Autzen Stadium: The Embodiment of Oregon

Zeke Lerner-Wood Oregon Football Repository 34 Comments

In preparation for writing this last winter, before COVID was a household word, I felt the need to take the same walk that hundreds of thousands of Duck fans have made before: the walk across the Willamette.

I began my stroll in the early morning on a Thursday, a strange contrast to my past endeavors on the bridge. It was an uncharacteristically gorgeous day for the winter, the Willamette sparkling underneath beams of sunlight, and the bridge was lined with people despite the early hour. I made my way across the bridge, past the solitary ducks drifting glossily in the rapids of the river, past the giggling young couple who spun in small circles together in the sun, past the ragged resting bicyclists sitting on benches drinking in the warmth.

Kevin Cline

The bridge to Autzen…

As I made my way through the bare trees reaching up to the sky, a large shape began to reveal itself in the distance. And suddenly, there she was among the trees: Autzen. The massive signature “O” was the first thing to catch my eye, reminding me that student-athlete or not, this was a place for me, too.

I crossed another small wooden bridge, barely noticing the men who stood underneath fishing in the beaming sunlight. And the stadium was now directly in front of me, rising up hundreds of feet above my head.

Autzen Stadium is much more than a football stadium. It is a symbol of the entire state of Oregon, and everything glorious about it.

Kevin Cline

Incredible experiences at Autzen …

It’s almost unthinkable to think of Autzen in any sort of form other than its current one, but the original plans for the stadium were significantly different from the grandiose result we have today.

The first phase of the design plans included space for 400 cars! At the end of each end zone, the space was to be left open, with small, staggered ramps installed, creating the world’s first and only drive-in football experience. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long to realize that that space could hold more ticket buyers if cars weren’t included in the seating area, so the idea didn’t make it past the first phase.

Personally, I find that one of the most rewarding parts of the Oregon football experience is the community experience. Standing one among 50,000 people, forgetting the stresses and weights of daily life, screaming “Shout!” into the cold night air, and returning home again to the comforting escape of warm blankets will forever be memories that I cherish.

Kevin Cline

The fans rush the field after a hard-fought win vs Washington State.

You can read more about the suggested Autzen plans from the 1960s in an article by Benzduck on his website Duck Downs, which is featured in FishDuck’s Oregon Football Repository in the History of Oregon Football: The 1888 to 1969 Foundation Years section. This is one article among many that provide in-depth insider knowledge on the history of Oregon football.

Autzen stadium is not only a staple of the Eugene and the University of Oregon community, but also a symbol of NCAA football across the nation.

Oregon football is in the middle of a period of change with a promising future, but regardless of what happens the time to come, Autzen’s extravagance ensures that it will always be more than a stadium.

What is Autzen to you?

Zeke Lerner-Wood
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo: Kevin Cline

Bob Rodes, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is an IT analyst, software developer and amateur classical pianist in Manchester, Tennessee.

 

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Jon Joseph

Ducks drop 1 spot in the AP Poll to 13. Other conference teams receiving votes: USC – 24; Utah – 34; ASU – 42; UW – 43.

With the lack of conference teams ranked, even going 7-0 with a bad SOS, will most likely not get into the final 4. But the Fiesta Bowl would be a nice consolation prize. Probably playing Big 10 team #2.

David Marsh

For Oregon it is super important for them to be in these polls… Hype matters … Living up to that hype is even more important.

But in a shortened season getting a head start by being in the polls means there will be more eyeballs on Oregon’s games and a better chance of making the payoff.

30Duck

Thanks Jon. I have to say I love these polls including teams that haven’t played a game yet, and now the Ducks Drop in the rankings? After yesterday, in the spirit of actually playing somebody, I have to put Alabama @ #1. What does Clemson bludgeoning Ga. Tech, 73-7 prove? Alabama put 41 on Georgia’s top ranked defense, and it didn’t look all that hard.

BigDucksFan

That game sure showed me why Georgia and Alabama are #2 & #3, and the Ducks are #14. Simply put the Ducks are not there yet.

Mallard

There should be a huge volunteer effort to remove some of the blackberries and brambles, and plant some more variety of native Oregon plants. Make it a showcase walk through an Oregon woods.

BigDucksFan

I thought blackberries were a native Oregon plant.

30Duck

I like this idea, I’ve dealt with enough blackberry branches that I wouldn’t wish that on anybody, but the beautification idea is a good one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_native_Oregon_plants#:~:text=This%20is%20a%20list%20of%20plants%20by%20common,carrot.%20Austin%27s%20popcornflower.%20Awned%20melic.%20Azalea.%20Azure%20penstemon.

One that would be perfect is the Brook wakerobin, it’s green and yellow.

rden

My memory is, I was in Autzen before it opened. One of my fraternity brothers handled staffing for Autzen events, and he asked me to usher for high school football games, just weeks before the college season started. Brand-new Autzen was amazing. It was exciting just to be there. 

Drake

Wishing for a quick return for the fans to the home of our Ducks. One of the best venues for football anywhere. Besides, I need to see the new video screen and hear the upgraded sound system.

If I remember correctly, we purchased the old screen when the Beavs had just installed a screen at Reser that was larger than what we originally had at Autzen. Oregon promptly went out and bought a new one even larger…lol

Stay safe everyone.

Go Ducks.

PittDuck

Thanks Zeke, for the great ponder point!

For me, Autzen is magical. It starts with “the Pick” on DuckVision before the Harley leads the mighty Ducks onto the field. From the crescendo of the “ooooOoOoOOOO!!” at the kickoff, through Matt Kearney’s “Coming Home” after the first quarter and “Jump” after the 3rd quarter. The band playing “Mighty Oregon” and The Duck cranking out pushups!

From the north side fans screaming “GO!!” and the south side screaming “DUCKS!!” The Autzen magic rattles opposing teams and Fires up our Beloved Ducks! The roar of the Autzen crowd when our boys are making a goal line stand is incredible, surpassed only by the full throated Cacophony when a sack or a pick is made or a first down or a touchdown is scored.

Autzen is awesome, unbelievable, and unforgettable. It alway stirs the blood when you walk in and see Rich Brooks Field opening up as you walk closer.

Walking up to the stadium from either side is awesome. Whether it is the grand entrance under the “O” on the south or the “Pillars of the Vanquished “ on the north. Walking around the the stadium from the top concourse is always a treat for all my grandkids.

The incredible sunsets over the wester scoreboard are the stuff of dreams. The new video board at the east end can only improve the experience.

I am so looking forward to the days of experiencing a packed Autzen again!

Last edited 6 days ago by PittDuck
Annie

I remember the walk to Autzen (before the shuttle buses became more convenient). The saxophone player on the bridge, the person selling hot dogs just before the smaller bridge to the stadium, where politicians/their supporters often stood, people selling tickets along the way. Bright, crisp fall afternoons, the sun lighting the array of colors on trees in the background (remember afternoon games???). The root beer floats (no longer available). The noise of the crowd. There was one game early on when Autzen first got REALLY loud (against UCLA maybe?) when it was so noisy I understood the expression “so loud I couldn’t think.” Singing SHOUT (which I had suggested to the athletic department about 25 years before they finally started the tradition) and watching Troy Dye dancing along. The Keenan Howry Civil War punt return. THE PICK. The Ducks beating usc on Halloween. Just so many, many wonderful memories.

DuckUp

Great memories! Loved that Halloween USC beating! Still have my black grim reaper Duck T shirt from that game.

Jon Joseph

Shout out to you Annie for suggesting ‘Shout.’

Santa Rosa Duck

Thanks Zeke and everyone who has contributed memories here today. I am hoping that in 2021 to walk the bridge over the Willamette and take two seats at a newly sold out Autzen and enjoy the experience again.

Charles Fischer

As a 34 year season ticket holder–I have so many fond memories of Autzen. The great games were “life-events” never to be forgotten, such the blocked punt against Michigan, the end-around by Terry Obee to beat Washington, the Marcus Woods “Belly-Bop” safety of Ty Detmer and of course “the Pick” with all four plays occurring near my seats.

The NOISE for so many years was such an impression upon me, and now…singing “Shout” at the end of the third quarter and watching everyone else is so much fun!

“It’s louder than any place I’ve ever been, and that includes The Swamp at Florida, The Shoe in Columbus, and Death Valley at Louisiana State. Autzen Stadium is where great teams go to die.”
J. Brady McCullough, The Michigan Daily

Last edited 6 days ago by Charles Fischer
Haywarduck

When I went to Oregon Autzen, Hayward, Mac Court, The Library, and even the EMU wasn’t anything too special. Even though they weren’t too special they all had some magic, and history.

Of course the EMU was the site of some great scenes from Animal House. This may have been the first national publicity the U of O received with our university being the site of the greatest college movie ever produced.

Mac Court was something you just had to experience to know what made it magic. In its day it was called the toughest and scariest arena to play in, anywhere.

Hayward Field, of course, was the home to the birth of Nike. It was also home to Pre and many other amazing memories. This is where the old great memories of Oregon Football happened.

The library and campus was also beautiful but dated.

Autzen was a fun walk and there was nothing like sitting through games, back when it used to rain. I would say it hadn’t provided the magic, yet, that the other facilities had. The Casanova era was just before Autzen. Autzen, to me, was a symbol of the slow rise of the Oregon Athletic Department.

What we have now is a new and dynamic Autzen Stadium and football facilities. Hayward Field is probably the best track and field facility in the world. Mac Court is still there, but silent. Matt Court is now shiny and new. Our campus is at an elite level with another $500 million ready to be spent on new buildings. This is about 1,000 times the amount it took to start the University, crazy indeed.

I would say each part of the University of Oregon campus is now full of history, magic and world class. Autzen is now the pinnacle, becoming the flagship program for the Oregon Athletic Department. This wasn’t the case years ago, but with that walk you could feel it happening.

Mike West

It has been awhile since I’ve taken that walk. Still remember when the glorious sports facilities that surround the stadium today were patches of blackberry bushes. Before Brooks “grew up”. Before The Pick. I have fond memories of walking through Hayward Field on my way to class, or to prepare for two intramural title games, watching my high school team take State in The Pit ( and watching those pesky Ducks beat UCLA, and the Beavers when they were oh so powerful).

I played my High School State Title game in front of 14,000. It was loud, but nothing like even then, when Brooks started tying USC, besting a powerful UCLA and the Fuskies on the road. Hope was in the air, and even the years a Fusky fans arrogantly chanted “Rose Bowl” a few times late in a close game, the sound of our crowd on big Oregon plays was like an anthem from trumpet clad angels.

Before returning to the Rose Bowl. Before watching Joey being painted on a crusty Los Angeles Hotel along one of the busiest downtown LA streets. Before Fast Hard Finish.

Autzen was the place the football program evolved into the powerhouse it is today. From 6,000 fans to 50,000 on the candle lit hope (against the brilliance of the sun) of a winning program after a 6-3-1 1980 season. Or in 1978 when Georgia has to fight off a surprisingly pesky Ducks, and fans greeted the team back from Athens. When the Fusky fans taunted us every 4th quarter and silenced a raucous Duck fan base.

Maybe someday we’ll experience the joy of Shout in a full stadium once again. We got a glimpse last night what it will take to unseat two powerful Natty contenders. Let’s hope we get a shot at simply screaming our 100 plus decibels forevermore no matter how far our rising program journeys.

Yes, many an Oregon fan, student or not, have experienced the pure joy of blissful yelling so thunderous that you wonder what stadium could top the experience.

Jon Joseph

Great memories Mike, thank you.

Jon Joseph

Thank you Zeke.

Did you know? Mr. Autzen graduated from Oregon State.

Mario Watch – South Carolina defeated Auburn yesterday for the first time in 87 years. Bo NIx has regressed and is playing like Bo Peep. Auburn at #14 was severely over-ranked.

Pirate Watch – In its last 2 games, the MS ST D has outscored the O.

Bama – How do you stop an O like this? If anything, in 2020, Mac Jones is looking better than Tua and has the stats to prove it, throwing for over 400 yards in 3 games this season. Thank you for the cover son and who knew the Bama D would pitch a 2nd half shut out? Nothing false positive about that.

Clemson put up 73 points yesterday on its way to wrecking GA Tech. Clemson also put up 73 vs Tech in 1903. GT then hired the Clemson coach. Guy by the name of John Heisman.

My bad – There are certain trends that should not be ignored. Mack Brown is now 0-10 vs his alma mammy FSU, and put an end to my perfect ATS win streak. However, it wasn’t totally the pits, as Pitt eked out a cover against Miami.

Cheeky? There was a moon out in South Bend yesterday when an ND player was briefly de-pantsed by a teammate. However, the ND O decided not to show. This team is going to beat Clemson, right?

Defense wins championships? UCF put up 798 yards of O vs Memphis and lost 49-50.

Cut to the chase? Perhaps the rest of the season should be called off except for a Final 4 of Bama, Clemson, Ohio State and I don’t know, BYU?

YTD ATS – 4-1 Get on board. Or, do you want to spend January in Oregon instead of Hawaii?

duckcardinal

Must concede that Mississippi State is in worse shape than I thought. Costello clearly not the answer for Leach’s system, and the O-line either unable or unwilling to block for it either.

Mea culpa for all opinions to the contrary of the above.

Jon Joseph

BTW, want to be the Clemson of the west? Clemson has now won 37 regular season games in a row and has not lost a conference game in 3 years.

More on the Mario watch. In his last 63 games vs P5 competition, Gus Malzahn is 33-30.

BigDucksFan

63 games vs P5 competition, Gus Malzahn is 33-30 I wonder if that is acceptable at Auburn ??

30Duck

Clemson is great. But that record says more I think about the dregs of football the ACC is. It borders on embarrassing how Clemson could play with their shoelaces tied together and put that streak together. All power to them for playing the system, I guess.

Jon Joseph

Agreed. It would be nice if Clemson and Vandy could swap conferences and for Rutgers to go independent with Notre Dame joining the Big 10.

30Duck

Thanks for the walk, Zeke. We are biased towards our facilities, it’s impossible not to be. Fans of other teams hold their facilities close to their hearts. But, C’mon. Autzen stands supreme. It’s not only Autzen of course.

Mac Court, “The Pit”. With all due respect to Autzen. I’ve been in both and when the, “Deranged Idiots” were stomping their feet, screaming at the top of their lungs, the scoreboard was weaving overhead, testing the veracity of the cables holding it aloft…yeah, that was crazy, and Elvis was there once, Halloween, 1976.

MKA isn’t like that. But as modern facilities go, it shines, and it’s gotten pretty crazy, loud while Payton & the guys, and Sabrina & the ladies dominated their opponents. “The Jane” It’s been home for a lot of wins, and Coach Lombardi has things set up for a lot more when softball gets going again. Oh, and then there’s Hayward Field, just the finest Track & Field facility in the world!

The walk over the Willamette is special. A gathering of Ducks fans walking together not worried about the dark clouds overhead because of course, “It never rains at Autzen Stadium!”

duckcardinal

I still have my Deranged Idiot button!

30Duck

FishDuck pop quiz: Who was the coach that coined the term, “Deranged Idiots”?

Charles Fischer

Was it Gene Bartow about the Kamikaze Kids?

duckcardinal

Bartow about the crowd, not the players.

30Duck

Ding,ding,ding!!! Good old, Gene was the coach at UCLA after John Wooden, a tough act to follow. Wooden didn’t think much of Oregon under Dick Harter either, going 7-1 against the Kamikaze Kids.

Bartow went 1-3 against the Ducks in his two years at UCLA., 75-76, 76-77. The Bruins beat the Ducks in their first game under Bartow, 62-61 in Mac Court. The Ducks responded, beating the Bruins, 65-45 in Pauley Pavilion.

The next season’s match up in Pauley was a classic. For the Ducks. Greg Ballard hitting 2 free throws with no time on the clock to give Oregon a 61-60 win. After the Ducks beat the Bruins, 64-55 in, The Pit, Bartow had had enough with Oregon, the Kamikaze Kids and the crowd, hence, “Deranged Idiots”

Last edited 6 days ago by 30Duck