The longstanding rivalry between the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers will no longer be referred to as the Civil War, the universities announced in a joint statement on Friday afternoon.
“Changing this name is overdue as it represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery,” Oregon State president Ed Ray said. “While not intended as reference to the actual Civil War, OSU sports competition should not provide any misconstrued reference to this divisive episode in American history. That we did not act before to change the name was a mistake. We do so now, along with other important actions to advance equal opportunity and justice for all and in recognition that black lives matter.”
Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, meanwhile, mentioned former Ducks quarterback Dennis Dixon (2004-07) as the catalyst for the change.
“Today’s announcement is not only right but is a long time coming,” Mullens said. “We must all recognize the power of words and the symbolism associated with the Civil War. This mutual decision is in the best interests of both schools, and I would like to thank Scott Barnes for his diligence as we worked through this process. We look forward to our continued and fierce in-state rivalry with Oregon State in all sports.”
The storied rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State dates back to 1894, when the latter was named the Oregon Agricultural College. It was referred to as the Oregon Classic or the State Championship Game until 1937, when it was officially dubbed the Civil War — though newspapers occasionally used that moniker as early as 1929.
The Ducks and Beavers have played 123 times, with Oregon leading the all-time series 66-47-10. It is the fifth-most played rivalry in the Football Bowl Subdivision, trailing only Minnesota-Wisconsin (129 games), Auburn-Georgia (124), North Carolina-Virginia (124) and Cincinnati-Miami, Ohio (124). This year’s matchup is scheduled to take place on Nov. 28 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis.
The basketball programs, on the other hand, have met a record 354 times. Interestingly enough, some combination of Oregon or Oregon State against one another, Washington or Washington State make up the five most-played games in college basketball history.
The rivalry had a corporate sponsor beginning in 1999, when it became known as the Northwest Dodge Dealers Civil War Series. PacificSource Health Plans stepped in when that 10-year partnership ended and held the title sponsor role until 2015, when it was joined by other sponsors such as Ford, McDonald’s, Safeway-Albertsons, Spirit Mountain Casinos, Toyota and Wells Fargo.
The Oregon and Oregon State football teams do not officially play for a trophy, though the Platypus Trophy was commissioned for the rivalry in 1959 because of its duck-like bill and beaver-like tail. It was awarded through the 1961 season, when it was stolen from the Ducks’ trophy case inside Gill Coliseum. It was returned, but then stolen a second time and somehow reappropriated as the trophy for the water polo teams.
The trophy then went missing for nearly four decades before it was found in a closet at Oregon’s McArthur Court in 2005. It became the football game’s unofficial trophy two years later and is currently awarded to the alumni association of the winning school.
Barnes said the two schools will consider another moniker for the rivalry moving forward. Might we suggest the obvious, which would be to embrace trophy and name it the Battle for the Platypus – or Battylpus, for short.
Photos via the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, Nike and the Daily Emerald.