Rich Brooks had a record of 91-109-4 while he was head coach at the University of Oregon. He did not have a single season of 10+ wins (although he coached when there were fewer games, making 10+ wins harder to obtain), had only one conference championship and one bowl win in a whopping 18 seasons in Eugene, and finished a season ranked Top-25 nationally only once.
Stats like that paint a picture of a coach who struggled to be competitive, but they don’t tell the whole story.
Brooks took over an absolutely lousy Oregon program. The Ducks hadn’t played in a bowl game in 13 years, amassing a paltry two winning seasons over the same span. They were arguably the worst program in Oregon, and weren’t even thought of nationally. Brooks built the program from scratch, leading the Ducks to four bowl appearances in his final six seasons. He hired several of the coaches who continued to build the program after his departure, and the school promptly named the field after him. The foundation of the Oregon program was built on Brooks’ back.
Chip Kelly innovated college football. He changed the way offenses played with the zone read and no-huddle offense, and the epicenter of college football shifted toward Eugene during his tenure. He was the second post-Brooks coach at Oregon, and stockpiled a massive 46 wins to a meager 7 losses in only four seasons as the head coach at Oregon. He took a solid team, coached by Mike Bellotti, and changed the landscape of college football forever.
Kelly took Oregon to the national championship, and easily had three of the best teams to ever play in Eugene during his tenure. He left the program to Mark Helfrich, who almost recruited his way back to the pre-Brooks era of irrelevance. Kelly easily has the highest winning percentage in school history (for the modern era at least), and he almost brought Oregon to the pinnacle of college football.
So the question is, who had a bigger impact on the program: Brooks dragging the program out of the cellar, or Kelly pulling them just short of the mountaintop?
Top Photo By: Kevin Cline
Ryan Robertson is a defense contractor for the United States Marine Corps. A lifelong Duck fan from Grants Pass, he joined the Army out of high school. After four years as an Intelligence Analyst he decided it was time to further his education and pay more attention to his Ducks. One of Ryan’s first memories is of watching the Ducks, led by Joey Harrington, beating up on the Utah Utes in 2001. He is studying to be a Human Rights Investigator for the UN and intends to attend the U of O for graduate school in a few years. His grandfather ran track at Oregon in the ‘50s. He loves the Ducks, and has a passionate interest in reading every scrap of analysis centered around the football team.
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