October 4, 2011, 2:15 amContribution from 750's Dodgers Blogger and University of Oregon Alumni, Reis Nielsen
Order has been semi-restored for the University of Oregon Ducks in the past few weeks, while the Oregon State Beavers are in "code red". After a deflating 40-27 loss to LSU, Oregon's offense looked flat and Duck Nation was scrambling for answers.LaMichael James admitted that he didn't feel like himself and he was "trying to do too much". A sentiment that, in my opinion, also seemed to go the same for Chip Kelly's scheming in Dallas (or Phoenix and Pasadena for that matter). While the National Championship bubble may have burst for the Ducks on September 3rd in Jerry Jone's spaceship, there were a few "get healthy" games looming in the near future for the fighting Chip Kelly's. On that same opening Saturday, the "other" team in Oregon was playing one of those very games. Before the Ducks entred the belly of another SEC beast, Oregon State had a match up with FCS opponent Sacramento State 2,118 miles away in Reeser Stadium.
It's no secret that Mike Riley led Beaver teams are notorious for starting slow, but not in my wildest dreams did I see a loss to a team that came to Corvallis for some exposure and a paycheck. With two road games against top-10 opponents, Oregon State's road wasn't going to get any easier. Its safe to say that the entire "football state" of Oregon was in ruins. Fast forward 4 weeks, throw in a freshman utility back named DeAnthony Thomas and a freshman QB named Mannion, and you get three Oregon wins as well as three Oregon State losses. A win in their maiden Pac-12 voyage to Arizona has the Ducks back in the good graces of Oregon media outlets and the nation's top-10 rankings. Last week's Beaver loss to a very good Arizona State team has OSU at 0-4. While the term "hot seat" and the name "Mike Reilly" aren't exactly in the same sentence yet, another loss and they could be soon.
The melting pot of the Oregon Athletics Department and the brilliant minds at Nike have wasted no time dwelling on the 0-2 record of Oregon's neon colored Pro Combat jersey's. Like everyone in Oregon (and the country for that matter), they have found new faith in the high powered Oregon offense and moved on to develop the next marketing ploy of the moment. Duck Nation has been chomping at the bit for another "throw back" jersey release since the mid-90's jersey combination of green and mustard yellow during 2009's Pac-10 home opener with Cal, and Uncle Phil and Company have happily obliged. Two years later, the Ducks again have their Pac-12 home opener against the Cal Bears. And like they did in 2009, the Ducks will be donning a color scheme of the University's traditional kelley green. But unlike 2009's popular jersey re-release, these "retro" jerseys are actually completely new.
As you can see by the picture that I acquired from NikeBlog.com, the jersey's in which the Ducks will take the field for Thursday night's ESPN game, are a combination of different things beloved by Duck faithful. First, the numbers from the most recent generation of "winged" jersey are retained for the front and back. Second, the color scheme has the kelley green and lemon yellow colors of the late 90's jerseys, which were quickly replaced by "lightning yellow" " and metallic green helmets at the turn of the century. Third, the shoulders will bear an image of the "fighting duck" which explains the name on the front of the jersey in the Bellotti-era font (used on all of the current jerseys). Unfortunately, this new fighting duck logo is NOT the "Disney duck through the O" that everyone has been wanting for years. The guess here, is that the high demand for the Disney generation jerseys and traditional colors is what spurred this new jersey release, but the magical people at Disney weren't about to alter any current copyright contracts to let Oregon re-market "Donald".
So Nike probably asked one of their budding digital graphic designers to come up with a logo of the Oregon mascot's head and call it "Puddles" or "The Fighting Duck". Look for snap back hats and t-shirts with the same ducks head logo in addition to the jerseys in the Oregon duck stores on Thursday. Like most people, I was instantly disappointed that we weren't going to get the small yet blissful satisfaction of seeing Disney ducks on ESPN (a Disney related company). But this is a nice "oregony" way for fans to see Ducks fashion get back to the basics of our beloved duck and traditional school colors (not colors of the Oakland Raiders). The "WTD" (win the day) logo that has been found on the inside of the back collar on the replicas of Oregon's pro combat jerseys has been replaced with a number that represents the 2010 tally of touchdown celebration push ups that the Duck acumulated.
After getting over the initial sting from the jersey's not having the Disney duck, the combination of retro colors and new-school graphics/font began to grow on me. An all-encompassing homage to the past and the present. If the Ducks come out of the tunnel on Thursday night with some fancy bright lemon yellow pants and helmets with an interlocking UO logo, count me completely satisfied. As far as Oregon State fans are concerned, they wouldn't care if James Rodgers wore a clown outfit... As long as the Beavers don't go 0 - 5. Unfortunately for Oregon State, the Ducks are putting a retro twist on their uniforms while the Beavers' performance is beginning to resemble the retro seasons of old where neither Oregon schools had winning football teams.