My friends, a gift of having this site are all the wonderful Duck fans around the nation who have helped us all as writers and editors at FishDuck.com. A number of us Greybeards stay in touch by discussing our beloved Ducks by email and having some laughs along the way.
Like so many of you–they have highly spirited opinions and have consented to have these thoughts published for you to ponder and offer feedback. Each of these are terrific writers and their name is below what they wrote.
I started it out with bringing up how some fans have suggested that Mullens, “burn it to the ground after that fiasco of a game.” Below are the comments that followed and how the conversation progressed…
As I recall, Phil Knight fired a CEO new hire after 30 days. Kind of the equivalent of one game, no?
Jim Leavitt staying is great news. I’m not certain why a guy like Leavitt, who took South Florida from a start up to being ranked the second best team in the nation, is not the head coach over a guy with a losing record in Conference USA? If Rob Mullens really wanted an Florida International University guy, perhaps Butch Davis would have been better?
This is the second time that Mullens has handed the keys to a Maserati to a guy with a learning permit.
Make no mistake, I hope Mario turns out to be Super Mario and if it happens, I’ll be the first to apologize and to give the man his due. I just don’t see it happening.
Las Vegas, Nevada
If Mario Cristobal is a head coach with a learner’s permit after being a head coach for six seasons in addition to being an assistant under Nick Saban, Greg Schiano, Larry Coker and Butch Davis (in other words, two national championship winners), how is that so different from Willie Taggart being a head coach for eight seasons as well as an assistant under Jack and Jim Harbaugh? Both have overall losing records but both have taken their teams to bowls. Both are perceived as worth hiring despite their records because they recruit well and served under some big names.
Heck, Cristobal is six years older than Taggart. Isn’t it arguable that he’s as seasoned as Willie, with a similar resume? Yes, Taggart has now led three programs to bowl seasons while Cristobal has done it once. And Taggart has never been fired. Even so, given the fact that Taggart has only coached in one bowl game (due to his numerous departures) and Cristobal now two, I think they’re pretty even.
It’s natural to feel upset after that game. I sure do. However, I think using a 10-point loss in a toilet bowl game against a 10-win team to judge Cristobal — a game that came just a few days after a chaotic coaching change — is rapturously premature. By that rationale, we might have fired Brooks and Bellotti any number of times. Make no mistake: Cristobal will have to not only recruit well but bring better strategy and a sense of a system in order to be successful.
But the jury is still out, and the Las Vegas bowl is not enough material by which to judge Cristobal as head coach. With all due respect, if we’re going to be that hasty we deserve a roller-coaster of toilet bowls alternating with losing campaigns.
If we’re looking to the Las Vegas Bowl for tea leaves to read about Oregon’s future, we have to look at Leavitt’s re-upping with the Ducks as an equal part of this weekend’s story. It’s ultimately much better to win Leavitt’s commitment and lose the bowl game than to win the bowl game and lose him as a defensive coordinator. And the recruits as well as currently players surely must feel the same way.
I think it’s important to consider that Boise State hit that game in perfect stride. It was two weeks out from the MWC championship game, so they basically had one weekend off between the two games, which for late season is perfect. All things else being close to equal, the team with a rest weekend before a game almost always wins. BSU’s finals week was the before the game, when all their players were in Vegas, obviously not taking finals — no doubt making them up later.
As I recall, Oregon took the week after the OSU game mostly off, believing that they were headed for the Cactus Bowl, after Christmas. Then they were off during finals week, then had one week of prep for the Vegas Bowl. I don’t know specific numbers, but it looks to me that Boise State had at least twice as many practices since the end of the regular season. They were sharp; the Ducks were rusty. They did shake off the rust by the time the game was over, but when you have to call time out to get your first play off on time, it’s pretty obvious that there’s some sand in the gears.
Some of the distractions were inevitable, but some were not. I agree that having Freeman on the sidelines in street clothes is a bit of an iffy decision. I also think that it would have been a good idea to tell Crosby to put the 58 dead out of his mind instead of carrying the number on his jersey. And what about the decision to stay in the hotel of the site of the massacre? Those kinds of things can haunt you, especially if you encourage them.
In bowl games, it is so common for one team not to show up. It was a nice thought that the Ducks would magically put everything behind them and win one for the new coach. I don’t have any trouble seeing why it didn’t happen, and don’t think that the performance says much about the future.
— Chaotic change of head coaches. Check.
— Uncertainty over what assistant coaches will be around next week. Check.
— The advent of an early signing period for recruiting four days after the bowl game. Check.
— Recruiting fallout over change in head coaches. Check.
— Coaches heading out to recruit between practices, getting no sleep. Check.
— Going against a team that was preparing for a conference championship game while you were anguishing over a coaching change. Check.
— Missing another week of practice for finals. Check.
— Record-setting running back in street clothes saying the game isn’t worth risk of injury. Check.
— All-American offensive lineman publicly focused on mourning 58 dead. Check.
— Fourth defensive coordinator in four years. Check.
— Third offensive coordinator in three years. Check.
— New offensive coordinator calling the plays for the first time. Check.
What could possibly go wrong?
The last time a new Oregon coach played Boise State in his first game we lost by 11. Things are improving!
So there we have thoughtful commentary by some friends and great writers of FishDuck.com, and a little humor sprinkled in. Sounds like great Greybeards!
Charles Fischer (FishDuck)
Top Photo: Kevin Cline
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