Originally posted on FishDuck.com:
There is no cheering in the Autzen Stadium press box. No asking for autographs from players, or having your photo taken with players or coaches. It is the third rail in the life of a sports reporter, do not touch it. There is no wearing Oregon’s colors, unless green and yellow happen to be part of your business casual ensemble.
Yet even if my usual costume was missing, as an Oregon fanatic playing the role of media for FishDuck.com at Saturday’s Tennessee Tech-Oregon game, I half expected the elevator carrying me from beneath Autzen’s seating bowl up to the press box to reveal not a wide-angle view offield but Saint Peter and the Pearly Gates.
The view from the Autzen Stadium press box
But if being in the Autzen Stadium press box as an impartial scribe rather than a maniacal fan in the stands made for a kind of out-of-body experience (even after the complimentary buffet with pulled-pork sandwiches and potato salad), maybe that’s actually somehow appropriate. After all, Oregon’s season so far has been a kind of out of body experience unto itself.
The Ducks’ non-conference schedule for 2012 wasn’t supposed to look like this. For years the athletic department has been making agreements with top (or at least first-division Football Bowl Subdivision programs) for home-and-home series, only to see the other teams back out not wanting to come play at Autzen amidst the great lore that has developed surrounding the stadium’s hostile environment. The most recent teams to run away include Kansas State, Georgia and New Mexico; all but Georgia slated to play against the Ducks this year.
Kenjon Barner making his way to the field
Enter the non-BCS Sun Belt Conference champions Arkansas State in week 1, and this past weekend lower-tier Football Championship Subdivision team Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles, a team even some of those following the sport our entire lives had never heard of.
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