Bearcat Club Luncheon to Feature Three Hall of Fame Football Teams

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The first Bearcat Club luncheon of 2007-08 will take place Wednesday, September 19 at 12 p.m. (PDT) at the Mission Mill Museum's Dye House in Salem, Ore., and will feature three former Bearcats discussing their teams' championship seasons. All three teams are members of the Willamette Athletics Hall of Fame, with the 1997 team set to be inducted October 27, 2007.

Join us for lunch and a discussion with three influential members of three of the top football teams in Willamette history. We’ll learn what was special about each of these teams and the coaches who guided them. The program format will be a panel discussion, with time for questions from the audience.

1958 FOOTBALL TEAM - Gary Raid ‘59, Offensive Tackle
Gary Raid '59, an all-American offensive tackle and Hall of Fame member, helped lead the Beracats to an 8-1 season with a powerful offense that averaged over 350 yards per game. Raid was drafted by and played one season for Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers.

The Bearcats, under Hall of Fame coach Ted Ogdahl, won the Northwest Conference with an undefeated record (5-0) and finished 8-1 in the season. The only loss was in the final game of the season, 7-0 to Arizona State of Flagstaff (now Northern Arizona University). Only one opponent during the entire season scored more than a touchdown against the Bearcats as they outscored their foes 282-41. The Bearcat offense averaged an amazing 366.3 yards per game, 281.4 of which came on the ground.

1968 FOOTBALL TEAM - Jim 'Tiger’ Nicholson ‘69, Running Back
Jim 'Tiger' Nicholson '69, another Hall of Famer, was injured for much of the 1968 season but was in a unique position to observe this great team. Nicholson is the only Willamette running back in history to gain 1,000 or more yards in two seasons. He also played two seasons in the Canadian Football League.

The 1968 football team advanced to the national semifinals before ending its season with a 9-1 record and a No. 6 ranking in the final NAIA poll. The Bearcats- led by Hall of Fame coach Ted Ogdahl- outscored their opponents 241-78 during the regular season, threw for more than 1,600 yards and had eight running backs each run for over 100 yards. The team averaged 25.1 points per game and three times scored 40 or more points. Willamette’s nationally- rated defense allowed just 14.1 points per game and intercepted 17 passes. The Bearcats ended the season rated 15th in the nation in total defense (181.0 yards per game), led by the sixth-ranked rushing defense (60.0 ypg).

1997 FOOTBALL TEAM - Chuck Pinkerton ‘98, Quarterback
Chuck Pinkerton '98 led the Bearcats to the national championship game but was unable to participate due to an injury suffered the week before. Pinkerton, a quarterback, is Willamette's all-time leader in total offense with 7,844 yards.

The 1997 Willamette University football team mowed down most of its competition, scoring 40 or more points seven times and holding seven opponents to a touchdown or less. The Bearcats won 13 consecutive games to start the season and did not lose until they were playing for the NAIA National Championship. It was WU’s most successful season ever and set a tremendous standard for future teams. The Bearcats won the Northwest Conference championship at 5-0, finishing the regular season at 10-0, then moving through the playoffs until meeting Findlay University (Ohio) in the finals. Findlay edged Willamette, 14-7, in the National Championship game played in Savannah, Tenn.

In addition to the program, two senior scholar-athletes will also be featured, as well as brief team updates from head coaches.

Bearcat Club luncheons are open to fans, friends and supporters of Willamette University Athletics and guests are always welcome. Luncheons cost $5.00 for Bearcat Club members and $7.00 for non-members.

Join us for the first Bearcat Club Luncheon of 2007-08 on Wednesday, Sept. 19.

Join us for the first Bearcat Club Luncheon of 2007-08 on Wednesday, Sept. 19.