20 Reasons Why You Know You’re a Sports Fan of the Oregon Ducks
20 Reasons You Know You're an Oregon Fan
The University of Oregon has a proud athletic tradition in Eugene that continues to trend upwards as elite athletes from all over the country flock west to join the Oregon Ducks. Their efforts have earned them countless fans from all walks of life for every sport there is. While the football team gets the most attention with their state-of-the-art training facilities, the rest of the athletic program is no slouch either.
In all, Oregon has won 21 NCAA national championships in their history with 20 of them coming from their cross country and track and field teams. That high level of excellence along with a healthy contribution from Nike has created a winning culture at Oregon that permeates every sport. While the marquee program remains football, Oregon is not short on elite athletes in Eugene right now.
All that talent makes it easy to root for the Ducks when they take the field, the court, or the track. But being a sports fan of Oregon has had plenty of valleys to go with the peaks. Up until the 1990s, Oregon was a perennial cellar-dweller in conference play across many sports, including football. But the ups and downs of fandom are all part of the ride and those who have stuck it out through the lean times can revel in the program’s current success.
With that said, there are some experiences that all Oregon fans share. So without further ado, here are 20 reasons you know you’re a sports fan of the Oregon Ducks.
20. You understand the intimidation factor of Donald Duck
Thanks to a hand-shake deal between Walt Disney and Oregon athletic director Leo Harris, the Oregon mascot has had a striking resemblance to Donald Duck since the 1940s. While many rivals will try and poke fun at the cartoon caricature of the mascot, true fans know that there’s no matching the wrath of a riled up Donald Duck.
19. You can see the forest in Matthew Knight Arena
The court at Matthew Knight Arena has a very unique design to it, known as “Deep in the Woods.” Newcomers to Oregon basketball might not recognize what it is when the first look at it, thinking perhaps someone spilled paint on the floor and everyone just decided to roll with it. But those in the know recognize the court as a work of art, with the forests of the Pacific Northwest creeping in from out of bounds towards center court, creating the effect of looking up through the trees of a forest.
18. You respect an extensive wardrobe
The only thing that might out-number the amount of plays that the Oregon offense runs during a game is the number of uniforms that Oregon has worn over the years. One of the benefits of having Nike in your back yard and one of your biggest benefactors is getting new uniforms rolled out on a weekly basis it seems. They are constantly evolving their look and rolling out unique combinations on the regular (though some work better than others).
17. You remember Dennis Dixon's knee injury
In 2007, the Oregon Ducks appeared poised to make a run at a BCS National Championship. Dennis Dixon had the Oregon offense rolling into the home stretch of the season and the Ducks had risen all the way to No. 2 in the BCS standings. But a fateful road trip to take on the Arizona Wildcats ruined everything as Dixon tore his ACL, ending his collegiate career on a sour note and sending the Ducks to a three-game losing streak to end the season. Oregon went from locks for the national title to Sun Bowl when Dixon’s knee blew out and it’s a missed opportunity that sticks with Oregon fans.
16. You have love for Uncle Phil
Every Oregon fan knows what the contribution of Phil Knight has meant for the University of Oregon. While everyone sees the flashy new building and sleek uniforms, Nike’s involvement at Oregon has been a huge reason for the growth of every program at the school. It has transformed Oregon into a destination for the country’s best athletes and a perennial contender across all sports.
15. You thought Michael Dyer was down
The closest that Oregon has ever come to winning a national title came in 2010 when they qualified for the BCS National Championship against the Auburn Tigers. After tying the game late in the fourth quarter, Oregon turned to their defense to get a stop and give their team a shot to win the game. But a hand-off to Michael Dyer changed all that as the Auburn running back appeared to be swung to the ground for a minimal gain and everyone on the field stopped as they thought the play was over. However, Dyer was able to spin on top of the Oregon defender and get back up on his feet to run down the field and set up the winning field goal with no time left on the clock. It’s an “almost” tackle that haunts Oregon fans to this day.
14. "Joey Heisman" was robbed
Back in 2001, Joey Harrington led a phenomenal Oregon team that was snubbed from the national title game. On top of that, Harrington capped off an outstanding college career with a strong season that started with his likeness plastered on a billboard in New York City with the nickname “Joey Heisman.” Harrington failed to make it New York City as a Heisman Trophy winner and watched as Oregon got passed over for a shot at the national title, but his performance in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl was still able to put Oregon on the map in college football and cement his spot as one of the best to ever play for the Ducks.
13. Roses smell even sweeter after 95 years
The Oregon Ducks won their first Rose Bowl way back on January 1, 1917. They had to wait until 2012 to win their second one, however, after losing their next four trips to Pasadena. They finally broke through and back into the winner’s circle against the Wisconsin Badgers in a 45-38 shootout. While it took them nearly a century to get it done again, the wait simply made this win sweeter.
12. Offensive coordinators are head coaches in waiting
Rich Brooks was the man who rejuvenated the Oregon football program through the 80s and into the 90s. When he left for the NFL, Brooks passed the torch to his offensive coordinator Mike Bellotti who continued to build the Oregon program through the 90s and up through 2008. When he stepped down, the team was turned over to his offensive coordinator Chip Kelly who took the program to four straight BCS bowls, including an appearance in the BCS National Championship. When he left for the NFL, the team turned things over to his offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich who won 11 games in his first season. Seems like a nice little pipeline they’ve found.
11. You knew Chip Kelly would succeed in NFL
Speaking of Chip Kelly, Oregon fans were certainly sad to see him go as he had taken the program to new heights in his four seasons at the helm. While many “experts” predicted disaster for Kelly in the NFL because of “gimmicky” offense, Oregon fans knew that Kelly’s gameplan of pace and power-running schemes would translate anywhere and it showed in his first year with the Philadelphia Eagles. True fans of Oregon's game recognized the offensive ingenuity for what it was and had no concerns about how well it would translate.
10. You appreciate speed
While it’s great to watch speedsters like De’Anthony Thomas or Thomas Tyner on the football field, Oregon has speed all over their athletic department. Since 2007, Oregon has won eight national titles in cross country (two men’s titles, one women’s title) and indoor track and field (one men’s title, four women’s titles), proving that speed is everywhere in Eugene. Their dominance in the 70s and 80s in cross country and track and field earned Eugene the nickname Track Town, USA. It’s a moniker they have earned and continue to earn every year.
9. You are far from civil during the Civil War
When the Ducks the Oregon State Beavers square off, things can get heated. Often, the Civil War comes down to which side gets the last shot to win the game and records and talent are simply an afterthought. There’s some serious heat in this rivalry as Oregon has elevated themselves to elite status and the Beavers try to keep pace.
8. "Mighty Oregon" is your jam
The Oregon fight song gets plenty of rotation during game days, particularly when the football team is lighting up scoreboard. True Ducks fans know the tune well and the sound of it brings a rush of excitement. For those of you who need the refresher:
7. You always enjoy blowing out UW
The I-5 rivalry between Oregon and the Washington Huskies is one of the most heated rivalries in the Pac-12. That has made Oregon’s run of dominance over the last decade all the sweeter. The Ducks haven’t lost to UW since 2003 and have won handily year in and year out. The closest Washington has come to snapping their losing streak in this Border War was in 2011 when only lost by 17 points.
6. Colorado was a rival before joining Pac-12
Back in 1996, Oregon faced off against the Colorado Buffaloes in the Cotton Bowl. The Buffs humiliated Mike Bellotti and the Ducks, blowing Oregon out of the water 38-6. Colorado coach Rick Neuheisel really rubbed salt in the wound when he called a fake punt late in the game with the contest already decided. That loss sent Bellotti and the Ducks back to the drawing board where they found Nike and created a partnership that would change everything.
Oregon got their revenge on Colorado in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl after both programs were passed over for spots in the BCS National Championship. Colorado was a heavy favorite but Oregon dominated this one, 38-16. While Colorado joined the Pac-12 in a prolonged slump while Oregon has reached new heights, don’t expect the Ducks to take it easy on the Buffs any time soon.
5. Autzen Stadium is a huge home-field advantage
Autzen Stadium is the home of college football on Saturdays and the Oregon Ducks have used it to their advantage in a major way. It’s an intimidating venue for visiting teams as the fans are right on top of the action, creating a very loud atmosphere that fuels the Ducks to victory. It’s considered by many one of the loudest stadiums in college football and you won't find any true Oregon fans who will deny it.
4. Rich Brooks is a legend
Things didn’t get off to a fast start under Rich Brooks when he took over in 1977 but they ended on a high note. Slowly but surely, Brooks built the Oregon program up from almost nothing, eventually getting the Ducks back to the postseason with an appearance in the 1989 Independence Bowl, the team’s first bowl game in 26 years. In his final season as the head coach in 1994, Brooks took Oregon all the way to a conference championship and a berth in the Rose Bowl. While he left the program after that season to coach in the NFL, Brooks is the man responsible for getting Oregon’s football program going in the right direction.
3. You throw up the "O" at every opportunity
Whether it’s rain or shine, home or away, wearing face paint or sporting a silly hat, Oregon fans always know when the throw up the “O” on game day. The move has become synonymous with the Ducks after they rebranded and adopted the “O” as their logo, allowing fans a sign of solidarity and pride when watching the Ducks.
Steve Prefontaine is arguably the greatest athlete to ever attend the University of Oregon and is still remembered for his drive and excellence. At one time, he held the American record in seven different distance track events from the 2,000 meters to the 10,000 meters and continues to be a source of inspiration to long-distance runners and athletes in general. Though he passed away at the young age of 24 in 1975, Pre continues to leave a lasting impact on his alma mater and fans of Oregon.
1. Kenny Wheaton and "The Pick" are a defining moment in your fandom
Oregon fans can pinpoint the exact moment that the football program turned the corner. During Brooks’ run to the Rose Bowl in 1994, Oregon had to play against No. 9 Washington to get over the hump. Nursing a 24-20 lead, the Ducks needed a big stop to keep the Huskies from scoring the go-ahead touchdown. It seemed inevitable that UW would pull it out in the end as they had won 17 of the last 20 meetings against the Ducks. But then Kenny Wheaton stepped in front of a Damon Huard pass and returned it 97 yards for a touchdown, sealing the win for Oregon, punching their ticket to the Rose Bowl, and getting the Oregon football program on the winning track they’re still on to this day. Watch the video and relive the moment that changed everything for Oregon.