Now that the second week of January has arrived and football season is finally over, we can all return to the more serious aspects of life. Wait! What's that you say? Someone in the Pacific Northwest is still playing football? You're talking soccer, right? Rugby? Flag football?Yes, it's true, football in this corner of the country will extend at least a dozen days into the new year, a rarity in these parts. The Seattle Seahawks are among eight teams still alive in the National Football League and will travel to Atlanta for a second-round playoff game Sunday.
Meanwhile, college fans in Washington and Oregon are still talking about the recently completed season that saw their four favorite teams win 62 percent of their games and post three winning records, punctuated on Tuesday by the University of Oregon Ducks' No. 2 rating in the final Associated Press poll.
We don't dip our editorial toe in the sports pond too often, but after so many months of fiscal cliffs, gun-control debates and incensed electorates, today we'll take a proud and unabashed belly flop into the water and celebrate the 2012 football season in the Pacific Northwest. Well done, warriors! There are plenty of reasons to be thrilled about the gridiron battles that, fortunately, distract us from agonizing partisan wars elsewhere.
Clearly, the Seahawks are the team no one in pro football wants to play these days. They've won six straight, and eight of their past nine. Big, bad, home team Atlanta is only a 1-point favorite according to the more informed oddsmakers.
But here in Clark County, our guess is that more football enthusiasm is directed toward four college teams, each of which provided its fans with varying levels of excitement this year.
The Oregon Ducks, of course, are reveling not only in the No. 2 final ranking but in the apparent return next year of head coach Chip Kelly. Even critics who argue that Kelly's hyperactive offense is not courteous enough to opposing defenders have a tough time disparaging that 12-1 record (undefeated in regulation play, Ducks like to point out). The exclamation point to 2012 came on Jan. 3, 2013, with a 35-17 blasting of Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Oregon State's Beavers staged one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the nation in 2012, casting aside last year's 3-9 record and racing to a 6-0 start and, at one point, into the Top 10. They finished 9-4 and ranked 20th in the country.
Washington's Huskies tiptoed into the Top 25 for a while, but finished at 7-6 after losing narrowly (28-26) to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. At their temporary home (CenturyLink Field) in 2012, UW was 5-1, and Husky fans are excited about moving back to their on-campus stadium in 2013 after a $260 million renovation.
Even Washington State's Cougars have reasons to shout, winning two of their first three games in 2012 and finishing the season with an Apple Cup overtime victory over rival UW.
Remember, though, these are just our opinions, certainly subject to dispute. Hey, that's why online comments and letters to the editor were invented!