Let’s dive right into the world of Oregon Football Recruiting, Autzen’s dead sound system, and an all-time “what-if” matchup of the 1994 Ducks vs. Squahawkey Canyon Institute of Technology.
The Footbridge Focus*
*This might not be the “single most important thing in Duck football this week,” but it’s certainly one of the things at the front of my mind.
As of writing this column, the 2020 defensive recruiting class has commitments from four 4-star studs. There is plenty of time this summer to explore each and every verbal commit (and the inevitable handful of de-commits), but for right now I want to talk about one specific future D-Boy that has me jazzed up.
CB Luke Hill is from Temple Hills, Maryland, and is the 5th ranked CB in his class. He verbally committed to UO after leaving countless “blue-blood” programs on reading for a couple of months (Clemson, Auburn, et al.).
Hill is going to be a rockstar addition to a secondary that might really need him in 2020, but what I’m most stoked about was a set of clips from a hype video that he posted on Twitter as his commitment.
More from Autzen Zoo
It’s en vogue nowadays for all the high-profile recruits to announce their decision with a “dope” edit that mixes highlights, training clips, and a dramatic voiceover about how hard they’ve worked for this opportunity.
Honestly, most of these videos are pretty missable. You can usually just skip to the end to find out their commitment, but Hill’s video shows signs that he’s seriously ready to make Eugene his home.
At multiple points throughout the video (:54, 1:12), you can see that his desk is covered in Oregon logos, letters, and photos. You might also notice that the three giant Duck photos on his desk are all from the 2018 win over UW.
Now, there’s a chance this was a coincidence. There’s a chance that Oregon sent him all of the photos intentionally. There’s also a chance that these were the highest quality photos that he could find after a quick google image search. And there’s also a chance that a thrilling overtime victory against the 7th-ranked team in the nation was significant to a recruit from Maryland whether or not he fully understood the one hundred years of hate behind it all.
But then again, there’s also a chance that he’s just that excited to jump in and start mixing it up with the Huskies.
Hill is going to be an absolute menace when he dons the green and yellow in the near future. He also has a chance to join fellow 4-stars Avantae Williams and Myles Slusher. So he has talent, and he’ll surely have the surrounding cast, but it’s also nice to know that he can already get used to a victory over that team from up north.
The Rumor Millrace
Much like the modern day Millrace, the world of Twitter rumors can be a murky breeding ground for scum and villainy.
Would it be irresponsible to report on rumors? Probably.
Is it valuable and entertaining to explore some of the truths within those rumors? Absolutely.
All of that being said, I had an exchange this week on Twitter with an anonymous/semi-prominent Duck troll account that told me to expect an announcement regarding an upcoming expansion to Autzen Stadium.
The account claimed to be the only person on the entire internet to know that Autzen plans on making some changes soon, including the addition of 5,000 seats.
My “source” had zero evidence to back up these claims, so it might be safe to assume that this expansion probably isn’t happening at all. Buf if it does happen, I would obviously like full credit for having the best sources in the biz.
My trusty troll source is almost wholly untrustworthy, but they might have been on to something when they also mentioned that Autzen will be getting a brand new sound system.
Folks who attended the Spring Game—or any game at Autzen within the last two decades—have almost unanimously agreed that the public address system at Autzen is worse than it’s ever been.
For all the money and improvements that have gone through the University and the Athletic Department over the last 30 years, it is absolutely dumbfounding that patrons of Autzen still have to hear “Shout” blasted through muffled speakers.
The old speaker system should’ve been trashed long before they ever even thought about bulldozing Historic Hayward Field.
So here’s hoping that my trusted and well-respected source is at least half accurate.
Random Historic Oregon Thing I’m Thinking About this Week
This week’s little tidbit of Oregon football history is about a group of Duck fans that called for the Head Coach’s job, and that coach responded by winning the conference title.
The story of the 1994 Rose Bowl season has been told over and over again, but my favorite piece of trivia comes from a couple of Rich Brooks interviews from the beginning of that season where the Ducks started 1-2 with losses to awful Hawaii and Utah teams.
Coach Brooks mentioned in one interview that he was well-aware of a faction of fans walking around the Autzen parking lot with custom-made “Ditch Rich” t-shirts. He even joked that he didn’t totally blame those fans since, in his own opinion, the team didn’t look like they could beat the, “Squahawkey Canyon Institute of Technology.”
Not only is it wonderful that Brooks completely made up the greatest fake school name of all time in order to joke about how bad things were going, but those Ducks obviously went on to a magical season that almost singlehandedly changed Coach’s legacy from “Ditch Rich” t-shirts, to the eponymous hero of Rich Brooks Field.
Final Whistle’s Call
EA Sports announced this week that Madden 2020 will feature a game mode where you can create a player to participate in the College Football Playoff before entering that player into the NFL Draft.
The NCAA Football franchise is the greatest video game of all time. Full stop. But ever since a bunch of student-athletes from Northwestern rightfully suggested that EA Sports had no right to profit off of their likeness, we’ve had to live in an world without the game at all.
However, ten different D1 football teams found some kind of loophole in the system and gave EA permission to use their brands and teams in this year’s edition of Madden.
As if Oregon needed further confirmation that they are a national brand, the Ducks joined nine other programs (Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Oklahoma, USC, Texas, and Texas Tech) as the only college teams that the world will be able to use.
This one tiny game mode on Madden 2020 won’t exactly fill the Sewell/Throckmorton-sized gap in my heart left by NCAA Football’s absence, but I’ll take it.