Tag Archive: Golden Era of Oregon Football


Oregon has not fired a head football coach since 1976.

That streak will come to a close with the termination of Mark Helfrich.

Why? He presided over the end of the Golden Era of Oregon Football.helfrichbeard

Some will contend the musings of Almost DailyBrett and a growing chorus of Duck commentators are a reflection of Oregon fans being spoiled. Joey Harrington is the high-priest of this particular gospel.

You were a great quarterback for Oregon, Joey, but it’s time for you and other apologists to smell the coffee. Oregon’s demise is real and sustaining, and no amount of Uncle Phil money is going to change it.

Unless the present course is dramatically changed, Coach Helfrich and the majority of his staff need to be shown the door.

Consider yesterday’s very winnable game against Nebraska on the road.

The first two-point conversion attempt was successful. Great. Now let’s kick extra points. What? Helfrich kept going for two-point conversions and the team failed four consecutive times … and the Ducks lost by three? What did Einstein reportedly say about trying the same thing over-and-over again and getting the same result? The definition of insanity.

How many penalties did the Ducks incur? Five? 10? How about 13 for 126 yards? This sad result comes down to one conclusion: Coaching.helfrichriley

Now before you state that one-game does not constitute a trend, let’s examine the unmistakable trend. In Wall Street terms it is downward and to the right, time to sell the stock.

During Chip Kelly’s four years as head coach, the Ducks were 46-7, including a dominating 33-3 in the Pac-12 conference. Oregon went on to the Rose Bowl twice, winning one; won the Fiesta Bowl and came within a field goal of taking the “Natty.”

Now in his fourth year as head coach (the first one, trying to grow a beard), Helfrich is 35-9, including 22-5 in conference. Inheriting Chip’s recruits, including 2014 Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, the Ducks were 24-4 overall, 15-3 in conference in Helfrich’s first two years, winning another Rose Bowl and an Alamo Bowl.

Since losing the 2015 Natty to Ohio State in a blow out, the Ducks are 11-7. Last year’s defense gave up a school record 37.5 points per game, and this year’s “D” is no better. How can we forget that Oregon lost to Utah by six touchdowns at Autzen, and blew a 31-point halftime lead at the Alamo Bowl?oregontcu1

For the second time in two seasons, a one-and-done “grad” student is playing quarterback. Vernon Adams and Dakota Prukop are more than capable, but what happens to Oregon when the one-and-done sustains an injury (e.g., Adams)?

Ready to take on Washington, USC and Stanford, true freshman Justin Herbert?

Oregon is the storied program that has developed fabulous quarterbacks who played two, three or four years (i.e.., Dan Fouts, Chris Miller, Bill Musgrave, Joey Harrington, Kellen Clemens, Dennis Dixon, Darron Thomas and of course, Marcus “Heisman” Mariota).

How about recruiting a stud high school quarterback or two and letting one of them win the job? Travis Jonson from Servite was supposed to be the “guy.” He is running fourth string. Five-star defensive lineman Canton Kaumatule was supposed to make us forget Haloti Ngata. Instead, we are fondly remembering DeForest Buckner and deep-sixing any thoughts of Kaumatule in Canton.

Oregon arguably has the best facilities in the nation for football, a good reason why the team stays in the discussion despite being marooned in America’s geographic cul-de-sac, the Pacific Northwest. And yet, the program’s recruiting classes are dropping off under Helfrich and his staff, presently running #38 nationally and number five in the Pac-12 behind Arizona and Colorado.

Nebraska celebrated an NCAA record 350 consecutive sellouts in its 90,000-seat stadium this past weekend. Oregon is now working on a two-game streak of non-sellouts at 54,000-seat Autzen Stadium.

How many losses will the Ducks endure this season? The two gimmies, which were not as easy as they seemed on paper (i.e., the dreaded UC Davis Aggies and the vaunted Virginia Cavaliers) are in the books. The Pac-12 conference with its great offenses lies before Oregon. And how does Oregon with one of the worst defenses in the nation even get to the Las Vegas Bowl, let alone the Fiesta or Rose?

Better get out your green-and-yellow rosary beads, D-coordinator Brady Hoke.

Almost DailyBrett was rooting for Oregon before it was cool. This is your author’s 27th year as a season ticket holder and a Duck Athletic Fund member. No one can accuse this blog of representing only a fair-weather fan.

Having said that, the undeniable truth must be told. The Ducks are looking at three more losses and possibly five or more. A post-season — any bowl — is not assured. Want to take the “under”?

Oregon cannot sustain its success on Uncle Phil’s money alone. Coaching matters. Coach Helfrich and his staff are on the hot seat.

Wonder if UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens already has some names in mind when the inevitable change becomes … inevitable?

http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/sports/blogs/martini/2016/09/17/oregon-ducks-loss-nebraska-100-percent-mark-helfrich/90601784/

http://www.oregonlive.com/sports/oregonian/john_canzano/index.ssf/2016/09/canzano_identity_crisis_at_ore.html#incart_river_home_pop

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Oregon_Ducks_football_seasons

http://www.goducks.com/roster.aspx?path=football

http://www.oregonlive.com/ducks/index.ssf/2016/09/penalties_continue_to_add_up_f.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/rooting-for-oregon-before-it-was-cool/

 

 

Reportedly, a 36-year-old Rich Brooks was told there was no way he could win at Oregon, when he accepted a $32,000 per year, four-year contract to become head coach in 1977.richbrooks

There were no natural advantages at the counterculture oriented, liberal arts university located in a college town tucked away in a sparsely populated, rainy slice of America’s cul-de-sac, the Pacific Northwest. Brooks predecessor was 9-24 in three years.

The negative recruiters, who were steering studs to USC, UCLA and Washington, said that star high school recruits could not work on their game year around in Eugene; they would never win a championship; never play in a bowl game; never be seen on television; never play in a game that mattered …

And for the most part they were correct. Ground zero was the absolutely awful 0-0 “Toilet Bowl” tie against Oregon State in 1983. Thankfully, the game will go down in NCAA history as the last scoreless tie ever played.

Hmmm…the Ducks played in the last scoreless game and the first college football playoff game, dominating Florida State 59-20 and winning the Rose Bowl as well. What a difference three decades can make?

And according to USA Today, ESECPN and others, all the credit goes to Nike founder/super $19.9 billion alumnus Phil Knight.

unclephil

As we celebrate the legendary contributions of Phil and Penny Knight in terms of Oregon’s brand and facilities, let’s not forget the achievements of an Oregon State grad, Rich Brooks.

No Swooshes on the Uniforms

There is a reason the turf at Autzen Stadium is called, “Rich Brooks Field.”

During the course of his 18-year stint as Oregon’s head coach, the Ducks went 91-109-4 … not a record that would prompt anyone to write home to mumsy. Many alums were calling for Brooks scalp, when one year of mediocrity followed another in the early 1990s.

Oregon played in a relatively small (41,000 capacity at the time) noisy stadium, Spartan facilities, rarely on television, and had trouble competing against the USCs, UCLAs and most of all, the Washingtons of the conference.

And yet Rich Brooks hired the core group of coaches that started the Golden Era of Oregon football: Mike Bellotti, offensive coordinator; Nick Aliotti, defensive coordinator; Don Pellum, linebackers: Gary Campbell, running backs; Steve Greatwood, offensive line; and Jim Radcliffe, strength and conditioning.

In turn, they found gems in the rough … Danny O’Neil, Ricky Whittle, Cristin McLemore, Jeremy Asher, Rich Ruhl … and a redshirt freshman defensive back by the name of Kenny Wheaton as in, “Kenny Wheaton is going to score. Kenny Wheaton is going to score” that propelled the Oregon Ducks to their first Rose Bowl in 37 years in 1994.

The Oregon Ducks with traditional uniforms that mimicked the look of the Green Bay Packers with no swooshes to be found gave #No. 2 Penn State holly heck that day before falling 38-20. Even in defeat, it finally become cool to root for Oregon.

Goodbye Rich; Enter Phil

After winning national coach of the year awards, Rich Brooks was a hot commodity. He was hired by the St. Louis Rams for a contract far in excess of his $32,000 starting salary at Oregon.

What followed was the heralded conversation between “Uncle Phil” and Brooks’ successor, Mike Bellotti. What did Oregon need to compete? An indoor practice facility. The rest is history. Knight wrote the $10 million check that allows Oregon athletes to work on their game year round.

Since that time, Knight invested more than $300 million to the Oregon Athletic Department including $70 million for the football performance center, $60 million for the renovation and expansion of Autzen Stadium; $60 million for an academic center and $100 million for the basketball arena (e.g., the Matthew Knight Arena).

The Ducks in turn have revolutionized football, particularly under Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich as head coaches, and Scott Frost as offensive coordinator. Wearing the cool Nike uniform du jour, the Ducks run their spread offense at a warp-speed tempo and put up ridiculous amounts of points.

They still don’t out-recruit USC or UCLA, but they find their “guys” to fit into the system, and Almost DailyBrett knows the coolness factor helps attract the attention of studs that would never have considered the little school from the little state in the Pacific Northwest.

The bricks of the Berlin Wall of negative recruiting … lousy weather, subpar facilities, no bowls, no championships, no Heismans, no television … have all fallen by the wayside.

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To be fair, we need to reflect on the guy that got it started, Rich Brooks. He will never be accused of being warm and fuzzy, and maybe that contributed to those who called for his firing in 1993-1994. He turned the Ducks around. It took a patient 18 years, but his perseverance was rewarded. He ushered in the Golden Era of Oregon Football.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_Brooks

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/pac12/2014/12/29/oregon-nike-phil-knight-college-football-playoff/21013009/

http://www.forbes.com/profile/phil-knight/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/rooting-for-oregon-before-it-was-cool/

 

 

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