SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
11/02/2007 06:05:00 PM
On the Oregon Trail, Part II
EUGENE, Ore. -- Ladies and gentlemen, I can tell you this much: If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer a football injury, you want to suffer it as an Oregon Duck.
Early Friday afternoon, I got a personal tour of Oregon’s state-of-the-art football facilities from none other than Ducks receiver Cameron Colvin. I thought this was an incredibly kind gesture by the senior, considering he’s currently on crutches from a broken ankle suffered a few weeks back, but Cameron – a close friend and former roommate of my previously mentioned host, Eric Goss – happily obliged.
Upon entering the secret code at the door, the three of us walked into what can only be described as a football fanatic’s dream come true. A wall lined with widescreen Plasma TVs. Xboxes next to every couch. Lockers with each player’s name, number and hometown inscribed on the door.
And lots and lots of Oregon football gear.
At one point, Cameron took us into the equipment room where the players’ uniforms are stored. You know how Oregon seems to have a different-colored uniform every week? Laid out on a table in the middle of the room were three different metallic helmets (green, yellow and white), four different jersey tops (white, green, black and yellow), four different pants, four different sets of socks and about eight different styles of cleats. At some point Friday, the captains met with coach Mike Bellotti to choose which combination they’ll wear on game day.
Unfortunately, I cannot disclose that information.
So that’s the locker room. Turn a corner and you walk into what at first glance appears to be a day spa. It’s the treatment room. During our time there, three different players were sitting on luxury-style treatment tables (let’s just say they could double as Lazy-Boys), one of them getting a massage. Behind glass doors were a set of doctor “evaluation rooms,” which, with the flick of a switch, magically “fog up” for the sake of privacy. Down the hall, we looked in on a room with a built-in hot tub and cold tub adjacent to a cascading waterfall.
Personally, I don’t know how any recruit ever says no to this place.
I also had a chance to chat briefly with Bellotti as he worked out on a treadmill during his lunch hour. He told me I would be “in for a treat” tomorrow during my first Autzen Stadium experience.
And with that, Eric and I parted ways with Cameron and headed downtown for a quick lunch at Rennie’s, a classic, college-town bar-and-grill, where the bartender, upon seeing Eric’s Ducks cap and pullover, was eager to share his critical opinion about Oregon’s play-calling last week against USC and express his concern about Saturday’s game.
If there’s anything I’ve learned in my first few hours here is that everyone is a fan -- even the hippies, of which there are many in Eugene. Down the street from Rennie’s, we made a brief stop into Jambo, one of several local establishments where one can procure a 7-foot-bong, power crystals and an endless wardrobe of tie-dyed clothing.
So to sum up: Within about a 20-minute span, I went from a college football locker room to a store selling bongs. I must be in Eugene.
Welcome to Eugene, Stewart! Your experience sounds right on par. How are you loving this gorgeous Perfect day for me to go out and get my yard ready for winter. Autzen is hard to explain until you see it in person. Thank you for giving so much respect to our team!
Stew - I know its been said before, but it needs to be said again. You need to be sure to put your tailgating shoes and a nice warm down jacket because the party starts at 5 am tomorrow at the game day tent and won't end until well into sunday morning. What you hear is true, our tailgating tradition can keep up with the very best of the SEC. There's more than one reason game day is back.
Stewart, I trust you'll have a great time in Eugene. I worked the bar at Rennie's while in graduate school, my daughter worked there and my son works there now - you went to the right place. The welcome you've seen so far isn't just reserved for you, but is typical of Oregonians and Eugene. What other football team ever had the Grateful Dead play at their stadium to raise money for the athletic dept? Tomorrow, win or lose, it will be one hell of an game and I got a feeling the Ducks just might surprise everybody by tacking on just a bit more than the expected point-spread.
Your host, Eric Goss, is doing a fantastic job. I'm glad you are getting to see ALL of Eugene. There's a lot to see in one weekend. I hope he takes you to Mac Court (there's a game tonight), to the cemetery, to Pre's Rock, to Heyward, to Saturday Market... and to so many other places. I'm jealous of you Stewart. I was born and raised in Eugene, but I cannot be there for this weekend's game. Thanks so much of bringing a taste of Eugene and make me feel like I was home.
Stewart - Great to have you in Eugene. Do me two favors tomorrow, first start your day with the huevos rancheros and a beer on the deck at Rennie's....then make sure you walk to the game via the foot bridge over the Willamette River...game day doesn't get any better. Enjoy.
I really like these pregame experiences at these college towns. While I'm sure you enjoyed your time in Eugene, we would have loved you to return to Norman for the Texas A&M game...maybe Bedlam? Although, as a OU student and Sooners fan, I have a certain loathing for Oregon, it sounds like a pretty cool place on gamedays. And I love those uniforms. Here's hoping you do this every Saturday, its nice getting a perspective on other teams pregame scenes.