How Dominant Were Oregon Sports When YOU Graduated?

Alex Heining Editorials 27 Comments

Our Beloved Ducks recently completed another school year under pandemic protocols and online classes, which resulted in a unique graduation experience. As an Oregon graduate myself this Spring, I wanted to consider our community and how the Ducks have changed over the years, rising and falling as a dominant program between decades of graduating classes.

Fantastic recruiting exhibited by Mario Cristobal and other staff members was unfortunately not enough to make my final year as a student particularly special in Autzen. Granted, given the circumstances of the pandemic, there weren’t many fans able to go to games anywhere anyway, so I feel it’s unfair to really take out any of that frustration on the players or coaches.

To look on the bright side of my time here in Eugene, the Rose Bowl victory under a Justin Herbert led offense was my favorite time to be around campus. The energy and joy that emanated from students around me felt like a different breed from years past. That was the “true” college experience it seems everyone is looking for,  and I’m grateful to have been able to participate in such a special era, considering now how Herbert has transitioned so swiftly to the NFL.

Scott Kelley

How could Herbert’s INSANE rushing game against the Badgers ever be forgotten?

Aside from football, what a time it was to be a Duck! Our programs have been competitive and edging on becoming dominant in several sports the entire time I had the privilege of being in Eugene. The Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams have been absolutely outstanding while I’ve been a student, getting to see Sabrina Ionescu and Payton Pritchard in person at Matthew Knight, as well as the recent upturn of Baseball’s performance and our unbelievable Track & Field team (speaking of, have you gotten an in-person look yet at Hayward Field’s new big brother?).

I couldn’t be more grateful for the sports experiences I got to be a part of while at Oregon and I cannot wait to return in future seasons. I know even now that I was a witness to some of the greatest Oregon athletes to ever grace the campus grounds, but I know there are many from the past that I’ve probably still never even heard of.

Now it’s time to think back yourself: when you graduated college, how were the Ducks’ sports programs? If you were at the U of O or anywhere else, do you remember what kind of seasons the Ducks were having? Who were the faces of the program? Here’s a link if you need a refresher on some of the sports program’s season stats.

And if you weren’t ever a Duck, what’s your earliest memory of becoming a fan? Go Ducks, and stay safe over the holiday weekend!

Alex Heining
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo By: Twitter

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Annie

Grew up in CT, moved to Oregon in 1975. As I remember, men’s basketball and track and field were the winning sports.

Title 9 was fairly new, so women’s basketball had been around for only about 3 years. Not sure if there were any other women’s sports at OR at the time. Things have changed for the better in that area. :)

Drake

78 thru 83 myself.

The Pit rocked, but UCLA and the rodents were dominant in those years. Watched Ralph Miller ball where the rodents would pass about 25 times and win by scoring 36 total points…ughhh!!

Football was an excuse to start partying at 9am. We had some rough years. That is when my disgust of everything Husky started. The Huskies traveled in droves back then, and they would have more of their fans in the stands than the Ducks. They were very obnoxious.

Wrestling still existed, and for a short time while I attended, we had a baseball team. Track and field would have dual meets and the level of talent and the crowd made that a lot of fun.

Over the years it has been gratifying to see the improvements to all our sports facilities. The Ducks sports facilities are World Class and the commitment to the Student Athlete goes beyond the venues.

Proud to be a Duck

J Duck

Track and Field, XC were good…

Ducked

Some of the most enjoyable years for me were the early- mid 70’s when Dick Harter replaced Steve Belko as the Ducks’ basketball coach. What a culture change. Oregon became the most hated, and feared, team in the PAC-8. Nobody outworked them or outhustled them.

Intimidation was their weapon of choice. While not always the most talented ( it didn’t hurt, of course, to have Ronnie Lee, Greg Ballard, Ernie Kent, and Mark Barwig, Oregon’s version of Patrick Beverley,) the Ducks nevertheless wreaked havoc throughout the conference.

Most memorable was Oregon’s 65-45 dismantling of UCLA at Pauley in 1976, ending the Bruins’ 98 game homecourt winning streak.

The Harter era, while not overly successful in terms if wins and losses, was one of the most exciting periods in Duck basketball history and ushered in Mac Court as one of the toughest arenas in the country for opposing teams.

Jon Joseph

Ah, the Pac-8 and the truly Big 10.

The Run For the Roses was everything.

Better today?

DanLduck

I was a JC transfer from British Columbia in ’78. I didn’t go to a single football game but several bball games in the pit.
I had grown up watching pac 8 action on TV every sat and was thrilled to be in the student section that first game!

The men’s team wasn’t very good then. I remember thinking I should try out as a walk on, after all, I held my own playing pick up games with Bev Smith and other members of the girls team…
Until one day I played against a kid that was red-shirting for the men’s team…
He ate me alive!!
Talk about a rude awakening and come-uppance!! Lol.

Since then I know my place vs D1 athletes.
Boy do I respect them.

My son and I have spent the last 40+ years learning to “watch” the Ducks on the radio until they got popular enough for TV. Now almost every Saturday we get Ducked out and tailgate in our own backyard and watch on our big screen. We do get to a few games, there really is no place like Autzen!!

Lou Farnsworth

When I was there, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I think we might have dominated bowling. But I’m not sure.

Steven A

‘68 to BS in ‘72. A lot of what has been written are great memories. My recollection of the closing of 13th St was “temporary” for the very first Earth Day.

In regard to the unrest and National Guard, a basketball movie, Drive He Said, was being filmed with Jack Nicholson directing. Mike Warren was in the movie and Karen Black starring. For the fan scenes in Mac Court, there was a lottery every day and I think a VW was the grand prize. During filming there were anti-War demonstrations with pepper fog being used for a first time. Jack filmed the unrest, posted bail for all arrested, and wrote the scenes into the movie. Later Dupont offered money to the ODE for the rights to their pics of the “fogging” for promotional purposes, which was declined.

I was fortunate enough to have a good friend, Jim, recruited for football and Dan Fouts was his player sponsor the Feb 20 1970 weekend. Four of us went out to dinner at the Branding Iron, the fourth being Coach Siefert.

Then off to Bball game vs UCLA and a W against the #1 team in the nation. Very special/memorable time.

On Sunday, Jim and I were jay walking back to campus and got honked at, flipped off the driver and then got a ride from him, Coach Siefert took it well.

PS, Jim chose Stanford.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Now YOU have unique experiences along with a few here–wow.

Jon Joseph

Man what a fun topic and what great comments!

As a graduate of D3 Bowdoin College, where I played football (we stunk) and ice hockey (the teams were very, very good) I became a Ducks fan over the 12 years that we resided in Bend. The non-BCS hose job of 2001 but Fiesta beat down of CU, the awesome CK years, Marcus and the beat down of Famous Jameis in the Rose Bowl (the pac-12’s sole playoff win to date, sigh) were incredible highlights.

It’s a bit easier to find Oregon sports on the tube than to find the games of the Bowdoin Polar Bears. But Man, it gets late too early on the Right Coast. 10:30 PM games are most often viewed by this grey beard on Sunday.

Hopefully, the Ducks will fly high in 2021!

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

OT but I hope of interest.

CBS – Pac-12 Conference SOS Ranking for 2021. 1. Stanford 2.CU 3.UCLA 4.Arizona 5.Oregon State 6.WA ST 7.CAL 8.UTAH 9.USC 10.OREGON 11.ASU 12.UW (Much dependent on whether a team has 5 or 4 conference home games which IMO, stinks.)

USA Today – SOS RANKING for 2021 P5 OOC Games:

Pac- 12 – 1.Stanford 7.CU 9.USC 14.Oregon 23.UW 25.UCLA 28.UTAH 29.AZ 35.CAL 39. WA ST 48.ASU 51.OR ST (half of the conference in the top 25.) – AVERAGE – 21.75

SEC – 3.UGA 18.USC(e) 19.MS ST 27.Auburn 30.MISS 32.ARK 44.BAMA 47.UF 53.LSU 56.MO 59.Vandy 60.A+M 63.TN 64.Kentucky – AVERAGE – 41.07 And, 8 and not 9 conference games. PATHETIC! But it is scheduling for success.

DanLduck

I just saw an article stating how Saban is leading the way in the SEC for tougher scheduling, I almost threw up in my mouth!

They scheduled home and home with tOSU, Boston College, and a couple others but like in 2030!
The Pac12 has been doing this for years, but now Saban is leading the way?!
Really?!

Steven A

Why not, he’ll be gone then.

Jon Joseph

So true. Saint Nick keeps saying he wants 9 conference games + it hasn’t and probably, sans COVID, will never happen.

Bama OOC 2021 – Miami, not relevant since Mario balled there, at a neutral site; Mercer (have mercy!); Southern Miss, New Mexico State (such a natural opponent for Bama, right?)

Darren Perkins

I like to look at my time at Oregon 1992-1997, as the point where we finally realized the fruits of our labor from the steady grind and growth under Rick Brooks in the 80’s, while simultaneously serving as the springboard as to what Oregon Sports has become today.

It was in the mid-90’s that Phil Knight finally decided to start backing the Oregon Athletic department, and clearly the Rose Bowl birth had something to do with that. I’d like to think Phil was thinking, “Hmmm… if they can succeed without me, then the sky is the limit with me. Let’s create a BRAND.”

And good times, of course. I remember witnessing “the pick” which caused the student section to completely explode. I was literally levitated off the ground and floated down about 5 rows, completely separated from my buddies. When gravity returned, I found myself hugging and high-fiving a group of asian students of whom I had no idea who they were. But nobody cared, we were all so excited, the energy was so real and raw.

My buddies and I loaded up in a little honda accord and piled into a Motel 6 outside of Pasedena for the 1995 Rose Bowl. Plenty of shenanigans ensued with a bunch of turbo-charged 20 year-olds running around Hollywood for several days. And luckily my friend Dylan looked like he was 35, so acquiring adult beverages was never an issue.

The highlight: a buddy of ours was a spoiled Hollywood kid and his parents owned a mansion in Studio City. He threw a big New Years Party where the likes of Dweezil Zappa and Alicia Silverstone appeared. Alicia was the “it” girl at the time due to her appearances in the Aerosmith videos. It was shoulder to shoulder people. As I made my way was through the crowd my rear-end brushed against her tush. My joke is, I haven’t washed my rear since! (don’t worry I have, lol)

Thankfully, the Rose Bowl was played on January 2nd that year. Let’s just say I wasn’t in the greatest shape on Jan 1.

It was also, of course, in this time frame that the Ducks made the NCAA basketball tourney for the first time in forever. Shortly after the Rose Bowl appearance, the Ducks played eventual national champ and #1 ranked Ucla at Mac Court. The football team was honored at half-time. And of course, the Ducks upset the Bruins that night!

Aaaahhh, I could go on forever, but I need to go mow the lawn. : )

My year of graduating is right here, and the quarterbacks were Mike Jorgenson, Mike Owens and a young Chris Miller.

Lew Barnes began an electric career with the Ducks as a receiver, and who can forget Oregon getting lined up to receive a punt and the crowd yelling….“LEWWWWWWWWWWWWW.” Great fun at Autzen…

And they only scored an average of 13.80 points per game! How did they win even four games?

FGLumber

Other than T&F, athletics was underwhelming. Remembering that the Frosh basketball team (they couldn’t play varsity on those days) clobbered the varsity (John Pinkstaff and all) says it all. 1969, what a year of upheaval. ROTC arm shack where all weapons were stored burned down, blood thrown into the ROTC bldg & extreme unrest. Steel honing steel made us better people I suppose.

Haywarduck

The Jim Haney years is all you need to know about the basketball program. As far as the Brooks years, the tie games were probably the most unique games of the era. There were multiple ties with Notre Dame the big one, and then ended with the 0-0 toilet bowl with my time at Oregon.

How dominant, the word dominant wasn’t used other than against the beavs. We were the long shot, and that is part of my DNA to this day.

I don’t think of myself as dominant, but a person who has to work harder and smarter than the rest. This outlook has allowed me to even surprise myself, and find myself in the Rose Bowl of life after years of loyalty and hard work.

This is the huge difference between the Ducks of now and the Ducks of the era I came from. I never have thought I could show up and win, but if I was ready to compete there was always the chance. I hope Cristobal can get this team to embrace this outlook this season, and always be ready to compete, never expect to win. With that element the Oregon Football Program can reach that special place.

Notalot

The years I spent at Oregon were one of the golden eras of Oregon Sports littered with world class and later professional athletes.

The football teams included Bobby Moore (Ahmad Rashad), Dan Fouts, Howard Cosell’s favorite “All-World Tight End” Russ Francis, dual sport later NFL George Martin, and my personal hero Middle LB Tom Graham. The late Bob Newland graced us with his good hands abd overall skills.

Basketball included Dick Harter’s Kamikaze Kids teams with Ron Lee, Greg Ballard, Stu Jackson and Ernie Kent. I attended nearly every home game in McArthurCourt’s “Pit” with the scoreboard bouncing as the Ducks rallied.

Even Men’s baseball was storied with Oregon’s own (Corvallis) Dave Roberts drafted #1 in the 1973 MLB draft.

Oregon T&F was king winning the 1970 NCAA national title. Coach Bowerman patrolled the field those years while “Pre” ran around the track abd Nike was born. Oregon had so many great stars. Russ Francis set the javelin record. The Ducks were loaded in the middle and long distance events.

There’s much more of course. The era and my time at UO was overshadowed by the Viet Nam war, massive social upheaval, cries for racial justice, and organized protests against sports as “the establishment”. Our greatest athletes faced shaming by the student newspaper and on campus from some factions.

In 1970 and 1971 busses of National Guardsmen regularly appeared to quell upheavals, students overtook Johnson Hall, ROTC was fire bombed, the Black Panthers established an office on campus and Ken Keasey frequently extolled oratories on the sidewalks near the EMU while rolling through on occasion with his band of Merry Pranksters.

The U of O was alive on many fronts following the shootings at Kent State, the 1968 Democratic Convention, Haight-Ashbury, and assassinations. It was billed by some as “Berkley North”.

UO Sports were marvelous and storied during those days. But there is a lot more to the story and in history. Oregon was an epicenter of excellence and reform.

smith72

Nice trip down memory lane! Those were exciting times, friend!

Ducked

Thanks for the trip down memory lane Notalot. You captured what is was like be a student and a sports fan at a campus that leans strongly to the left. I was at Cal from ‘64 to ‘70, so I know a little about turmoil and student unrest. My very first day on campus, fall of ‘64, as I walked through Sather Gate toward Sproul Plaza, I heard a commotion and saw a people start to gather.

It was Mario Savio whipping the quickly growing crowd into a frenzy and it marked the beginning of the Free Speech Movement, a movement that rapidly spread to other college campuses, including of course the U of O. Sports was a respite from the chaos for many of us, myself included, but while I attended many “political rallies,” usually from the back row, I have to admit it opened my eyes to topics that as a 17- year-old I had given little thought.

Just so you know, I moved to Oregon in 1971, and have been an Oregon fan for 50 years. My kids are both Oregon grads, and my grandkids will probably be Ducks, too.

But am I torn when Cal plays Oregon? Of course, but I always root for the team that has the most to gain, which means I’m usually pulling fir the Ducks.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

Before anyone be tempted to comment on the “Free Speech” Movement now–let’s just forget about it. Focus on the Oregon Sports…

ICamel

Those were some memorable times “Notalot”!

Who remembers log trucks rolling through campus on 13th Street and having to dodge traffic while crossing it to get to our next class?

Until we shut it down in protest. I don’t think it has ever re-opened.
“30 to 40 UO students successfully closed 13th Avenue through the university on April 26, 1970, erecting barricades at either end of campus to prevent passage of traffic and calling it “The People’s Street” in protest. The barriers were removed three days later by the students on condition that city officials hold a City Council meeting to discuss the permanent closure of 13th to auto traffic. The city eventually voted to close the stretch of 13th Avenue through campus to motorized traffic, eliminating the dangers that vehicles presented to students trying to travel between classes.”
https://blogs.uoregon.edu/scua/2015/01/21/student-protests-on-the-uo-campus-demonstrations-of-the-late-1960s/

We were definitely a basketball and track&field school back then.

Notalot

I pulled two all nighters at the barricade that first week eying the Eugene Police Dept while they stared at us. I wasn’t as much a protester as curious about life and the issues of the day. By the next year I was in Viet Nam learning about other aspects of government and international policy. Afterward it was back to UO. If ’70 was a challenging time ’73 as a VN vet was just as crazy, but different. I was blessed by my UO days as unconventional as they were.

Notalot

You can’t imagine what we students looked like let alone the Erb.