Editors Note: We lost Abbie in November of 2018, and a wonderful tribute to her was published, and that you can read here. She is part of the history of the site as well…
For a dog, I’ve got a pretty good gig.
I get tons of attention from Charles, Lois and Christine Fischer three or four times a day, great meals (on time, I might add), snacks slipped to me by Mr. FishDuck, and I got to appear on the FishDuck Instructional Videos that have been viewed over a million times. Yep–I did it all for cheese, but who wouldn’t (we can all agree everything is better with cheese and bacon)? I have three beds located throughout the house, with lots of toys to play with and gifts from our beloved Grizzled Ol’ Coach, Mike Morris. It is a sweet deal, as the Fischers adore me, and I have them well-trained.
Charles has mumbled about having a “summary” article concerning the highlights of FishDuck.com, where he takes the items out of the file called, “You don’t Suck” and list them in one article as a way to remember the impact of the site with Oregon fans over the years.
I am going to present it to you, and while some of it you have heard parts of it before, hopefully some is new. (Charles will be using it as a long-term historical piece for reference) I just felt it was needed as all of us associated with the site have been part of a very unique football fan experience, and I have witnessed the countless hours he has given, (in addition money that could have been spent on me!) but I want to go down memory lane recalling the special events associated with the site.
Back in ’90s … Charles was frustrated with the lame coverage of Oregon scrimmages from the local newspaper, and felt that he could provide the “football gossip” to fellow fans in a way that gave them more information; hence the “Fish Reports” were born.
Charles would go to the scrimmages and come back to his office and write for three hours recounting what he just saw, and then he would post it on all the major Oregon message board sites. He just wanted to share, but his posts did become popular. Without realizing it, Charles had his first audience.
The major beat writer covering Oregon Football for the local paper would sneer at how unprofessional the Fish Reports were, as he was a veteran who brought truly skillful articles to the newspaper. Later, this reporter would go to work for the official Oregon sports site–his role? He writes gossip articles about Oregon practices! The irony is not lost even on a mixed breed like me, and you cannot but help note the impact over time that Mr. FishDuck made to raise the entertainment bar for Oregon fans.
Media around Oregon began to notice, and you could gradually see sports-writing becoming more “consumer friendly.” This turned out to be only the beginning…
A First Major Discovery Before the Site Began!
Fast forward to spring of 2010 and Charles noted how the defense looked different in scrimmages, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. After talking to Casey Mathew’s father about it in the stands–he embarked upon a month-long quest to read up and learn about the “new” defense Oregon put into place that nobody in the media had mentioned, announced, or explained as up to that point–Oregon had been running a standard 4-3 defense for years.
Do you remember the big blow-up on the web in summer of 2010 concerning Oregon moving to a 3-4 defense?
After meeting with Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti and confirming the big change in May, Charles released a 5,000 word white paper in early June 2010, discussing Oregon’s new defense in-depth and out-scooping every sports media source in the state (Nick gave his blessing on the article as accurate). The whole summer Chip Kelly was hammered by media asking about the change, and Chip would deny it!
Finally, in late August, Coach Kelly admitted to Fox Sports that “if you count a change of 16 months ago a change, then I guess it is one” (This is precisely what Charles reported two months earlier; now it was confirmed by the head man himself). It was the first major revelation by Mr. Fischer about Oregon Football, and he was not used to the attention. I can attest to Charles’s swelled head, and Lois said that he had to turn sideways to get his head through a doorway at that time. While that may have been true–he deserved it.
It was a good thing that Charles enjoyed the analysis because there was never any recognition for him as over the ensuing months and years–sports journalists would refer daily to Oregon’s new 3-4 defense and never once credit Charles Fischer as they would any other media source. Not the last time that would happen either.
The Famous FishDuck Videos…
In the spring of 2011, Charles decided to open FishDuck.com, although the site was not supposed to bear that name. He wanted to learn the Oregon Spread Offense, and create instructional videos for Oregon fans to learn right alongside with him. This project began in earnest in August 2011. He did not know a thing about making videos, but struggled through and I got fat from all the cheese given to me to take part in those wonderful videos.
Charles also had no idea the stir these videos would create; the local paper began doing videos for the first time in their 100 year old history just six weeks after Charles began releasing his, and the stir among fans and media sources was massive. The videos brought a simplistic understanding of Duck football to allow the typical fan to enjoy Oregon games that much more.
Meanwhile, Charles was dedicating a chunk of the family budget money every month to support the site, as he did not have the time to sell ads between his flourishing investment business, and the time given to the site. He was told that daily articles were needed, and thus began the inception of over 6,000 articles published. I’ve overhead coaches comment that it is hard to search for a football topic on Google without a FishDuck.com article popping up somewhere in the first couple of pages.
These videos have been viewed over 1.8 million times. Even now they are viewed at an average of every hour every day… and Mr. FishDuck has not made a new video in over six years! He truly just wanted to help others learn.
Helping an Unexpected Group…
What Charles did not see coming was the popularity of the videos among high school coaches and players. Charles was approached by a young coach at a Coaching Clinic who asked, “you’re FishDuck, aren’t you?” When he answered in the affirmative–this coach told him that, “I want to shake your hand and let you know how you helped us.”
“We are the little team in our league–the one that everybody beats the brains out of every year … until this last fall. I found your videos and hooked the laptop up to a projector and showed the videos over-and-over to our offense until they each could see what their position would do. We went on to the best season in the history of the school and actually made it deep into the State of Washington playoffs.”
Charles told him … “Coach–these videos were not made for coaching, but simplistic for fans!” He waved Mr. Fischer off and said that,
“They are perfect for 15 year olds to learn from.”
Hence the hundreds of emails from coaches around the United States, and even the world. At this moment Charles has emails from Germany and England, as coaches of club teams continue to ask for more information. At one Coaching Clinic–Charles was told by one coach that,
“Where we are in Canada–not only has every coach heard of FishDuck.com, but we all run the Oregon offense because of it!”
Without trying to, the site became an Ambassador for Oregon football worldwide, thus contributing to increased fan interest, and as a result, to the Oregon brand.
At one point Mr. FishDuck received an email from Brazil asking for any other coach in Central or South America that was running the Oregon Spread Offense that he could turn to for more help. Charles was able to send the contact information of not just coaches in in the southern hemisphere, but three of them in Brazil that had emailed him over the years.
The site’s assistance extended even to a Semi-Pro Team in Fort Worth, Texas that had a meteoric climb as a result of their head coach sharing the videos and analysis articles from the site with his team. They went on to become the best in the nation among over 2,900 Semi-Pro teams. Again–Charles spent all that money on the site helping others learn the game and win when he could have been using it for vacations for the four of us, more beds for me, and of course, a ton more cheese.
Stunning Reach on the Web for Oregon Football…
I overheard one coach tell Charles that he had been going out of his way to ask every coach he ran into if FishDuck.com was a site the other coach had heard of. He went to to explain that he had not met a single coach yet that had not heard and been on FishDuck.com!
The site’s impact on Oregon Football is simply not realized by most. While chewing on my new toy given to me by the Grizzled Ol’ Coach last Saturday during one of his and Charles’s infamous Skull Sessions, I overheard Mike Morris tell him that,
“I can’t hardly research anything in football without a FishDuck.com article coming up in Google!”
That happens when a site had been in the top 1% of the world for visits in a month among all active websites (by Alexa.com, an independent source of verification) for six straight years. The over 350 analysis articles in the Oregon Analysis Library are unsurpassed by any other Oregon site, and by most coaching-centric sites in the world.
Most major publications have linked FishDuck.com over the years… I’m not just referring to sports sites like ESPN.com, but the Wall Street Journal interviewed Charles and used him as an authority source (and linked the site!) for an article. That was fun for him, but the Washington Post did two extensive articles about the Oregon Spread Offense and this site and lavished praise upon it.
The Endorsement Charles Cherishes the Most…
In a recent fall–a particular SID (Sports Information Director) of a Pac-12 School decided that they would not give Media Credentials to independent websites even though FishDuck.com had such credentials for years. This school cited that “only if the site was part of a national chain, and not a blog,” and refused to talk about it any further with Mr. Fischer. Charles then got on the phone with another Pac-12 SID and asked him for a favor–to call that other SID and express his time working with FD.com and the quality of the site.
Forty minutes later I overheard Charles get the call from the second SID who explained that he told the reluctant SID of this Pac-12 school to:
“Go check out the site and see if you don’t think it is the best Oregon site out there, as I do.”
The Sports Information Director who had his doubts then returned the second SID’s call ten minutes later, explaining:
“This is the first time I have ever granted Media Credentials to an independent site, but I agree with your opinion about the site.”
Of course Charles was thrilled, because in the span of 40 minutes, two Sports Information Directors of Pac-12 schools said that FishDuck.com was the best (He had to turn his head sideways again to get into the house).
Another Big Defensive Discovery…
A few years back Charles began to build a team of coaches who would advise and write for the site, and none were as valuable to readers as the Grizzled Ol’ Coach, Mike Morris. It was his expertise that detected something in 2013 that was different concerning the Oregon defense that none of the coaches Charles had worked with noted, and it had not been written about at all in the Oregon Media. It was the 404 Defensive Technique, the “Hidden Bear” defense, and it was again quite a coup for the site in out-scooping all other Oregon media sources.
This site has not always been correct, as both Charles and GOC admit that they “drank the Brady Hoke Kool-Aid” in Spring of 2016. They promoted the changes on defense and felt that “it could not get worse than 2015,” but alas it did. I avoided “Skull Sessions” between Charles and the coach in fall of 2016 as they were too busy thrashing around in the ManCave, frustrated at what they saw defensively on the Monitor/TV in front of them. Snacks for me were sparse at that time.
But you have to give them credit; they admitted in articles on this site they were wrong and went about showing the terrible defensive technique as it happened throughout the season. Unlike other media sources–they not only make the tough calls in advance, but will admit publicly when they are wrong.
Where does that happen in the press?
Charles learned his lesson in 2016, as he could see problems with the team and did not report them as he wanted to stay positive through it all. He has resolved to never do that again as he will call it the way he sees it from now on…
If I was a cat, I would hack up a hairball at the lack of crediting to this site and respect given to the labor of love that Charles Fischer has created. It does not count to later to observe the obvious; what matters is to inform the fans up front and be a man about making your judgments, and living by them. Most in the media would rather do the fluff stories about players, or report the negative, instead of doing analysis as this site does and laying it on the line with surprising predictions for the benefit of the Oregon fans.
Fall 2018: A Minority View….
In mid-September of 2018, Charles came out in articles on this site declaring that this offense will not take us to the ‘Natty unless major and dramatic changes were made. That view was in quite the minority view at the time, as everyone was completely on-board with head coach Mario Cristobal. Charles was pleased with what he saw of the leadership, culture-building, hiring and recruiting under Cristobal, but called the way he saw it concerning the worst offense in a decade in Eugene. “Mario Cristobal has held the Oregon offense down better than any defense since Auburn.”
Such remarks and analysis were not endearing to the remainder of the media and other Oregon sites and he was ravaged in the comments. Few people have ever had so much written that was negative about them in the Oregon Sports community as Charles has.
Yet after the bowl game in December, Coach Cristobal admitted that major changes needed to occur on offense in the off-season and one change was made in the WR coach. It is not enough to suit Mr. FishDuck. but his view was vindicated by the head coach himself.
It will be interesting to see if more major changes occur as Charles has indicated is needed.
There have been other smaller predictions that were big in that particular year such as in 2017 when Charles wrote in his editorials, that running a slender 6’6 quarterback between the tackles was “stupid as hell” and sure enough Justin Herbert got hurt the very next game and that season suffered..
Charles has now added the Oregon Football Repository with 1,000+ articles and videos in 12 new sections on the site so Oregon fans can find items about our beloved Ducks easily and for free? It is another first among all Duck websites!
The story of FishDuck.com is one that you will not hear from any other college football fan website out there, and the amazing track record of the site is not over, as Mr. FishDuck transitions it into a new era where there is the only Guaranteed Troll-Free Comments among all Oregon sites and is rare on today’s web.
I will be at Charles’s side during the games and analysis study, as “cheese snacks” will find their way to the floor. Thus I have come to love football as much as a dog possibly could!
Abbie (The Official Mascot of FishDuck.com)
Top Photo from FishDuck.com Video
Abbie is the official mascot of FishDuck.com as she has entertained thousands in her appearances in the instructional videos of the Oregon Offense and Defense in the FishTank Video Archive. She has come to love so many of the staff that come to visit.
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