By UO student Chelsea Fullmer
Oregon football in the 70s was a little different than it is today. When former center Laird Riffle graduated in 1976, the team had won only 11 games total in his four seasons with the Ducks. Now, Riffle enjoys watching his alma mater grow and gain national attention in more sports than just football.
Riffle came to the UO from Santa Barbara, California, on a full athletic scholarship after being recruited to play for coach Dick Enright. Riffle earned his degree in human physiology from the School of Human Development and Performance, and was originally interested in teaching biology and health science.
Although Riffle didn’t end up pursuing a career in human physiology, he found success as a general building contractor. Four years ago, Riffle switched paths from building to working with his wife of 35 years, Paige Riffle, as a “Team Elite” distributor for Nu Skin. Riffle and his wife have two children, Cierra and Duncan.
Besides playing football, Riffle also enjoyed his contact with many UO athletic legends and mentors; from former swim coach Don Van Rossen, who kept his love of swimming alive, to three-time Olympian and assistant track and field coach Bill Dillinger and track and field head coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman.
“Being in conversation with either of these men you walked away feeling powerful,” Riffle said.
Riffle attended the Civil War game this season and watched the Ducks scrape by the Beavers in an exciting 36-35 finish, helping catapult the Ducks to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. During his visit, he noticed a difference in the community of Eugene.
“I could feel a difference in everyone around Eugene,” Riffle said. “The pride and attitude is so high; this makes for a strong university and validates why intercollegiate sports are such a huge part of the formula.”
While Riffle got to experience the excitement of the Ducks beating the Beavers for the sixth-straight year, and see all the new athletic facilities that were not present during his tenure at the UO, he remembers his team’s win over the Beavers as one of his favorite memories.
“My most memorable moment has to be, for any football senior, finishing with a good butt kicking of the Beavers,” Riffle said. “I was lucky to do so at Autzen with my team of ‘75.”
As for expectations for the Ducks’ appearance in the Alamo Bowl against the Texas Longhorns, Riffle is simply excited to see the Ducks in yet another bowl game.
“Any chance to play in a bowl game is big time!” Riffle said.