I have long held the belief that the rally cry of all Duck fans should be “Go Ducks” and not the modern cry of, “Sco Ducks” (don't even get me started with “Sko”).
To be clear, I don't set out to condemn those who say, or have said, “Sco Ducks”. I will be the first to admit that I was a “Sco-er” during one of the darker periods of my life. But perhaps my story and my perspective can spark a change in even the most faithful of “Sco-ers”.
History of rally cries in college football
Fan bases use rally cries as a subsitute for greetings, goodbyes, and much more. All of the greatest fan rally cries have history, tradition, and personality. I’ve catalogued SOME examples of well-known and creative rally cries in College Football:
Mascot-Based Cries- More than just “Go ____”
Roll Tide- Alabama
Hook ‘em Horns- Texas
Fork ‘em Devils- Arizona State
Gig ‘em Aggies- Texas A&M
Boomer Sooner- Oklahoma
Boiler Up- Purdue
Woo, Pig Sooie!- Arkansas
School & History-
We are Penn State- Penn State
We are Marshall- Marshall
Play Like A Champion Today- Notre Dame
Go Blue- Michigan
OH-IO- Ohio State
Go State- Mississippi State
On Wisconsin- Wisconsin
Geographical- Based on a fanbase’s connection to their region or state.
Rocky Top- Tennessee
"West Virginia/Mountain Mama"- West Virginia
Seemingly Random- Demand an explanation.
War Eagle- Auburn (Mascot is not an Eagle)
Bear Down- Arizona (Mascot is not a Bear)
Hotty Toddy- Ole Miss (Fight song? Sure. Booze? Absolutely.)
Forty-Four!- Syracuse (Ernie Davis’ jersey number)
To innovate does not mean to be tacky
I can't find any definitive evidence of the first uses of "Sco Ducks", but I personally seem to remember "Sco Ducks" first arriving on social media around 2010. My belief is that "Sco Ducks" was born out of a desperate desire to have a rally cry that felt more personal. The national narrative at that time was about Oregon and Alabama being opposites to one another in play-style and personality. I believe that "Sco Ducks" was hastily adopted as a way to have our own version of "Roll Tide". A large group of (mostly younger) Duck fans and students began to use it without quite understanding what they were leaving behind.
In the last twenty-five years, the University of Oregon has been a beacon of innovation. You can cite the relationship with UO alum Phil Knight, the early adoption of flashy Nike uniforms, the Chip Kelly spread option/hurry-up offense, and BCS success. As a program with a history of being nationally irrelevant and historically awful up until ~1989, Oregon desperately needed an identity. Innovation became that identity.
I’m twenty-two years old. I grew up during an incredible era in Duck football history. It isn’t lost on me how lucky I have been to witness this period of greatness.
I also don’t want to sound like a crotchety old NegaDuck (negative Duck fan) by poo-pooing change, and effectively saying, “get off my lawn.”
However, with all the innovation, there have been times where the Ducks traded their humble history for absolute tackiness.
Puke green flaming Notre Dame helmets? Cal-colored uniforms against our most hated rivals? You name it; the Ducks have worn it; and have probably lost in it. The Ducks were so concerned with the question of whether they could achieve it, they never bothered to ask whether or not they should. I believe that the modern adoption of “Sco Ducks” as a rally cry is an example of the pervasive nature of innovation.
The website that serves as the hub for official news, rosters, stats, tickets, etc., for all Oregon athletics is called GoDucks.com.
Now, I will be the last one to claim that the UO athletic department is the final authority on all things Duck-related. However, I think there is something to be said about having a rally cry that spans across all sports, men’s and women’s, as opposed to a phrase that originated in football, like “Roll Tide”, and has since been used across other sports.
I can also appreciate the ability that “Go Ducks” has to reach between generations. It is a universal language between all Duck fans. On one side, you have a generation of Ducks that were stoked to make the trek to the ’89 Independence Bowl for the biggest party that Shreveport has ever seen. On another side, you have a generation of young Ducks that can’t imagine not being considered in the national discussion on a yearly basis.
Neither of these generations are wrong, but they seem to clash more often than Millennials and Gen Xers when it comes to perspectives on Oregon football. There has been a lot of amazing advancement in the modern era of Duck football, but “Sco Ducks” is certainly not one of them. “Go Ducks” can be a bridge that embraces innovation, but also doesn’t dismiss the years of Toilet Bowls and Norvell Turnovers by inexplicably inventing a new, and unoriginal cry.
To round out my argument, I’d like to refer to another all-powerful tool used to unify fan bases; the fight song. Mighty Oregon is the fight song for the University of Oregon, and it is also the greatest song ever written. Albert Perfect, along with journalism student DeWitt Gilbert, wrote the song in 1916. Even in 1916, Perfect and Gilbert took a hard stance on the Go/Sco issue:
“Go Ducks, go!/Fight Ducks, fight!/Go/Fight/Win Ducks, win!”
Mighty Oregon has been edited from its original glory, but the most important element to the song, "Go Ducks," remains.
Mighty Oregon is probably the most agreed upon element of Oregon fandom, and it asserts its stance on “Sco” vs. “Go” clear as day.
No matter where you stand on the Go/Sco issue, "Go-ers" everywhere can rest-assured that every Duck fan will say “Go Ducks” at some point on gameday, especially while singing along to Mighty Oregon.
The “Sco-ers” do not have that same piece-of-mind.
What should you say on gameday?
Duck fans argue over uniform combinations, firing coaches, Puddles vs. The Duck (it’s the Duck, by the way), and even the pettiest of Duck fans spend their time ranting about the differences between “Sco” and “Go”.
My position on the issue is obvious, but then again, I have been known to overly commit to meaningless arguments, so feel more than free to completely ignore me and my green and yellow soapbox.
Whatever you might say on gameday, I only ask that you say it loud. The Cristobal Train is leaving the station, and Autzen runs on your passion, your decibels, and your unabashed electricity.