No, it’s not a New Year’s Six Bowl. No, it’s not a College Football Playoff Bowl. But, this bowl is crucial for Mario Cristobal and the Oregon Ducks. Building a program isn’t solely based on recruiting, nor is it based on an amazing coaching staff. It’s a healthy balance of both that’ll lead to sustained programs like the ones you see at Clemson, Ohio State, Washington, and Alabama. Yes, they each recruit amazing talent, but so does UCLA, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas A&M. Each will be hiring new coaches this offseason.
Bowl games are big because they allow more practice time for the young guys. Oregon’s roster is littered with young talent across the board. Most of the skill players are sophomores and six of their 11 leading tacklers will be back next year. This is another opportunity to get the player more familiar with the new system that was recently installed. In addition, this gives an opportunity to showcase the program to prospective recruits.
Christmas break is littered with free time for prospects and it’s filled with the multitude of bowl games. Finally, a win gives the program momentum heading into the offseason. Look at programs like USC and Georgia. Both had head coaches in their first year, but closed with momentum and key players returning. There’s no guarantee the Ducks will be in the playoff race in 2018, but it’s a good omen.