Having just stepped out of a screening of the film “Denial” in my new home in Seattle, I realized the title sounds similar to a river in Egypt appropriately describes what this writer thinks has infected Oregon fandom. Right now, as I write this and you later read this, in its last performance, Oregon barfed on itself in Autzen Stadium and the Puppies lapped it up, 70-21. Rightfully or wrongfully, history (read: Phil Knight) has upped the ante, and each season that passes without a natty is a season of failure. This season is no different in terms of the stakes. The only difference is where Oregon currently stands: at a crossroads.
An alarming amount of 1s and 0s has been spilled over the state of Oregon football. However, in all of the hand-wringing, soul-searching, what-does-it-all-mean discussions lately surrounding Oregon Duck football, something is missing. And I don’t mean levity, because I haven’t seen a group of ducks this lame since the last Bush family portrait. Don’t try the veal. Some, such as ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg (subscription required), seem to suggest that Oregon’s flaming pile of football is merely a return to the historical norm. Others, including FishDuck.com‘s own brilliant author-in-residence Brian Libby and former FishDuck.com writer, Joel Gunderson, warn against firing coach Mark Helfrich in a fit of fan-inspired angst, lest the ghosts of Oregon football past decide that we stalwart fans of Oregon deserve coal in our stockings.
In a recent interview with Tom Rinaldi, the undertaker of sports interviewers*, coach Helfrich related that the Stumblin’ Ducks might not be winning THE day, but at least they’re winning most days, which is what I assume is half plus one. Well, I’ve gotten a D- in my life, and it didn’t feel good. I can’t imagine that winning Monday through Friday and then getting your keister presented to you by a former Oregon position coach on the football Sabbath is a situation worthy of mention.
But in the same interview .997 is not a good enough winning percentage in coach Helfrich’s book either, at least according to the same interview. Seriously, check the tape. Oregon is apparently losing because the players fail to perform 3 of 1,000 tasks. Perhaps if the coach took some time to work on being less mealy-mouthed, he would realize that the true culprit is consistency. Maybe it’s youth, maybe it’s effort, maybe it’s a lack of grit – whatever the culprit, this team hasn’t looked the same from game to game.
And now we’ve come to the part that’s been missing in this discussion: a way-too-early, uninformed, ill-timed suggestion for the next (Len) Casanova.
My vote: Tom Herman, head coach of the 11th-ranked Houston Cougars, should be the next head coach of the Oregon Fighting Ducks football program. Yes, he comes from the Urban Meyer coaching tree, but he’s done an amazing job at the University of Houston, taking what Art Briles and Kevin Sumlin had built, and maintaining the program’s trajectory with the last two seasons. Herman is a great recruiter that not only recognizes the value of keeping your best homegrown talent at home but also can keep that talent at home (see: Oliver, Ed, not Tuipulotu, Marlon), and win big games. With a resume that screams “Future LSU Head Coach,” Herman has my vote as the future Oregon Duck head coach.
And now, let us finish with this meditation on last requests, as this might be mine:
* (Seriously, look at the list here. PR 101: Don’t get interviewed by the guy that was the first to interview both Tiger after he got Five-Wood’d and Manti Te’o after he got catfished.)
Top Photo by Kevin Cline
Disclaimer: Readers: Every writer on FishDuck.com is allowed to express their opinion in their articles. However, articles do not represent the views of the other writers, editors, coaching consultants, management, or the principals of FishDuck.com. Charles Fischer