I've been following U of O football since coming of age as a sports fan in John Day, Oregon (middle 1980s). When Coach Brooks got the Ducks into the Rose Bowl in 1995, that feat was really a turning point in the modern era of Ducks football. By that time, I was reading about Oregon in the Eastern Oregonian every evening. This was back in Pendleton, Oregon.
Ah, the good ol' days of daily news delivered in the evening!
With the exception of a downer 2006 campaign, these last fifteen years have witnessed the Ducks' ascendance to a place of national prominence. With back-to-back BCS wins (including the 2012 Rose Bowl over Russell Wilson and a game Wisconsin Squad), unprecedented alumni support, a push to expand Autzen Stadium (where rain has yet to actually fall during actual game time), an exciting roster of young athletes, and a new coaching philosophy that has been engineered by an Oregon native, excitement has never reached this level in all the years I've been watching. Oregon is built around speed, and with Thomas Tyner and the Robinson twins joining the team this fall, the future looks even brighter at Oregon.
I thought, in light of all the success the Ducks have enjoyed in the last two decades, it would be fun to take a crack at compiling an all-time squad. I thought it would be interesting to see how the guys I came up watching (Philyaw, Musgrave, Akili, Loville, McCullough, O'Neil, Howry, J. Stew) stacked up against the all-timers (Renfro, Moore, Fouts).
What follows is one Duck fan's subjective opinion, of course. My caveats are that I wasn't alive to see many of the great Oregon athletes of the past play, but I can make sense of their contributions through looking at Oregon's comprehensive media guide.
Feel free to offer a dissenting opinion in the comments section. I love talking Oregon football!
To begin, let's get a look at the quarterback position.
Best: My heart wants to go with Dan Fouts, but my brain insists on Bill Musgrave. Oregon's all-time leader in passing and total offense was also the most important catalyst of the big turn in program fortunes.
My Favorite: I've always enjoyed the play of Kellen Clemens. Part of my love stems from the circumstance of another Eastern Oregonian making good, but the majority of it was Kellen's all-around game. He could pass and run with the best of them, and he had a knack for making big plays when the game situations called for them. Marcus Mariota has some of those same qualities, but he seems to be more athletic and have a stronger overall skill set. In time (and if he stays two more years at Oregon), I see Marcus taking this slot, as I really enjoyed watching his play last year. He seems to have the size and smarts to make his mark in the NFL when it's all said and done.
Fan Favorite: I still think Joey Harrington is the all-time fan favorite. That's saying a lot for a team with so many quarterbacks that have gone on to play in the NFL. Fouts, Miller, O'Neil, Graziani, Musgrave, Clemens, Smith, Feeley, Dixon...sheesh, that's a lot of accomplishment. Joey was personable and athletic. He's a really smart guy and a native Oregonian, now living in Portland and doing some good things in the state. His NFL career didn't pan out the way we all would have expected, but he played on some terrible Detroit teams. In light of those rosters around him, he actually didn't have horrible NFL stats.