Tag Archives: football

The Epic Journey of an Accidental Sports Anthem: “Seven Nation Army”

-Casey Klekas

I should have been doing homework. I was watching sports on a friend’s computer, instead. F.C. Bayern Munich was playing F.C. Barcelona and after each of Bayern’s four goals played the song “Seven Nation Army.” Since its release in 2003 that song has become a global sports anthem. How did that happen?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Picture, if you can, a band of Belgians drinking beer. The year is 2003 and the sport is football (not the one with pads and pigskin and Peyton Manning). The Belgians were in hostile Italian territory to support their own F.C. Brugge against A.C. Milan. Legend has it, the Belgians were boozing up in a local pub, numbing the pain of an expected loss, when The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army came on the jukebox. If you haven’t heard the song or you ain’t got no soul, you should beware its invigorating effects, especially when played on drink-sodden ears. Soon, the Belgians were singing in the streets, beckoning the power of a Jack White guitar riff as they marched into the football stadium. F.C. Brugge pulled off a very unlikely victory, and “Seven Nation Army” followed them home as a lucky charm.

Three years later, Brugge blasted the song while hosting A.S. Roma in a UEFA Cup game. They lost to a triumphant soundtrack. However, “Seven Nation Army” made its way back to Italy where it was adopted as something of a national theme song. Italy went on to win that year’s World Cup and “Seven Nation Army” blared over the ensuing Roman riots. Asked about his song’s sports success, Jack White said, “I am honored that the Italians have adopted this song as their own. Nothing is more beautiful than when people embrace a melody and allow it to enter the pantheon of folk music. As a songwriter, it is something impossible to plan, especially in modern times. I love that most people who are chanting it have no idea where it came from. That’s folk music.”

America reclaimed the song later in 2006. Inspired by the events in Europe, the song started playing in college stadiums around the country. I always knew where “Seven Nation Army” came from. As a matter of fact, it was the first song I ever bought on iTunes. I guess I just didn’t know where it had been.

Duck & Cover: The Haurbowl – The Only Family Feud to be Settled in the Super Bowl

-Eleni Pappelis

Millions of viewers excitedly kicked-back with their friends and families, delicious snacks, and some ice cold beer in hand to watch Super Bowl XLVII this last Sunday. And what an exciting Super Bowl it was, full of attention-grabbing commercials, thrilling entertainment, and, of course, a compelling football game.

I hate to start off with criticism, but it was hard to watch the 49ers start this game. On their first play, a formation penalty called on San Francisco gave Baltimore a 20-yard gain and also a good position for their first possession. It was a sloppy start to the first quarter for the 49ers and it only got worse. Early in the second quarter, Oregon’s pride and joy, LaMichael James, lost a fumble which soon resulted in a touchdown for the Ravens. 49ers trailed 28-6 by halftime.

After suffering through the first half of this game, the halftime show could not have come fast enough. It was finally time to see the long-anticipated performance by ‘Sasha Fierce’ herself: #teambeyonce. Beyonce strutted her stuff in a tight black leather getup kicking off her performance with “Love On Top.” She also sang “Baby Boi” and “Till the End of Time,” with 135 dancers and intricate visual effects and stunning pyrotechnics. My heart could hardly handle the surprise when Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams took the stage for the reunion of Destiny’s Child. Together they sang “Independent Woman Part I” as well as Beyonce’s hit “Single Ladies.” My nostalgic heart was now full from the performance. Let’s face it, Beyonce should have won the Super Bowl; though, Beyonce’s outfit raised criticism on whether her appearance was considered family-friendly and appropriate for this type of live event.

Raven’s Jacoby Jones returned the second-half kickoff, rushing 108 yards for a touchdown to tie the NFL record for longest touchdown in Super Bowl history. This also resulted in a well-deserved victory dance by Jones, giving Beyonce a run for her money. However, not  even two minutes into the second half, the lights on one-half of the Superdome’s roof and the scoreboards went dark. Internet connections and communication from the press box were cut. There were also theories that Beyonce’s performance was so good she actually blew out the power. Regardless, the 49ers got what they wanted, and quite honestly, needed: a miracle. During this roughly thirty-five-minute power outage, announcers debated whether or not this delay would potentially hurt the Ravens playing momentum they had picked up in the first half of the game. Reports stated live that these teams had been training hard for this game and should not be affected by such a delay. There was also thoughts of Beyonce’s performance being so good she blew out the power.

Visuals of the stadium showed fans murmuring about the blackout and players stretching on the field trying to stay limber for when the game resumed. Single fixtures of lights would slowly illuminate until finally the stadium had finally brightened to its usual brilliance.

Not only had the power been turned back on in the stadium,  but in the 49ers as well. San Francisco took the delay as a chance to recharge and came back to score seventeen points in four minutes to trail the Ravens 28 to 23.

This clutch game proceeded into the fourth quarter with quite the fight for the victory of Super Bowl XLVII. A questionable holding call prevented one of the last chances for San Francisco to win, and the game ended with the final score Ravens 34, and 49ers, 31.

After entertainment from Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, and Beyonce, an extra 35 minute delay, and one of the most exciting rivalries in Super Bowl history, I would say the fans there definitely got their money’s worth. At least the 49ers came back to make the loss less embarrassing for Jim Harbaugh to live down. Imagine how the next family dinner with the Harbaugh’s (the two rivalling coaches of the Ravens and 49ers) will play out.

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/rmtip21/8400064037/

Duck & Cover: Oregon Coach Made Like a Chip and Dipped

 Duck & Cover is a sports column covering news and opinion on local and national sports with an emphasis on the University of Oregon.

-Eleni Pappelis

Oregon has lost its great football coach Chip Kelly. The Philadelphia Eagles have cleverly persuaded Coach Kelly to leave the University of Oregon Ducks even after deciding to stay in the NCAAF another year. Coach Kelly was 46-7 during his four years at Oregon; this includes leading the Ducks to three PAC-12 championships and four Bowl Championship Series games, most recently a victory in the Fiesta Bowl.

Being only the 6th active coach to go directly from college football to the NFL, Coach Kelly has the full support of the Ducks. In interviews, he has stated how he is confident that they will find a coach that will continue to lead them to great success.

I look forward to watching how the new NFL coach does next season. It will be interesting to see how he flies as an Eagle. As for the Ducks next season, I have the highest expectations for them to pull it together to make their former coach proud.

Good luck to you, Coach. As birds of a feather, we will always flock together.

A Ballad of Thanks to Coach Chip Kelly

A ballad is a narrative poem written in short, simple stanzas often sung as a melodic song.

Head Coach Chip Kelly,
With your visor on
And your play books ready.

We are so sad you have chosen to go.
So we thank you for all the success you have brought the Ducks,
And at least you are not going to Buffalo.

You have brought this school such spirit,
We’ll make sure to Yell-O loud enough
so you can still hear it.

With Black Mamba and Mariota’s skill,
Next year we’ll win the Natty
Because with the help you’ve already given us, I know we will.

Image from the Associated Press.

My University of Oregon Bucket List: Things to Do Before You Graduate

-Jamie Hershman

While I may only be in my second year here at the UO, there are many things to cross off my college bucket list before my four years are up. In case you can’t remember everything you should try to complete before you graduate, here’s a little reminder as to all the places to go, things to do, and people to see.

Definitely if you’re feeling rebellious, you should start your bucket list at the Jaqua Center. It’s off-limits to us non-athletic regular folk, and you know you want to break the rules just a little bit. I say swim in the pool outside the Jaqua at least once really late on a Friday night or early on a Saturday morning. Another item to cross off the list is to make it up to the second floor of the Jaqua; who knows what’s actually up there? It is such an unsolved mystery to the majority of the student body. Aren’t you just a little bit curious?

In terms of academia, there are a few accomplishments you should achieve before leaving college. Try and make the Dean’s List at least once. This requires you to receive a term GPA of a 3.75 or higher, but you’ll feel especially intellectual after a term on the Dean’s List and never want to be off the list again. Besides getting great grades, take a class that isn’t related to your major or general education requirements. Find a class that interests you and learn about a topic that will make you more all-around intelligent.

For the Eugene tourist in you, some places are a must-see. You have to try Voodoo Doughnuts. Even if you’re not much of a doughnut person, the doughnut flavors are just so out-there and unique that you have to see it for your own eyes. Maybe you will even be brave enough to try the bacon maple bar. And when you’re downtown at Voodoo, you should also stop by the Saturday Market to see the local crafts and food vendors. For your sporty side, I recommend hiking Spencer’s Butte on a nice day in spring term. Lastly, it is a must to travel to Portland one weekend (for all you out-of-staters). It is such a cool city that’s only about two hours from campus—you can’t leave Oregon without seeing one of the most liberal cities on the west coast.

As an automatic Duck fan, you have to go see a football game at Autzen stadium. Even if you don’t understand football, it is much more about the experience than anything else. We have so much pride for our team and the student section is packed with so much cheer that it’s hard not to get into the game. Maybe you can even get a picture with Puddles! Can I get a ‘sco ducks?

While there are probably many more things you can list off, these are just some of the main things on my list. See how many you’ve already accomplished and which ones you are waiting to do. There’s only so much time before your four years are up, so make the most of it!

Follow Jamie on Twitter!

Breaking the Mold: Fashion of the Oregon Ducks

 

-Jamie Hershman

Who says a football team can’t be fashionable? That’s certainly the case for our ducks. With the help of Nike and Uncle Phil, the Oregon Ducks have had a continuous stream of new jerseys and combinations for years. This past season was no different, so here’s a look-back at the memorable uniforms modeled by the (almost undefeated) Ducks.

This uniform, worn at the Rose Bowl last year, was sleek with the full body forest green jersey and pant. The shiny helmet had a liquid metal finish that caught the glare of the Los Angeles sun. Not only fashionable but also functional, Nike incorporated the Chain Maille Mesh for more breath-ability and protection. The Rose Bowl marked the beginning of the innovation of the jersey material, using 16 different materials in the uniform all together. In the 2012 season, the same combination of material was used to create a whole new set of jerseys.

For the Oregon vs. USC game, the team sported the all-white “White Vapor” Nike uniform. In their striking resemblance to stormtroopers, the slogan for the early November weekend was “Storm LA.” The all-white ensemble still showed off the signature wings but lost all the flashy aspects that the ducks are so well-known for, making the uniform all the more intimidating.

This past Civil War, the Ducks wore a white jersey, yellow pant, and yellow helmet, trying to channel the look of an actual duck. The helmet turned heads in its bright yellow greatness, and the cage displayed a combination of yellow and white color. This uniform was a clean break from the typical green, as well as a cool color combination that we had not yet seen.

The gloves that the players wear are also an integral part to the Duck uniform. While they wear a different color almost every game, each pair still shows the famous “O” when putting their hands together.

Design and high-tech innovation are the motivating factors for Nike, and they have yet to disappoint. Duck fans are always on the edge of their seats waiting for the unveiling of a uniform before game day, and we can only imagine what the 2013 Fiesta Bowl uniforms will bring.

Follow Jamie on Twitter!

Top image from http://www.usatoday.com/sports
Second image from http://content.usatoday.com/communities/campusrivalry/post/2011/12/oregons-rose-bowl-uniforms-unveiled/1#.UMk5z3eJkyi
Third image from http://www.complex.com/
Fourth image from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1420510-oregon-vs-oregon-state-ducks-break-out-yellow-uniforms-for-civil-war-showdown
Fifth image from http://www.solecollector.com/niketraining/?p=5497

New NFL Rule Proves More Problematic Than Helpful

-Aubrey Wieber

Anyone who loosely follows sports probably heard about the now infamous Thanksgiving day play where Houston Texans running back Justin Forsett scored an 81-yard touchdown even though both his elbow and knee touched the turf seven yards past the line of scrimmage.

The seven refs on the field apparently didn’t see his knee touch the ground and never whistled the play dead, so Forsett jumped up and kept going while the Detroit Lions defense stood around assuming the play had ended.

This shouldn’t be an issue because in the off-season the NFL changed instant replay rules so that every scoring play and turnover would be automatically reviewed by the officials before play is resumed.

However, Lions coach Jim Schwartz got caught up in emotion and did what would have been the right thing to do last season and threw his challenge flag.

Another new rule this year is that if a coach tries to challenge a play that is already going to be reviewed, they lose the privilege of having it reviewed and are penalized 15 yards. This led to the touchdown being given to Forsett, which ended up being the longest rushing play in Texans franchise history.

Afterward, Schwartz and the officiating crew caught blame from fans, writers, and analysts. After all, Forsett was tackled and the play was over. The Texans got seven points that they didn’t earn, and the Lions lost 34-31 in overtime. Without that touchdown, the Lions would have won in regulation and the win would have been their first on Thanksgiving since 2003.

Schwartz got caught up in the moment and made a bad decision, but he, like everyone else watching the play, did not know the rule.

At least one out of the seven officials watching the play should have seen either the knee or elbow of Forsett down.

But the real blame is on the NFL. I understand the 15 yard penalty handed out when a coach undermines the replay rule already in place, but giving out an unearned and game-changing 81-yard touchdown is the most egregious call I have seen this year, including the Fail Mary, when a Seattle receiver got away with a pass interference penalty and was awarded a touchdown for a ball that Green Bay safety M.D. Jennings had caught. The call was so awful that it ended the lockout between the NFL and the officials.

What this all boils down to is the NFL placing more emphasis on their own pride than the integrity of the game. They knew that the play shouldn’t result in a touchdown, but they gave it out anyway.

At what point does logic take over? Who is happy with this result? Texan fans? Maybe, but it’s hard to be excited about a record-breaking run that shouldn’t have counted in the first place. The fact is the NFL handled this wrong. And it’s not the first time that the Lions have been on the wrong side of a controversial call. In that call, it was again the letter of the law that was followed while reviewing the play instead of logic.

Examples of this behavior expand beyond single plays. The league has said for years that they are changing the game so that it will be safer yet they insist on making teams play on three to four days rest in Thursday night games aired on the NFL Network rather than the six to seven days rest they would have when playing in a traditionally scheduled Sunday or Monday night game. The only reason the NFL insists on these games is to give relevance to their own network. Generally the match ups are poor and the players are visibly tired. They also, amid all of the injuries inflicted annually, continue to push for an 18-game season.

In September, ex-NFL great Steve Young took a shot at the league during an interview with usatoday.com’s Simon Samano.

“[…] Everything about the NFL now is inelastic for demand. There’s nothing (the league) can do to hurt the demand for the game. So, the bottom line is they don’t care.”

The league has been pissing down the fans’ backs and telling them it’s raining for far too long. The worst part about it is that they can. The NFL is wildly popular and no matter what they do, including locking out the players and then the officials in back-to-back years, ratings will be through the roof.

Follow Aubrey on Twitter!

Image from http://thesportsquotient.com

Junior Seau’s Death Forces Us to Look in the Mirror

-Erik Gundersen

No matter what time of the year in the sports world, it is evident in our country NFL football is king. Although exciting playoffs in both the NHL and NBA are underway, any football news takes precedent. A bombshell hit early Wednesday morning with the suspension of linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the entire 2012-2013 season.

Then, breaking news came from Oceanside, California: Junior Seau, one of the greatest defensive players to ever play football, died at the age of 43 in a suspected suicide.

Allegedly, for the second time in a little more than 14 months, an NFL player has taken his own life. Dave Duerson, who had a 10-year NFL career, took his own life last year. He shot himself in the chest after sending a text message to his family saying that he wanted his brain to be studied at the Boston University of School of Medicine. Seau, a far more recognizable figure for our generation, took his life in the same fashion: a gun shot to the chest.

This brought myself and others to start talking about these problems, mainly on Twitter. When will this, and other cases of players suffering long-term damage finally weigh on the conscious of the American people? Is the enjoyment many of us feel on Sunday’s in the fall really worth all of this?

Myles Brown of SLAM Magazine (@mdotbrown) had these remarks: “Lie to yourself, not me. Depression and suicide have been linked to several players with a history of concussions, including NCAA players,” Brown continued, “if you need to deny that to enjoy your Sundays, go for it. But I bet you’ll think twice about putting your kids in harm’s way.”

I doubt football’s popularity will decline, but there has to be a point where viewers start thinking about the players on the field as people.

Last year, former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who has suffered memory loss long after his playing days, along with six other former players filed a lawsuit against the NFL last August for “negligence and intentional misconduct in its response to the headaches, dizziness and dementia that former players have reported.”  The cases have been piling up, and although NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell has unleashed his recent crusade on the New Orleans Saints, the problem is still not solved.

I love football and as a student these last four years, it has given me some of my lasting college memories. The NFL is the most competitive league in professional sports, but now I find myself reevaluating my love for it.

At what point do we reevaluate the fact that our favorite sport is one that leaves so many that play it, as shells of their former selves?

The feel good story of the day was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signing paralyzed player Eric LeGrand. Bucs coach Greg Schiano was LeGrand’s coach at Rutgers. I saw many of my Facebook friends repost the articles about the signing and comment about how great of a gesture it was.

It was truly a heartwarming gesture on the part of the organization, but I’m sure if you’d ask LeGrand, he’d give it all up just to walk again and live a normal life.

Maybe he will be able to walk again. But would you take a full athletic scholarship and a great public gesture in exchange for the certainty you’d walk again?

But that discussion has its place outside these six hundred or so words.

“It’s not a bunch of good old boys playing a game anymore,” says John Roche, a former outside halfback.

Pastime to Prime Time

Past Oregon football players compare the game they knew to the big business it is today.

On a cold December night last year, nearly 60,000 screaming fans packed Autzen Stadium to watch the University of Oregon football team battle its longtime rival, Oregon State. It was the largest crowd to ever witness a sporting event in the state of Oregon, and the 71st straight sellout of Autzen Stadium. In a tense, back and forth game, Oregon beat Oregon State by four points, earning its first Pac-10 championship since 2001 and a trip to the Rose Bowl to play Ohio State.

For the former players from the 60s and 70s who were in the stands that night, this prime time spectacle was a reminder of how much the football program and the athletic culture at Oregon has changed. In their day, the Ducks weren’t the national power they are today: they were the kind of team that would be praised for playing valiantly even though they had lost, according to Ken Woody, a former Oregon kicker.

Autzen Stadium, once ill-attended during football games and nothing to cheer about, is now fully outfitted and regularly sells out the entire stadium at University of Oregon games.

Autzen Stadium, once ill-attended during football games and nothing to cheer about, is now fully outfitted and regularly sells out the entire stadium at University of Oregon games.

Woody still gets together weekly with a number of football players from that era, Mike Johnson, Don Stone and Scott Ferguson. The men, all in their 60s, call themselves the “Not-Dead-Yet Poet’s Society,” and meet on Monday nights in Eugene’s Villard Street Pub.

Though football brought them together, nowadays they are more likely to be caught talking about current events than reminiscing about the glory days—the late 1960s and early 1970s when they played football at the university. “We’ve all heard each other’s stories a million times,” says Stone. “And every time they’re a little different.”

Villard Street Pub is located in the growing shadow of Matthew Knight Arena, the new $200 million home of Duck basketball, which is scheduled to open in December. Large, sleek and austere, the arena is a symbol of what sports at the University of Oregon have become. Only a few blocks away sits the soon-to-be-abandoned McArthur Court, the venue built in 1926 that the athletic department has outgrown.

“It’s going to be awesome,” says Stone about the new arena.  Stone, who sports a gray beard, a baseball cap, and a large football ring on his right hand, played tight end for the Ducks from 1969 to 1971. Ferguson agrees. A burly man with a thick mustache, Ferguson grew up in Eugene and attended every Duck home game as a child. Although he earned a full scholarship to play fullback for Oregon in 1966, a recurring knee injury robbed Ferguson of his chance to play much football. “I wish things had turned out different and I could have played more,” he says. “My knee is completely fine now.”

When Autzen Stadium was built in 1967, it fit 40,000 but was rarely full. It now regularly sells out its 54,000-person capacity.

When Autzen Stadium was built in 1967, it fit 40,000 but was rarely full. It now regularly sells out its 54,000-person capacity.

Not many people remember the teams that Woody, Ferguson, Johnson, and Stone played on in the 1960s. Oregon was a step behind the USC and UCLA teams of that era. The Ducks didn’t win a ton of games, and for the most part, languished in the bottom half of the Pac-8 (Arizona and Arizona State would not join until 1978). They suffered a bowl game drought that lasted from the 1963 Sun Bowl until the Independence Bowl in 1989.

For the players of the 1960s, the transformation of Oregon football is quite remarkable. But the changes go beyond the program simply achieving more success on the field: College football itself has grown into an entirely different beast in the past 40 years. The influx of money to the sport—skyrocketing TV revenue, more post-season bowl games, and contributions by wealthy benefactors—has blurred the line between a successful college football team and a professional sports team.

“It’s so different now,” says John Roche, a former outside halfback (comparable to wide receiver in today’s game) for Oregon. “It’s a business; it’s not a bunch of good old boys playing a game anymore.”

“We were all part of making the program into what it is today,” says Don Stone, who stands outside of Autzen.

“We were all part of making the program into what it is today,” says Don Stone, who stands outside of Autzen.

According to Rob Moseley, a sports writer who covers Duck football for the The Register-Guard, the transformation of the Oregon football program can be traced back to two key moments. “The scholarship limit, where each team gets 85 scholarships, had a pretty profound effect on leveling the playing field,” he says. After the limit went into effect in 1994, the big, successful football programs like UCLA and USC could no longer stockpile talented athletes. “That meant guys who wanted a full ride had to go other places, and that meant schools like Oregon could suddenly compete,” says Moseley. And secondly, he says, “So much at Oregon goes back to Phil Knight’s decision to become a serious financial backer of the program in 1994, 1995.”

———————

Today, University of Oregon football is bigger than it has ever been. The program recruits players nationally, from places like Texas, Kansas, Illinois, and North Carolina. All of its games are televised locally, and some are televised nationally. This TV revenue represents a major source of income for both the university and the athletic department. “It’s so important for teams now to be on TV because that can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars every week,” says Moseley.

The financial pressure to win and be successful leads the university to try to attract the most talented players coming out of high school. Players who come to Oregon fully expect the Ducks to be one of the best teams in the nation year-in and year-out, and according to Moseley, “They all have professional aspirations. Football is the primary element of their college experience.” Mosely says the school makes accommodations by bending academic standards for student-athletes. “[They] are allowed [in] under the special admissions program because of their unique talents on the football field,” Mosley says.

The university also tries to attract first-class recruits with the quality of its athletic facilities. From a state-of-the-art weight room and a plush two-story locker room with 60-inch flat-screen televisions and Internet ports at every locker, to a stadium that received $90 million worth of renovations in 2002 and the new John Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes, Oregon’s facilities for football players rival those of any other college football program in the nation. “It’s almost become like an arms race between all these schools,” says Woody.

When the Jaqua Center—whose top two floors are inaccessible to the majority of Oregon students—opened its doors last January, students and faculty questioned whether purposefully separating student-athletes from the rest of the student body was the right message to send. But in Moseley’s mind, the Jaqua Center is simply a manifestation of a separation that is already well underway. “[Football players] are over at the Casanova Center across the river from the university proper almost all the time, except [for] three hours a day when they’re in class,” he says. “There’s this level of physical separation that breeds a level of psychological separation between football activities and the university itself.” Players are also the beneficiaries of numerous perks, including free clothing, warm-up gear, meals, and academic tutors. “I do think that leads to a level of entitlement for these guys,” Moseley says. “And I don’t necessarily think that’s their fault.

Keith Sherman in front of the Jaqua center

Keith Sherman, a linebacker in the 1960s, never had access to anything like the newly built Jaqua Center, where student athletes can meet with personal tutors.

—————————-

Back in 1967, Autzen Stadium, with its 41,097 capacity, was Oregon’s newest athletic venue. Before that, the Ducks had played home games at Hayward Field, a 21,500-seat stadium that rarely sold out. Inside Autzen Stadium, the same group of 20,000-odd faithful fans seemed even smaller against the backdrop of thousands of empty seats.

“It was a really neat stadium, it only cost like $2.5 million to make,” says Woody, the former Oregon placekicker and part-time defensive back.

“Lots of available seats, however,” interjects Johnson, a former two-way lineman for the Ducks.

“Yeah, we used to go introduce ourselves to the fans personally,” jokes Woody.

“Smaller town, smaller time,” says Keith Sherman, another player of that era.

The former players agree that there was a drastically different feel about the program 40 years ago. Sherman, a fearsome linebacker and native of Puyallup, Washington, chose to play for Oregon instead of Washington or Washington State because Oregon had “a kind of family, caring atmosphere” that he felt during his first visit. “It was a totally different environment from a Washington or a Washington State. Everyone was on a first-name basis with all the coaches.”

Before 1967, football players practiced at Hayward Field. Here the 1960 Oregon freshman team practices on campus.

Before 1967, football players practiced at Hayward Field. Here the 1960 Oregon freshman team practices on campus.

The players themselves were also very different in that era. Nationwide recruiting hadn’t really started and the majority of Oregon football players were still from the Northwest. “Our freshman class had 26 scholarships and 22 [of the recruits] were from Oregon and Washington,” Roche says.

Players were also smaller and more versatile, as platoon football (where players only play either offense or defense) was still in its embryonic stages. Recruits often had to play more than one position. “That’s why we were so little,” Johnson says. “Nowadays they make a left tackle a certain way, an outside linebacker a certain way. And they are all much bigger and better than we were.” Undersized players like the 5foot 8inch, 170pound Roche, who was a local kid and the son of an Oregon football assistant coach, were beginning to be phased out. As Roche freely admits, he was mostly a bit-part player for the Ducks. “If you had a bunch of guys like me on a team, you wouldn’t win a ton,” he says with a chuckle. However, he kept his spot on the roster for four years, through “a tremendous willingness to work hard and battle,” a 1967 program notes.

When the Ducks still played at Hayward Field, both the locker room and the weight room were situated in McArthur Court. The players referred to the locker room, with its wooden stalls, four showerheads, and nails for hanging their equipment, as “the Bastille.” “Everyone had rusty nails, except the starters. They had shiny new nails, that was the only difference,” says Woody. Sherman remembers the team’s weight room vividly. “It was about 20-by-20 back in the corner of McArthur Court underneath in the basement,” he says. “You were down in the plumbing and the toilets and stuff. We had a better weight room in high school.”

The locker rooms at Autzen were a dramatic upgrade from those at McArthur Court. Now, locker rooms have flat-screen televisions and internet ports.

The locker rooms at Autzen were a dramatic upgrade from those at McArthur Court. Now, locker rooms have flat-screen televisions and internet ports.

Football players of the time had to work for their scholarships: Roche was an assistant for Oregon’s track coach, Sherman taped ankles before and after games in the athletic treatment room, and Stone worked as a groundskeeper clearing rocks off the baseball field. Aside from being allowed to register early for their classes and having access to tutors, they had very few special privileges. “We could trade our five game tickets for meat at Tommy Hodges’ meat market, and we got $5 of food money after the game, which, most of the time, was spent on beer. That was about it,” says Woody.

The teams of the 1960s did not receive anything like the media coverage teams experience today. Reporters didn’t swarm their practices, the players’ names and faces weren’t nationally known, and they didn’t have to deal with the constant glare of the media spotlight and the 24-hour news cycle.

Duck student athletes were far less recognizable. “[They were] pretty much just part of the normal student body,” says Sherman. “It’s a lot more glorified now than back then. You kind of just grew up playing sports with your buddies. Being good at sports wasn’t such a big deal.”

Moseley, also the author of What It Means to be a Duck, an anthology of testimonials from Oregon football players of different eras, agrees with Sherman. “For guys who played in the ’50s and ’60s, football was just one element of their college experience. Most all of them didn’t have dreams of playing professionally. Those guys were just looking at it as part of their growth—they appreciated their coaches for helping mold them from boys into men and sending them off in the world to pursue whatever career they were going to.”

“It’s not a bunch of good old boys playing a game anymore,” says John Roche, a former outside halfback.

“It’s not a bunch of good old boys playing a game anymore,” says John Roche, a former outside halfback.

For the players of that era, the Ducks’ rise from mediocrity is nothing short of astonishing. “There was a time, when Arizona and Arizona State were coming into the league, I didn’t see how Oregon was going to get in the top half of the league,” says Roche. “I just thought, ‘Wow, who are we going to beat?’ But they’ve done it.”

None of the former players begrudge the Ducks their recent success. They savor Oregon wins with the same relish as the other fans. Most still have season tickets and all follow the Ducks religiously. “I take pride in what goes on out there because I feel we were all part of making the program into what it is today,” says Stone.

But while their support for the Ducks is unwavering, they still question some of the negative effects success has had on the program off the field. “These facilities are nice, but when guys used to come here to play football it wasn’t because of the facilities,” says Woody. “There’s a certain mentality you are appealing to and are attracted by big plasma televisions and the rest of it.”

“Whenever you start winning games, people start jumping on the bandwagon,” adds Johnson. “I think Oregon football fans themselves have become entitled. I don’t remember anyone ever booing the team or a player back in our day. I can’t stand any of the booers. Some of the people they’re booing happen to be 19 years old.”

Oregon football may well be entering uncharted waters in terms of success on the football field. On January 1, 2010, after a 10-2 season, the Ducks played in their first Rose Bowl since 1995. Despite a loss at the hands of Ohio State, high hopes surrounded the program entering the off-season, and fans whispered that this team might be the one to finally carry the Ducks to their first national title game. But as a number of the former players agree, on-the-field accomplishments shouldn’t be the ultimate barometer of a college football program’s success and success shouldn’t come at too high a price.

The cheer squad celebrates a touchdown during the first game at Autzen Stadium in 1967. The Ducks lost 17-13 to Colorado.

The cheer squad celebrates a touchdown during the first game at Autzen Stadium in 1967. The Ducks lost 17-13 to Colorado.

“The other day I heard President [Richard] Lariviere say we’re in the entertainment business,” Sherman says. “Well, we should be in the business of educating kids and teaching them how to live productive lives in society. If they’re not doing that, they’re in the entertainment business. And I’m not for that.”