The time has finally come for the battle that University of Oregon has been waiting for since it brought baseball back to the Ducks.
The battle for state supremacy.
You see, what they didn’t realize back in 2009 when baseball returned to Eugene was that it was going to take a decade for a legitimate chance to overtake Oregon State. At the time, they thought overtaking the Beavers would be a much simpler task. But it turns out they had to wait for OSU coaching legend Pat Casey to retire before they’d be able to consider it a real possibility.
Things don’t always go as planned, but for Oregon baseball, it’s time.
The Winds of War
The Ducks and Beavers are now in a civil war to hire the right coach to lead their respective programs, and this is a battle that the Ducks must win.
The Beavers may very well promote from within, but if not, they’ll have the same pool of candidates as the Ducks. If the Ducks and Beavers compete for the best available coach in the country, then it’s a competition the Ducks are supposed to be built to win.
Remember, this whole baseball thing started over a decade ago under the assumption that whatever Oregon State can do, Oregon can do better. The Ducks have better facilities, more money, Nike and a mountain of resources. They have everything necessary to mold this baseball thing into a top-notch program.
The only scenario outside of the Ducks’ control is the Beavers promoting somebody from within who can continue Casey’s winning tradition. But Oregon fans know firsthand how hiring a reliable and trustworthy assistant coach (Mark Helfrich) can backfire. Like an old, dubbed-off cassette tape, it sounds the same but just isn’t quite as clear. My bet is that there will be at least some level of slippage, therefore the Ducks must hire somebody who can take advantage of that drop-off.
Some of the Coaching Candidates
Outside of Bailey — who it’s believed the Ducks wouldn’t be interested in if passed over by OSU — all the names below are conceivably in play for both schools.
Pat Bailey: Long-time Casey assistant who coached the Beavers on an interim basis in 2019.
Nate Yeskie: The Beavers’ pitching coach who is getting plenty of support from former players. He’s widely praised and will get attention from other schools if the Beavers don’t give him the job. And if they don’t, might the Ducks be in play for him?
Andy Jenkins: Another Oregon State assistant who has been the third-base coach for the past seven years; he’s considered a hot up-and-comer.
Scott Brosius: The former Yankee spent eight years as head coach at Linfield, taking the Wildcats to the NCAA Division III championship in 2013.
Andrew Checketts: He’s the current coach at UC Santa Barbara, a West Linn graduate, an Oregon State alum and a former Oregon assistant. USC is believed to be highly interested in Checketts.
Dave Brundage: A former OSU player in the 80s, Brundage is in his 26th season as a manager in the minor leagues. Currently with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats of the Pacific Coast League.
T.J. Bruce: A former standout UCLA assistant who has turned around the program at Nevada.
Checketts and Brosius appear to be the top two names right now for the Ducks, while Yeskie may well have the lead at OSU.
The Mullings of Mullens
This is a battle where Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens must come out victorious. After the Willie Taggart fiasco and the poor optics from letting go former softball coach Mike White, Mullens is in desperate need of his very own personal “W.” Of course, a win for the Oregon AD is a win for Oregon.
In a sense, this is a duel between Mullens and Oregon State AD Scott Barnes. Whoever outfoxes the other will have scored a civil war victory with long term implications.
Some might say that both teams can simultaneously compete for national titles. I’ll believe that shortly after I meet my first unicorn. The Ducks have a tremendous opportunity to instill a winning baseball culture and compete on the national level, but first they must win the state.
The 2019 coaching hires in the state of Oregon may well be linked for a long time to come as the decisions that decided the fate of college baseball in Oregon.
Spokane, Washington Top Photo From Twitter
Chris Brouilette, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a current student at the University of Oregon from Sterling, Illinois.
Darren Perkins is a sales professional and 1997 Oregon graduate. After finishing school, he escaped the rain and moved to sunny Southern California where he studied screenwriting for two years at UCLA. Darren grew up in Eugene and in 1980, at the tender age of five, he attended his first Oregon football game. His lasting memory from that experience was an enthusiastic Don Essig announcing to the crowd: “Reggie Ogburn, completes a pass to… Reggie Ogburn.” Captivated by such a thrilling play, Darren’s been hooked on Oregon football ever since. Currently living in Spokane, Darren enjoys flaunting his yellow and green superiority complex over friends and family in Cougar country.
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