Canzano: Civil War arrives... as schools work to save it
Texas Tech now involved in trying to save Oregon-OSU series.
EUGENE — Is this it? The final chapter? The last game?
I’m hopeful that the braintrusts at Oregon and Oregon State will find a way to continue the Civil War football rivalry beyond Friday. But I won’t blame anyone who is left feeling a little flat about the 127th meeting.
Did you know that Oregon State played the 1898 Civil War without a head coach? Or that grocery stores and banks in the state closed early on the day of the 1914 game? And that the teams played each other twice in both 1896 and 1945?
This is a series that has some rich history and terrific storylines.
Maybe you know that the 1933 Oregon State Civil War team, nicknamed the “Ironmen,” had 11 two-way players. And that Oregon’s 1994 team sealed a Rose Bowl bid with the win over its rival. But I wonder if you know that, as the Ducks cavorted on the field with roses in their teeth that day, OSU’s players stood in the Valley Football Center watching in silence through a window.
There have been a couple of double-overtime games, countless big plays, huge personalities, torn-down goal posts, riots and fights.
Also, there was Thomas Tyner.
The running back played in two Civil War games for the Oregon Ducks and scored a touchdown against the Beavers in 2013. Then, he transferred to Oregon State for the 2017 season. He remains the only player to suit up and score a regular-season TD for both in-state schools.
Before the 1991 Civil War, OSU coach Jerry Pettibone made his winless team practice a victory celebration. They rehearsed carrying the seniors off the field during the team’s walkthrough in Eugene. The next day, Oregon State threw a fourth-quarter halfback pass and won 14-3.
Two seasons later, Pettibone struck again. He had his 3-7 team spend the end of its walkthrough again carrying the seniors off the field at Autzen. The next day, OSU blocked a fourth-quarter punt and won 15-12.
The 1983 Civil War had 11 fumbles, five interceptions and four missed field goals. It was played in heavy rain. Final score: 0-0. It’s not only known as the “Toilet Bowl” but it’s also forever in the record books as the final 0-0 tie in the history of major college football.
That ugly game just celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Ladd McKittrick was the starting quarterback for Oregon State that day. He told me this week: “Neither team was very good. No bowl game on the line. No rankings, but everyone on that field was playing hard for their team to beat their rival.
“It was very old school.”
McKittrick told me his golf club now plays a Civil War rivalry match itself. The winning side gets to fly the school flag through the following football season.
Is the Civil War done after today?
Over and out?
Oregon appears to be working on a solution. The Ducks have been in regular contact with Boise State, per sources, trying to wiggle out of next season’s Sept. 14 game and a previously scheduled non-conference road game in Boise in 2025. The Beavers and Ducks hope to play each other on those dates instead.
I’m now told by a source in Eugene that Texas Tech may play a role in trying to help the Civil War series continue. The Red Raiders are scheduled to play at Oregon (Sept. 7) next season. They are considering a swap. Texas Tech would instead play Washington State on Sept. 7 in Pullman. That would open a window for Oregon to play OSU next season.
Answers may come before kickoff on Friday. No news, however, could mean bad news.
Said one source: “A one-year hiatus in 2024 is possible.”
That would stink.
So soak up Friday’s game. Savor every play. Don’t blink. And if you’re in Autzen Stadium, take a moment to look around and recognize that you’re not just seeing a football game. It’s a part of the fabric of the state, woven together by generations of players, coaches and fans.
A few more thoughts for the coming weekend of Pac-12 play…