Oregon Football: The College World Despises Ducks Fans, but Why?
During this time of the college football offseason when teams have long since wrapped things up, the bored faithful tend to get restless. On Feb. 2, fans watched excitedly as new football recruits signed on with their new teams.
We all got all worked up about it; threads were humming with rhetoric and debauchery about which school was getting which recruit.
And yet, four years later, the college football recruiting rankings on Scout.com and Rivals.com rarely resemble the final BCS polls. So how important are they?
Now this week comes news that a crazed 62-year-old Alabama fan, poisoned the tradition-packed 132-year-old oak trees on the Auburn campus known as Toomer’s Corner.
The proud fan then called a local radio show hosted by Paul Finebaum to pop off about it, identified later after police promptly arrested the nitwit, as one Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr.
Alabama folks will quickly point out that there is some doubt as to whether this guy ever attended their university in the first place. Many claim he's an uneducated high-school drop-out who just glommed onto the program as most of the worst fans of programs do.
Nevertheless, on the radio he bragged up his despicable act, and claimed it was in retaliation for Auburn fans toilet-papering the same trees in celebration when famed Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant passed on. Auburn fans often toilet paper these trees for celebration, as they have for some eleven decades.
Auburn fans deny the Bryant rumor ever happened, while Alabama fans insist it did, and each fanbase is bitter because of it. Both claim the opposing fans are the most obnoxious in America.
This is where the Pac-10 comes in.
Speaking as a UW Husky alum who has had to tolerate the adolescent habits of Oregon Duck fans for three decades, I would have to contest that last point.
Yes certainly there may be some mentally-challenged individuals in the SEC who do stupid things like this, but are the fans in that conference anywhere as raw than our pals down in the tractor-lot-infested middle of I-5 Oregon?
I think not, and apparently many other fans of Pac-10 schools agree with me.
Evidence? On the next page is a fan poll that was presented to each school in the Pac-10 this past year, asking who they rated as the most derelict in the league? Guess who won?
Poll Showing How Pac-10 Fans Rate Those From Rival Schools In The Conference
Pac-10 fans were asked point blank: Which school has the most boorish, unsophisticated and classless boobs rooting for their team?
Not surprisingly to anyone outside of Oregon, the color-challenged Ducks won in a landslide, with 38.10 percent of across-the-board Pac-10 fan vote. It dwarfed the next-closest team, the California Golden Bears, who finished a distant second with 16.67 percent of the vote.
Nor is this the only poll. Sports Illustrated also ran a poll with roughly the same results during the same year of 2009 (see below)
As a humble and cheerful Washington Husky fan, I wondered why? Why do most in the Pac-10 think the Ducks are a bit light in the brain department when it comes to what they say and how they act towards other fans at football and basketball games?
Oh sure there are the numerous reader comments that have littered my own articles for years, with Oregon fans screaming profanities and threatening my family. I’ve always assumed those were the nutty exceptions. But after seeing this poll, now I’m not so certain.
Surely the rest of the Duck faithful cannot be as vocally deficient as those commenting on my articles? Or could they?
Then as I researched the topic for this article, I began to learn I may be giving Oregon Duck fans way too much credit. I could hardly believe what I was finding, and there's so much of it!
The following is the tip of the iceberg. Attached are eight exposés of quotes from others about why they can’t stand the Oregon Duck athletic program and their fans.
I wrote very little of this material. Instead, I merely pulled up quotes off of fan forums and various articles from web sites, and am re-posted them without edits for us all to enjoy.
Turns out the team that is desperate to be accepted that they go to extremes in dressing themselves, like donning fluorescent knee socks against Auburn last month, and wearing dozens of goofy $600 designer helmets, is vivaciously disliked by a great many.
Here are some of the reasons!
Link to Sports Illustrated poll:
8. Mar. 18, 2004: Storming the Court after 1st-Round Victory in NIT Tourney
I’m not sure why this particular basketball game got so many people riled up, but there was a first-round game back in 2004 in the NIT basketball tournament between Oregon and Colorado.
Long before Oregon had accomplished much in football, Duck fans apparently stormed the court after the game and were mouthing off about their huge victory. In the NIT tourney that doesn't exactly garner the eyes of multitudes.
While a great many are still laughing about it seven years later, for others, that single act was a felonious display of low class that still has not been forgiven. Especially by new Pac-12 member Colorado Buffalo fans, who are still whining and whimpering.
Check out these comments from some who witnessed this spectacle:
"The one tournament no one cares about. What's so significant about a first round NIT victory? Boy, these Oregon fans have to be among the WORST in the country. Storming the court after a victory over Colorado? Pathetic. Oregon fans SUCK!"
Or this one:
"You have shown yourself to be just another bitter Buffalo fan. If you don't like the fact the Duck students come out on to the court after games fine. Don't watch us. Of course that will severely limit the amount of Duck basketball games you will be watching for the rest of this season because this is what we do at Oregon."
If that bugged Colorado fans, you may be near suicidal after a few seasons showing up in Eugene for various sporting events!
What's interesting about that fan comment is the claim this is an Oregon tradition. I don't remember them doing this after losing to UW time and again.
But whatever. No big deal, right? Fans upset over losing a tourney? So what. Oregon fans did what most college fans periodically do. How is that so bad?
7. Mouthing Off about Too Few Accomplishments
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Even though Auburn won the championship game last month, apparently some of the Tigers faithful were downright ticked off at Oregon fans and their antics during the buildup.
Many scorching fan comments absolutely ripped Oregon fans for whatever it was they were doing. But none so effectively as Bleacher Report’s own Kevin Strickland, who shared a number of observations about the Duck fans in a rather humorous way. Allow me to quote him:
“To the decrepit Oregon fan at the sidewalk café who kept trying to trip Auburn patrons with his cane? People saw you. You and a flock of others like you are the reason many Auburn fans left Arizona determined to cheer for Beavers, Trees, Huskies and Bruins against your team in the future."
"People like you are why many of us will put aside our regional differences and support a Bayou beatdown when LSU travels to Uncle Phil’s Camp for Day Glo Children to open next season.
Here’s a hint to Oregon fans. When your team has a signature win under its belt (and we’re not talking just this season, we’re talking historically); when your team isn’t staring at a 2-7 bowl record over the last nine seasons with the only wins coming in the Holiday Bowl and Sun Bowl; when you’ve beaten a handful of top 25 teams in the same season, then maybe you can run non-stop smack. Until then, perhaps you could tone it down a little."
Now what is amazing about Strickland's observations, is how quickly Auburn fans picked up the same vibe that the rest of us have complained about for decades, when it comes to our feathered friends from down south.
Strickland, obviously still hacked off, then went on to add:
"To the Oregon fans who tried to explain the great fan atmosphere at Oregon games, were you aware you were cooking on a Foreman Grill? In the south, gameday grills are the size of your Prius. Burgers aren’t made of carrots and beans. Animals have to die in order to make a real burger.
“To the Oregon fans who boasted about consecutive sellouts of their home games, do you know what you call 55,000 people at an SEC stadium? A spring game.”
Meanwhile when it comes to Oregon fans, so ok, so they do uncool things while on the road. We all knew that. What about general sportsmanship while teams compete? Next slide please .....
6. Cheering When Players From Opponents Suffer Serious Injuries
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
As Oregon played the California Golden Bears this past year in football, the Bears used a rather interesting tactic for defense to slow down the huddle-less Ducks offense.
When they were caught in a defensive scheme with the wrong personnel on the field, suddenly a Cal player, usually a defensive lineman, would fall without warning to the ground in an act of pain that would have made the Hollywood Screen Actors Guild proud.
Well Oregon fans were so ticked off about this that were urping up their dinners and throwing empty "Mickies's Big Mouth" bottles at anything that moved. Perhaps infuriated because their 15-13 win over California hardly justified claims they'd been making the previous week, about the Ducks having “the best offense in college football history.”
The rest of the Pac-10 would have still been rolling our eyes over that one, but then that bare squeeker win made it particularly delicious!
Well Oregon papers were hacked off! The Oregonian’s John Hunt wrote, “He confirms what we were showing you an Saturday night, that the California Gold Bears faked injuries!!”
Hunt, an obvious Duck devotee, went on to write, “A source within the Bears football program confirmed that this was indeed 'a big part' of the defensive game plan, although not all Cal coaches were on board with this strategy.”
(All of this was from “unidentified sources.")
And then to really drive the anger point home, he added, “Tedford deserves to have someone back-stab him like this. While faking injuries may not be illegal it certainly is classless. No wonder why Tedford can’t win a big game.
"It also sends a message to your players that they are not good enough to beat Oregon. With that little trust in your players, it’s no wonder why Tedford can’t win a big game. At least he’s at Cal where he can just call out his freshman backup quarterback or his kicker every time he loses a big game.”
But it wasn’t the only time Oregon was insecure about this topic. Following the Arizona game were comments like this flowing from fan forums:
“Yah you would be booing too when a team actually admitted to faking injuries. Not saying Arizona did but it was kind of fishy when those 3 players who were injured came back in a few plays later perfectly fine.
It always seemed when the Ducks offense was gaining rhythm too. Anyway I just find it funny that you guys are so mad that Oregon just won't lose so you find anything you can to bash them. Your favorite team has "those" fans too and you know it."
Ah yes, consoling words by those lovable folks at Oregon, if not a bit hypocritical. Said someone else about Oregon:
“Yes every team has 'those fans,' but the entire stadium chants profanity and cheers when opponent players get injured at Autzen...and if you think that's normal behavior anywhere else in the nation you're delusional.”
5. Jan. 2008: Racist Profanities Hurled During Arizona-Oregon Basketball Game
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
“No longtime Pac-10 watchers—at least nobody I know—was the slightest bit surprised about the way some Oregon students treated UCLA freshman Kevin Love last weekend.
"They held offensive signs and showered Love with insults, some of them reportedly homophobic, that went far beyond 'it’s part of the game' classification.
"This was hardly the first time the students have behaved like jack—–. It’s not all of them; it’s probably only a few; but it has happened repeatedly over the years. As one Oregon official said: “It’s an ongoing thing to get our students to behave properly.”
"In the mid-90s, fans sitting close to the court yelled the “N-word” at Arizona guard Damon Stoudamire. (I was there, I heard it, Stoudamire heard it, he talked about it, and I wrote about it.)
"A few years later, several UCLA players complained about the same six-letter word.
"It seems the nasty faction of Duck students saves their nastiest stuff for Oregon natives (Stoudamire is from Portland, Love from Lake Oswego). Maybe they’re upset the players did not sign with the Ducks.
"Anyhow, Oregon athletic director Pat Kilkenny apologized to UCLA and left messages for Bruins Coach Ben Howland and for Love’s father, Stan, who played for Oregon.
"A nice and proper gesture, for sure. But it won’t stop the abusive fan (ie: student) behavior in Eugene, which, like I said, has been going on for years and years.”
4. Jan. 13, 2006: Phil Knight Cutting Off Track Funds
Nor does is tend to be confined to only one sport. This from ESPN’s Mike Fish on Jan. 13, 2006, who suggested that Phil Knight might be the best owner in college sports:
“Here's a tip: If you're cashing paychecks from the University of Oregon, treat Phil Knight with unabashed love; even genuflect at his Nikes if the occasion calls for it.
"Just don't tick him off or, heaven forbid, fall shy of grandiose designs for his beloved alma mater—lest you might end up following Martin Smith down Interstate 5.
"Suspiciously, the longtime track coach resigned a day before the Ducks' season-opening meet this past March, leaving with three years on his contract.
"The $500,000 buyout he reportedly walked away with makes it sound more like a firing. If so, his testy relationship with the Nike co-founder didn't help.
"Nor did the almost sacrilegious idea that Smith, a prickly character who refused to seek input from Knight or former Oregon distance running star Alberto Salazar, delivered a successful program around a core of hurdlers, jumpers and throwers—not seasoned distance runners like those who'd given legs to Oregon's storied track tradition and birthed a sneaker giant.
"So, in the showdown leading up to the coach's exit and eventual shuffle to the University of Oklahoma, Knight cut off his financial support to the track squad. The identical don't-cross-me tactic Knight deployed after president Dave Frohnmayer earlier aligned the university with the Worker Rights Consortium, a group critical of Nike's labor practices.
"'The bonds of trust,' Knight said, 'have been shredded.' Eventually, the university reversed course and Knight turned the financial tap back on.
"'That was the worst moment, by far,' recalls Frohnmayer, still apologizing for the decision he made five years ago. 'It was terrible for him.'
Some of us had the misfortune of watching Mr Knight spend a half-hour patting himself on the back when the new Oregon arena opened. Others have written that Knight was instrumental in the last football coach firing, and routinely dicates game decisions in football games.
The truth? Who knows. But clearly this is a relationship unlike any other in college football!
3. Comments Made to Opposing Fans after an Oregon Duck Victory
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
How about if I just let a website called “The Displaced Trojan” do the talking on this topic, although Lord knows we Husky fans know what this guy is saying first hand. Here’s what he said:
“The Ducks football team has enjoyed some success at the national level recently, they’ve got the best owner in college sports, they train in state-of-the-art facilities, they wear the worst uniforms of all time...but they will always play second fiddle to USC.
"We know it. They know it. And this leads to hate.
"I know this because I’ve experienced this hate in person. Back in 1999, I was at a USC game in Eugene, Oregon, when we lost in triple overtime after Carson Palmer broke his collarbone just before halftime.
"After the game, instead of exchanging pleasantries—like most fans with class and an appreciation for an exciting game, nearly every Oregon fan we came across heading out of the stadium (and there were a lot of them) had something ugly to say.
"'Go home you f””kin loser!' or 'I bet it feels like sh*t to be wearing that USC jacket about now, huh.'
“I’ll spare you the various versions of 'USC Sucks!' and the sophomoric condom lines, but needless to say there wasn’t a lot of class and sportsmanship in Eugene that night. I’m sure there are a few Duck fans who may justifiably take exception to this, but in my experience, Oregon has the most vulgar, low-rent fans in the Pac-10...And that’s saying something with Cal in the conference.”
2. Testimony from Actual Fans
Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Is it only sports writers that feel this way? Or is it the general public? Three stories from fans about their experience:
“I was about 13 years old and I was with my dad at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. Awesome tournament, I’m getting autographs from Jon Elway, Mike Eruzione, Charles Barkley, Jason Kidd, Ray Allen, Chris Webber, Mike Schmit, Jerry Rice.
"It’s a dream come true for a kid that loves collecting sports cards. So we’re walking around watching some of the golfers and we come across Rick Neuheisel, then the University of Washington head football coach. Rick was teeing off.
"Now my dad was a huuuuge Ducks fan, thus having a big influence on me and the school I would eventually choose, and he collected every football poster since 1991 until 2005 where I have picked up the tradition.
"So while us Ducks are routinely included in the ‘Worst Fans In The Pac-10′ discussion, my dad and I quietly wait while Neuheisel tees off between the 15 or so people watching his foursome. Neuheisel swings and everyone but my dad and I golf claps.
"Who knows why but my dad turns to this elderly guy next to him and quietly says, 'I’m an Oregon Duck fan and I’ve always thought this guy (Neuheisel) was an a**hole.'
"The guy turns to my dad, pauses, and says bitterly, 'Oh ya? Well I’m his dad and I think you’re an a**hole!'
"Ackward to the fullest. Neuheisel ended up being a nice guy and actually apologizing personally to my dad at a big dinner later, but even despite all of this I’m still a big hater of his."
Not like this was necessarily unique however. Here’s another fan story:
“My wife and friends and I travel to at least one away game per year, but we have decided to stop going to Eugene. The people there really are different than at any other venue. They wear their rudeness on their sleeves like a badge of honor, and will cuss you out (and challenge you to a brawl), not caring if there are kids around or anything.
"Meanwhile, if you go to Pullman, Tempe, Palo Alto, etc, strangers will invite you into their tailgate parties for a beer and treat you like on of their own."
And said another fan:
“I grew up in WA and live in Oregon now, and I have to say the Duck fans are the worst I've encountered...friends in the marching bands of OSU, Stanford, and UW have all mentioned appalling treatment by duck fans in Eugene (things getting thrown at them, getting cursed at, having to take security measures walking around Eugene, etc). While I do have friends who are diehard Ducks fans, by and large their fan base is just obnoxious."
1. Lastly, What Ducks Fans Have Written to Me
And lastly, let me just share my own experience here on Bleacher Report. In an article I wrote about uniform expenses and the potential advantages for recruiting that alumni money can have on a program, here’s what I was hearing from Oregon fans in response.
And keep in mind, this is only one of about 50 or more similar comments, and the guy writing this tripe was not a young guy. His photo (before he mysteriously pulled it) showed a guy in his late 50's/early 60's!
One Randal Fitzhugh, apparently a diehard Oregon fan, was miffed that I would dare write about his beloved Ducks or suggest the whole thing with Phil Knight was getting a bit weird. Here's what he wrote:
“Your writing is totally despicable and you're an obnoxious whiner and let's see what else...a pretentious ass. Your claims are blatantly self serving. You pretend you're bringing some value to the sports world with your commentary, but you get off on your little power trip...? Man, you are so pathetic words can't describe the level of petty, spiteful thoughts that must go through your head to write the articles you've written. Using BR to vent your pettiness is also disingenuous to the readers, which (IMO) shows your obvious lack of moral character.”
Not that I am alone in this guy’s wrath. Here’s what he wrote on someone elses Bleacher Report article:
"Why not title your article 'Fu*k Everyone Who Ever Thought a Bad Thought About Auburn?' It's not other writers, Alabama fans, Duck fans, sports analysts, etc. who denigrate Auburn...it's hacks like you who prove that Auburn has fans who are poor winners and that sportsmanship certainly isn't in your repertoire...what a paranoid, pathetic article...and your team won?"
Nice happy people, aren’t they?
So, as I said in the forward for this piece, I didn’t really have to write much on this one. In fact I wrote very little of this, and rather just gathered and re-posted the tons of bits and pieces from other fan forums, about Oregon Duck fans. There's is so much of it out there. This is just a mere sliver of the mountain of venom coming from Ducksville.
If I was a Duck fan, I might start doing some inward examination before launching accusations toward everyone else! And rather than write scating comments towards authors who point it out, I might ponder why everyone else sees my own program the same way!