Oregon Unknowns: 1916 – A Mighty Year Of Firsts!

Don Gilman History

The 1916 Oregon Webfoots

1916 was a milestone year for the University of Oregon.

The Webfoots were talented.  They were innovative and clever.  They were also huge — an absolutely massive team whose line averaged an astounding 185 pounds!  (C’mon folks…this is 1916!)  Led by quarterback Shy Huntington and coach Hugo Bezdek, the 1916 Oregon team remains the only undefeated football team in the University of Oregon’s history.  Up until two years ago, they were also the last University of Oregon football team to win the Rose Bowl.

Bezdek had been the coach at Oregon in 1906 and had returned to the head football position from 1913 until the 1916-1917 season.  He had been fortunate enough to learn football under the tutelage of the legendary Amos Alonzo Stagg, an innovative coach in both football and basketball, and Bezdek brought with him the lessons learned under Stagg.

One of the biggest football highlights of that year was the 0-0 tie against the Washington Huskies.  It may seem odd to have a tie as one of the highlights of an undefeated season; but, to put the importance of that tie in perspective, consider that those same Huskies had not lost a game in 9 seasons — since 1907!

Also in 1916 the Pacific Coast Conference was formed — the precursor of the PAC-8, PAC-10, and PAC-12.

Mighty Oregon was penned by the songwriting team of John Dewitt Gilbert and Albert Perfect and used for the first time during that glorious year.  Turns out the anthem of Ducks alumni everywhere came none too soon…

Because before the song was written Oregon actually played “On Wisconsin” as their fight song!

 

Written by Don Gilman with Carl L. Blackwell

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