As some of you may or may not know, the title refers to a formerly (currently?) popular book by Dale Carnegie that apparently taught more than 15 million people how to make friends. Unfortunately, Mr. Carnegie died before writing what would surely be his second most popular book: How to Win Recruits and Influence Players. As Duck fans know, winning recruiting battles, particularly for the “best” high school football players, has proven difficult. Oregon has had some success (See: De’Anthony Thomas), but often seems to come up juuuuuust short.
This is something I have never understood. If I were a highly-regarded high school football player, and I knew that I stood a pretty good chance of becoming a millionaire (well, at least something more than an eleven thousand-aire), I would give Oregon a long hard look before I thought about Texas, because of the 2013 Alamo Bowl, or Michigan, because Brady of
Broke Hoke, or even USC, because of Steve Sarkisian (cut to Puppy Fans nodding in approval).
Before we venture on to my thought experiment, I would like to issue a disclaimer: I have never played organized football in my life, unless you count playing in Portland Heights Park, next to Strohecker’s, during parent-teacher conference week. I do, however, think I would’ve made a pretty decent backup JV fullback.
Back to me being an elite athlete staring free college and future millions in the face and the thought bubble above me: “Oregon has been pretty good on-the-field, even though it only gets lowly two-star quarterbacks that started for one year in high school. (Here’s looking at you, Marcus Mariota!) If I, as a potential star in THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, wanted to become that star, I should probably pick Oregon, because its on-the-field performance constantly outstrips its on-paper recruiting. There must be something in the Eugene air that makes Oregon football so successful. They do a lot with a little. How much could they do if I took my talents to Eugene? I’d probably win a bunch of championships, maximize my talent, and launch myself to the NFL and a life of rings and of a lot no concussions.”
To complete the the ring composition about me being something I will neverevereverever be, I think that more elite high school players should pick Oregon because Oregon gets the most out of its players. Yes, sports fans of other big programs, there is something in the Eugene air: good coaching air (cut to Darren Carrington shaking his head).
I’m sure most of the trolls are saying that this claim is a bridge too far. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Read this. No, seriously, I’ll wait.
Welcome back. The in-shape, never-heard-of-Honkin’-Huge-Burritos, Unicorn version of me was right: Oregon does, in fact and in deed, do more with its talent, save Wisconsin. (Give yourselves a hand, Beavs; you guys aren’t so shabby either.) Sure, the results might also be explained by the fact that the ability to coach up players in college is easier, that teams are able to recruit to players to fit a certain style, and that the level of competition each team faces varies wildly. This might all be true. It is also true Oregon players wildly out-perform their recruiting stars.
Popular perception states that players come for the uniforms. But they will stay for the career development. How many other teams can say that they have appeared in two championship games in the last five years? Three: Auburn, Alabama, and little ol’ Oregon. Who earned commitments from two of the last three Heisman Trophy winners? Oregon.
I don’t know why Oregon doesn’t get more recruiting love. Maybe the coaches are too honest. Regardless, more high school players, not only from California, but also from the entire country (and world, Bjorn Werner and Akeem Hicks), should put Oregon higher on their list than the media or fans think. Perception is not reality. Good recruiting pitches do not equate with good football. For all the future Ducks out there, remember this: the results speak for themselves. Or, to put another way: scoreboard.
Oregon fans might wring their hands about Iman Marshall, Rasheem Greene, John Houston, Jr., Kyler Murray, even P.J. Locke. (Sorry buddy, DB-U Texas ain’t.) This is wrong. Just ask Dr. Cox.
Oregon is not missing out on anything. Elite prospects are missing out on Oregon.
Top Photo from John Giustina