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|An Old Jezebel Filled With Decibels
|UW versus Oregon (Sep 30, 2000 Autzen Stadium UO 23-16)
|Autzen: A Din of Inequity
If audibles at Autzen is an oxymoron, then so is football at Autzen. That wasnt a football game; it was a shouting match between Marques Tuiasosopo and the Oregon fans. Chalk up another victory for the fans. Oregon doesnt need Phil Knights greenery; all it needs is Autzen and those green, hi-tech uniforms.
Using noisemakers and the loudest voices in America, Oregon fans turn Autzen stadium into a den of iniquity on Saturday afternoons. Better yet, call it a din of inequity. On consecutive weeks, Autzen has beaten two of the then sixth ranked teams in America, UCLA and Washington. That venerable old stadium has notched 18 straight wins on its gun belt. Not even Florida State could have won there last Saturday. Neither could the U.S. army.
Dug out and hunkered down into the side of a hill, Autzen looks like a huge bunker or a fortress, not a football stadium. If you put a lid on it, it would be blown off. If you moved it to California, it would start an earthquake. Forty thousand Howitzers make less noise. Autzen is an old jezebel filled with decibels.
But the old lady needs a facelift. Her field is worn out; her carpeting is shot. In his Monday morning quarterback column (Seattle P-I, 2 Oct 00), Hugh Millen rote, There's an old adage in football that says low man wins. Low equals leverage. The less comfortable a player is with the footing, the straighter he stands. Our Dawgs were standing tall it seemed.
Speaking of stands, our seats were on the 30-yard line, and weve never had a better view of the action. We climbed a steep hill to get to them, which offered a quick exit if the need had arisen. Although Autzen wont win a beauty contest as football stadiums go, there arent many better. The fans, who are almost sitting on the players laps, might be the most supportive in America.
ABC was most accommodating. I saw one cameramen exhort fans to make more noise--if that was possible. ABC didnt come to Eugene to cover a football game; seemingly it came to bury the Huskies. Maybe Eugene mesmerized them. The whole town was dressed in green, the setting surreal.
Washington defense was surreal as well, considering the atmosphere. One of the shining lights for Washington was its defensive play; the Dawgs defense trumped Oregons for most of the second half. Fortunately, Oregons defense couldnt call signals for all the noise. And Washington did roll up 111 yards on the ground, 120 more than UCLAs pathetic effort at Autzen.
As for Coach Rick Neuheisel, he would have had a better shake if he had been a novillero trying to cape a ferocious bull with a limp-wristed verónica. There were no olés for Rick! I didnt help. I sent him the trick play he used in the third quarter, a variation of the one I sent Coach Lambright for the Oahu bowl. Both of them didnt quite pan out. I should have known better and warned him beforehand. My rental car had XMS on its Oregon license plates--a bad omen, indeed. That play was the gift that decided the game.
The other bright part of it all was to meet dawgman, his charming wife, Monika, and their beautiful daughter, Jessica, a precocious little redhead, who will break mens hearts in years to come. I took the picture of dawgman and Jess, and he gave me a cap with dawgman.com on it to wear during the game.
We also met Rick Samek, Bobby Alverts, Chris Fetters, Bill Fleenor and Dick Baird. And of course I saw my buddy Officer Lee Groinman, Seattles toughest cop. He showed me his pictures of Rocky, a proud malamute who weighs close to 150 pounds.
A tall, blonde guy carrying a nightstick, Groinman makes the perfect bodyguard. And if youre a Husky fan, you might need a bodyguard at Autzen.
The Duck fans we met were pleasant, accommodating and sympathetic to our cause. Other Dawg fans, however, reported some unfortunate experiences with Duck fans that crossed the line.
The bottom line is that Autzen stadium presents the Ducks with a 10 to 17 point advantage. Im not complaining mind you, for thats the way college football should be played, in front of fans who offer all the vocal support they can give. Im not sure about noisemakers though. Oregon is a very good football team, and may not have needed the Autzen advantage to beat the Huskies, although both Washington and UCLA (two excellent football teams) looked alike against the Ducks.
Im not leaving this season behind me at Autzen. In 1980, Washington lost its Pac-10 opener to the Ducks and went to the Rose Bowl. Theres plenty of hope left.
Certainly, Washington fans will return the favor when these two teams meet three years from now in Seattle. Ill be there with noisemaker in hand and a loud voice. Theyll hear us all the way to Eugene.
After all, turnaround is fair play.