t lie.” Considering the ratio of screw ups to good things happening to teams who beat Oregon in past bowl games, something doesn’t add up.

First, the dynastic team from THE Ohio State slipped by Oregon in the Rose Bowl then beat themselves stupid. Buckeye players got their coach fired after he didn’t report their cheesy deals at the tattoo parlor.

Did THE OSU dynasty leave with Coach Jim Tressel’s #1 red sweater vest and flop like USC?

They vacated their 2010 victories, had a 6-7 campaign in 2011, and undefeated this year with Urban Meyer running the show. That happens when a #1 takes over a program in disarray. USC and their #2 Lane Kiffin looks at Ohio State and sees the future they planned after the Reggie Bush-era restrictions.

Even worse is mighty Auburn who won their national championship in 2010 on a last ditch field goal. This year they fired their coach, #2 Gene Chizik. Their greatness won’t leave with Coach Chizik because Cam Newton took it on his way out of town.

All Oregon has done each Kelly coached year is what you expect from #1’s. He’s got the glowing numbers in the win/loss column. He’s got the aura of the prettiest girl at the river dance that every NFL hoofer wants to twirl. All that and you keep hearing about the way he runs practice.

Don’t talk about Black Mamba or Kiko. Talk about efficient use of practice time. Ignore Autzen and Moshofsky and look who’s using Kelly’s practice style. Loves the Cowboys, Philadelphia is closer to home, but more important are situational drills in practice.

A #1 warps time and space to create a world of need where winning fulfills everything and losing is the darkest of pits. Sounds like winning the day at an Oregon Duck practice.

Clock don’t lie.







About David Gillaspie
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