I do NOT BELIEVE the New National Narrative About Oregon…

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials 91 Comments

I am still shaking my head in disbelief. Did I really just hear what I thought I heard from the sportscaster on the NFL Network? What he uttered supports quotes in the press recently about other Oregon players in the NFL, and could change the Oregon image in the media. It is in direct conflict to the narrative the national press and fans of opposing teams have been presenting for years about Our Beloved Ducks, and I am still wrapping my head around it. Are you surprised too?

Let me set the stage: it is Sunday evening and I found Sunday Highlights by the NFL Network in my cable lineup. The review of games proceeds and then they get to the Chargers game and the conversation is about how Justin Herbert again played well (with some rookie mistakes) and threw some superb passes. Then the announcer describes a play where Herbert goes back to pass….

“Look at the hit he takes … look like he’s banged up … but he’s tough, he’s strong, he’s OREGON STRONG!


And he was emphatic; the last two words came out loud from him and I had to rewind it several times as I did not believe what I heard. First to confirm the quote, to truly absorb what I just heard and to ponder the ramifications, and finally to capture the quote for you. Oregon players, offenses and defenses were not called “tough” or “strong” over the years of our time residing in the top 10. Instead, we have been denigrated as being “finesse” or “soft” or “not physical” with our Zone-Read, Spread Offense.

Kevin Cline

More wide-open running lanes and superb blocking for Kenjon Barner in 2012.

As we know, part of that was due to the explosion of Oregon in the media with the uniforms, resurrecting the No-Huddle attack from the NFL of the 1990s, and the interesting story of a coach from New Hampshire storming the stage with the use of the Zone-Read Spread Offense. All of those reasons have been copied or taken from Oregon, and certainly part of that story is how the culmination of those components together created a “soft” offense for the Ducks.

Time has proven otherwise; recent national champions have adopted all of the above over the course of the years, and the same concepts have now crept into the NFL. Imagine my surprise to see San Francisco 49ers run the Outside Zone Read the way Oregon did a decade ago! Or how I sat in stunned silence as I saw the Las Vegas Raiders run a Sweep Read as I described in my video back in 2011, or watched Cam Newton run the Inverted Veer play for the New England Patriots that he ran against Oregon in the ‘Natty of 2010. It turns out that all were enduring tenets of football…

Of course this website and Mr. FishDuck worked hard to overcome the “finesse” label attached to Oregon, with analysis articles like this which helped to assuage the fans, but not the national media. Later yours-truly published this article that was factual, with a concluding sentence that was brutal to the press, who continued pushing these misconceptions about Our Beloved Ducks. It seemed it would never end!


Craig Strobeck

Coach Aaron Feld would be pretty pleased to hear of “Oregon Strong!”

Then the quote about Herbert before a national audience happened, and it was not the only one. Shane Lemieux was getting great reviews at the NY Giants camp as NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah reported that “his play style is Mauler-Brawler. He’s gonna latch his hands, he’s gonna drive you, and he’s gonna finish you. He has that nastiness to him which I love.”

Whoa. Now that is how you overcome a national perception, my friends. We can thank Coach Mario Cristobal for instilling that toughness, that new culture, but also for articulating it often to the media, who after a couple of years are coming around to recognize and embrace it. Yet another thing to thank Coach Cristobal and Coach Aaron Feld for installing at Oregon as the impact on recruiting and future successes will surely result from this major paradigm change in Eugene.

“Oh how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo from NFL Network Video

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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Herbert’s TD passes in his rookie NFL season – indicate to me that Arroyo was a bust at Oregon. There it is, nice and short little post. I dare you to disagree…


OK, too much confrontation. In a month, the new OC will prove the point. How many of Marriota’s receivers (at Oregon) had blazing speed and went on to torch the NFL?

Better question: how many of Leach’s receivers at Wazzu had those characteristics?

Yet another question: why were there so many busts at the WR position at Oregon the last 10 years or so?


Iowa State, 37 Oklahoma 30, the 2nd straight loss for the Sooners. Can Mississippi State, Coog it? Yes, they can, Arkansas first score was a pick 6, and they went on to win, 21-14. KJ Costello finished, 43-59, 313 yards, 3 INT’s & 1 TD pass.

David Marsh

The door is opening! Need Oregon to go undefeated…

Though I hate to say it but I am feeling the most likely playoff teams will be…

Clemson, SEC champion, ohio state (unless they implode or something shocking happens in the b1g), and the loser of the sec championship game.

Oregon is going to need to win and win in dominate fashion to get in.



It’s really hard to find any team that can complain about their schedule, the fans of the purple things couldn’t even say where Oregon got an unfair advantage, and they really tried. Earlier, I saw a tweet from somebody that said one South team would get Oregon, (UCLA) and another, OSU, (Utah). But, aside from that inevitability, this is a solid schedule.

The ESPN Pickers all say, USC @ Oregon in the championship Game: https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/30029376/pac-12-football-schedule-takeaways-biggest-games-top-matchups-predictions

David Marsh

Texas loses to tcu … The big-12 is helping to open the door to an undefeated Oregon making it into the playoff… Well an undefeated pac-12 champion anyways.

And as you have wished… So it is… Another loss for Oklahoma.

Jon Sousa

So, does anyone know for sure that the Championship game will be played at the home of the best record (via tie-breaker) like it was the first couple years of the PAC-12?

Jon Joseph

Jon, I believe the champ game will be played at the higher ranked team. Ditto for the other 5 games to be played that day.

David Marsh

Oregon gets UCLA? That’s a shocker in the schedule as ucla wasn’t even on the original schedule this year.

I was completely wrong in my prediction that the California teams would want to maintain playing each other as much as possible.

Ucla is a safer team to play than usc in the season… But it is weird.

So does CAL, drawing ASU instead. Meanwhile, UW gets AZ.

Jon Joseph

LOVE the way this schedule sets up. Week 1, one of CAL and UW, opening at CAL, will have an L. CAL got the short end of the cross over stick drawing ASU.

Finishing at Cal and vs UW gives the Ducks 4 games to break in the new O line and QB.

Compare the ASU draw to the SC draw of Wazzu and the Utah draw of Oregon State! Herm cannot be happy about this.

How about ASU at USC kicking off at 9 AM on FOX? The nation will be awake and watching.

Also like OR playing UCLA and OR ST on Friday night with both games on ESPN.

Could not have come out much better for the ducks.


USC only has one competitive game, Arizona State Nov 7. Thus if UO can take care of business up North we will see them as game 7.

Would that be enough games to get us into the national playoffs ??


It’ll be tough, but the Big 12 is doing what it can to help, 2-0 Texas is now 2-1 thanks to TCU beating them 33-31 just a while ago. Alabama just broke a 14-14 tie with Texas A & M.

Jon Sousa

“Finishing at Cal and vs UW gives the Ducks 4 games to break in the new O line and QB.”

Not just that, but all the changes…
New OC,
New cornerbacks,
New QB,

4 Games to get everything clicking (…or not clicking in a well oiled machine).

Can’t wait!

Also can’t wait for the vaccine to come out soon. How will a vaccine in early November affect attendance in December??? Maybe people with a vaccine on board for a month will be able to attend??? Might help come January.


UCLA returns a highly talented but inconsistent two year starter @ QB, plus quality backups at the position. Also, their coaching staff had minimal off season turnover, so schemes will remain basically the same.

Chip’s 3 star recruits are his kind of guys, and his very strong 2018 class (19th nationally via Rivals with 28 players & 8 X 4 stars) are now juniors/RS sophomores. This will not be a gimmie game.

The Oregon defense might prove too much and I am not sure the ucla defense will be able to stop the predicted Moorhead offense.

If the Oregon offense is dreadful then I see this being scary but if the Oregon offense cna exploit a kelly defense (which have been pretty bad since he left Oregon and allioti).

I really do honestly believe kelly will find himself one day as a terrifying offensive coordinator which is certainly his comfort zone..

Jon Joseph

I think the Ducks smoke UCLA. The same coaches who have done NOTHING return; this, is an advantage?

The only thing in UCLA’s favor is that Autzen will be empty. UCLA should win its opener vs CU.


Interesting that they didn’t go with the Cali vs Cali arrangement as Stanford got the brass ring with Colorado as their cross over game. Who got the Utes & USC?

Cougars got SC; Huskies got AZ, Beavs got Utah. Maybe there was some thought that went into scheduling for success……


The first game for the Pac-12, ASU @ USC, 9:00 on Fox.

Jon Joseph

YES! The Whole World Is Watching!


USC’s only tough game of the season for them.

Jon Sousa

Looks like they went the easy rout to putting someone in the playoffs. Hopefully a 7-0 team gets in. Probably won’t, unless it is Oregon or USC, though UW, at 7-0 should also make it.

The most sure way for the Ducks to make it is at 7-0 with losses for other conference champions.


The SEC will insist that their 7-3 record is better than a Pac-12, 7-0

Jon Joseph

And depending on the opponents, could well be right?

Auburn plays KY, UGA, Bama, MS ST, Ole Miss, LSU and A+M. That is 7 worthy opponents.

Jon Joseph

I think the UW opener at CAL is a tough opener for both teams. CAL has their QB back; UW does not. IMO, no surprise whatsoever if CAL wins this game.

Regardless, 1 of the 2 biggest threats to the Ducks will have a week 1 L.

CAL cannot be happy with its CO draw of ASU.

Santa Rosa Duck

Here we go!

November 7 Stanford at Oregon

November 14 Oregon at WSU

Nov 20 (Friday) UCLA at Oregon

Nov 27 (Friday) Oregon at Oregon State

December 5 Oregon at Cal

December 12 Washington at Oregon


Thanks, GoDucks15 & Santa Rosa Duck, looks like 7-0 to me, love having purple things @ home for the finale. It does work out nice for Cal, they open at home against the purple things, and also get the Ducks @ home for game 5, the crossover game could be tough for the Bears, @ ASU.

Jon Joseph

The Bears got the short end of the North CO stick, no doubt!

Duck lifer

I’ve been waiting my entire life to hear those words!

Santa Rosa Duck

Just heard that the Pac 12 football schedule is to be released today. Any one know what time?


This is non Duck, but I find it fascinating. The Brooklyn Nets recently hired 2 time MVP, & HOF’r, Steve Nash to be their coach next season. Nash has no coaching experience, but that won’t be a problem for Kyrie Irving & Kevin Durant. Yesterday, according to Irving, it will be a collaborative effort, “I don’t really see us having a coach.”

Can there be a worse starting point for a head coach than this? Nash would already be a little apprehensive, with 0 experience, and now he’s being marginalized by his two star players before the season even starts. I never thought that Mike Dunlevy told Magic what to do back with the Lakers, and I doubt that LeBron cares much about what Frank Vogel has to say with them now. But, that’s just perception. Irving is saying it loud and clear.


you know it is getting close when goducks.com is starting to put out articles. here is todays on wr’s/te’s.


The update is: We still don’t know anything. The Pac-12 is working on schedules, basketball & football, the bloodhounds have been released, but no sign yet, negative too on Lenoir, still don’t know, is he in or is he out? Stay tuned.


I’m smack dab in the middle of SEC country, and have for years been trying to convince my buddies that those beloved Ducks of ours are a a lot more than just a finesse team…Just last season, a buddy of mine (a die-hard Bama fan, mind you) Saw us playing and said that Oregon is starting to look like an SEC West team.

Gotta give HUGE props to Coach Cristobal and company for drastically changing the perception of our team. May it continue and lead to that ever elusive first Natty!!

Jon Joseph

FYI, 1st CFP rankings pushed back to November 24th.

Where will a 3-0 (knock wood) Oregon be ranked? Root for IA ST to beat OK this weekend. OK to beat TX. And OK to beat OK ST.

A 7-0 Ducks squad could get in over a 1L B12 champ; especially, with how bad the B12 looked vs Sun Belt opponents.

How about a Rose Bowl match up against #1 seed Ohio State?

Jon Sousa

We’ve seen a couple of different ideas on O-live about how to schedule to get a PAC-12 team “in”.

One idea said “Protect all of the contenders with a weak crossover opponent.”

The other idea said, “Give Oregon and USC the best chance to get in (as the 2 best prospects) by giving them the strongest crossover opponent possible,” suggesting Utah for Oregon and UW for USC. The idea is that would give each one more good win to help the resume. If Oregon and USC meet in the Championship game, both undefeated, that would be a very strong argument for final four inclusion.

The first plan is obviously the SEC approach. With our shortened schedule I think that he second idea looks better.

Let’s get in! Go 7-0, with wins over UW, Utah, CAL, and an undefeated USC.


Even with his new proxy football czar in place I don’t think L2 (lazy Larry) will try to finesse the schedule and just draw lots or similar. In the unlikely situation that they were to take a ‘best interests of the Pac12’ look at things my preference would be the vintage SEC model with weakest possible for Ducks and USC. Or, he could ring up some of those Stanford Med School guys to run a Monte Carlo simulation and go with those results as more defensible to second guessers.

Regardless, my belief is that we will need an undefeated Pac12 champ for a chance to be in the playoff discussion, and my fear is that our Champ will still draw a one or more loss runner up opponent for the Fiesta, which would have minimal upside value for a win, and reinforce the ‘woeful’ Pac12 narrative with a loss.

Full disclosure: I will be watching whatever bowl games Pac12 teams partake in. The Mississippi State v LSU game was like a 2 for 1 special at In & Out for this football starved fan.

Jon Joseph

Ducks will play 1 or the other of Utah or SC in the 6 game ‘regular season,’ but not both.

How about give both the best chance by having both go 6-0 before they meet in the champ game?

We’ll find out tomorrow but I think we see SC/Stanford; CAL/UCLA and Oregon playing either AZ or ASU at home? Or perhaps CU?

The SEC did all it could to protect Bama; ditto the B1G with Ohio State. What purpose would it serve to have SC and Oregon meet before the champ game?


That would work if logic, common sense had ever mattered in the decision making process in the Pac-12. Who knows what will be plan, objective, will be in the schedule making? Certainly, Larry wouldn’t do anything that would put the conference at a disadvantage.


Please confirm the multiple ‘eye-roll’ emojis due after your final sentence?


Yes, imagine a multitude of them!

Jon Sousa

Jon, Jon, Jon. (Don’t you love that name?)
Ducks go 6-0 playing Utah, then beat a 6-0 USC.
That puts them at 7-0 beating everyone on my list, including Utah and USC. This is what I was saying.

It’s at least plausible that Ohio St finishes ranked at 1 and the Ducks at 4; but likely too cool to happen?


This might be somewhat off topic, but not entirely. I think like a lot of words, “strong” is over-used by, well pretty much everyone. It’s a catchy word that when coupled with a hashtag makes what would ordinarily be blurred into obscurity all of the sudden becomes meaningful.

Name one tragedy that’s happened in the last, well pretty much since Twitter became Twitter that hasn’t had #(insert name/phrase here)STRONG. Even that has lost the intended meaning. It’s become almost a badge for people to make them feel important.

Case in point; a couple of years ago when hurricane Michael came blowing through the Florida panhandle and wiped out Mexico Beach (and did a LOT of damage further inland), well long story short for me is I lived there. I was well within the zone of destruction and had plenty of damage to my property. Within days after it blew through and while there were still massive amounts of resources pouring in you started seeing shirts with “#850STRONG” on them. Then the window decals started appearing on vehicles.

It didn’t mean anything. Heck, the people that it really impacted for the most part just tried to put their lives back together…the ones who had minimal or no damage were the ones driving around with their hashtag decals on their cars just because they lived in the same area code.

So, my point here is that “Oregon strong” was in my opinion just the effect of a social media phrase taking on a whole new meaning from what its original intent was. It’s become a trendy saying and part of the modern and evolving vocabulary once it loses its hashtag.

Thanks social media, you’ve re-wrote the Merriam-Webster dictionary…and probably made a lot of people really good at Scrabble all of the sudden.


(Because why not end with sarcasm, right?)

Jon Joseph

Kind of like a recruit ‘committing’ to a program before he signs on the bottom line?


Yeah, somewhat. I probably should have included this in the original post (I guess I can edit it in still…) but once a word is used like that, thanks to another social media impact it “goes viral” and then everyone starts inserting it into their vocabulary.

10-15 years ago they would have just said, “Herbert’s a tough kid”…now, well heck, he’s been Twittered into being “Oregon strong.” It’s easier to say that having to do research on anything and no one will second guess it for that same reason.

I feel better now. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. It’s because of you man…now I feel #JonJosephSTRONG….

Jon Joseph

Hopefully, this will help today’s golf swing?


Golf? Me? Nuh-uh. My sport is hockey, so if I played golf I’d 100% be a real-life version of Happy Gilmore…

Jon Joseph

Didn’t help.


Hmmmm…Stay thirsty my friend.


Dilly Dilly!

Jon Sousa

Good comment. Over used verbiage does diminish the impact.

But… an overused “Strong” is SOOOOOO much better than an rarely used “Weak”, which is the point of the article and a source of much Oregon fan frustration 10 years ago. Which, of course, is the point of the article.

It’s nice to be on the overused “strong” side of the discussion now. Thank you Charles!


Maybe the narrative will change soon.
Until then, I stand with my fists balled in my shorts and knee high O socks on on saturdays waiting for our guys to get the respect they deserve.
Oregon strong!


I’m having a little trouble here…are we talking like Olivia Newton-John socks and shorts or Richard Simmons? That look could go all wrong in a hurry…hehe


(I’m gonna do this all day, or at least until I’m off work at 1100)


This is one of the downfalls of text vs in person or voice. It was all meant to be in good humor, not as an insult by any means.


I did not hear insult in your comment. I loved the visual you provided in your comparison choices. Ummmm, not Olivia or Richard. Funny image though….




I have a history of bristling over media commentary about our Ducks. It seems when they are on a tear through the PAC, they are perceived as bullying lesser teams (all of the other teams in the PAC except for and including SUCk) in their “weak” conference.
Conversely that acc team with the tall girl slinging it all over the field is doing the same thing to their conference a d being heralded as innovative and talented.
Where is the transparency? BIAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jon Joseph

But that ACC team routinely defeats Ohio State + South Carolina. Defeated A+M back to back. And goes toe to toe with and half the time defeats, Bama. When was the last time the Ducks or any Pac-12 team, defeated an SEC team; particularly, an SEC big boy team?

So, I’m not sure it is ‘bias’ when it comes to Clemson? Come the next NFL draft, that ‘girl’ will be bringing in lots of Benjis.


“I tell ya, I don’t get no respect.” -Rodney Dangerfield


We have a nasty roster. One of the top defenses in the nation, and a new OC with a chip on his shoulder, that has talent ready to prove themselves on offense.

I agree, Oregon is changing its persona. Cristobal has led the way. Just listening to him talk football makes you want to play for him. There is a toughness to this team and it starts at the head coach.

Cant wait to watch Duck football.


Nice one Charles, on a side note, still haven’t heard from Todd McShay, who of course was certain that Herbert would be a bust…but that’s old news. This new take on Oregon is palpable proof that it was absolutely the right move to leave the Kelly years in glorious history.

Now, the Ducks can run roughshod over the rest of the conference all over again. Back then, as the other coaches were looking up at the scoreboard and seeing they were behind 38-3 at halftime, the only thing they could do was come back with the, “soft finesse” shots. It was counter intuitive, but it was all they had, except for Saban who thought the style was, “dangerous”.

But now, the coaches will have to pull out a thesaurus; soft, finesse won’t work on these Ducks. Mario won’t have a 38-3 halftime score very often. But I feel like these new Ducks will be just as frustrating to deal with.

Jon Joseph

Good take.

What a difference. Mike Leach’s O line at MS ST averages 320 lbs. He’s not at Wazzu anymore.

McShay and Kiper both whiff far more than they get hits. Pro Football Focus has a far better record of projecting the draft.

With Lawrence and Fields both in the 2021 draft will Penei go second? So much depends on the needs of the lousy teams picking early.


Completely agree about Kiper & McShay, I mean they lose all credibility when they show up with their, Big Board 1, then, BB 2, and 3, and so on & so on. They’re all for show, rather than an actual analysis like PFF does.

As for Penei, there’s a lot of, “show” in the Draft itself. Can a team skip over one of those mega- QB’s for an OL?

Santa Rosa Duck

Hey Charles, Welcome back! You just can’t stay away. I have limited expectations for the 2020 shortened season. Hoping the players can stay healthy, hoping to see the new O-line gel, hoping to see us work in a new QB, hoping to see how our defensive talent is rearranged, hoping to see how our new Offensive Coordinator brings it all together. Above all hoping for a vaccine and looking forward to a strong 2021 season and a victory over The Ohio State University.

Jon Joseph

Great take with reflections past, present and projections into the future. Spot on for crediting Mario with changing the ‘culture.’ And spot on to Mario for bringing in a D coach like Avalos and a crank-up-the-O coach in Joe Moorhead.

As you noted yesterday Charles, the Ducks O line in 2020 will be NFL sized. And under Mario, they will be nasty.

Reading between the lines, I sense disbelief among the recruiting gurus when noting that Oregon (Oregon!) now has the #3 ranked recruiting class in the nation with top drawer players flocking to the Ducks from coast to coast. THIS is approaching Pete Carroll like recruiting when Carroll had SC rolling.

Even with more battlers advancing from Oregon to play on Sunday, the cherry will not be placed on top of this sundae before adding a Bucknuts victory. And, defeating, as Clemson has been able to do under Dabo, the SEC big boys in both the scheduled games and in the final 4.

A work in progress; one to admire as the work progresses.


So right – a work in progress and will continue that way until we can achieve victory over the better SEC teams. Go get ’em Ducks.

Jon Joseph

Reputation wise, nothing will change the opinion more .than a win in Columbus in 2021, and a playoff appearance. And a win “at” UGA in 2022, with a playoff appearance. And at least the 2nd PO appearance cannot be 1 and done.

I know, kind of a ‘duh’ observation. But this is what it will take for the rest of the country to wake up and give the Ducks national respect.

The Rose Bowl win was great. But a 1 point defeat of a 3L B1G team is not going to move the national needle.


Yea, a win in 2021 in Columbus would really start tuning heads and I’m sure would help us even more in recruiting.

Jon Joseph

Every cloud has a silver lining? The game will be in Columbus but the tables have turned regarding the team that will be starting an experienced QB. And the Ducks O line has the opportunity to return all 7 starters who hopefully stay healthy and play 8 games this season including the bowl game. Also, the 2 Buckeyes studs who opted back in for 2020, will also be gone.

Think Kirby Smart and UGA fans miss Justin Fields this season? With Fields instead of Fromm at QB last season would UGA have had a shot at taking down LSU?

Jon Joseph

Sorry, 5, not 7, starters. This is not Shaw’s Stanford teams.

Jon Sousa

I didn’t mind the 7 starters comment. Last year we had “6”.