Duck Family Day is a new feature for every Saturday where Oregon fans share their stories of . . . being Oregon fans! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your experiences of you and your family and what it means to be a Duck fan. Cheryl Hudson (below) is an editor/writer for FishDuck.com and is extremely passionate about our beloved Ducks, the same as you and me. Contact us and share!
Some of my favorite Duck football memories are from 1994. My daughter, Becky, was a freshman at the U of O. The football season didn’t start off very well. After beating Portland State 58-16 on September 3rd, the Ducks lost their next two games — 16-36 at Hawaii and 16-34 at home against Utah. Then they won two — Iowa at Autzen Stadium — 40-18 and USC in the Coliseum – 22-7!
We’d hoped the Ducks had “turned it around,” when they played WSU in Pullman on October 8th. But no, the Cougars won 21-7. However, the Ducks pulled off a win in the following game, at home against California — 23-7. Next up was Washington.
On October 22nd, the Huskies came to Eugene, having beaten the Ducks the past 5 seasons and 11 of the previous 13. I knew Becky was at the game. I had been to a meeting in Portland and was returning 260 miles home up the Columbia River Gorge.
I found the game on the radio. We were actually ahead 24-20 in the fourth quarter! I listened as the Huskies methodically drove the ball down the field. It seemed like our defense was helpless against the run! Washington was inside the Ducks 10-yard line when my radio cut out. (That still happens in the Gorge.) I was sure we’d lost and was sad the rest of the way home. Yet, I was proud of our guys — they’d almost pulled off the upset!
That evening, I called Becky at her dorm. “I’m sorry, honey. We were so close to winning.”
“We did win, Mom.”
“How could we have won? Did the Ducks score after the Huskies went ahead?”
“No, we intercepted a pass at the goal line and ran it all the way back for a touchdown!”
What joy! That’s how I learned about “The Pick!” I never get tired of hearing, “Kenny Wheaton’s going to score! Kenny Wheaton’s going to score!” The final score was 31-20.
After beating Arizona 10-9 and Arizona State 34-10 at home and Stanford 55-21 away, it was time for the Civil War! Becky went to Corvallis to attend the game. She wanted to cheer her team to victory, because the Beavers had won the year before in Eugene.
My husband and I were viewing the game on TV with some friends. He said, “Watch for Becky.” I told him she was with more than 40,000 other people, so it wasn’t likely we’d see her.
It was a close game. If the Ducks won, they would go to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1958.
In the second quarter, right after the Beavers had made a big play, the cameras homed in on our daughter! She was the only person they singled out in the whole game! We were thrilled and especially glad when the Ducks won, 17-13.
Here’s the deal, they probably homed in on Becky, because she painted her face green and yellow. I found a picture of two painted-faced guys from a 1994 highlight film. That was the extreme for Duck fans, back then. Nowadays, fans really go beyond that! Look at the stands at Oregon games. Everyone is color coordinated and there’s always some guys with painted torsos.
When Rich Brooks left Oregon after the 1994 season, we fans worried that we’d return to the bottom of the pile, but it turned out to be the onset of good times for Oregon.
The Ducks started a tradition of promoting the offensive coordinator to head coach. Mike Bellotti coached from 1995-2008. His win-loss record was 116-55! The Ducks won more than twice as many as they lost!
Chip Kelly was the next OC to be hired. He took over the head coaching duties in 2009. In four seasons, the Ducks won 46 and only lost 7!
In 2013, Oregon again hired their OC– Mark Helfrich. In his first two seasons, the Ducks have gone 24-4!
The Ducks still have coaches on their staff who were on board during the 1994 run. Don Pellum was the linebackers coach; Steve Greatwood was the offensive line coach and Gary Campbell was the running backs coach. All of this consistency has been great for the program.
In the past, we were thrilled if we had a winning season. Now, if we lose, people want to fire the coaches! Give me a break!
I am proud of the way our coaches work together with the players to “Win the Day,” not only on the field, but off. There’s no way that I want to get rid of any of our coaches.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck