How deep do your memories of Oregon football go? Would you remember anyone from the 1983 season? What about the 1983 Spring Game? If we looked back, who would we recognize?
Let’s play Where’s Waldo? with this photo and see if you can guess who the participants are:
Likely, you recognize the subject of the red arrow. That’s Rich Brooks. Of course, he wasn’t the Rich Brooks of “Rich Brooks Field” just yet. Brooks’ career record was only 20-43-3, and with exactly zero bowl appearances as of that spring.
Long-time fans may also recognize the blue-arrowed individual as long-time assistant “Coach Zoum”, Neal Zoumboukos. He spent nearly three decades with Oregon, mostly coaching offensive line. 1983 would be his fourth spring with the Ducks.
The player on the sideline circled in green is running back Tony Cherry. 1983 was Cherry’s first spring in Eugene. He would lead Oregon in rushing in 1984 and 1985, named All-PAC-10 both of those years before being drafted by San Francisco in the ninth round of the 1986. Cherry played two seasons with the 49ers before finishing his career in the CFL. His still holds the Oregon record for most kickoff return yards in a single game (240, against WSU in 1984) and remains the only player in school history with multiple games of 320+ all purpose yards.
The player circled in yellow is defensive back Doug Judge. Seen here the spring following his Casanova Award-winning season for best Oregon newcomer in 1982, Judge would go on to lead the Ducks in interceptions in 1984, an outstanding season for which he was named All-PAC-10.
While Judge would gain notoriety in the state for his efforts as safety, his popularity grew after his time at Oregon, although under a different name. Doug Judge pursued another career, as an actor, under the name “Chris Judge.”
Chris Judge is best known for his role as “Teal’c” on the long-running show, Stargate SG-1, for which he would go on to be nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series.
On the same side of the ball as Judge in the 1983 Spring Game was this middle linebacker. Do you recognize him?
You might recognize his last name: Skipper. There have been many famous Skippers at Oregon – Art Skipper (NCAA javelin champion, 1992), Tommy Skipper (NCAA pole vault champion, outdoor, 2004, 2006, 2007), and current Oregon Hammer thrower Greg Skipper. The first of them was Greg’s dad, Scott, seen here at his first spring in 1983. Scott would go on to play both linebacker and later become a thrower for the Oregon track team.
Present that fall, but absent that spring, was quarterback Chris Miller (seen below holding for Mat Macleod). Miller would go on to start for Oregon that season following an injury to Mike Jorgensen (seen above in the spring game). Impressive, given that Miller wasn’t even in Autzen Stadium the day of the 1983 spring game, as he was busy pitching for Sheldon High School in the state playoffs.
The spring practices in 1983 may not have yielded quite the season many had hoped for; Oregon would finish 4-6-1, the “1” perhaps being the season’s most notable game, the infamous “Toilet Bowl”, a Civil War contest played in a downpour with the teams combining for 16 turnovers, four field goals, and zero points. That season may not have been noteworthy, but its participants certainly were. Six Ducks from that spring would get drafted into the NFL (Steve Baack, Dan Ralph, Tony Cherry, Lew Barnes, Drew Smetana, and most notably, Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Gary Zimmerman), making us wonder about where this year’s participants might be 30 years from now.
(Huge thanks to Charles Fischer and Gary Breedlove for their help on this article.)
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