1977 Ducks
(Authentic Reproduction)


With a consensus opinion that the Oregon head coaching position was the worst job in the PAC, Bill Walsh, Jim Mora, and other top assistants were not interested in becoming the next Oregon head football coach to be fired. The athletic and training facilities lagged far behind the rest of the conference, the talent level was not on par to the California schools nor Washington, and recruiting was limited by the smallest allocated football budget in the PAC. If nothing else, Oregon got a "tough guy" for a head coach when they hired Rich Brooks. Growing up in a remote northern California gold mining town, he was taught to box by a local tavern owner and then fought in weekly "smokers" and local boxing matches as a way to earn money while going to school. An outstanding high school athlete who was All League in both basketball and football, he continued to box and was outstanding as a track performer. At Oregon State he played safety, intercepting five passes as a senior in 1962, and was the back-up to Heisman Trophy winning QB Terry Baker. At OSU it was no surprise that he was the All-School Boxing Champion for two years. Upon graduation, he went to work for his head coach Tommy Prothro as a freshmen team assistant before embarking on a high school career that lasted but one year. Brought back to Oregon State by new head coach Dee Andros, he was clearly the "shining star" of the staff and gained national recognition in '67 when his Beavers defense shut down the mighty USC Trojans and OJ Simpson by a 3-0 score to ruin their otherwise undefeated season. Brooks again hooked-up with Prothro, first spending a season at UCLA, then moving with him to the LA Rams. He returned to Oregon State as their defensive coordinator under Andros, then jumped back to the pros, this time as the DB coach with the Forty-Niners under Dick Nolan. Rebuffed by the athletic board at his alma mater as the replacement for Andros upon the latter's retirement, Brooks spent another year in the collegiate ranks, this time with UCLA, his final stop before Oregon came calling. Brooks understood his situation and difficult new role, as a number of important Oregon boosters called him “that damn Aggie” in reference to his playing and assistant coaching days at rival Oregon State and even after he achieved success at Oregon, Brooks noted that “To this day I know I wasn’t their first choice. But I don’t really care about that.” The 1977 debut at 2-9 wasn't what any fan wanted but he defeated Oregon State in their Civil War, a pattern Brooks would maintain. Brooks also made fans happy by maintaining the helmet colors and style of the previous five seasons but he added a kelly green interlocking “UO” decal to both sides of the helmet so that anyone observing could now immediately know that “Oregon was on the field.” He also added one-and-one-half-inch kelly green player identification numerals to the rear of the helmet. QB Jack Henderson learned to add the run to his passing acumen and Ken Page was an inviting receiver, pulling in forty passes. The running game was a liability despite tough center Fred Qullan who went down with injury after a tough intra-squad scrimmage that followed the monstrous 54-0 loss to Washington on October 23rd. Qullan would later lead the offensive line of the championship Forty-Niners for eleven seasons. The defensive secondary was a problem although Kenny Bryant played well enough to be named All Coast. Bryant and LB's Willie Blasher, Tim Beyer, and Bruce Beekley formed "The Busy B's Defense" but the double-digit yields to every team with plus-fifty blood-lettings on three of four consecutive weeks made it obvious that Brooks' defensive expertise needed to go into high gear. Showing immediate promise was short but strong true freshman DT Vince Goldsmith who made thirteen tackles against Georgia.

If interested in any of these Oregon helmets please click on the photos below.