When Oregon Almost Entered Program Purgatory

Darren Perkins Editorials

As the Ducks prepare for Cal this week, I cannot help but think back to Oregon’s coaching search two years ago. As most will recall, many in the Oregon community, including many former players and high-level Oregon supporters, were endorsing the idea of hiring Justin Wilcox as the Ducks’ head coach.

After Mario Cristobal and Willie Taggart bolted for their “dream jobs” at Miami and Florida State, many felt that Oregon needed to hire an “Oregon man” who would not use Oregon as a stepping-stone but rather view it as a destination. Wilcox surely would have fit that line of thinking.

To be sure, I have plenty of respect and admiration for Wilcox. He grew up in nearby Junction City and went on to become a Duck player and a successful college football coach who made a name for himself as an outstanding defensive coordinator. But, I cannot help but think that hiring Wilcox would have been a big mistake. While I do understand the challenges of coaching at Cal, there is just no way Oregon would have the same level of buzz, excitement, and recruiting chops had Wilcox taken the job.

Hiring Wilcox would have set the Oregon program back years. Wilcox was offered the job but thankfully turned it down as Rob Mullens backstepped into hiring the right guy.

Dan Lanning is the right guy to lead a top-tier Power 5 program and the right guy to lead the Ducks. Make no mistake, it is only a matter of time before Alabama comes calling, and Alabama does not pursue anything second-rate.

Oregon and Cal will battle it out on Saturday. (Photo by Nancy Paiva)

Speaking of Cal 

They almost pulled off a stunner against USC last week. Of course, “stunner” might be too strong of a word as the Trojans have devolved from a national title-contending team before the season began to be in line for a a lower-tier bowl. Plenty of offense makes them electric and will win them games, but the lack of defense makes them at best a “good” team.

The Trojans will always have a puncher’s chance against anyone with their high-octane offense led by the great Caleb Williams at quarterback, but if the Ducks stay true to themselves next week, they should certainly beat the Trojans at home.

And, let us not overlook Cal this week because of USC next week.

Treason at FishDuck?

Yes, there is a traitor in our midst. FishDuck’s own Natalie “Benedict Arnold” Liebhaber, a long-time editor and contributor, was caught decked out in red (go figure) in Salt Lake City last Saturday.

Clearly, the allegiance of Liebhaber is not with the Oregon Ducks. (Photo by Natalie Liebhaber)

Mrs. Liebhaber, (who in our former friendship I simply addressed as “Natalie”) was a little surprised to find herself in this post when I sent it to her last night for editing. A picture “graced” my feed on Facebook Saturday morning with Mrs. Liebhaber and her husband John Liebhaber all smiles before this year’s updated version of “The Assault in Salt Lake.

Oh, how quickly those smiles disappeared.

I could not help but notice that she failed to share a post-game picture. Perhaps the massacre wreaked havoc upon her mascara, deeming her non-photo-worthy.

In Mrs. Liebhaber’s “defense,” she is a lifelong Ohio State Buckeye (another red-clad enemy, notice the common theme?) fan and was not an Oregon fan when she joined FishDuck; she merely saw joining us as an exciting opportunity. Naturally, working (ahem; volunteering) at FishDuck did convert Mrs. Liebhaber into an Oregon fan, but never as her No. 1 team. She had recently moved to the Salt Lake area, which apparently instantaneously caused her to become a Ute fan and turn her back on the Ducks. 

(For the record, I lived in Los Angeles for 11 years and it never once caused me to don USC gear. Go figure.)

(Editor’s note: It’s Mr. FishDuck’s fault; he sent me to SLC to cover the Ducks game in 2014 and I fell in sports love.)

In truth, we at FishDuck still love, support, and appreciate Natalie and her efforts.

We also pray that she is getting the help that she deserves.

Darren Perkins
Spokane, WA
Photo credit: Nancy Paiva

Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, is a world-class “traitor” (not really) and works in technology in SLC, Utah.


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