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A MESSAGE FROM MARK HELFRICH

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DEFENDING DEMOCRACY IN 2016

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

My fellow Oregonians,

Like many of you, I was shocked to hear of the unexpected passing of Antonin Scalia this weekend. While I'd like to avoid any political conversation on the subject, the debate surrounding how and when the Supreme Court seat held by Justice Scalia has given me the opportunity to reflect on the fundamental principles of our country and our sport. (Though I do think it's worth pointing out that lifetime appointment is something we could consider applying to coaching jobs. It's not like term limits are doing wonders for Syracuse.)

What sets this nation apart from so many others is our steadfast adherence to direct democracy. We do this not because it is the most efficient way of governing, but because it best ensures our collective liberty. Regular elections, long and laborious though they may be, provide an immense opportunity for we, the citizens, to speak to our government in clear voices. In doing so, we remind that government that it works for the people, not above it. And, again, without diving into any substantive political argument, I think we can all agree that actions taken by the government intended to subvert the will of the people do damage to our democracy. Election Day should be treated with respect and reverence by elected officials, not viewed as a deadline to push through an agenda.

It is in the spirit of that respect that I have come to the following decision: I will not recognize any Oregon losses before Tuesday, November 8.

Some will accuse me of doing this for personal reasons, that I'm trying to avoid the negative attention that would come with an embarrassing road loss to Nebraska or failing to continue our streak against Washington or losing at home by three touchdowns to Colorado. Nothing could be further from the truth. I simply refuse to ratify any Oregon loss that isn't supported by popular mandate.

I mean, they freaking use the term LAME DUCK for these situations. Seems pretty clear we're not supposed to take any potential failings on my part before the election all that seriously. So no, I won't be acknowledging my hot seat if we lose in Week 2 to Virginia. If we go to Pullman and give up 700 yards, I will still consider this team to be undefeated. Get thumped by USC on November 5th? Sometimes election season is about accepting there are certain states where you won't win and not wasting your resources on them.

Respecting the democratic process means letting that process play out. If the voters on the Playoff Commitee don't support me, they'll get the chance to see Oregon lose in short order: our first game after the election is against Stanford.