Coverage of Oregon's sports teams and athletes


The Decline of Oregon State Football

2015-12-12 22:47:17 by Chief Editor
By Herman L. Brame

The historic football rivalry between Oregon State University and the Univerity of Oregon was ignited in 1894 when Oregon State Univerity defeated the University of Oregon 16 to 0 in what was the first "Civil War" game. Today, the once successful Beaver football program has fallen under the almost absolute domination of the Ducks. The Civil War game timeline recounts 119 meetings between the two programs that shows the Ducks have won 63 with the Beavers winning 46 to go with 10 ties. The Duck dominance from 2008 to 2015 has been represented by eight straight wins by the Ducks.

The proud Beavers dominated the Ducks in the 1950s with 6 wins against the Ducks 3 wins and 1 tie. Beaver domination continued in the 1960sw with the Beavers winning 8 games, the Ducks 1 win and 1 tie. The Ducks would turn this around beginning in the 1970s with 6 wins to the Beavers 4 wins, and in the 1980s the Ducks were flying high with 8 wins to 1 Beaver win and 1 tie. The 1990s continued Duck dominance with 7 wins to just 3 for the Beavers.

The simple question is what happened to Oregon State football that allowed Oregon to become so dominant against its historic in-state rival? The first factor to look at is the caliber of players recruited by each school. Oregon State's football program was rocked by accusations of racism in 1969 when, Fred Milton, an African American player was suspended from the team after he refused comply with head football coach Dee Andros' demand that he shave his goatee. Milton and many African Americans felt that this demand was racist and at the least culturally insensitive. The affair attracted negative national attention that would adversely affect Oregon State's ability to recruit top African American athletes from throughout the country. The 1970 football recruiting class at Oregon State did not include a single African American athlete. Oregon State lost the ability to successfully recruit a significant portion of the high school football talent pool, and fell behind the Ducks in recruiting top high school football players.

The University of Oregon had a similar problem in 1969 when the freshman basketball coach, Frank Arnold, requested that two players, Bobby Moore and Bill Drake, cut their Afro style haircuts. The players refused, but the issue was quickly resolved when the school's president tepping in and siding with the student-athletes before the issue became a national scandal. The Duck sports program survived and thrived due to a positive image among African American high school football players.

The University of Oregon's football players from the 1970s were of the highest quality, with four of them eventually becoming first round NFL draft picks while no players from Oregon State were first round NFL draft picks during the 1970s. The University of Oregon's 1970s football team produced a diverse group of excellent NFL players that included Bobby Moore (Ahmad Rashad),Tom Drougas, Russ Francis, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Fouts. Oregon has a total of (6) Pro Football Hall of Famers that include: Dan Fouts, Gary Zimmerman, Dave Wilcox, Norm Van Brocklin, Mel Renfro and Alphonse Leemans. No Oregon State player or coach is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Throughout the 1970s, and beyond the University of Oregon became the school of choice for most top high school athletes coming to the state of Oregon to play college football.

The battle of football facilitie between Oregon and Oregon State beginning in 1894 had both schools on a relatively equal footing. Oregon State began playing on Bell Field (originally College Field) from 1893 to 1909, and in 1953 a major upgrade was made with the new Parker Stadium. Parker Stadium was renovated in 1958, 1965 and 1967 with more upgrades through 2004. Early on Oregon began playing on Kincaide Field, and later at Hayward Field from 1919 to 1966. These facilities were roughly equivalent to those of Oregon State. Oregon surpassed Oregon State's facilities in 1967 when Autzen Stadium opened at a then great cost of 2.3 million dollars followed by 80 million dollars of improvements through 2002. Despite Oregon State's improvements to Parker Stadium and renaming as Reser Stadium in 1999 Oregon's facilities were not only superior to those of Oregon State, but were among the very best in college and professional football. As a recruiting incentive Oregon's financial support from alumni cdatapulted the Ducks well above Oregon State in spite of the Beaver's vast improvements in terms of football facilities. High school recruits are dazzled by the Ducks' facilities and exciting uniforms designed by NIKE.

While both schools have had outstanding coaches throughout their long histories the Ducks have consistently paid their coaches more than the Beavers and produced many more NFL head coaches. As far back as the 1930s football coaches and players from both schools went on to the NFL. Among the University of Oregon's (8) head NFL coaches are: John McEwan, John McKay, John Robinson, Rich Brooks, George Seifert, Norm Van Brocklin, Norv Turner, and Chip Kelly. Oregon State has produced (4) NFL head coaches that include: Paul Schissler, Tommy Prothro, Mike Riley and Dennis Erickson. Former University of Oregon head coach Rich Brooks was also a player and assistant coach at Oregon State, but is counted among the University of Oregon's coaches, and enjoys the distinction of having the field at Autzen Stadium named in his honor. No small part of Oregon's coaching success can be traced to the fact that the Ducks have long promoted internally with assistant coaches becoming coordinators and coordinators becoming head coaches while Oregon State tended to promote from outside of their program and as a result lose program consistency. Early on in the rivalry Oregon and Oregon State head coaches were paid comparable salaries, but by the 2000s Oregon moved significantly above Oregon State in terms of head coaching salaries. Oregon's Chip Kelly began as the offensive coordinator as rose to head coach (2007-2012) with a six year 20.5 million contract while Oregon State's Mike Riley (1997-1998, 2003-2014) was the lowest paid coach in the PAC-12 at 1 million 510 thousand dollars per season. More recently, Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich (2013) was signed for 3 million, 150 thousand dollars per season compared to Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen who (2014) who signed a six year contract with a base salary of 2 million, 450 thousand dollars per season. The Ducks have excelled the Beavers in terrms of recruiting, facilities and coaching due primarily to Oregon's athletic department and alumni's total dedication to winning.

A factor that is relevant to recruiting success is the relative livability of Eugene compared to Corvallis. Livability is a key factor in recruiting all athletes, but is especially important to African American football recruits in overwhelming White college towns. The University of Oregon has a longer tradition of having African American students since 1917, and had its frist African American players as far back as 1926. The city of Eugene had a small, but beleagured African American community beginning in the 1930s and 1940s. This contrasts to Oregon State that did not have an African American student until 1922, and did not have an African American football player until 1950. Corvallis did not have a noticeable number of African American residents until the 1950s.

Many subtle factors directly and indirectly related to football between Oregon and Oregon State have combined to account for the significant disparity between Oregon and Oregon State in terms of football. Oregon State has made significant improvements in terms of its support for the football program, and admirable outreach necessary to diversify its student and student-athlete populations. Oregon State football is in need of a significant reset.


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