It is the morning after Oregon’s worst home loss since the beginning of the Carter administration…and I couldn’t be more nostalgic or more proud.

By Andrew Pridgen

I first came to know the University of Oregon in the fall of 1993. I was a freshman in Eugene and those first 90 days between drop-off and Thanksgiving were as eventful and defining as any in my life.

I got a group of guys lost on campus looking for a party and a few of them ended up becoming friends for life. I took a drama course with the girl from Always Sunny and never said a word to her outside of class. I got my first incomplete. It was in comparative literature. The professor wrote on my midterm, “Please proof. None of what you wrote makes sense.” During her office hours, I argued it was all lesbian literature and I couldn’t relate—and that sealed my fate. To her credit, none of what I said, did or thought at 18 made sense. To my credit, she had recently come out and was trying to re-define herself through her syllabus.

I had a journalism professor who took the course book to Kinko’s and sold copies at a discount out of his office. He was later fired. But it was through him I learned the two most important lessons of being a journalist: 1) Always hustle. 2) Always have something going on the side.

I got arrested for throwing water balloons.

There was a glorious moment one evening after midnight riding bikes toward the dorms by the memorial union, whisking through piles of soaked leaves and watching my buddy in front of me let go of his handlebars and spread his legs as if he were flying underneath the street lights. And then, he ate shit.

I told the campus paper’s man on the street that I was most looking forward to going home for the holidays to use my own bathroom because the toilet paper at home was softer. I was introduced to the smell of the bungalows and apartments that served as off-campus housing: It was something like stale beer and bong water mixed with the scent of your clothes left in the washer for a day or two.

I had a crush on a girl who Rollerbladed everywhere. Eventually, I worked up the courage to ask her out. We ate cheese sticks at Lyon’s and talked about the Pixies then went back to my room and made out for a bit. She never took her in-line skates off and I had bruises on my shins for two weeks.

I got asked to a party in a barn where you drank enough beforehand to make you sick in the hay bales. My date passed out underneath a tractor and her friends tried to revive her with Red Vines.

The Ducks were the reigning national champions—in Ultimate Frisbee. There was a banner saying so hanging over the threshold to the club sports office.

At parties, we danced unironically to U2 and INXS (I still don’t know how, but we did) and when the school’s unofficial anthem ‘Shout’ came on people went fucking nuts. I studied in the same spot Belushi started the food fight and my academic advisor worked in the same building that served as Dean Wormer’s office.

I found myself standing in front of one of the lecture halls waiting to be let in for my first big midterm—Western Civ. It was also the first big storm of the year and everyone gathered outside was wearing yellow slickers and matching galoshes. I remember thinking that from above we probably all looked like little rubber duckies in a carnival game. Just bobbing and floating and trying to identify one another even though we all pretty much all looked the same. At that moment, I realized how small I was yet felt like I was a part of something.

I felt like a Duck.

There was football. Definitely. But not the kind that easily comes to mind when Oregon is mentioned today. Along with being able to ride the bus anywhere for free, your student ID earned you a season’s worth of football tickets. There were no lines to stand in to get them. No lottery to enter. Just go to the bookstore and when you’re checking out with your textbooks, and your Artgum eraser and your Twix, remember to ask for the tickets. They came wrapped in a Post-it and fastened with a paper clip. The store clerk then shuffled through a dot-matrix printed stack of student names, found yours, and crossed it off. Unless she didn’t. If that was the case you could go back and get a spare set, but mostly it didn’t matter. Tickets were usually left on the table near the dorm mailboxes on game days by people who found something better to do, like sleep all day or go for a hike or hack it up on the Humpy Lumpy or make a mix-tape for their high school sweetheart 2,000 miles away.

I went to the games, but I didn’t wear anything that said Oregon on it. Well, that’s not entirely true. If my pleated Eddie Bauer mom-jean-looking things and flannel tied around my waist said Oregon, then I definitely had school spirit. We’d carry boda bags in the games (under the flannel) filled with the most lethal cocktail of Snapple and Pepsi and Southern Comfort. One game it was sunny and by the second quarter there was enough room for me to lay down across the bench and pass out for five minutes (maybe longer).

There were football players on campus too. You could tell because mostly they wore John Deere green Oregon sweats and lots of them had casts on or cuts on their faces. They were guys you’d sit next to in class, not see in commercials. The only preferential treatment they got was a guy came in and cooked waffles for them in their dorm on Sundays.

Oregon started out 3-0 that year but finished 5-6 and won only two conference games: one at Arizona State and one vs. Washington State. The Ducks lost the final three games to Arizona in Tucson and Stanford and Oregon State at home. A big third-string O-lineman whose nickname was The Hedgehog was on my floor. The night before the final game I remember him calling out, “Bragging rights for the entire state of Oregon are on the line.” His roommate kept a lot of tarantulas and always walked around with one on his shoulder. I remember thinking, well, win or lose at least you’ve got all these spiders to look at.

I felt at home at Oregon. Expectations weren’t too high at Oregon. People kind of did their own thing at Oregon. My RA was a falconer who dabbled in magic and spoke in Monty Python quotes only. My roommate bought a giant lizard and got a tattoo of the Zoot suit-wearing skeleton from Grateful Dead’s Shakedown Street on his right shoulder from a guy one dorm over. I used to order up Domino’s and wait for Baywatch to come on instead of reading the lesbian books. My beige phone rarely rang and when it did it was usually someone from another dorm looking for someone to buzz him in.

But the next year, something happened. The football team started winning games it shouldn’t have. First it was at USC, a fluke. Then it was at Cal. OK. Then on Oct. 22, it happened. The Pick. Kenny Wheaton plucked a ball destined for Eric Bjornson’s Dave Janoski’s hands and a Huskies touchdown out of the heavy Eugene fall air. He cut back at the 35 and rambled the remainder of the 98 yards into Oregon history. And that was it. Cut to a little over two months later and I’m on the 47-yard-line in Pasadena watching the Oregon Ducks, my Oregon Ducks, play in the Rose Bowl.

Over the two decades to follow, the Oregon Ducks navigated with webbed feet the unfamiliar waters of national sports prominence. It took awhile for them to be thought of as more than flashy uniforms and a great practice-turned-drinking facility, but eventually it came to pass that the Ducks would be mentioned in the same breath as the Florida schools, as Notre Dame, as the Michigans and Ohio States…as Ala-fucking-bama. When talked up alongside USC and UCLA, the Ducks were lauded as the school that stole all the five-star recruits from Compton and Long Beach.

It was a time both glamorous and disconcerting. You see, over the course of their winning seasons, I’d forgotten about Eugene, my Eugene. I forgot about walking to Autzen on the train tracks pounding Blitz Weinhard’s and eating Carl’s Jr. I forgot about peeing in the bushes just after crossing the Willamette footbridge. I forgot about sneaking beers and downing slices of barbecue chicken from Track Town post-game. I forgot about the constant drizzle that was the great campus equalizer, turning the cutest of cheerleaders into someone who’d just bobbed for apples or one of those scary drippy-haired girls who walks out of the TV in a Japanese horror flick.

Instead, I bought into the phony backstory and over-marketing of Oregon football. I cheered them on like a professional franchise. I threw down for the gear. I waited for their weekly uniform offering to show up on my Twitter feed. I made the stupid ‘O’ with my hands and sang along to that cloying ‘I love my Ducks’ song. I cooed at the expansion of Autzen. I marveled at the student body’s adherence to game day dress guidelines and syncopated chants. I devoured the Chipotlezation of my college experience.

I didn’t really realize all that had been lost during the days of the Ducks’ rise until Saturday night midway through the third quarter, as the Utah Utes extended their lead to 30. A flurry of texts arrived from a group of about eight guys, all of whom went to Oregon with me. This is the crew who knows the absolute you. The you scrounging futon change for a 12-pack and a pizza. The you who got turned down for a job at Subway because you didn’t have enough work experience. The you who got dumped on the front porch and ran out of gas on the way to Taco Bell. These guys are now great dads. They have good jobs. They’re geographically diverse, sometimes separated by continents. And yet, when the texts started about the carnage at Autzen, it was all—surprisingly—whimsical and positive. Old girlfriends were mentioned, bars that are now closed (Guido’s, Taste of Germany, Old Max’s) were referenced and the undercurrent of it all was a reverence for who we were as…Men of Oregon.

The disconnect of the last two decades was no more clear to us than when the cameras panned to the arterial clogging of students jamming the exits at the start of the fourth quarter. Wait? What the fuck is this? Just because you’re down 40??? What’s this leaving early shit? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? …Sit back down you sonofabitch. Just because you haven’t seen the Ducks demolished at home, like this—like, ever…doesn’t mean life’s not going to throw you a smackdown every now and again. You go to Oregon, which means the only doors that are going to swing wide after graduation are the ones to the Uber you’re driving. Every Duck alum I know who’s found success has had to storm into the saloon, six guns a-blazing yelling “yippie ki-yay mutherfucka” just to get a first interview. Matriculating from Oregon doesn’t promise an endowment, a network or prestige. But what it does deliver, from that very first day splashing around puddles in front of a lecture hall, is the knowledge that even though you may be an individual—you’re gonna have to fight to have your voice heard.

And so, to that one freshman who stuck around till the final gun at Autzen last night, splayed across an entire row of empty benches and staring up at the early fall comforter of the warm Eugene sky, I salute you. Welcome to Oregon.

For the rest of you, I say the same thing: Welcome to Oregon.

As for me, during the fourth quarter I dug deep into my closet beyond the Christmas cardigan and once-a-year church slacks and pulled out that freshman year flannel. It smelled a little like regret—plus stale beer and bong water mixed with the scent of your clothes left in the washer for a day or two.

I put it on, took a sip of beer and smiled. And for the first time in a long time, I felt like a Duck.

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of “Burgundy Upholstery Sky,” and knows for better and worse, awful alt jerseys and waffle shortages at the Glenwood and all, Once a Duck always a Duck.

Photo: Andy Nelson/The Register-Guard

65 COMMENTS

  1. Andrew, your name looks so familiar, and your writing style sounds like the voice I remember. I was also a journalism major from the bay area. Were you in one of the Bean dorms Fall 1993? I can’t remember the name of the dorm I was in. Started with a D maybe. My roommate was Laura and we had magazine cutouts of Christian Slater on our dorm door. Hmmm, there was a crazy girl that faked a pregnancy; found potential adoptive parents for her “unborn” via one of the few dial-up AOL connections on the floor, and threw rocks through her own window. Either this will ring a bell or you will think I am crazy!

    • Not the same Andrew, I’m afraid. Was a long-suffering resident of Hamilton. Although, I feel like english major types of a certain age coming out of Oregon—like kids’ smiles from the same orthodontist—are all similar (I blame the influences of KDUK, those silly re:dux english department compilations and Ken Kesey’s long shadow). I do vaguely recall the urban legend of the fake pregnant girl coming out of Bean, along with a handful of others (the girl who drove home to Portland every time she had to use the bathroom; the guy who got caught, well—you know—in the dorm lounge…the guy who subsisted only on Snapples and Hammy’s nachos— oh wait, that was me 🙂 Either way, appreciate the read/comment.

  2. 1993 was my senior year. I remember practicing against Hedgehog and I remember the fog rolling in during the Oregon State game in 1993. Guido’s was the spot on $.25 beer night or bring your own mug night. The Mill Camp in Springfield was the source of countless stories. The Phi Psi house was the only frat that would let me in and I partied hard in that basement, especially the night we beat BYU in 1990. The only time Autzen was sold sold out was when we played the Huskies, the Beavers or one of the LA schools. Back then Autzen was surrounded by dirt lots, and that was it. I cruised campus on my rollerblades packing a big ass water gun and my friend still talk about it till this day. I disagree on the color of the sweats though, it was more of a lime green, but nothing like the cool darker greens of today. I always made sure I got my LTD sticker because I didn’t have a car. We used to hang out by the business building between classes and see who would walk by. BBQ chicken pizza? WTF? Who invented that? That person deserves a medal. I chose Oregon because it reminded me off home. Derek Horton and Shane Kessler (my host on my recruiting trip) made it a no brainer. I am forever in the debt of Rich Brook and Mike Bellotti. It was the best decision I have could have made. Just like you Andrew I have build life long lasting relationship at Oregon. A 62 point humbling asswhooping won’t change how I feel about the school or the team. I am probably not articulating as well as you did in your blog but my experience at Oregon was as great as your was. Go Duck and WTD.

    • Romeo, If someone ever told me that you’d be a commenter mentioning the Hedgehog, the Mill Camp and your LTD sticker in a single post (in 2015) I would have asked to be woken up. As far as the color of sweats go, I’ll defer to you as you rocked a pair. Albeit, I think the fabric’s appearance probably varied based on frequency of use (and washing 🙂 Either way, I really appreciate the thoughtful recollect of your memories and time with Horton, Kessler, Brooks and Bellotti. Go Ducks!

    • Romeo,

      I can’t tell you what memories it bright back to see your name. I was heading out of Oregon when you were arriving but I got to watch you play both as a student and an alum, I can remember how much fun you guys were at quarter beer night. We LOVED you guys, win or lose, and we were proud to cheer you on on Saturdays. Thanks for some great memories and thanks for being a Duck.

    • Romeo,

      Thanks for the reminder of the Mill Camp, Guidos and Oregon. I was on my way out when you arrived but I had a chance to see you play as both a student and an alum. We were so proud of you guys!!

      I remember how much fun you all were at quarter beer night and how we idolized you as you crossed campus. We lived to watch you all every Saturday and we were proud to be Ducks, win or lose, because we saw the heart that went into playing.

      Thanks for some GREAT games, great memories and for choosing to come play at Oregon. We adored you guys!!

    • Romeo,

      I had public speaking class with you in the summer term of 92. You sir are a good dude! Great athlete too. Soft spoken with a huge smile. great to see your name and note.

  3. Thank you for this, I couldn’t agree more. I was talking with my brother last year about how the landscape of Oregon football has changed. We both agreed then that what Oregon needs is a 3-4 loss season to cleanse the fan base and get rid of all these fair-weather, bandwagon fans who’ve showed up over the last two decades. Thank god it’s finally happening. I Love My Ducks.

  4. Brilliant – you’ve taken me back in a single article. I arrived in ’94 and was spoiled from the get go but I’ve lived and died by the Ducks from the Sun Bowl to the Rose Bowl. Love your writing – thank you for bringing Oregon back to me today!

  5. I moved to Eugene when I was 13 when my dad was hired to teach at U of O and went to all the games thru my senior year in ’72. So many ho-hum years. Never left a game, loved my school and supported them thru thick & thin. Those who left the game early are what we call “boo fans” in Colorado where I know reside. I was here when CU reigned in the 90s & still have our season tickets & rarely leave before a game is over. Ok, there were a few in an ice storm or raging blizzard……

  6. Duck U, 82 here. Well stated. The last time I was in the Moshofsky Center before a game, I realized that I taught a friend how to drive a stick shift in the same spot, once upon a time.

  7. Thanks for writing this and taking me on a fantastic journey down memory lane!! In the words of 1993 – Let’s Go Ducks!

  8. This is just what I needed – and yes to BBQ chicken pizza, Guido’s, and never quite being comfortable with all the flashiness. Let’s just all be thankful RoboDuck never stuck around.

  9. Awesome article. I grew up in Eugene and was a Duck fan even when I went to OSU (except when they played the Beavers.) I started hating the Ducks in 1994 because the fans had just become so entitled and I felt like the school really lost perspective. Should a university really be defined by its football program? Aren’t the athletes actually supposed to go to class with the rest of the student body instead of a special building off campus? I hope this loss will knock the fans off of their self-erected pedestal and bring them down a bit. I might actually hang out with my Duck friends again.

  10. Duck U 76′ when all we had was a field goal kicker named Patamapong…..there was plenty of room to ‘lay down’ those days….great piece !!!!!

  11. Thank you for this – brought me back to my freshman year 1993 – Bean complex – where we would use our meal card to get those snapples from Pizzanos to mix with the Southern Comfort! It brought me back to the civil war game that year when you could barely see the game through the freezing fog, and being from souther California I was ill prepared for the changing seasons and froze my butt off, but cheered nonetheless. Most of my friends didn’t even know where Eugene was let alone heard of the Oregon Ducks – but I loved every minute of that experience. Go Ducks!

  12. I had season tickets with some friends for the ’94 season. One had just graduated in June (born and raised a Duck), one graduated in June of ’92 (bled green and yellow even before he moved to the state in grade school, but didn’t know why), I was the outlier in that I had gone to school out of state, but was born and raised a Duck. My parents (met at UofO in the 60’s) had season tickets in another part of the stadium and my sister and brother-in-law (’92 grads who met at UofO) had tickets in a third part. I still remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach when Washington was driving back for what all Duck fans knew was going to be their winning touch down. I still remember wanting to pummel the 12 year-old who sat behind us all year (thank you God not the next year) whining the whole season about how bad the Ducks were and that they should get Beavers tickets the next year! I have enjoyed watching the program change and grow, but I still laugh at the folks I watch the games with now, who FREAK out at bad games because they don’t remember anything but the good ones.

  13. Nicely done. A welcome and needed walk back to a time before getting my kids to school on time and paying my mortgage was a priority

  14. I am a recent grad of the U of O journalism school (June 2015), and coincidentally was born in 1993. I can’t perfectly identify with your idea of what it means to be a duck, but I can say that my experience was very similar to what you described here. I really did enjoy reading this article this article, and I agree with almost everything you said. I just have to share my opinion about your description of success after graduation to give my era a little more credit.

    I see what you’re getting at with the Uber doors swinging open, but I’m not going to lie, I took slight offense to that harsh “reality.” Yes, it is difficult to get a job after graduation, but the SOJC has become one of the best journalism schools in the country, and the University of Oregon has come a long way academically in the past few decades. I know kids who denied acceptance to schools like USC and Berkeley because of some of the prestigious programs at U of O. Many people actually credit this academic improvement largely in part to the football team’s popularity and success. Whether or not that is the case, the depiction of education in this article is offensive and frankly, incorrect.

    I’m not saying it’s not annoying and cocky that students leave games early because we’re losing, or hop on the bandwagon just because we win, but don’t insult our intelligence like this, especially in an article that I’m seeing go viral on social media. While I understand it was an exaggerated point-maker, I have to say, we’re much, much more than Uber drivers.

    I never missed a game at Autzen during my time in Eugene, and Oregon gave me all that I could have ever asked for in a college experience. Truthfully, your words brought tears to my eyes, and I loved reading about your experience and the traditions that are still alive today. All in all, thank you for sharing. Once a duck, always a duck.

    • Hi Mary,

      Hearing from someone who was just born the year I started roaming around the dorms puts things in perspective. Maybe a little too much perspective 🙂 …As far as the Uber comment goes, I meant that as more of a general reference to how times have, indeed, changed for those about to graduate as well as recent grads. A lot of jobs that existed during my time as a student (my track focused on how to make a career at a newspaper, for example) are either no longer around or are spitting out their dying embers. And that goes well beyond the J school. I do have faith in my fellow Ducks, both young and old, and their ability to be creative, community-driven and—most of all—vocal. You are no exception.

      As far as quality of education at U of O goes, I have no doubt that your grades and test scores coming out of high school were better than mine and I hope that trend does continue. Whether there’s a correlation between a robust football program and a higher-caliber student is probably up for debate but I agree exposure (both good and bad) usually doesn’t hurt.

      Every generation carries with itself a little bit of pride that they were born at the right time. I’m no exception. But no one generation has really ever been able to prove their theory true. There will be improvements to campus that you see in 20 years which signal progress to everyone else and will make you want to cry (I preferred waking up to the smell of fresh-baked bread every morning; now the bread factory is Matthew Knight Arena). And there are stories that you and your closest friends will always revisit that will make you want to cry—but in a different way.

      What it really boils down to is I saw something Saturday that I hadn’t seen in awhile. And I know I’m not the only one who was confused about how to react. So I had to reach far far back and think about my own personal history with the school and how wonderful and strange Eugene was then and what my time there means to me today. In that respect, I doubt we are any different.

      Thanks again for the comment and, like you said, no matter what year resides after your name, once a duck, always a duck.

  15. You bring tears to my eyes! THIS is the Oregon I proudly remember as well. The 1989 student ticket stubs with losing scores scratched onto them proudly hanging on my bulletin board in my office at the Alumni office at the University of Montana, my decades old college sweatshirt that I pull out on game day, and yes, even the new glow-in-the-dark Duck football poster also on my office wall. These are the Oregon I know and love and miss every day. Go Ducks!

  16. You managed to bring back every great memory j have of my time at Oregon and then some. Yours is the Oregon I remember. Yours is the Oregon that made me so very proud to be a Duck!! Win or lose we lived for football Saturdays and Rennie’s on the first sunny day of Spring Term.

    Romeo Bandison, it was an honor to watch you play and to see the rest of the Ducks giving 110%, hanging out at quarter beer night and proudly showing up brave and bold at heart every game day. I was there that foggy Civil War and watched some of it with a former Duck center who was, even though graduated, so proud of his team and his former teammates. Thank you for keeping that hope ever alive. We loved you guys win or lose. We still do!!

    You don’t love the Ducks becasue they win, you love the Ducks because you don’t know how not to. THOSE are the fans I know. Those are the Ducks I am proud to count myself among.

  17. Love it. Raised in Eugene, I saw my first Duck football game in 1962, as an 8-year old. While I didn’t go to the U of O (except to protest, party, or play pick up basketball at Mac court) I’ve always considered myself about as ducky as a duck could be. My career sent me across the U.S. before depositing me in Spokane Washington, where I’m now retired…but I have avidly followed the Ducks over the years…and if anything, my passion for Oregon burns even hotter now. Not because they’re “winners” but because they are the Ducks from Eugene. You hit what it truly means to be a Duck out of the park and I even found myself developing a slight lump in my throat as I read your article. Thanks for making an old, odd, Duck’s day!

  18. I still have a shot glass from from Guido’s “Says this shot glass was stolen from Guido’s” I got it at my first Cinco De Mayo in 94. $5 for Corona and Jose

  19. Thanks for putting it all back in perspective! I was class of 1988. Games were an event for sure. Had a few where we just stayed at the tailgate party in the parking lot and listened to the crowd. Walking back from Autzen and having to wait for the train to pass. And watching the guys who had jumped on the train when it slowed down but was now going too fast to get off – the train didn’t slow down for a few miles so they had a long walk home!

  20. Born and raised in Eugene (well, Springfield). Thanks for the walk down memory lane. You made me cry at work. Great article! Go Ducks!

  21. UO ’93. Thanks, Andrew. Man… what a place.

    My friends and I stayed through games at Autzen where we literally could not see most of the field for fog and rain, but we could still yell and laugh and have an absolute blast. Every game, win (bonus!) or lose.

    Sunday afternoon after the Utah debacle I pulled on my old-school, non-Nike, OREGON hoodie and felt a twinge of love for my alma mater. The old one. I still prefer winning, yeah, but it was a bittersweet reminder of where the Ducks came from.

    Oh, and I met my wife at Oregon. Despite living overseas, I am raising my girls to be Duck fans, no matter where they end up studying. Going there was a wonderful part of my life — thanks for the commonplaces.

  22. Great Article!!!

    I was a freshman in ’03. The team beat #3 Michigan, the hottest team in the country, in an epic Autzen home game. Next week the #10 Ducks (4-0) lost 55-16 to WSU in a home game. Then lost to Utah 17-13 and fell out of the rankings. Then we got clobbered by ASU 59-14 in a game that was close at the half. Belotti said that if we lost again we would do 10 up downs for every point we lost by. Next week we regrouped and dismantled Stanford 35-0. Then we lost to UW 42-10. We did 320 up-downs during Monday’s practice. That was UWs last victory in the rivalry. We ended the season unranked with a loss to Minnesota in the Sun Bowl.

    The ’04 and ’06 seasons were forgettable. ’04 there was no bowl game. We lost big to the Beavers with a chance at a non-losing record and a lower tier bowl bid on the line. ’06 was capped by a loss to the Beavers and 38-8 drubbing at the hands of BYU in the Las Vegas bowl (we wore yellow flame helmets, ugh!). ’05 was a good year capped by a close loss in the Holiday Bowl to Oklahoma and Adrian Peterson.

    Saint Chip arrived in ’07 and everything changed.

    I graduated in the spring of ’07 and became a desk jockey in San Francisco. My colleague’s daughter enrolled at the UofO in the fall of ’07 so he has been particularly interested in the Ducks. Early in the 2014 season he told me that she had become disinterested in the games because she believed a blowout was all but assured. It dawned on me that a whole generation of duck fans know nothing but good times. They only know reload, not rebuild. Rosters stacked with NFL talent. BCS victories. Blow out wins etc. etc.

    The 2012 game at Berkeley had a 7:30PM kickoff and my wife underestimated how cold it would be and didn’t bring a warm enough jacket. I gave her mine, but it wasn’t enough. She insisted on leaving early because we were winning by so much. I told her “No” because we may not always get to bask in the glory of a 59-17 beat down on a conference rival.

    We are now on the other side of a massive beat down. Its been a while since we’ve experienced anything close to this (#1 USC ’05 or those big losses in ’03). There are as many question marks for this team as I can remember, but I know one thing about the season is certain… I can’t wait to go to the next Ducks game.

  23. “Just because you haven’t seen the Ducks demolished at home, like this—like, ever…” I rest my case that there really is No True Duck fan.The followers of the Yellow Vagina all think that Oregon has been a perennial Powerhouse, true fans would know that Oregon AND Oregon State football have lived for years in the cellar or the room below the basement or in hell on several occasions. The 70’s and 80’s the Oregon Football program was ranked alongside beaver nation on playboys Worst 10 football programs. “Oh that was years ago…” really? How bout 2-9, 5-6, numerous 6-5 seasons within the last 15 years? Worst loss ever? I seem to remember a fairly recent ASU blowout worse than the one the Ute’s handed out. I remember decades where the determining factor over who won or lost on Saturday was by how many points the Ducks or Beavers were blown out by that day. I remember organized cheers for 3rd down punts because the Beavs kept losing yardage everytime the ball was snapped. As a TRUE Beaver fan I am all about keeping my head down when the ducks are hot, but the “I’ve always been a Duck fan” people somehow have forgotten where UO and OSU football have come from, namely the wrong side of the tracks or or more realistically they jumped on the “O” bandwagon last weekend. Thank you Andrew Pridgen for proving my point, there are no real Duck fans.

    • Thanks for proving my point that Beavers are better at building dams than interpreting sentences. When the author refers to having never seen the Ducks get demolished at home, he is CLEARLY talking about the young fans (students) who weren’t even ALIVE during the blowouts of the 70s and 80s that you mention. Reading comprehension is fundamental. Go Ducks!

  24. Absolutely loved your story. Was at the ‘beatdown’ on Saturday and the whuppin’ Utah put on us absolutely reminded me of the old days. Anyone remember the “Knot Hole Gang” (don’t go there), kids got into the games for 25 cents, at Hayward Field, where we had a hard time scoring against the likes of San Jose State. We were bad, but it was fun. Went to school there early ’70’s, but it is obvious some things don’t change, or very little! For us it wasn’t 25 cent beer, but dimer night. And bongs were big, literally. Walking thru the cemeteries (2 on my route) to get to class. Coldest weather on record Dec 1972. 5 freshmen renting a house, Mazzi’s pizza feeding us without their knowledge on a regular basis. I’m gonna say I miss those days. The memories, the smiles, thanks for enabling a few!

  25. I grew up in Eugene and remember the era you write about…what a time! I graduated from Oregon in 2004- I did track and my husband wrestled for the ducks. We have watched the football program grow into what it has become with sadness…it seems to have stolen a bit of what it really means to be a duck. I read your article with a smile and found that we had many similar experiences, even if a few years apart. Thanks for the great thoughts! I enjoyed it!

  26. In 1989 when I came to Oregon we had a locker room (no bigger than your local small town high school gym in Oregon) at the end of the football field right next to the pink locker room for the opposing team. There was no Casanova center, multilevel locker room. We had to go to practice across the walking bridge if you had no car or a ride then back for meal table then back again for film and meetings. We had players like Latin Berry, Chris Oldham, Tony Hargain, Derek Loville, Bill Musgrave, Randy Willhite which is whom took me on my visitation and introduced me to Gretchen at the Mill Camp. I managed to get into Mill Camp at only 18 years of age. Great memories, Guido’s where the brown Volkswagen bug had front parking it seemed like, and had its own club inside (9 tens banging). Rocks for jocks which I never saw any of my team mates until test day. It is amazing how long these coaches have stayed with the program and seen all the ups and downs. Steve Greatwood, Gary Campbell, (DP) Don Pellum who recruited me (Robert) Mike Beloti and Nick Aliotti and many others. I’ve seen other coaches go through the program like Chris Peterson. What I remember the most is Coach Rich Brooks coming to my home and sitting with me and my uncle and aunt (without his shades on) and looking at me and asking me if I want to become a duck. The answer was yes. Well I did become a duck and will always remember the experiences that I have had through my years as a duck. It has been over 25 years, but each year I remember the Freedom bowl, Independce bowl which were huge accomplishments for us at that time. These are just a few memories which I hope my two Son’s will experience when they attend Oregon and play for the football team. We are grandfathered in right Meo? Meo you were the best at record races..LOL

  27. ’82 graduate – well was supposed to ’81 but I was having too much fun! Your words helped me out of a two day depression. Die hard fan from the first moment I stepped on campus and back into the time warp machine known as Eugene. Born and raised in NY I randomly chose the U of O for what was supposed to be one year and I ended up offcially transferring and staying 3. Easily 10 years or so behind anything I was currently encountering in NY – Eugene and the U of O was like a movie set to me. Cars cruising, bell bottom jeans, the outdoor club, rafting trips, walking on to the tennis team and then talked my way into the cultural forum booking concerts at Mac Court and the EMU ballroom. Our security staff for the large concerts were Football players we gave free t shirts to! Saturdays were all about the Football games. The band would parade past our dorm ( Collier) on their way to Autzen. That combined with the smell of bread baking from the now defunct Williams Bakery woke us up from whatever trouble we got into Friday night. How I loved those games and trust me we won very few of them. I’ll always love my Ducks and that’s what being a true fan is all about. Thanks again for the story!

  28. Class of 96′ – Did anyone else eat the chicken burritos at Club Wash? For $10 I could have dinner, drink several beers, and leave with clean clothes. ahh…memories!

    • UO Class of 94 here.

      Lol. I ate those chicken burritos. Club Wash rocked. You could eat, drink beer, do laundry, go tanning, and play video games.

      Then, there was Guidos, Taylor’s, Rennie’s Landing, Kow Loons, Millcamp, etc.

      I had flannel shirt, boda bags, lived in those nasty quads near campus, drank Mickeys and Boones Farm.

      This article brought tears to my eyes because it reminded me of my time at UO. I am still tight with my quad mates. We used to get in so much trouble. Now, we are all in our mid-40s and go to bed by 11am.

      The early 90s at UO was one of the best times of my life.

  29. Journalism Class of ’95. Well done sir. I live in Seattle and am surrounded by “young” Huskies, who were ready to pounce at the loss. I reminded them that I went there when 5 and 6 was a great year and we were at the Poulan Weed-Whacker Bowl in Shreveport Louisiana. So they could crow as much as they wanted, but I was unfazed. I also worked at The Daily Emerald in the Ad Department during the Rose Bowl year (damn you Penn State…damn you.) and have seen us climb to the “top” bowl again and again only to have someone from the Big Ten eat our lunch and take away our beer money. So, do I lament? No. Do I have 2 tix to the UW vs. OR game. Hells yeah. Hope you get to make the trip. Should be a fun game this year.

  30. Class of ’70 here…..and the stories don’t ever change!! Such a great university….contributing unbelievable experience and content to all of us that had the good fortune to become Ducks!! Fly on….we can do very well in ” fowl weather”….we’ve been there before and it has always served well!! So proud to be part of this community!! WTD!!

  31. AJ I wanted to say that I enjoyed your article a lot and fondly look back on my days at UO as well (I went from 07-10). While I agree with your reminding everyone of the struggles the Ducks used to face and to be grateful for how spoiled we’ve been lately, I do disagree with you on one account and that being that no matter what the score is at a Ducks game you can still have a dandy old time. While that may be true for those who go to the games just to get out and socialize, it isn’t necessarily true for those like me who get very invested in the game while it’s happening. Whether I’m at a game with friends, family, or even by myself my main focus is how the game is going for UO, so if they’re getting slaughtered I’m not going to be having a great time I’m going to be pissed. Not everyone’s like that and to each their own but I think those who leave a blowout early due to frustration aren’t really “disloyal” fans it just bothers them to the point where they’re not enjoying being at the game anymore. That was how I felt at the Utah game last Saturday, and not because I’m a “bandwagoner” (I’ve rooted for the Ducks for 15 years through ups and downs), but because I love UO and seeing that happen keeps me from having that great of a time.

  32. Stumbled on this, and it’s great. A long time ago, before Oregon for you, our parents were friends in Bakersfield. When I saw your name on the article, I thought is that…? This piece of nostalgia is awesome, but I doubt that the same could be produced for Heritage Academy. I do have a small Oregon connection as I was at the 2010 Rose Bowl when they lost to Ohio State (full disclosure: I’m a buckeye.) It’s always great to see a fellow Bako person doing well! Take care!

  33. Love this…you just brought back a rush of memories old friend…and I remember that flannel…in detail.

  34. The issue with the Duck defense has been ongoing for years. What we saw today is not new this year but a pattern that has been established over a long period of time. A comparison can be made to hitting in baseball. A good hitter has a feel for what’s coming and sees the ball out of the pitchers hand and adjusts their swing based on the pitch and drives the ball to right field if necessary or yanks it out of the park if the pitcher misses on the inside of the plate.

    By comparison a good D-coordinator and well coached defense uses a similar methodology to either call plays that counter the offensive scheme (i.e. stack the box on run plays, blitz on downfield passes, drop 7 and pack the middle of the field on catch and pitch short passes etc.) and if you get beat once or twice then you make the necessary adjustment to force the dynamics of the game in your favor. This is not happening for the Ducks on the defensive side of the ball and hasn’t for years. Too much focus on offense = never going to be a respected national title contender. Find a coach who has the skills to pick up on the other teams habits and match it with this offense and its good night for the Alabama’s and Ohio State’s of the world. Continue with the status quo and watch the ESPN pundits perennially scoff at the program.

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