I have been wrestling with this thought for the last couple of days and want to see what other Oregon fans are thinking and feeling: how hard will this rebuild at Oregon for new Head Coach Willie Taggart going to be? I am not talking about getting to eight wins, but winning a conference championship and having a shot at the College Football Playoffs. Is this a quick “reset,” or a three to five year campaign (or longer)? I am interested in the mindset of the Ducks faithful on this subject.
Personally, I am now not as certain as I was a few weeks ago. Plug in Taggart, (who knows the Spread Offense combined with the pieces we have in place) hire a great defensive coordinator and shazam! Oregon is at the highest levels again? Return to the top as quickly as the fall (after all … a rubber band snaps back in the same proportions that it was stretched)?
But after all I am reading of what others are saying needs to occur at Oregon, I am having significant doubts. How about you?
Some believed that Oregon simply needed a leader; someone who knows his mind, his way of managing the team, and that knows his ways will work. A Chip Kelly would have been in this category, but as I’ve said before … he burnt too many bridges behind him in Eugene. His swagger and presence are not worth all the problems he has with the Oregon media and his disdain for recruiting. He is no longer on the cutting edge with his No-Huddle Spread Offense and the 3-4 defense that he and Jerry Azzinaro brought to the Ducks.
Do birds eat other birds? Not usually, but this Duck has eaten a ton of crow recently with all my bad predictions and assertions before the 2016 season. Like the election, I did not see this last Oregon football season coming at all, and felt that journalists like Aaron Fentress, who were putting down Oregon and talking up the Huskies in August, were truly clueless. With the results being the opposite of what I anticipated, I have been humbled. I now know what the Clinton campaign feels like. You can be sincere with your analysis, but you can also be sincerely wrong.
(No political message or comment here, but an analogy to flawed predictions and results; I am not the only one)
Mr. Fentress brought up some excellent points concerning recruiting during a recent interview by Steve Tannen on his 95.3 Sports Talk Radio Show in Eugene. Aaron did a study of the last 15 College Football National Champions and found that the average recruiting class from 13 of those champions over the four years prior to their NC was in the top ten recruiting classes in the nation! Oregon was in the National Championship game in 2010 and 2014 with a much worse average recruiting ranking because of the unique aspects the Ducks adopted that ultimately shook up the entire college football world.
But times have changed; most teams now run the Spread Offense in a No-Huddle format, and most teams now have multiple uniforms with the ubiquitous black jersey. Most teams have caught up with Oregon in facilities. Thus, as much as it pains Ducks fans to admit, the rest of the country has rendered Oregon Football routine.
In short? If all the teams are running the same offenses, and employing the same branding strategies, your team will have to average top-ten recruiting classes to contend for a national championship … and in that scenario the traditional college football elites in large metropolitan areas resume their huge advantage over the other 80% of college football programs (including Oregon). The new coach will have to recruit that well to compete with the huge programs, and that is something that no one at Oregon has ever done. Not Len Casanova, Rich Brooks, Mike Bellotti, Kelly or Mark Helfrich. Not one.
And the coaches who can recruit at that level–why did they pass on coming to Oregon?
Head Coach for Central Florida, Scott Frost, spoke about the difficulties of recruiting players to Oregon recently. He told the Orlando Sentinel,
“I’ve been recruiting all week. On Tuesday, I drove to a [nearby] town in Florida, recruited and was back in Orlando that night. Yesterday, I drove to another town in Florida and was back at home last night. That’s a lot different than flying all over the country and sleeping in a different state every night.”
Everyone knows that few Pac-12 players are home-grown in the State of Oregon, and how the recruiting difficulty in Eugene is amplified when compared to talent-rich states where most of the elite programs reside. Did Oregon make a mistake with firing their head coach? Aaron Fentress offers some chilling words about a possible outcome from the firing of Mark Helfrich and his staff:
“It could unravel. It could be a 15 year run of three or four different head coaches and none of them come even close to the National Playoffs or Pac-12 title.”
Is this going to be harder than we think for new Head Coach Willie Taggart?
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
College Football Analyst for FishDuck.com
Top Photo from: Craig Strobeck
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