The early 2000’s hold many fond memories for many Duck fans. Oregon was on the rise to the national spotlight, as they made a name for themselves with back-to-back 2000-2001 Pac-12 titles, and winning the BCS-rated Fiesta Bowl — finishing ranked No. 2 nationally (2001).
Meanwhile, Autzen Stadium was rising – and so was a big name on the Oregon special teams unit. Such a big name, this special teams legend had his persistence pay off as he worked his way to the top of the scoring chart in Oregon football history (where he remained until LaMichael James came to Oregon; but still sits in second place, as well as Oregon’s top kicker.) FishDuck.com is honored to welcome Oregon’s second all-time leading scorer, placekicker Jared Siegel (2001-2004).
WHAT SCHOOLS WERE RECRUITING YOU, AND WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO BE A DUCK?
A. Mainly USC, Cal, Rice, & Oregon. A lot of schools offered me a opportunities to walk on and be part of the team; but kicking is one of those ‘niche positions’ that don’t get recruited most years. I chose Oregon because of the coaches, facilities, the Pac-10, and the beauty of Eugene and all of Oregon (everything was green/lush and awesome).
EARLY DAYS AT OREGON:
Jared Siegel came to Oregon in 2000. However, he failed a physical examination, requiring him to delay his enrollment to receive a scholarship. He would enroll at Oregon winter, 2001; giving him more time to learn to balance his schedule in the off-season and prepare in spring camp to battle for the starting kicker slot following the departure of icon, Josh Frankel. He held off challengers during spring and fall to be one of two atop the depth chart to begin the season.
Q. WHAT ARE YOUR EARLIEST MEMORIES OF BEING PART OF THE TEAM?
A. One of the earliest memories I have is walking into the weight room at only 175 lbs. – feeling out of place and intimidated! Not spending much time there, I saw some of the biggest/strongest men I’d ever put eyes on!
It was soon time to begin the much-anticipated 2001 season. Labeled by many as a “once-in-a-lifetime season” at Oregon, the Ducks were favored to win the Pac-10 — and even more – by most media.
The season arrived as a dominant Wisconsin team came to town, having barely defeated Oregon the previous year in Madison.
Payback was on the Ducks’ mind, but Siegel was thinking more about winning the kicking job over strong-legged JC Transfer David Rosenberg. After much hard work, Siegel was called upon as Oregon’s first true-freshman placekicker in six years.
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT YOUR FIRST PLAYING EXPERIENCE?
A. I had never seen a game live in Autzen Stadium before. The very first time I played was the very first gameday I saw there; we were playing Wisconsin (9-1-2001). One of our first drives stalled, and we called for the field goal. I remember trotting out nervous, taking my steps, and I made the field goal. BUT, I didn’t know the tradition of the horn after scoring; and was caught off guard by it along with the energy — that was surreal!
In a tight battle with Wisconsin, Siegel nailed all 4 of his PAT attempts. Those, along with the early field goal, proved to be the difference-makers in the end, as Oregon held on to win, 31-28.
The following week against Utah, Siegel had another field goal but struggled, with a blocked PAT and a missed FG. Rosenberg was still in the race for starter, and was ready to take it. A bye-week followed, and the battle was on for the next few weeks.
SIEGEL WINS GAME, STARTING JOB – BECOMES ICON:
The night of September 22, 2001, was a defining moment for Jared Siegel as USC came to town. Oregon outplayed SC, yet penalties and missed opportunities kept the game close. In the fourth quarter with Oregon leading 21-19, a turnover gave USC a field goal try, and they would connect to lead, 22-21, and gain the momentum. More, Siegel had been pulled earlier in the game following a missed field goal to give Rosenberg the PAT duties.
As the game wound down, “Captain Comeback” Joey Harrington led the Ducks downfield, but the drive stalled. Rosenberg’s kick was blocked, and the game appeared over with only 1:30 to play. However, the defense held to allow a second chance.
Harrington used his heroics to drive Oregon down field, and this time Siegel was called upon. He made the most of his chance, splitting the uprights from 32 yards out with only 12 seconds to play. The miracle comeback, 24-22, was in the books, and Siegel is known as a hero in Eugene to this day.
Jared recalls the intensity: “Getting benched, while on national TV at 19, was a difficult experience.” [However, Rosenberg’s kick was then blocked.] “Coach Bellotti told us both to warm up as the offense was marching down the field with under a minute remaining. With seconds left, the score was Oregon 21, USC 22. Coach Bellotti called Rosenberg and I over and looked us both in the eyes several times before pushing me on the field and saying, ‘You’ve got this!’
The kick left my foot almost perfectly. Autzen erupted into a euphoric chaos with my teammates jumping all over the place. It was surreal to experience a moment that I had spent so many hours preparing for and dreaming about. Every kicker dreams about stepping up in a clutch moment and being the deciding factor in a game. As a freshman kicker, I couldn’t have asked for a better moment to prove myself to my teammates. Earning my teammates trust and respect was important to me. After the USC kick, my role on the team was pretty well solidified.”
Oregon would go on to win the Pac-10, the memorable Fiesta Bowl triumph and garner a No. 2 national ranking in the final poll. In a year of many tight victories, Siegel’s kicks also proved to be the difference makers in a 21-20 victory at UCLA, and a rainy 17-14 Civil War win. His 47-yard kick in the Fiesta Bowl was a career best to cap a super freshman season. Siegel finished the year tied as the top scorer with 72 points, on 7 FGs and 51 PATs.
Although he had a solid freshman season, there’s always room for improvement and Siegel’s improvements during his sophomore season were phenomenal. Though 2002 was a setback season for Oregon, Siegel had his best year ever, as his attention to detail paid off to earn him Oregon’s first-ever All-Pac-10 selection, as well as a Lou Groza Award Finalist. Though best known for his winning FG over USC as a freshman, Siegel’s career moment was arguably his sophomore year at UCLA.
As the first half ended with Oregon at midfield, Coach Bellotti called on Siegel for an improbable 59-yard kick.
SIEGEL’S FUNNIEST MEMORY AND LONGEST KICK: “I remember Bellotti turning to me and asking if it was even possible to make that kick! I told him it was possible, and he called on me to. But, as I start to leave the sideline, he calls me by name and says ‘make sure to tell the O-Line to cover down on the kick … but I think you’ll make it’!”
No one expected a score, but Oregon had nothing to lose with time running out in the half. Siegel proceeded to set a new Rose Bowl stadium/Pac-10 Conference record. The near 60-yard FG remains the longest kick in Oregon history to this day, and proved the difference in their 31-30 victory.
Siegel connected on 4 field goals (3 from 40+ yards) against USC. He finished his greatest year with 7 completed kicks more than 40 yards, and 3 from 50+. Additionally, he tied a record of 54 straight PAT completions all year.
In 2003, Siegel’s junior season was even more solid — where he nailed 9 attempts, with a long of 51.
As a senior, Siegel fittingly led the 2004 team in scoring. Not only would he end the year the leader in scoring, but went out as Oregon’s then-all-time leading scorer, with 180 PATs & 46 FGs for 323 career points.
Jared Siegel never won the Lou Groza award but had an outstanding career and strong finish, winning Oregon’s top special teams player award, first-team All-Pac-10 and an iconic name in Oregon history.
Q. COULD YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR HEAD COACH AND THE RELATIONSHIP YOU HAD?
A. [Coach] Bellotti was both the head coach and the coach who recruited me. Bellotti was in charge of the kickers/punters, so I had a unique relationship with him. I failed my physical as a freshman; which was a … we had some very honest and candid conversations. Mike Bellotti is a man of deep conviction; everything he ever told me was true. He was never 100% satisfied and taught me what it was like to fight for complacency, raise the bar and have high expectations. I liken him to my first real boss!
LIFE AFTER OREGON FOOTBALL:
Following graduation, Siegel had tryouts for several pro teams, but never really made it through fall camp. Instead, he moved to Portland to finish his MBA, where he met his wife, married and started his career.
He began in commercial risk management with his office in Portland, followed by consulting in health care in Seattle. Though he liked Seattle, he missed Oregon and therefore moved back where he landed his current job.
“I think the Puget Sound is beautiful, but didn’t want to raise my family there (‘Too many Huskies!). So, three and a half years ago, my wife and I moved back to Oregon to settle.”
Q. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO LEAVE THE TEAM AND MAKE A LIFE BEYOND PLAYING FOR THE DUCKS?
A. Transitioning to life beyond football is a challenging step. Football in Eugene can easily become your identity! So, as you transition into life after football — beyond the Ducks – it’s an exploration of what the next step looks like, and how to measure your life by a different standard. You must embrace a new and realistic identity.
WHERE THEY ARE NOW:
Siegel and his wife Esther have three children (2 girls, 6 & 4; 1 boy, 16 months.) They live in Lake Oswego where Jared works for the successful Delap Accounting & Advising Firm; and where Siegel still takes part in Oregon Alumni activities.
The Siegel’s go to Autzen to attend Duck games annually, where Jared left a special and permanent Duck track on field and in the hearts of thousands.
FINAL MESSAGE TO THE FANS FROM JARED:
“It’s been fun to be adopted into the Oregon Football ‘fan family.’ I grew up (in California) not knowing much about the Ducks; but with the great experience, have chosen to stay in Oregon and raise my family here. There’s no shortage of appreciation for the fun memories and warm welcome I received from Oregon football fans, so thank you! GO DUCKS!”
WRITER’S POSTSCRIPT NOTE:
On a personal level, I have been acquainted with Jared since his playing days. I was simply a fan who went to his practices and other events. While we weren’t well known to each other, my passion for the Ducks did not go unnoticed in his eyes. As a matter of fact (and much to my surprise and extreme honor) Siegel had some kind words for me, personally:
It was Sunday, November 21, 2004. The most disastrous season in the past 20 years had concluded with Oregon finishing a losing 5-6 and no bowl appearance. However, the annual trophy banquet still took place to honor the outgoing seniors such as Siegel. I was there to personally witness the “light in the darkness,” where and when at the conclusion of the event — Siegel approached me with words I treasure to this day. He acknowledged my attendance to nearly every practice, being there to congratulate or console the team outside the locker room following each game, going to extra events such as the banquets, and with a small few there before road games to wish the team off as they boarded the bus for the airport. In recognition of my support, Siegel said one of the kindest and most heart-warming things anyone has ever said to me: “I’ve seen a LOT of major Duck fans in my time here, but I’m gonna have to say, you’re the No. 1 fan!” A true honor to hear from Oregon’s (then) all-time leading scorer.
Special Thanks to Jared for your time, outstanding career at Oregon, loyalty to the program today, and appreciation for fans. BRAVO, SIEGEL!