We see it all the time online these days — Washington fans bringing up their program history as a way to try (and fail) to convince recruits they should pick the Huskies over the Ducks. The fans make the claim that Washington’s number of first-round NFL draft picks is indicative of the health of their program, while more and more top-tier recruits choose to head to Eugene.
Are their fans really right? And have the Ducks historically been strong, or are they just beginning to taste success?
Much to the disdain of many fans of Oregon, the Ducks don’t stack up very well historically. Given their recent success, it would stand to reason that the Ducks would be moving up many all-time lists, but the Ducks appear to be mostly stagnant in their rankings.
Some of the stats that were examined on Winsipedia did not paint the Ducks in a good light. Compared to the teams with whom Oregon hopes to compete, the Ducks come up so short that it is more than a little shocking.
Starting with conference championships, the Ducks are tied for 54th all-time, with 12. Of that 12, four are from the Pacific Coast Conference, a conference that hasn’t existed since 1959. With the three earned in the Pac-12, that means from 1960 until 2010 the Ducks won the conference only five times. That is an average of only a single conference championship every decade.
Considering that the Ducks are tied with Arkansas State, a program that is 11 games under .500, for conference championships, the Ducks need to keep winning them to prove themselves an elite group.
The next less-than-impressive stat is that the Ducks rank 57th all-time in Consensus All-Americans with only eight. For reference, Notre Dame is first all-time with a whopping 102. That is 94, more than any other team has, more than the Ducks. Notre Dame is a single dominant year from moving to 100 more All-Americans than Oregon.
Now that stat would be insignificant, but the Ducks cannot count themselves as one of the best programs if they fall that short of any program. Given that the Ducks have a real shot at three All-Americans in 2020, they have a chance to move up this list, but it will be slow going. No matter what, Oregon needs to get at least one more, since the Ducks are currently tied with Oregon State.
The last and most glaring hole in the Ducks’ resume is a big fat zero under “National Championships.” Considering that only 42 teams in the FBS have claimed a national championship, the Ducks are in the majority in having zero. It is, however, high time to complete their two decades of crawling up these lists with a national championship.
Oregon ranks 25th all-time in weeks spent in the AP Poll. They will move out of a tie for that spot with Georgia Tech as soon as the inaugural poll of 2020 is released, presuming that Oregon will be ranked and the Yellow Jackets will not.
From there, the Ducks need only to stay ranked over the next three seasons and they should move into 24th place. This stat saw a lot of movement last season as the Ducks passed four teams as the year progressed.
In the next two or three seasons Oregon should also pass Virginia, Boston College, and maybe even California on the all-time wins list. Given another strong decade, the Ducks could feasibly move in to the Top 30 in all-time wins. The Ducks are currently tied for 36th all-time with Virginia, but given their relative strength the Ducks should pass the Cavaliers this season.
The Ducks rank 36th all-time in players drafted, with 224. Given the 29 players (at least) on the current UO roster who should be drafted over the next several years, as well as the incredible recruiting of the last several seasons, the Ducks should expect to climb this list in earnest. Under Mario Cristobal Oregon should find itself in the Top 25 in no less than 10 seasons.
There are some odd stats to consider about the Oregon Ducks.
First, and perhaps most frightening considering the implications, is that the Ducks are 47-60-5 all-time against Washington. That means that at the start of their 12-year winning streak, the Ducks were 33-58-5 against the Huskies. When any team is 25 games below .500 against one of its main rivals, the series doesn’t seem like a rivalry, but a lopsided series.
Another extremely odd stat is the Ducks’ record against Pac-12 opponents; 369-369-27. That means that despite the last 20 years of general dominance, despite the general awfulness of the mid 1900s, and despite the Ducks being nearly 200 games over .500 all-time, they have exactly as many wins as they do losses against teams in their conference.
The Ducks are 0-0-2 all-time against Army. That means that after two full games, over six hours of football, neither team could outscore the other.
In 1958, the Ducks lost a game at the end of the season to Miami (FL). The Ducks lost 0-2.
Oregon is also 0-9 all-time against Ohio State – with only one game ever decided by one score.
The Ducks are a building brand. The addition of Nike to the program acted as a springboard and drug Oregon out of the bowels of college football. Recency bias says that the Ducks are one of the top programs in the country, but history says that they experienced some 70 odd years of below-average play before starting to improve.
With Cristobal at the helm, the Ducks should become a Top-25 program historically. Only time will tell if he will succeed.
Top Photo by John Giustina
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the financial technology industry in Bozeman, Montana.
Ryan Robertson is a defense contractor for the United States Marine Corps. A lifelong Duck fan from Grants Pass, he joined the Army out of high school. After four years as an Intelligence Analyst he decided it was time to further his education and pay more attention to his Ducks. One of Ryan’s first memories is of watching the Ducks, led by Joey Harrington, beating up on the Utah Utes in 2001. His grandfather ran track at Oregon in the ‘50s. He loves the Ducks, and has a passionate interest in reading every scrap of analysis centered around the football team.
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