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Analyst Jorgensen gives his all to Ducks


He's blossomed into one of the best college football analysts in the country, says the voice of the Ducks.

Medford's Mike Jorgensen, 35, is the complementary color commentator behind Jerry Allen -- the football and basketball play-by-play broadcaster for the University of Oregon.

He offers Oregon fans an insightful, inside look at Duck football and its many personalities and, as a former Oregon quarterback, his credibility is well-earned.

Jorgensen is no more afraid to criticize the Ducks than he is to praise them.

I'd put Mike up against any football color man in the nation right now, says Allen. When he first started, he was a small-town, friendly kind of guy who knew football.

But now he's much more.

He has knowledge of football and he says things so the average guy can understand it on the radio, says Allen.

Jorgensen, who is manager and vice president of the Medford office of Sedgwick of Oregon Insurance Inc., played parts of four seasons (1981-84) for former Oregon coach Rich Brooks. He was Southern Oregon Duck Club Director in 1986 and '87 before moving into the Portland office of the Oregon Club and then into private business with Sedgwick.

When Jorgensen had a chance to move into the Medford office of Sedgwick as manager, he jumped at it.

I'd rather live in Medford than Portland, he says. It's a better place to raise kids and, I had a lot of friends here.

Nearly fifteen years following his career as an Oregon quarterback, one thing about Jorgensen rings true. He's a loyal Duck puts his sanity on the line with every snap of the ball. It may not be the best idea to care too much about a team when you are its radio analyst. But Jorgensen pulls it off, even though he's missed some of the great plays in Oregon football history because he couldn't watch.

Like, The Play.

He missed Oregon cornerback Kenny Wheaton's interception and return for a touchdown of a Damon Huard pass that clinched a 31-20 win over Washington. It was one of the biggest victories in Oregon history, triggering its drive to the Rose Bowl in 1994.

When Wheaton was returning the ball 97 yards up the right sideline, Jorgensen was hiding out in the Len Casanova Center, just adjacent to Autzen Stadium.

I couldn't stand to watch, he says. I could have seen it, or at least heard it on the radio. But I sat in there and waited for somebody to come in and tell me what happened.

What kind of a color commentator is that?

Allen had seen it before.

In Mike's first game 10 years ago at Iowa, I couldn't believe what happened, says Allen. The Ducks had just made a big mistake by not making an interception.

I looked over at Jorgy to make a comment, and he was down on the floor, on his knees, against the wall of the radio booth, with his back to the field. I couldn't believe it.

Oregon Sports Information Director Dave Williford remembers the day Jorgensen melted down in the Autzen Stadium press box. The Oregon broadcasters sit in a booth next to press row, although a glass window separates the two areas.

Something went wrong and Mike slapped the glass window as hard as he could, says Williford. It sounded like a bomb went off.

He apologized later, but we understood that's just Jorgy. He hasn't done anything like that since.

For every Oregon home game, Jorgensen drives to Eugene to work with Allen. For road games, he usually flies Friday with the team.

Mike and I do our preparation on the flight, says Allen. And we room together. Mainly, because we're such good friends.

Jorgensen's 2-hour drive to Medford after home games allows him to calm down after the rigors of watching Oregon football. the time he gets home, his wife, Tileese, and children, Bronte and Bryceson, can usually squeeze out of him any remaining stress or dejection.

I know I want the Ducks to win too badly, he says. I can't help it.

And he doesn't plan to stop soon.

I see myself doing this indefinitely, says Jorgensen. I love it too much, even though I can hardly stand it at times.

The only thing that might stop me from doing it one day would be my kids. I have to see them grow up. It's a priority.

If my daughter has a soccer game on Saturday or my son has a baseball game, and I miss them, it hurts.

But I'd still like to keep doing this as long as I can, says Jorgensen. I know if I wasn't doing it, I wouldn't listen to the Ducks on the radio. I couldn't stand it.

(Randy Hammericksen is the Mail Tribune's sports columnist. He can be reached at 776-4499.)