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September 18, 2003 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-18

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Thursday
September 18, 2003
www. michigandaily.com
sports@michigandaily. com

RheTSullhn naU

7A

Autzen noise gives
Ducks big advantage

Weekend advice: Don't talk
smack about the quack

By J. Brady McCollough
Daily Sports Editor
Some say it's the rabid fans. Others
claim it's the superior design of the
stadium. But no matter what theory
you have about why Oregon's Autzen
Stadium is a special place to spend a
Saturday afternoon, there's one under-
lying consensus: It's deafening.
Per capita, Autzen is the loudest
venue in all of college football. With
its recent expansion, which culminated
before this season, its capacity is a
mere 55,000 - half the size of the Big
House. But in this case, Oregon fans
and players would agree wholehearted-
ly that size does not matter.
"The emotion, it's just going to be
electrified to be honest" Oregon line-

backer Kevin Mitchell said. "Until I got
here and played in those games, I never
realized. You can't talk, you can't even
hear yourself yell. You have to commu-
nicate with even talking. With Michi-
gan coming, it's just going to be crazy."
Shaped like an amphitheatre,
Autzen was designed to get the most
out of the noise its fans make. It
received its first national acclaim in
2000, when the Ducks - backed by
their home crowd - knocked off the
nation's No. 6 team in back-to-back
weeks (first UCLA then Washington).
Today, the Autzen mystique draws
comparison to stadiums that nearly
double it in size, including "The
Swamp" at Florida and "Death Val-
ley" at Louisiana State.
The third-ranked Wolverines are 3-0

Skyview Aerial Photography
Despite holding just 55,000 people, Autzen Stadium boasts one of the nation's
loudest, most boisterous crowds.

against the Ducks in their history, but
they've never made the trek to the
Northwest. Oregon fans have had this
game circled on their calendars ever
since the game was scheduled in the
late 1990s, creating an overwhelming
game-week atmosphere.

Men's hoops lands newest big man

By BobHunt
Daily Sports Writer
The additional sanctions for the
Michigan basketball team don't seem
to be hurting recruiting.
Coach Tommy Amaker scored big
with his second 2004 commitment
Tuesday in Grand Ledge product Al
Horford. The 6-foot-9 power forward,
ranked No. 55 in the nation by insid-

ers.com and No. 90 by rivals.com, is
the son of former NBA draft pick Tio
Horford. He picked Michigan over
Kansas, Florida, Ohio State and Michi-
gan State. Horford visited Michigan
last weekend along with guard Joe
Crawford of Detroit Renaissance High
School and decided to commit even
though the Lawrence Journal-World
News reported in August that he would
visit Kansas in October.

Horford averaged 19 points, 12
rebounds and three blocks per game
last season at Grand Ledge High
School. But the Detroit News second-
team All-Stater selection got most of
his attention this summer, when he
starred for the AAU Michigan Mus-
tangs.
Horford would not comment on his
commitment until a press conference
scheduled for today at 11 a.m.

"Everybody around here is pretty
excited," Oregon wide receiver
Demetrius Williams said. "People are
treating it like it's a bowl week. To the
community, it's a pretty big game."
To Michigan coach Lloyd Carr's dis-
may - he'd prefer his team play on
the West Coast only on New Year's
Day - the Wolverines are making
their third voyage to the West Coast in
the past four years. The team leaves
tonight with hopes of erasing bad
memories from losses at UCLA
(2000) and at Washington (2001).
"They are very difficult to beat at
home," Carr said. "The crowd is,
from every report I get, from every
coach I've spoken with, a real factor.
You have to learn to communicate
without talking, because talking
doesn't do you any good. So (I'm
excited) from the standpoint of for
the first time this season, this team
will have to show what they can do
when they have thousands of people
cheering against them."
When asked if he had learned any-
thing from his two previous trips to the
West Coast, Michigan captain Carl
Diggs said he is still trying to figure
out what it takes to win there.
"We still have a lot to prove," Diggs
said. "Saturdaywas a big game, but it's
over now. We haven't played on the
road yet, so we haven't proved any-
thing yet. We need to go out to Oregon
and play a good game."
"If we take them lightly," said
Michigan defensive end Larry
Stevens, "it will be a long plane ride
back."

COURTNEY LEWIS
Full Court Press
,some of you fans out there
ght be struggling to hold back
your smirks as you get pumped up
for a heated battle between your Wolver-
ines and the Oregon ... Ducks?
Some of you may think that a duck
isn't quite a worthy mascot for a foot-
ball team. You might think that ducks
don't do much other than paddle around
in their little ponds. And you might hold
back laughter as you ask, 'Who could
possibly be afraid of a duck?'
I, of course, would never suggest that
the duck is, shall I say, a wimpy, mas-
cot. I, and the good people of Eugene,
know that a duck can be a fine mascot.
So maybe it seems odd for a bunch of
big, sweaty football players to be named
after a small type of waterfowl. It's true,
they don't exactly bring to mind
thoughts of ferocity and intimidation.
But ducks are certainly noble and
graceful animals - birds - whatever.
What's not to like about ducks? They're
excellent at fishing for example. And I
think they have waterproof feathers,
which is pretty cool. With their fantastic
flying ability, they can make quick
escapes when danger arises (such as,
say, if they think they might be devoured
by a traditional football powerhouse).
What could you possibly have against
ducks? They've never bothered anybody.
For example, I bet you've never heard of
anyone that has been attacked by a duck.
Of course, you cynics out there might
say that's the point, but let's move on.
There have been plenty of beloved,
honorable, ducks in history; I'm sure of
it. I just can't think of any right now.
Wait, yes I can! Who doesn't like Daisy
and Donald Duck? And don't forget
Daffy. Although I did always find Daffy
rather annoying. What's up with spray-

ing saliva every time he talks? But wait,
what about the Ugly Duckling? Well, I
guess even he wasn't a duck in the end.
Come on, now. If you think about it, I
bet you'll find that ducks have provided
you with many happy memories. Your
rubber ducky. Or throwing breadcrumbs
in a pond to feed ducks. And everybody
likes Duck-Duck-Goose.
Besides, mascots don't have much to
do with the actual team, anyway.Yes,
the football ducks, like real ducks, do
much better through the air than on the
ground. But it's not like the players try
to psyche themselves up in the locker-
rooms by walking (waddling?) around
and quacking. (Speaking of locker-
rooms, maybe it doesn't matter what
you call yourself when you have a state-
of-the-art lockerroom where you can
watch one of three 60-inch plasma TV's
and connect to the Internet directly from
your locker, as the Oregon Ducks do).
What? You're still not convinced?
Didn't any of you see "The Mighty
Ducks?" Don't you remember Coach
Bombay telling his rag-tag District 5
team that a duck would make a great
mascot? Pointing out that ducks never
have to fight? Okay, that might not be
the image you want your football team
projecting, but hey, the "flying V"
worked, right? Except against Iceland.
Seriously now, wipe those smirks off
your faces and take a good look at Ore-
gon's mascot. Take the "Velcro Duck-
ie" the Oregon athletic website sells to
"rally" the fans, for example. With a
somewhat-sharp beak and those big,
cartoonish eyes. Imagine it's ferocious
roar ... err ... quack? You wouldn't want
to meet him in a dark alley, would you?
Okay, maybe you wouldn't even notice
him in a dark alley, but so what?
What's wrong with having an animal
that everybody likes as your mascot? So
it doesn't exactly make you shake in
your cleats, but who cares?
Besides, real wolverines are extinct
in Michigan, so at least the ducks have
that going for them, right?
Courtney Lewis can be reached at
cmlewis@umich.edu

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