The year was 1894. What were people doing in 1894? They weren’t on the internet and it’s certain that Twitter didn’t exist back then — and what about touch screen phones and GPS systems — did they exist? Nope. Technology was pretty much unheard of during that time. Most people were probably reading newspapers and using this device called the typewriter. But in the calm and exuberant land of Eugene, Oregon, something was brewing. 1894 will always be remembered as the birth year of the Oregon Ducks football program.
For more than 120 years the Ducks have thrown touchdown passes and kicked field goals, and throughout the years coaches have come and gone, but some will be remembered forever. Whether it’s the Len Casanova era, the 13 years under Mike Bellotti, or the last five years with Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich, the Ducks have been fortunate enough to have great leaders.
While the Ducks have won a lot of games throughout their history, 627 to be exact, each and every era of Oregon Ducks football has a special moment associated with it. Let that sink in for a second. Think about all those moments; think about the Ducks of ’89 and how they won the Independence Bowl after 26 years of not participating in a bowl game, and think about the Kenny Wheaton interception and the Rose Bowl Ducks of ’94, which many consider to be the team that turned the Oregon program around. Or what about Joey Harrington and the improbable run that the Ducks made in 2001? Those are all moments Oregon fans will never forget, and the great thing about sports is that you’ll always remember where you were.
The Ducks of 2014 are also looking to etch their names in the history books as they get ready to participate in the first-ever College Football Playoff, and unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past three months, you know exactly how they’ve come this far. Not only do these Ducks comprise of high-character players such as Hroniss Grasu, Hamani Stevens and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, but they’re also fortunate enough to posses the best player in college football. He speaks with confidence, and he has a humble personality as well. Around Eugene he only goes by one name: Marcus Mariota. Wait, you don’t know him? He’s that one kid who plays offense and wears No. 8, and he also has a knack for throwing touchdown passes and breaking school records. He was named the Pac-12’s Offensive Player of the Year, and he also won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Polynesian College Football Player of the Year award. There’s also a really good chance we’ll hear his name called when they announce the Heisman winner this Saturday.
If you don’t know Mariota, you should get to know him. Appreciate him, and thank him for the memories. In about three and a half weeks he’ll lead the Ducks in the Rose Bowl against Florida State, the defending National Champion. Maybe this is the magical season that Oregon fans from past generations have been waiting for. After 120 years of existence, and after failing time and time again, maybe this is the season that the Ducks will call themselves “National Champions.”
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck