Photo via Oregon football yearbook
Over the last two decades, Oregon has emerged as a name brand in major college football.
Since 2000, the Ducks have finished ranked in the AP Poll 12 times, including nine top-10 finishes. The mid-1960’s throughout the 1970’s however, weren’t great times for Oregon football.
During the decade of the 1970’s, Oregon finished with a losing record eight times. That includes three 2-9 seasons.
One of those came in 1974.
Record: 2-9 (0-7 Pac-8)
Coach: Don Read (first season)
Key Players and Award Winners:
Don Reynolds, RB: 165 carries, 787 yards rushing, two rushing touchdowns, 19 receptions, 140 yards receiving
Bob Palm, WR: 31 receptions, 466 yards receiving, three touchdown receptions
Steve Donnelly, S (first-team All-Pac 8): 11 games
Remembering the Season
Despite winning just twice during the 1974 campaign, Oregon entered October with a winning record. The Webfoots opened the season with a 61-7 loss at Nebraska, but bounced back to win close games against Air Force and Utah.
Oregon however, proceeded to lose its final eight games. The Webfoots finished winless in conference play for the first time in nine years.
There were some close games along the way. Oregon fell to Northwestern 14-10 and to Washington State 21-16, but was shut out three times throughout the course of the year. That included a 66-0 loss at Washington — the worse loss in program history.
As a team, Oregon finished just 121st out of 129 teams in scoring offense and 122nd in scoring defense. The quarterback for the Webfoots however, is a name many NFL fans will recognize. That was Norv Turner, who would serve as head coach of the Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers.
Fortunately for Oregon, the 1974 campaign remains the last time it failed to win a conference game. Don Read would last just three seasons as head coach, compiling a 9-24 record. Under Read, it is worth noting that Oregon improved its record every year.
Read was ultimately replaced by Rich Brooks, who spent 18 years in Eugene. Although he had a losing record at Oregon, Brooks elevated the program, ultimately leading the team to the Rose Bowl in 1994 — his final season.
The Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl berth came 20 years after going winless in conference play.