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Oregon and Oregon State drop “Civil War” nickname from rivalry

One of the oldest annual games in all of college football has moved on from the moniker that has defined the game for almost a century

Running back Travis Dye of the Oregon Ducks runs with the ball as defensive back David Morris and defensive back Jaydon Grant of the Oregon State Beavers give chase during the first half of the game at Autzen Stadium on November 30, 2019 in Eugene, Oregon. Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Two of the oldest rivals in college football have decided to move on from a nickname that has defined their meeting for almost a century in the wake of concerns about the historical event it references.

Today both Oregon and Oregon State have decided to stop using the term “Civil War” to describe their rivalry in all sports. The term is particularly associated with football, and the game between Oregon and Oregon State was first contested in 1894 making it the fifth-oldest rivalry in college football. They’ve met 123 times since then, and every year since 1945.

The first reference to the game being called the “Civil War” was in 1929 in newspapers, and the OSU student yearbook used it in 1938.

“In recent years, some students, faculty, alumni, student-athletes, OSU stakeholders, and community members have questioned the appropriateness of this term,” said Oregon State President Edward J. Ray. “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.”

“Today’s announcement is not only right, but is a long time coming, and I wish to thank former Duck great Dennis Dixon for raising the question and being the catalyst for change,” said Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens.

Other rivalries have had their names changed over the years as well. The “Red River Shootout” was dropped by Texas and Oklahoma in 2014 in response to gun violence concerns.