"I really think it's about the people, to be honest with you," said Kenny Farr, the Ducks' football equipment administrator for the past four years, and a 2002 alum. "A lot of our coaches have been here for 20-plus years. It's a community. The community embraces Oregon football. It's so exciting around here. It's the biggest thing going in this town."
A town that has become a blend of past and present, a new generation of fans spoiled by the Ducks' recent success, mingling with an older crowd that still remembers when tickets were easy to come by. Familiar faces like Don Essig, who has been the public address announcer at Autzen Stadium since it first opened in 1967.
"What I love?" said Essig, "The whole ambiance of being in Autzen Stadium. What makes it unique is the program. We have a great football program, that's all there is to it. We did not have a great program in the '70s and early '80s. The people who've been around here for a long time really realize and appreciate what we have now. We used to have 20,000 people, and half of them would go home at halftime. And it rained about every game.
"Now," he said, quoting his favorite line, "it never rains here."
The bustling corner of 13th Avenue and Kincaid Street on campus is where you'll find Shari Chrissis, more commonly recognized as "the hot dog lady," a vendor who occupies what she called "probably one of the most exciting corners in all of Eugene." Across the street from Chrissis' stand is the Duck Store, the university's book store that has been there since 1920. Want a history lesson in Oregon football or legendary runner Steve Prefontaine? Chrissis will send you to Pete Peterson, the barber at the Red Rooster for the past 44 years, who has been cutting the hair of Oregon coaches and players so long that five of them are now NFL head coaches. Not far from Peterson's shop, on Alder Street, is the Glenwood Restaurant, a must-stop on game day morning for eggs Benedict.
It's the people and places that have remained unchanged through Oregon's rapid transformation that have helped sustain the culture surrounding the program. It's the traditional walk over the Willamette Bridge to and from Autzen Stadium that literally brings them together. Somehow, in spite of the flashy fortune Oregon has created, the heart of the program still remains the same.
And for that, Oregon and its fans are all the richer.
AUSTIN -- What you expect to see are burnt orange flags flying from cars, and Longhorn logos plastered on T-shirts, and folks proclaiming "Hook 'Em!" as you make your way into Austin.
Instead, the first question you get seems incongruous with the reason for your visit.
"Are you here for the Formula One race?"
Two days before the biggest Texas football home game of the season, versus No. 12 Oklahoma State, and Austin is clearly in another mode. But, as you quickly learn, Austin is always in another mode, because this is a city that cannot be defined or described in one neat, tidy way.
Austin transforms into whatever you want it to be, which makes it the rare college town that is not just a college town. It is a government town, a hipster town, a festival town, a foodie town, a barbeque town, a tourist town, a live music town, a coffeehouse town, a car racing town, a Friday night lights town, a fill-in-your-own-blank town.