[h3]Top 10 moments in Oregon's rise [/h3]
Oregon has been in the national news a lot in the past year,starting with the coaching transition from longtime head man MikeBellotti to Chip Kelly. There have been a lot of good and bad headlinessince then. It has been fascinating to see how the brand of Oregonfootball has been elevated so much in the past decade. And since we'refocusing on the Ducks today on ESPN.com, here's a list of the 10biggest moments of the past 10 years that helped turn Oregon into anational name.
(1) Joey Heisman, May 31, 2001:
The school made the bold move to put up a 10-story billboard in midtown Manhattan to tout not only their star quarterback, Joey Harrington, but also Ducks football.
"Thewhole concept was to create attention for Joey and the Oregon footballprogram," Oregon director of media services Dave Williford told theDaily Emerald. "We certainly did that." Harrington visited the EastCoast last weekend to see the billboard unveiled and tour the manymedia outlets there. Harrington's visit to Baltimore and New Yorkincluded interviews with ESPN radio, ESPN The Magazine and SportsIllustrated, along with a visit to the set of NBC's "The Today Show."
"Itsaid to every player that came to Oregon, if you get yourself to thepoint where you're in the race for a national award, if you putyourself in the Heisman race, we'll put your face in New York,"Harrington told reporters. "It definitely sent a message."
Yep,they certainly did. It doesn't even seem far-fetched now. I said itthen, and I feel even stronger about it now: It was a shrewd move.
(2) Blowing out Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2, 2002
The Harrington-led Ducks might not have been able to catch Miami, whichwas about to finish out its perfect season by hammering Nebraska in theRose Bowl, but Oregon (11-1) scored 38 unanswered points on a CU teamthat had just whipped the Cornhuskers. The 38-16 Fiesta Bowl routhelped the Ducks finish No. 2 in the country in the AP and coaches'polls, Oregon's highest final ranking in school history.
(3) Those wacky uniforms, June 25, 2006
The Nike connection has only put bigger fingerprints on the Ducksprogram in the past few years, and Oregon keeps folks talking with itsarray of funky new unis. From a 2006 press release:
[The]Ducks' game-day apparel will consist of four different colors ofjerseys and pants to go along with three different helmets Oregon isexpected to wear at some point during the coming season. But of greaterimportance is the advanced design and technology of the uniforms willhelp to diminish the weight of the uniforms by 28 percent when dry andhelp make them 34 percent lighter under wet conditions. The jerseys andpants also encompass a diamond-patterned grid on the shoulders andknees, respectively, to improve the durability of the product in areassusceptible to greater wear."
Last summer,Oregon announced that the material had become even lighter and thatthey'd added so much gear that they now had 80 possible uniformcombinations. It may sound silly, but it certainly gets people talking,and more important, recruits seem to like the look.
(4) The LeGarrette Blount meltdown, Sept. 3, 2009
Not all of the attention is for positive things. And when the Ducks'starting tailback got into it at the end of season-opening loss atBoise State, "the incident" -- and the school's subsequent handling ofBlount -- was all everyone seemed to be talking about in the firstweekend of the season.
(5) Drilling USC, Oct. 31, 2009
Before this Halloween night meeting between No. 5 USC and No. 10Oregon, no one had blown out a Pete Carroll team at USC. The Ducks,playing at a frenetic pace, rolled up 613 yards while sticking theTrojans with their worst loss since 1997. The game, which was shown onnational TV, proved to be quite a showcase for Chip Kelly's scheme, asOregon ran for 391 yards on a defense that entered the game with thefifth-best run D in the country (79.9 ypg). It also showed that theDucks didn't miss Blount at all and paved the way for Oregon to win thePac-10, ending USC's stranglehold on the conference title.
(6) Haloti Ngata signs, Feb. 6, 2002
The most coveted D-line recruit in the country, Ngata, a Utah nativewho had been rumored to be headed to either Nebraska or BYU, made itofficial and signed with the Ducks. It was a big statement to land afive-star. Ngata pushed his way into the starting lineup by the middleof his freshman season and had a big impact, providing toughness to themiddle of the Ducks' defense and blocking a handful of kicks. In 2005,he led all Pac-10 D-linemen in tackles, was honored as a consensusAll-American and later left Eugene as a first-round pick in the 2006draft.
(7) Mike Bellotti finds Chip Kelly, Feb. 9, 2007
Few around the country had ever heard of the former New Hampshireoffensive coordinator before Oregon hired Kelly. He had been named byAmerican Football Monthly as one of the country's hottest coaches forputting together a ridiculously up-tempo attack at UNH, but that wasnothing compared to the impact he made in his first year out West,where he sparked the Ducks to more than 38 points per game and 468total yards per game, best in the Pac-10 and tops in school history. Healso helped transform the inconsistent Dennis Dixon into a legitHeisman front-runner until a knee injury derailed his season.
(Upsetting Michigan, Sept. 20, 2003
The No. 3 Wolverines came to Oregon to face the No. 22 Ducks and thebiggest crowd in Autzen Stadium history. Oregon jumped all over them,swarming the touted Michigan running attack led by the country'sleading rusher at the time, Chris Perry. Perry entered the gameaveraging more than 307 yards but was held to minus-3 on 19 carries.
(9) Running over Oklahoma State, Dec. 30, 2008
Or, more aptly, Jeremiah Masoli's running over an OSU DB. The highlight of the Ducks' quarterback trucking a Cowboys defenderepitomized this Holiday Bowl game, in which No. 17 Oregon finished offthe season with a statement win over No. 13 Oklahoma State, running for307 yards while passing for 250 more. The game proved that this spreadteam could be plenty physical.
(10) Jonathan Stewart signs, Feb., 2005
Washington has long been one of the Ducks' big rivals, so snaggingperhaps the top running back to come from that state, and arguably thetop back in the country in that recruiting class, was quite a coup forBellotti. ESPN rated Stewart as the No. 2 prospect in the entire classafter he averaged more than 11 yards per carry in his senior season. Inthree seasons at Oregon, he ran for almost 2,900 yards and 27 TDs. Healso set a school record with a career kickoff return average of 28.69yards and ran two back for TDs.
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