As most fans in the Northwest know, there’s no love lost between the Ducks and the Huskies; the hatred between the two programs runs deep. So, how did it all start?
Let’s take a look at some of the exchanges between the two schools described in “The Border War” by Richard Linde. You will not believe some of the stories in this article. Many of these are confirmed in the Oregon Football Repository, in particular on this page with some very entertaining articles. But check and see if you know all of the unbelievable and intense Oregon and Washington rivalry stories below!
It Goes a Long Way Back …
1908: Gil Dobie is hired at Washington. Dobie fires first shot in feud, blanking Oregon 15-0 at Kinkaid Field. Although the weather was not a factor, the field had been covered with four to six inches of sawdust. Dobie blamed Oregon’s track coach, Bill Hayward, who was a trainer for the football team, for the incident, fearing the slow field would intimidate his freshman-dominant team.
Later, quarterback “Wee” Coyle would credit Dobie for the team’s victory. Dobie told his team: “Boys, you’re going to go out and get licked, and I can’t help you. But I’ll be ashamed of you if you don’t go out and fight ’em, and fight ’em hard.”
1909: The Triple Pass Play: Washington surprises Oregon in a 20-6 victory, using a triple pass play (Dobie’s version of the modern-day flea flicker) to score two touchdowns. Both of them end up in the hands of left end Warren Grimm. In 1909, an incomplete pass of less than five yards resulted in a turnover.
1911: The Dobie Bunk Play: UW wins 29-3 in Portland, using a trick play orchestrated by Coyle, who pretends his leather helmet is the football. All of Oregon’s defensive players chase the helmet-lugging Coyle, while on the opposite side of the field, a lonesome Wayne Sutton carries the real pigskin over the goal line.
1911: The Washington Hook: UW yell leader Bill Horsley introduces the “Hook,” a 10-foot by 3-foot wooden replica of a hook, which Washington fans carry to every game as a symbol of its dominance in football. It was first carried to Portland at the end of the 1911 season.
1912: A Touchdown under the bleachers? UW blocks a punt, and the ball goes behind the Oregon end line, coming to rest under some temporary bleachers. The ball is recovered by Washington and is ruled a touchdown under the rules of the day? UW wins 30-14.
1915: Attempt to derail dynasty: Oregon and the cow colleges (Oregon State Aggies and Washington State Aggies) refuse to schedule Washington in hopes of ending Dobie’s unbeaten dynasty.
1916: The moral victory: It is said that Dobie (59-0-3) meets his match when Oregon holds his charges to a scoreless tie on a field (in Eugene) that resembles a lake. Oregon covers herself with glory and mud, and her students that night celebrate a “victory” in Portland, lauding the heroes who hold Dobie’s eight-year champions to an even break. They foretell his fall “as undisputed czar of football in the Northwest.”
1948: The white uniform, a symbol of dominance and a reminder. In a game played at Husky Stadium on a field that resembles a quagmire, Norm Van Brocklin leads Oregon to a 13-7 victory over Washington. Standing out among Oregon’s muddied uniforms, the pristine white uniform of the Dutchman stays spotless throughout the rainy day.
1948: The Rose Bowl vote, as Cal goes to the Rose Bowl over an expectant Oregon team due to one vote by Washington.
1956: Biased? Orlando Hollis, Dean of Oregon Law school, is the chief prosecutor in slush-fund cases against Washington, USC and UCLA.
1962: The Larry Hill incident, where Washington fans rush onto the field and tackle Oregon’s Larry Hill as he attempts to catch a pass in the end zone to win the game!
1973 and 1974: Piling it on? Oregon beats Washington 58-0 in 1973 and Washington beats Oregon 66-0 a year later. Not only are the 66 points a modern school record, but the swing of 124 total points is believed to be the largest in consecutive games of a series by any team.
1968: Recruiting wars erupt as Bobby Moore (Ahmad Rashād), out of Tacoma, enrolls at Oregon. As the story goes, Moore went to Oregon because a relative of his (Donny Moore, 1965, ’66) was dismissed from Jim Owens’ football team. This further inflames the rivalry. According to Oregon’s official website, the Seattle Times ranks Bobby Moore as the state of Washington’s fourth greatest running back of all time.
Ironically, the Seattle Times ranks Oregon’s Jonathan Stewart, out of Lacey, as the state’s fifth greatest running back of all time. Stewart, who enrolled at Oregon in 2005, could have been soured in part on UW by the clouding miasma of the NCAA investigation of 2003, which eventually cost the NCAA $2.5 million in a lawsuit settlement it made with former UW coach Rick Neuheisel. UW fans wonder if the snitch, who anonymously refers to himself as Peter Wright and who emailed the NCAA about Neuheisel’s auction activities, is an Oregon fan.
Rock pelting in the 80s. “You’re utterly defenseless when both hands are on your horn and you’re focusing on playing music. A Duck fan randomly pelted me with a rock, while I was in the band back in the 80s. I was completely shocked because I thought things like that were only done by preschoolers who didn’t know any better,” says a former UW band member about her first trip to Autzen.
1994: Kenny Wheaton touchdown: Dan Raley of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes, “Emotions boiled over and competitive lines blurred in ’94, spiking the rivalry. That season, redshirt freshman Kenny Wheaton’s last-minute 97-yard interception return for a score off UW quarterback Damon Huard secured a 31-20 victory at home and propelled the Ducks to their first Rose Bowl in 37 seasons.” The combined quacking and woofing — or was that bleating and whimpering — had never been louder. Wheaton’s play was immortalized on Autzen’s big screen and in an oversized photo hanging in the lobby of the Wild Duck Restaurant. Huskies had to live with it.
1995: Jim Lambright‘s lobbying: Washington’s head coach Jim Lambright lobbies for his team’s selection in the Cotton Bowl instead of the Ducks. He is unsuccessful; however, Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Bud Withers writes that Lambright’s actions “invited a least another half-century worth of bile from Oregon fans.”
Former Washington coach Rick Neuheisel, who coached Colorado at the time, calls for a fake punt against the Ducks in the Cotton Bowl, with the Buffs leading 38-6.
1998: The facilities war: Oregon formally dedicates the Ed Moshofsky Sports Center in August 1998, an indoor practice facility. Washington’s Dempsey Indoor Practice Facility opens in September 2001. In 2002, UO finishes its $90 million renovation of Autzen Stadium. Husky Stadium’s $280 million renovation was completed for the opening game of the 2013 season.
1998: Death threats: According to the mascot’s owner, Washington’s AD puts out a memo forbidding his mascot, (Prince Redoubt), from attending games in Eugene due to multiple death threats.
1999: Quiet-day violations: Husky fans believe that Oregon turned Washington in for the quiet-day rules violations that occurred in 1999 when Rick Neuheisel took over as its head coach.
1999: The Mike Bellotti factor: After the quiet-day visits in 1999, Gary Barnett and several other coaches, as reported by the press, sign a letter “protesting what the punishment might be for Washington.” Barnett is quoted as saying they “petitioned the NCAA to make this punishment fit the crime, because it won’t. They’ll get their hands slapped and they’ll be reinstated. That’s just the way it’s done. I just think that’s ridiculous.” Later, two of the coaches reportedly signing the letter deny doing so. The press had mistakenly reported that Mike Bellotti, Oregon’s coach, was one of the coaches signing the letter. The fact that he didn’t sign it doesn’t mollify Husky fans; the whole thing is unfair in their minds.
1999: The throwing incidents: In addition to throwing dog biscuits at them on a yearly basis, Duck fans throw cups of urine and dog feces on Husky players at Autzen Stadium in 1999. (Rumored)
2001: Jumbotron incident: With potential Washington recruits in the house at the Oregon/Oregon State football game (Eugene, 2001), a video clip of Rick Neuheisel is presented with a scene from the movie “Airplane” that shows a woman vomiting. It is shown six times on the Jumbotron. Of course, the partisan crowd whoops it up each time. The Oregon athletic director apologizes for the incident, of course.
2001: Recruiting trip: Former Washington DE Donny Mateaki attends the “vomit” game, as an intensely pursued recruit out of Hawaii. “Coaches call you, and they bad-mouth the other coach,” Mateaki tells a local television station. “I almost didn’t take my trip to Washington because I went to Colorado and Oregon, and all they did was bad-mouth Neuheisel.” The complaint against Oregon as an institution was fine. The implication that its coach, Mike Bellotti, was only recruiting players after Washington identified them, that Bellotti did something wrong in getting Albert Toeaina and Chris Solomona away from the Huskies at the last minute seemed inappropriate.
2003: Celebration ploy. The Huskies’ prolonged, 30-minute dance celebration on the “O” on Rich Brooks Field after they thrash the Ducks 42-14 at Autzen Stadium in 2002.
2004: Blame it on Ngata: Oregon’s mastery over Washington, its current 10-game winning streak, begins in 2004, not coincidentally with the emergence in the rivalry of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Was skulduggery afoot in the recruiting process?
2009: Spring games: Chip Kelly, Oregon’s new coach, apparently takes a shot at Washington at the conclusion of the 2009 spring game. The following is taken from Ken Woody’s blog in the Eugene Register-Guard (Kelly describing the spring game): “We’re not going to line up our best against the rest like the Huskies did in their spring game. They ran their number one offense against the number two and three defenses so Jake Locker could go 16 of 18 with two drops. And they had their number one defense up against the second and third offense so they could shut someone out. We’re going to compete. The number one offense will go against the number one defense. That’s the way it’s been all spring. Walter Thurmond III (starting corner) will be lined up against Holland (starting receiver), head to head and we’ll see who comes out ahead.”
2009: Autzen factor: ESPN’s Ted Miller ranks Autzen Stadium as the toughest place in the Pac-10 to play in 2009, based on the facts that the elements will be ideal for the home team and the quality of the team matters. “It’s loud. And with all due respect, Ducks fans can be obnoxious. It’s as if they know Autzen Stadium’s reputation and they are willing to step outside of the rules of decorum by which they live all their other days to make sure all visitors understand that reputation isn’t just hype …”
2009: Morrison Bridge: Although it’s been five years since the Dawgs have beaten the Ducks, Washington fans bridge the gap by lighting up the Morrison Bridge in downtown Portland with purple and gold colors. “Huskies hope to light it up against Ducks …”
2010: Woodward apology: University of Washington athletic director Scott Woodward issues an apology for comments he made on UW’s pregame radio show concerning the University of Oregon. “It’s an embarrassment what their academic institution is, and what’s happened to them as far as their state funding has gone,” said Woodward. “In my mind, it’s a wonderful athletic facility, but they’ve watched it at the expense of the university go really down. “… Any of the rankings you look at, you watch how far (the Ducks have) dropped because of their state funding.”
2014: ‘The Pick’ (rubbing it in?): According to Bleacherreport.com, the University of Oregon on Saturday wore throwback uniforms that honor Kenny Wheaton’s historic interception in a 1994 game against the UW. Reference: “Oregon Ducks to Wear Throwback Uniforms to Honor 20th Anniversary of ‘The Pick'” Also, reference Adam Jude’s article in the Seattle Times, “The Pick changed everything in the Oregon-Washington rivalry”
2018: This year the Ducks beat the Huskies in rivalry fashion by “freezing” the Huskies’ kicker in the last seconds, causing him to miss the winning field goal, then winning the game outright in OT.
When will it end? Not yet, my friend. Not yet.
San Diego, CaliforniaTop Photo by John Giustina
Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.
I’ve been a Ducks fan since watching the Dennis Dixon quarterback days. His games started it all for me and now it has expanded into Ducks men’s and woman’s basketball also woman’s softball. So far that’s the biggies for me and at my age of 73 it’s enough. I’m a retired computer programmer and writing is a new thing for me but I always have an opinion and not afraid to state it.
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