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Twelve Days of Pac-12: Oregon

Ore-eh-gun?  Ore-eh-gone?  Ore-eh-ghen?

Pac-12 map - Oregon Huskies Golden Bears Cardinal

The Pac-12 is almost here, and to ring in the new conference, we're going to take a look at the schools of the Pac-12 and share some interesting facts and history.  Today we'll look at the University of Oregon.


Established: 1876
First Football Season: 1893
Varsity Sports: 17
Football Stadium (built/capacity): Autzen Stadium (1967/54,000)
Basketball/multipurpose Stadium (built/capacity): Matthew Knight Arena (2011/12,541)
Football Conference championships (Claimed National Championships): 8 (0)
Total NCAA Team Championships (last): 18 (2011, Women's Indoor Track & Field)
Most Successful Team Sport: Cross Country (6 Men's NCAA Championships, 2 Women's NCAA Championships)

Did you know?  The Oregon community loves their football team and the players on them, but there perhaps is no one person in Ducks history who is held in higher esteem than Steve Prefontaine.  Pre, as Ducks faithful affectionately refer to him as, lost only three races in the entirety of his career at Oregon.  He won the NCAA Cross Country championship three of his four years as a student, with his sole miss due to preparation for the Munich Olympics.  His 13 American records that he broke while at Oregon won him national acclaim and earned him a cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 19.  It could be said that Pre represented the rebirth of American running and put Oregon on the national map single handedly, launching the University of Oregon into what would become one of the premier destinations for high school runners and making Hayward Field a nationally acclaimed track facility.  While he tragically passed away at the age of 24 in a car accident in Eugene, his legacy still lives on.  Several monuments to Pre exist throughout the state, and UO hosts the annual Prefontaine Classic as a tribute to their former student-athlete.  One of his greatest lasting legacies, though, is the stable of runners he helped bring to Oregon, as all but one NCAA championship from the Ducks is in a running-related sport.  Before Prefontaine, Oregon had only won four NCAA running championships, and none of them were in cross country.

History with Stanford: As explained in Stanford's profile, Oregon and Stanford haven't always been the closest of allies.  While the two schools may share differing views on a variety of non-sports related subjects, historically, Stanford and Oregon have been on the same side of the fence when it came to matters of conference athletics.  Neither wanted to play the Washington football teams of the '80s and early '90s.  It's always a good year when Stanford and Oregon are on top of the conference (and may as well throw in UCLA and Arizona) in men's basketball if it means that Washington is having a down year.  And yes, both schools share an affinity to running.

There have also been some very odd and ugly moments in the relationship.  Stanford being rumored to have prevented the Oregon schools from entering the AAWU surely caused a bit of anti-Stanford and anti-California feelings throughout the state.  The schools have traded-off conference championships in several running disciplines for many years.  Or how about the infamous 4th quarter comeback of Stanford in the 2001 UO-Stanford football game?  Or to use even more recent history, Stanford's 2009 football game that seemingly was devoid of defense by either team (to be fair, the Ducks repaid the favor the following year in Eugene).

But perhaps no other single event defined the Stanford-Oregon relationship than that of the 1990 football game.  To Duck fans, it represents either a moment worthy of multiple eye-rolls or eternal hatred towards Stanford.  Or perhaps to be more specific, the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band.  While the LSJUMB may forever hold the USC band as its eternal enemy, the 1990 Ducks-Cardinal game in Eugene gives current band members pause to remember their roots while alums laugh at the ridiculousness of the outcome.

In case you weren't aware, shortly before the 1990 game, the Northern Spotted Owl was the focus of environmentalists who claimed that logging, a prime Oregon industry, was to blame for the reduction of the owl's habitat.  Never one to care what others thought, the LSJUMB took the news and ran with it.  Suffice it to say that when you include the lines, 
"Mr. Spotted Owl! Mr. Spotted Owl! Your environment has been destroyed, your home is now a roll of Brawny, and your family has flown the coop. What are you going to do?" alongside "The Lumberjack Song" and a formation representing a chainsaw, it doesn't go over well with the home crowd.  After the game, Oregon governor Neil Goldschmidt forbade the Stanford band from visiting the entire state for the remainder of his term as governor, a ban that would continue until 2001.  Since the incident, though, the band has routinely poked fun of Oregon when visiting Palo Alto, occasionally dressing up as lumberjacks, owls, and one year, as a Hooter's waitress with an owl perched above the drum major's baton.

Hear that Notre Dame?  Even Oregon can forgive.

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