Recruiting: Should Oregon Football Coaches present NEGATIVE now?

Come on Oregon fans, ‘fess up! If you are reading this it is because you are an extraordinary Duck football fan that cares about the team far beyond all reasonable time that should be given to such a hobby. Like yours truly, you love reading about your beloved Ducks and want them to not just win, but someday win the National title that eluded Oregon twice in the last six years.

Further, you and I have been to this rodeo many times in our lives; we know what it will take.

Coach Taggart and recruit Elijah Gates. From Twitter

A coach who accomplishes this has to be highly skilled at so many things, and have some luck with bounce of the ball, a penalty overlooked, and injuries that do not happen. Yet the basics of an elite college football program are great coaching and great recruiting, but only both deliver us the ‘Natty that we lust (you are flawed, but I still love you Cliff Harris).

Like so many, I am stunned at the quality of the coaching staff assembled at Oregon. Coach Willie Taggart: you got who from Alabama (Mario Cristobal)? You signed the National Defensive Coordinator of the year (Jim Leavitt) and the Defensive Back Coach of the Year (Charles Clark)? The cup runneth over from the expertise of this group.

Yet Coach Taggart may have put together the most fully loaded recruiting staff ever. There are the obvious big names (hello, Cristobal), but most do not know of the incredible recruiting prowess of the supporting staff brought from South Florida, in addition to the coaches.

“As a fan, what are you willing to give up or compromise on, in order to WIN?”

I am not talking about violating NCAA rules, as I will never forget my conversations with an engineer who was also an Auburn Tiger fan years back. This fellow was like so many of us on this site; he was a professional, highly intelligent, and liked to ponder the fine points about his team, just as we do with ours. He was attracted to our site going into the 2010 NC game, and he was a highly rational breath-of-fresh-air from an opposing fan. Yet when confronted about the almost certainty that Cam Newton took money (via a relative) to play at Auburn, he responded with this:

“We may never get this shot at winning the National Championship again, and even if we cheated … our tactics were justified to offset the teams in our conference like Alabama, Florida, LSU, etc. that are so difficult to compete with each year and run the table against. It isn’t honorable, but I want it just once…”

Coach Heyward and recruit Elijah Blades. From Twitter

No. I don’t endorse that attitude, but his point is quite pertinent to us in the Pac-12. Running the table on USC, Washington, Stanford, etc., is a pretty tall task and our windows to win the ‘Natty over time (realistically) will be few and far between. Taggart has stated he wants to be the first black coach to win a national title, and it sure appears he is pulling out all the stops to get there.

You all have heard the stories of how Mike Bellotti, Chip Kelly, and Mark Helfrich would only speak positively about Oregon and would not negative-recruit other schools in recruiting. Meanwhile, opposing schools threw mud on the Ducks horribly and won key recruiting battles with those tactics. “Oregon will never be elite,” and then “Oregon is going to be penalized severely by NCAA,” and then “Chip Kelly will be leaving soon.”

We have heard this for years, and as those players go to other schools due, at least in part, to these smears, we are faced with the realization that another blue-chip player or two could have made a difference on defense in the NC games for the Ducks. Sadly, it worked for other programs to fabricate stuff against the Ducks to help their recruiting, and hurt Oregon’s.

It just surfaced against the Ducks again, and a superb article on Comcast NW by Aaron Fentress outlined the truth about the players being hospitalized, and the resulting fallout in the recruiting wars. Below is from the article:

The ridicule, Taggart said, has come up on the recruiting trail. Taggart said parents of recruits have asked assistants about what happened and he believes opponents have used the hospitalizations as fodder for negative recruiting. ”All they hear is a ‘military-style workout,'” Taggart said, “and so now everybody is saying ‘they don’t know what they’re doing, they are hurting the kids, they don’t care about the kids’ welfare,’ and it’s not like that.

Jim Mora, 8-20-2015, “Yeah, I’m an Asshole.”
From Video

Yes, it turns our stomach and will never end from our competitors. It is time Oregon does it in return?

Now I am not stating that Oregon coaches should say, “you don’t want to play for a lying, despicable sleazebag like Jim Mora” (even if he is). But what about pointing out the highly rated recruiting classes UCLA has achieved and how little they have to show for it? Or listing all the players with high upsides that went to the Bruins and never saw that potential fulfilled? Or noting the ups and downs of that program compared to Oregon in the lifetime of the recruit (from year 2000 on…)?

What about the depth chart of loaded talent at USC in that player’s position, versus the opportunity for early playing time at Oregon?  What about showing a little negative?

We all make decisions in our lives by looking at the positives and negatives of a subject or decision. Why not present it that way in recruiting? Is that really so bad?

Aaron Fentress of Comcast also wrote an article a year ago concerning his study of teams that won the National Championships in the past 15 years. Almost without exception these teams averaged recruiting classes in the top ten in the nation. Now that opponents have caught up with Oregon’s facilities, uniforms, Spread Offense, and No Huddle tempo? Our advantage against elite recruiting is gone, as every program is doing the same thing. Thus, we’re back to square one: the best recruiting and coaching wins.

Is it time to take the gloves off in recruiting?

Charles Fischer   (FishDuck)
College Football Analyst for FishDuck.com
Eugene, Oregon

Top Photo by John Sperry

My friends…managing a website is more than I have time for now, as I am working on a new project for fans that will surface in a year or two. But I and a few others, (like our beloved Grizzled Ol’ Coach Mike Morris) will continue to write sporadically when the mood and time available converge.

We will be starting the Newsletter in the near future, so sign up in the upper left of the site so you don’t miss our articles when they become published. (It only takes a minute and I never sell the information) And post the articles on your favorite Social Media sites below! Charles Fischer

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Charles Fischer

Charles Fischer

Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks for thirty years and has written reports on football boards for over a dozen years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, a daughter, Christine, and their dog (Abbie) reside in Eugene, Oregon, where he has been a financial advisor for 30 years serving clients in seven different states. He does not profess to be a coach or analyst, but simply a “hack” that enjoys sharing what he has learned and invites others to correct or add to this body of Oregon Football! See More...

16 Responses

  1. Gary McAuley says:

    The short answer is no. Negative campaigning can come back to haunt you, look at the latest episode with the DUI. You start negative campaigning and it is guaranteed you will get it back ten fold when things go wrong.

    • Stuff like that happens every year to every school, and I am not talking about negative recruiting in bringing up this kind of stuff. (See above response to comment) Besides…regardless of what we choose not to say? Other schools will smear us for the DUI anyway.

      Ten fold? I would suggest that negative recruiting against Oregon has been highly successful for other schools.

      Again, I suggest a moderate approach to the Duck’s negative presentation compared to what our opponents say about us.

      • dreambeliever11 says:

        First impressions are often inaccurate. My first impression of Taggart is that he in the elite class of “competitiveness” Meaning that, winning is always his objective and he will do anything legal to bring about those ends…… That being said, I actually expect the offense to be less effective than Kelly/Helfrich but hopefully more consistent. meaning more sustained drives and third down conversions. The defense should improve with time but will not be in the top 5 of the PAC12 next year. I’m looking forward to more power running in the spread a la Kelly’s early years.

  2. Notalot says:

    You, Charles, must be an expert in selling the negatives with your career in the financial services sector. “Lady, are you prepared financially to live the life you desire if your husband dies tomorrow”? Though termed “selling the negatives”, such statements are realistically informing of the realities. Possibly that is what you are suggesting? For the best results that approach takes strategy, facts research and skilled presentation by the speaker.

    • This subject is already bringing highly interesting comments for us to ponder, and you bring up some excellent points Notalot.

      Your example IS informing while negative, but it also places pressure on the investor that they will resent, and that is not a good way of beginning a relationship with someone you want to work with over the long haul. People are too savvy for the tricky stuff, the pressure, and the leading questions these days and that approach is not my style.

      I do like presenting the negative alongside the positive, for a number of reasons; first those in the financial community are required to provide full disclosure, second–if you do not present the negative of the competition AND what you are presenting? They research and find it out anyway.

      The last reason why I like that method pertains to the Benjamin Franklin approach of weighing the positives and negatives and letting the investor decide….since that is what is going to happen anyway. If they go with you? You have morally presented both sides and know you have done the right thing; if they decide against you? Back to the research to find a better solution, or you chalk it up to not appealing to everyone.

      This very same approach can be applied to recruiting without smearing the opposing school or coach. Mora is smart and highly qualified, and UCLA is a damn fine school. But as I stated in the article–there are downsides to attending there as shown in the past.

      If you were the parent of a recruit…wouldn’t you want to hear to positives and negatives for each school before your son made such a huge life decision?

      Great stuff, and way to pull it out of me Notalot!

      • clarissa fielding says:

        Pointing out the pros and cons of another school isn’t negative campaigning. It’s helping someone to make an informed decision. Of course I’m not referring to slamming another school or coach. The new Ducks coaches appear to be skilled at recruiting so I am sure they are adept at handling this kind of situation and closing.

        • FishDuck says:

          You and I are in agreement, but apparently it was not done in prior staffs. Even Bellotti spoke of how they don’t do any negative over ten years ago…

  3. Platypus says:

    Good discussion Charles…I’m sure Oregon coaches have used negative recruiting to some degree over the years by just pointing out obvious detraction’s. Oregon is in a very unique situation in that they have the Nike factor, they are still the example that everyone models themselves after in gaining players attention. Let’s be honest, without Nike the Ducks would never consistently be on the national stage. The popularity of the Nike brand and the resources it brings to the university far out weight any negative recruiting done by other schools, therefore I tend to lean on the side of taking what is positive and holding that up as a consideration. Like you said it’s about relationships and Nike builds those better then most.

    • FishDuck says:

      I am not so sure that Oregon shows any negative of other schools at all. A great many articles and quotes by Helfrich seem to indicate that our coaches promoted the good of Oregon…and that was it.

  4. oregonxyz says:

    the best way to recruit is to play inspiring football – THAT is what the high school kids see on tv

    When the Ducks were putting 50+ on teams with athletes, they were getting some very good players to commit to Oregon.

    The defensive side of recruiting hasn’t been as good as the offensive side – at least during the Chip Kelly years.

    Willie will have to use this next season to show the kids what STYLE of football Oregon will have – and that will reel them in.

    And finally…. how dumb can you be as an assistant coach to get a DUI right after one of your fellow coaches just got suspended???

    • FishDuck says:

      The damage to his career is far more than the damage to Oregon’s reputation. The fact that the admin acted immediately is good, and the example to the players that coaches answer to the rules is good as well.

      It will be forgotten soon, and it will not be a difference with a recruit IMHO.

      • MAITAIDUCK says:

        He had issues before this happened. So Willie probably had told him no more issues and it happened again. I do believe these guys are great recruiters and will have Oregon back playing Championship ball even next year. Fish as you have to agree our offensive talent is better than pretty much everyone else in the PAC 12. So next year 8 wins should be the least expected and 9 for a season is what we should get. 10 wins with a Bowl win. Then all those story’s we have heard times and time again about 4 and 5 star players wanting to play for Oregon never came to fruition because our staff never gave out those offers. This is a business and sometimes you have to reach out to players that are the TOP of the Football world and take chances to win. Because if Oregon isn’t in it to win it all then just get rid of the Football program. I’ve given a whole lot of support for my favorite team since around 1978 until now. So imagine what it was like back then too now. Its changed and I agree with negatively recruiting especially against the Mutts UCLA Because they out recruit us and then get beat by us so thats a no brainer. I think these coaches that have been assembled are just as good as the ones that spent a long time here. What will be refreshing is to see a Defense that hits people in the mouth and doesn’t miss tackles. Oregon should be good in 2017. BOOK IT. Thanks Charles.

        • Maitai, I agree with you about Oregon being highly competitive immediately due to the recruiting of Taggart to bring back Nelson, Carrington, Freeman, and Crosby on offense. This offense will be incredibly potent, and can challenge for one of the best in the country in 2017.

          I never felt our defensive talent was THAT bad…and I believe we will have a massive improvement on defense simply due to good coaching. Next year will be an “OK” defense, and once more upper level players join the Ducks? Look out!

          We have the potential to be one of the nations best in a couple of years, because I believe this is one of the most talented defensive staffs assembled in the nation.

          I will not use the extremely positive expression that GOC used…but let’s just say that he is VERY sold on this defensive staff.

          Thanks Maitai.

          • oregonxyz says:

            “THAT BAD” happens when one guy out of 11 doesn’t do his job…

            2015 – the DBs got burned like toast
            2016 – an almost guaranteed breakdown on each and every 3rd down play

            after the coaching change, we should see overall better unity and fewer complete breakdowns

            once that point is reached, then we will see “who can play”

        • Breitbartballz says:

          Wow, possibly 10 wins, 8 the floor? It doesnt matter how good these coaches are, it’s going to take time to improve this defense. You can’t create talent. Every level of this defense needs better players. The recruits area good but they are all true freshman. Leavitt didn’t turn around Colorado in a year. We have some talent on offense, but until I see better play from the Oline, and the freshman who played last year seemed undersized, the offense could struggle at times. This is a coaching staff who hasn’t coached one game together, with players needing to reverse poor habits and lacking talent in many areas, there are gong to be growing pains. 8 wins should be the ceiling. Taggart really hasn’t won a big game in his career nor coached against this competition level. We will lose to Stanford and Washington, with other tough games on the schedule. I’m excited about this staff but I think the hype is going to outproduce the product this first year. Season two, real progress should be seen.

  5. fanchris says:

    Charles, I think it’s appropriate to point out Oregon’s strengths and other programs weaknesses as long as the Ducks coaches take the high ground and stick to facts. I like the example you stated regarding Oregon getting better results from their recruits than UCLA, or UCLA recruits not living up to their full potential. Nothing wrong with showing recruits the facts.

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