Tag Archive: Phil Knight

“Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” – Legendary Basketball Coach John Wooden

Almost DailyBrett has been reflecting on a deep conversation with my physician.

Philosophically, my doc pointed to the onset of one’s seventh decade as the beginning of the “Dying Years.”

The “Dying Years”?

Does the author of Almost DailyBrett really want to ponder this inevitable subject? Not really.

Having said that, consider the following:

There was a time when everyone in my immediate circle seemed to be graduating from college.

And then everyone was getting married or going to weddings in hopes of getting married and lucky … not necessarily in that order.

Weddings, receptions and honeymoons eventually led to babies, toddlers, kids and PTA meetings.

Next up were the wave of divorces, and once promising loves gone wrong.

Along the way, there were surgeries and medical procedures, providing far too many of us with the war wounds of life.

Some deal better than others when it comes to mid-life crises. There are those who purchase sports cars, but they don’t all have to be red. My little chariot is green.

And finally … friends and family start meeting the Grim Reaper. The years go by and more than a few have bought the ranch. Those 60-and-above are now in the “Dying Years.”

Death is a subject that no one wants to assess — let alone discuss — even though the end of life is part of life, and thus inevitable. There will come a day in which my ashes will start their eternal swimming and swirling in the Willamette.

Almost DailyBrett contends those in The Dying Years have a responsibility and yes, even a choice about how they approach and enhance these vital final chapters of life.

Every Day Is A Gift; Every Day Is An Opportunity

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” — Apple Founder Steve Jobs

“Don’t cry. Don’t raise your eye. It’s only teenage wasteland.” – Pete Townshend, Baba O’Riley

If life is short and finite for everyone, isn’t there a personal responsibility to do the best we can with each remaining day of our lives?

How many have lamented about far too many people – young and old — wasting their lives, mindlessly spending hour-after-hour, day-after-day playing video games, watching “original content,” drinking PBR Talls – while the dishes pile up in the sink?

As the Germans say, “Life is too short to drink cheap beer.”

How about those who receive all of their news and information through their smart phones, Comedy Central and video games? According to Theologians, Jesus spent his 33 years on the planet and lived within a 150-mile radius of his Bethlehem birth place. His reasonable explanation, if asked: global transportation really did not exist in a 33 AD flat-earth world.

What is the excuse for those in the 21st Century who confine their lives to a 150-mile radius, when global transportation is ubiquitous? If you want to stroll The Ginza, walk the cobble stones of Red Square, traverse the once-forbidden arches of the Brandenburg Gate or shop gaze along 5th Avenue … you can and you should. The world is out there, Carpe Diem!

There will always be overachievers, such as Condoleezza Rice, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Phil Knight and Elon Musk, and then there will be the teenage wasteland crowd, which matriculates to adults running out the clock until that inevitable last day arrives.

In effect these people who are wasting their lives – more than 30 percent of working age males are voluntarily not working in today’s America – are already in their dying years.

Don’t we have a responsibility to leave the world in better shape than we found it? Naturally, we don’t individually have the means to end Third World famine in Africa and elsewhere, but we can serve our communities, countries and the planet … making them all better for our presence.

We also have a choice about how we approach these Dying Years. If we are conscious of our diets and exercise, we may be able to extend our active years into our 70s and maybe 80s. If we make the choice for a gluttonous sedentary existence, we hasten the demise of the quality of our lives, restricting our opportunities, until that day arrives.

The Dying Years is quite frankly not an easy subject for Almost DailyBrett, let alone anyone else. Nonetheless it’s a topic better addressed earlier than later, when we still can take responsibility and make the right choices.

Can’t tell you how many times, a commentator has referred to a passing as “an untimely death.”

When will The Dying Years, let alone death ever be timely?









“When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work?” – Comedy Central Jon Stewart assertion to CNBC’s Jim Cramer

Heard one of the talking heads of the chattering class last week on CNBC extol the virtues of “passive investing” in the face of massive volatility and the long-awaited arrival of a Wall Street correction.

Isn’t “passive investing” an oxymoron or a contradiction in terms, if not just plain dumb?

The basic premise is the 54 percent of Americans investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds should put all of their investments on auto pilot, automatically “investing” a fixed percentage of their pay checks into company 401Ks or brokerage managed IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts).

On more than one occasion, Almost DailyBrett has been critiqued for surfing Charles Schwab, Fidelity, Zillow and Wells Fargo each on a daily basis.

Is your author an unreformed capitalist? Please allow me to plead, guilty.

What’s curious is no one seems to raise an eyebrow to those constantly burying their noses into their smart phones, spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook or Snapchat or bingeing on video games or streaming video.

As Jon Stewart correctly surmised in his 2009 televised pants-zing of Jim Cramer, far too many times retail investors have been sold this notion that markets inevitably go up, so don’t mind volatility and fluctuations. Forget about it!

And if that is indeed the case, panicking only leads to losses. No argument.

The question that Almost DailyBrett is raising and arguing is very simple: Do we want to manage your wealth accumulation or be managed by others who may not have our best interest at heart?

The Day, The Music Died

“I went down to the sacred store; Where I’d heard the music years before; But the man there said the music wouldn’t play.” – Don McLean, American Pie

Your author contends that portfolio management is not the same as day trading. At the same time, the notion of long-term investing makes absolutely no sense. Back in the 1990s, one would have been advised to invest in IBM, Cisco, Intel and Microsoft and walk away.

With the exception of Microsoft, the music stopped playing for these “DinoTech” stocks.

Worse, the 1990s investor would have missed the massive upsides of newly minted 21st Century rock stars, the likes of Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google (FANG).

Since the days of the three Gees – Andy Grove, Bill Gates and Lou Gerstner (all retired or in one case, deceased), a new trove of corporate rock stars has ensued – Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Tim Cook (Apple), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Elon Musk (Tesla).

Don’t you know, these shooting stars will eventually flame out? And as Don McLean wrote and sang, their music will eventually die.

Who will be the rock stars of the next decade? Should we keep some money on the sidelines, ready to buy low and sell high. If we become “passive investors,” we will blindly throw our hard-earned, discretionary dollars at Wall Street regardless of bull market or bear market.

Shouldn’t we be selling near or at the height of the market and buying near or at the low of the market? Or should we just designate portions or our IRAs or 401Ks to this mutual fund manager or that mutual fund manager because they are the “experts”?

Where Do You Shop? What Products/Services Do You Buy?

“I don’t care about a stock’s past, only its future.” – Jim Cramer of CNBC’s “Mad Money”

Almost DailyBrett has his fair share of mutual funds – domestic/foreign; large cap/mid-cap/small cap – and cash under management. Your author also manages four individual stocks, carefully avoiding the perils associated with all eggs coming from one chicken.

Apple: Let’s see, in the morning your author reaches for his Apple Smart Phone, runs to classic rock sounds on his antiquated iPod, and turns on his Mac at work. You bet ya, Apple is part of the portfolio.

Boeing: Considering that Donald Trump is president and more federal dollars are headed for defense and the economy is strong, regardless of market gyrations, Boeing has been a solid buy. The company sold 700 commercial airliners this year and plans to deliver 800 next year. Has your author been transported by Boeing Aircraft? Is the Pope, Catholic?

Nike: Uncle Phil is the founder of athletic apparel market leader and the über-benefactor of University of Oregon Athletics. Nike shoes/gear are worn for morning runs to complement the Nike+ software program on the Apple iPod.

Salesforce.com. Marc Benioff hails from my undergraduate alma mater, the University of Southern California (May The Horse Be With You). Mark is the founder, chairman and CEO of business software innovator, Salesforce.com. Let’s face it, many may claim a cloud legacy, but Salesforce.com was first to SaaS or Software as a Service.

Apple, Boeing, Nike and Salesforce are the four present individual securities in the portfolio of Almost DailyBrett. Are they examined and managed on a daily basis? You bet ya. Will they be there forever? Forget it.

Should an investor, who rejects passivity, consider these individual stocks?

Only your investment advisor knows for sure.






I’d like to warn the best of them, the iconoclasts, the innovators, the rebels, that they will always have a bull’s-eye on their backs. The better they get, the bigger the bull’s-eye. It’s not one man’s opinion; it’s a law of nature.” – Nike founder Phil Knight

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena …” – President Teddy Roosevelt

There are no statues devoted to critics.

Our increasingly complex data-driven society is overloaded with analysts, reviewers, chroniclers, interpreters – creating nothing of meaningful value – but they are always quick to cast stones at those who try to make the world a better place.

As Phil Knight said in his New York Times best seller Shoe Dog, “Entrepreneurs have always been outgunned, outnumbered.”

A perfect example – not the first one and certainly not the last – is the use of a series of infographics to depict an engineering/entrepreneur who tried and tried and succeeded brilliantly, but is portrayed by his failures.

A May 26 MarketWatch piece by Sally French includes a five-part infographic, which catalogs a litany of failures by Tesla co-founder, SpaceX founder, SolarCity co-founder and PayPal co-founder Elon Musk.

When asked to describe himself by Steve Croft of CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Musk responded that he regarded himself simply as an engineer. Almost DailyBrett has worked with engineers for years, attempting to transform their anal exactitude, never-ending acronyms and nomenclature into plain English.

What characterizes engineers is their willingness, their compulsion to throw ideas at the wall. Some will stick, and others … oh well.

Elon Musk is not afraid to fail. He is more scared by the prospect of not even trying.

Alas, Musk is human. Five of his SpaceX rockets blew up. He was ousted from PayPal on his honeymoon. He made $180 million from his stake in PayPal. He invested this money and presumably much more in SpaceX and Tesla, both were hemorrhaging cash. He was not only broke, but in way-over-his-head debt in 2008.

Today, Musk is Forbes’ #80 wealthiest individual on the planet with an estimated worth of $13.9 billion. His Tesla is the pure-play leader in energy-efficient electric cars, ion-Lithium batteries and solar. Is Tesla an electric car company that helps combat climate change? An energy company that shuns fossil fuels? Or is it, Elon Musk’s company?

How about all of the above? To most investors, the answer would be third … Tesla is Elon Musk’s company … and there may lie the reason for the MarketWatch infographics, illustrating Musk’s failures. Schadenfreude has never felt so good or gut.

A similar set of questions can be asked about Musk’s SpaceX, which is transporting materials to the International Space Station and may someday put humans on Mars. Think of it this way, four entities have successfully fired rockets into space: The United States of America, Russia, China and Elon Musk’s privately held, SpaceX.

The Importance of Failure

“I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it, I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse.” — Walt Disney

Would you rather be Steve Jobs, who was terminated by the company he created, Apple?

Or would you rather be John Sculley, who will go down in history as the man who fired Steve Jobs?



Sculley recently tried to blame the termination of Jobs on the Apple Board of Directors at the time, but the die has already been cast. Sculley will follow Jobs to the grave as the man who sent packing the modern-day equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci.

Nike founder Phil Knight recounted in his memoir how he started his company with a $50 loan from his dad. Today, Nike is the planet’s No. 1 athletic apparel and shoe provider with $33.92 billion in revenues, $86.8 billion in market capitalization and 70,000 employees.

Uncle Phil is the 28th wealthiest homo sapien in the world at $26.2 billion. Keep in mind, this company was literally days, if not hours, away from bankruptcy too many times to count between 1962 and going public in 1980.

For Musk, his tale is a South Africa-to-America story. Today, Tesla is a $8.55 billion company, employing 17,782 with investors pouring $53.4 billion into its market cap.

Almost DailyBrett has been consistent in hailing the risk takers, the entrepreneurs, those who stare failure right in the face and sneer. The results are great companies that employ 10s of thousands and produce the products we want and need.

There will always be those who rage at the “billionaire class” to score political points.

And some with too-much-time-on-their-hands develop infographics to illustrate how the great have fallen here and there.

Wonder if any of these critics, analysts, reviewers etc. would have fired Steve Jobs?

Almost DailyBrett radical transparency: Your author happily owns shares in both Nike (NYSE: NKE) and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA). The above epistle does not constitute investment advice for either company other than to generically say, Buy Low, Sell High.
















They don’t hate us. We hate them, even though our mumsies told us to never use that verb.

Eugene is only 47 miles down the road, guess that proves that familiarity does indeed breed contempt.bennybeaver

They actually root for us, except once a year in the Civil War. We detest, despise and loathe them and everything they represent. We will never, ever cheer for them.

They see themselves as The Jetsons. They compare us to The Flintstones.

They see themselves as ultra-cool, and so does ESPN. Guess that makes us, Brand X.

When they do deign to actually contemplate us, they regard us as “Little Brother,” and that “Cow College.” They make disparaging sheep jokes: “The greatest lie in Corvallis? ‘I was only trying to help that sheep over the fence.’”

That’s not funny, and it’s not true.


On Tuesday nights, they watch “Talkin’ Ducks” on Comcast SportsNet. On Wednesday, we are supposed to watch “Talkin Beavers,” even though the title sounds like the obscene chatter of adolescent boys.

We were just so close this past Friday, our rodents coming within three points twice in the fourth quarter until they took it away from us for their eighth consecutive win. The Civil War is now Oregon 63, Oregon State 46 and 10 ties … once again we were on the wrong end of the scoreboard.

Their biggest rival is the Washington Huskies, not us. They will not even acknowledge that we are their true rivals.

They are so smug in their ever-changeable Nike uniforms. We have to admit they have a better school, better stadium, better facilities, better team, better band, better songs, better mascot, better rally squad. Everything is just frickin’ better.shout

Okay, we are better at agronomy, but does that count?

Flat Tail Society

We supposedly market ourselves as Beaver Nation, but does anyone outside of Benton County really believe Mike Parker, The Voice of the Beavers?

They have “Uncle Phil,” and his Nike billions. He lavishly and charitably gives millions to both athletics and academics at his alma mater, and yet we still wear his swoosh uniforms. Doesn’t Adidas or Under Armour want to protect our house?

We played in the Rose Bowl on January 1, 1965, losing by only 27 points to Michigan. They played in the Rose Bowl this past January 1, beating previously undefeated Florida State by 39 points … and the game wasn’t that close.

Twice we were within one game of the Rose Bowl in both 2008 and 2009. All we had to do was beat them … that’s all we had to do. Alas …

“Send me dead flowers by the mail

Send me dead flowers to my wedding

And I won’t forget to put roses on your grave” – Jagger, Richards, Dead Flowers

Coming Full Circle

We have a Heisman Trophy winner by the name of … ahh … what was his name again? Oh, Terry Baker in 1862. Sorry, made a mistake, it was 1962. Their Heisman Trophy winner is Marcus Mariota, just this past year. You can watch him play every Sunday for the Tennessee Titans.marcusheisman

We set an NCAA record for most consecutive losing seasons: 27 (1971-1998). We seemed to be turning the corner until we ran into an oncoming train. Our native-son coach, Mike Riley, packed his bags for bucolic Lincoln, Nebraska. We won two games this year. Oregon had a bad year (for them) too, winning only nine, six straight, and yet another win over us.

At least one commentator referred to our football program as a “road apple.” Hey, that’s not true. We almost won a conference game. And we are going to fix up the Valley Football Center in Corvallis.

Maybe we can adjust the rabbit ears at the Valley Football Center and watch the Ducks in their 12th straight bowl game … at least they are not playing for national championship this year.

We are optimistic about next year. Contrary to the persistent rumors, there will be ice on the sidelines at Reser Lunch Meats Stadium. The student with the recipe is staying for graduate school.

Even though we lost yet another Civil War last Friday, we are proud of Oregon State, our alma mater dear. Our diplomas are proudly hung on the wall, and most of us are gainfully employed.

And when customers arrive, we cheerfully ask: “Would you like to supersize your meal?”










Move Paves Way for Huskies to Join The Big Sky Conference

SEATTLE, WA, April 1, 2015 – After failing to defeat Oregon since George W. Bush’s first term in office, the University of Washington today announced the cancellation of its October 17 game at Husky Stadium against the Ducks.ducksdawgs

Under the terms of the memoranda of understanding (MOU) with the University of Oregon, Washington will still pay the visiting team share to Oregon, and another $500,000 so the Ducks can host Florida State on October 17 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. The Rose Bowl rematch will be televised nationally on ESPN at 4:45 pm PDT.

In place of Oregon, the University of Washington will renew its historic rivalry that very same day against the Idaho State University Bengals in Holt Arena in Pocatello, Idaho. The game will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis on Pac-12 Networks at 11:30 pm PDT, following the conclusion of the Washington vs. Washington State Apple Cup women’s soccer game.

“After losing 11 consecutive times by an average deficit of 25 points with no game being closer than three touchdowns, we have done a lot of soul-searching by the Montlake,” said University of Washington Athletic Director Scott Woodward. “We have been living in a state of  denial way too long. It’s time to accept reality: Washington can neither compete academically with Oregon nor can the Huskies contend with the Ducks athletically.”

Woodward announced the university is in active discussions with Commissioner Larry Scott about resigning from the Pac-12 in order to seek a more appropriate level of athletic and academic competition in the Big Sky Conference. To ensure that 12 schools still comprise the major conference, including two from the Evergreen State, Woodward said the Washington administration proposed that Gonzaga University join WSU as the state’s representatives in the Pac-12.

“Even though the Washington athletic administration is proposing a zero sum game, we have to study this plan carefully as we know that Gonzaga in-place of Washington will strengthen the league’s competitive stance in NCAA basketball,” said Scott. “Gonzaga would give the Pac-12 access to the Spokane media market, while the retention of Washington State will continue the league’s presence in the all-important Pullman, WA/Moscow ID region.

In addition to paving the way for admission into the Big Sky, setting up contests against Weber State, Northern Arizona and Eastern Washington among others, the University of Washington will undergo a massive reduction in the capacity of Husky Stadium from 72,500 to about 16,000 to more align the university with its new FCS division.husky

University of Washington Football Coach Chris Petersen acknowledged the presence of University of Oregon billionaire alum, Phil Knight, was a contributing factor in the now lopsided “series” between Oregon and Washington with the Ducks outscoring the Huskies 481-202 since 2004. Petersen, who served as an assistant at Oregon, before taking head coaching jobs at Boise State and Washington, knows firsthand the advantages that UO has over Washington.

“Many warned me that I would be taking a step backward in terms of athletics and academics, when I left Oregon for Boise State,” Petersen said. “I didn’t fully appreciate that downward spiral would not only continue, but actually accelerate, when I left picturesque Boise for dreary Seattle.”

Petersen encouraged the University of Washington administration to be realistic, and forget about churning out billionaire alums. He suggested the university instead focus on the few promising UW students that someday, someway will actually make six-figures cumulatively (e.g., one, two, three, four … ) in the course of their lifetimes. There are certainly opportunities for Udub graduates in maintenance engineering, petroleum transfer and refuse collection, he added.UOUW

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich indicated that he was saddened the Oregon vs. Washington “rivalry” was coming to an end after 107 games with Oregon winning the first 43-0 in 1900, and now the last 11 times.

He said that circumstances ultimately change, and wished Petersen and the Huskies all the best in not only the October 17 game in Pocatello, but against all of its other conference foes in the fortified Big Sky.

“We are hopeful there will be the same intensity exhibited by both players and fans in a different Oregon vs. Washington rivalry, when the Huskies take on Portland State,” said Helfrich.

“Washington supporters should keep in mind that when it comes to Portland State, you cannot stop the Vikings, you can only hope to contain them,” he said.







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.


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.


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.







“To be blessed to have all of this stuff around us, we want to give back. We want to give back to Phil Knight, to give back to Nike, give back to all the donors that donated to the school, and changed Oregon.” – Oregon defensive back Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

It’s been success, and really, Nike. Let’s face it. Without them, we wouldn’t be here.” – Craig Pintens, University of Oregon senior associate athletic director for marketing and public relations

Does that mean that Oregon would be somewhere else? Corvallis? Pullman?

Are Oregon returning seniors giving back in order of importance: Uncle Phil, Nike and oh yes … the donors too?

Is the Oregon Athletic Department once again confusing the “O” for the “Swoosh”?Oregon1

“University of Nike”

“We are the University of Nike. We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits,” – Jeff Hawkins, University of Nike senior associate athletic director of Football Administration and Operations.


Bad habits die hard at the University of Oregon Athletic Department.

A little over a year ago, Almost DailyBrett reported about how Jeff Hawkins made the “University of Nike” pronouncement to the New York Times.

Fast forward to today and Ifo and Pintens sang a similar song to Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times.

Yes, Uncle Phil has been incredibly generous to the tune of more than $300 million and counting to the Oregon Athletic Department (e.g., impregnable Brazilian ipi wood in the 25,000-square foot weight room) and academics (e.g., Law School and Library).

The university is extremely fortunate that its most distinguished alum founded and ran Nike. He is now worth billions, and is bestowing a portion of his wealth to his alma mater. That’s great.

What is a matter of public relations concern is the intentional practice of making the Nike and Oregon brands synonymous.

Quick: Name another major university that is the brand equivalent of a Fortune 500 publicly traded company? The closest that Almost DailyBrett can even ponder is Oklahoma State and T. Boone Pickens, but of course, the former Wall Street raider is not a corporate brand.

Overcoming Geography

Even though the campus is tucked away in America’s sparsely populated cul-de-sac, these are heady days for the University of Oregon. The Ducks are No. 2 in the AP poll of football writers after dashing the notion that Oregon is “soft” with a second-half smack down of Rose Bowl champion, Michigan State. The final was Oregon 46; Michigan State 27, and in the end, it really wasn’t that close.

There is a swagger that has been building in Eugene during the last decade-plus: High tempo spread offense, cool Nike uniforms every week. Ferrari leather, Brazilian wood, and high-tech gizmos at the $68 million (it’s more than that) 145,000 square-foot Hatfield-Dowlin football complex adjacent to the friendly confines of Autzen Stadium. There are also the 10 straight over Washington with number 11 slated for October 18. Yep, it’s cool to be a Duck fan.

There is zero doubt that Nike played a significant role in the program’s success, but the story does not start or end there. The Ducks made it to the Rose Bowl in 1994 with no swooshes on their traditional uniforms and mediocre facilities. They did it with great coaching, skillful recruiting and a confident team that caught fire down the stretch. “Kenny Wheaton is going to score. Kenny Wheaton is going to score.”


Proclaiming the equivalency of Nike and Oregon sends the unfortunate and inaccurate signal that Oregon would be Oregon State or worse, Washington State, without Uncle Phil’s largesse.

The more important issue is the resulting confusion when it comes to multiple brands.

USC wears Nike jerseys, but no one mistakes the cardinal and gold, the Trojan head, the Song Girls, and Traveler the Horse with the “swoosh.”

Sergey Brin and Larry Page went to Stanford, but there is no PR effort on the Farm to tie Stanford to Google. Stanford will never be confused as a search engine with an Android operating system.

Reser Foods sponsors Oregon State’s football stadium, but no one is attempting to equate Benny Rodent with bratwurst … even though the idea has some appeal.

Think of it this way. Starbucks is Starbucks. Apple is Apple. Amazon is Amazon. Southwest is Southwest. So why does Oregon have to be Nike?

Are the brand management rocket scientists at the Athletic Department trying to be both the “O” and the “Swoosh” at the same time? And if so, what is the unifying message? Just Do It!? Or Go Ducks?

Here are even more germane questions: What does the latest in a line of interim presidents at the University of Oregon think about dueling brands on the same campus? Do they even recognize that they have a problem on their hands?

Or is it simply, the team is winning, so who cares if there is a little brand confusion?









“There you go again.” – Ronald Reagan debating Jimmy Carter in 1980

Wonder why more than a few consider “corporate social responsibility” to be an oxymoron?

Can corporations, especially publicly traded companies, serve both masters: fiduciary responsibility (do well) and CSR (do good)? It can be done, but the effort has to be sincere and meaningful.

Sorry 5-hour ENERGY®. There you go again.


First, Living Essentials (parent of 5-hour ENERGY) mounted a mucho grande marketing campaign with special pink raspberry bottles in order to make an un poquito contribution to Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC). The Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) campaign even came with a plethora of television ads and a specially decaled NASCAR racer being driven by Clint Bowyer

Now, it is time for yet another mucho grande marketing campaign with special red-white-blue bottles in order make another un poquito contribution, this one to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF). Do you think that 5-hour ENERGY just commissioned another specially marked Bowyer stock car for the occasion?

Does a bear relieve itself in the woods?

In addition, the company even sponsored a 400-mile NASCAR race in Kansas just in case you missed any of 5-hour ENERGY’s ads.

Even in-your-face syndicated radio sports jock Jim Rome got into the act, pimping for these $2.99 (today’s retail price) red-white-blue bottles of 5-hour SPEED.

And how much will be raised for the wounded vets? (Drum roll) Not less than $75,000.

Wasn’t the $75,000 minimum the same figure for when 5-hour ENERGY contributed a nickel from the sale of each $2.99 pink bottle (less than 2 percent of retail) to the breast cancer foundation?

Why is Almost DailyBrett underwhelmed?

Real Corporate Social Responsibility

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit,” – Harry Truman

Contrast the shameless 5-hour ENERGY CSR-in-disguise campaign with the synergistic relationship between Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) and Conservation International (CI) on behalf of the environment and the farmers in the Chiapas region of Mexico. This is the same case that was examined in-depth by Harvard Business Review. 

The relationship between the for-profit Starbucks and the NGO Conservation International took time to develop. Starbucks wanted to help, but it insisted on not compromising the quality of its mild Arabica coffee beans for its discerning customer base. In the end the two disparate entities teamed in setting standards for Starbucks’ coffee supply chain in the Chiapas including the planting of shade trees and no coffee pulp being thrown into the rivers.

Just imagine, Starbucks and its NGO partner, Conservation International, accomplished impressive deeds together without the need for specially marked cups or a spiffy race car.

This same is true for Ronald McDonald House Charities, including the 338 Ronald McDonald houses around the world, a direct offshoot of the fortune made by McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. Ditto of the Home Depot Foundation and its $1.5 million partnership with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for veterans.

Let’s not forget Nike founder Phil Knight’s $100 million contribution for the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), and another $125 million for the OHSU Cardiovascular Institute. There were also some celebrated “Uncle Phil” contributions to the University of Oregon and Stanford University.

And of course we need to salute the efforts of another billionaire, Bill Gates and his spouse Melinda, establishing the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. The foundation’s $38.3 billion endowment targets promoting health care and reducing extreme poverty around the world.

“Pink Washing” Close Call


Before 5-hour ENERGY got into the Think Pink act, YUM Brands’ KFC Division launched a controversial “Buckets for the Cure” campaign benefitting the Susan G. Komen Foundation.to combat breast cancer. A portion of the sale of each specially marked bucket of grilled chicken was devoted to the work of the Komen foundation.

Some have called this effort true CSR. Others have labeled it, Pink Washing. Whichever way one comes down on the “tastes great” vs. “less filling” divide, there is no question that KFC raised a reported $4.2 million to combat and find a cure for breast cancer.

There are many, who simply do not like KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) and will not see anything positive undertaken by the company. Having said that, there is a legitimate debate whether “Buckets for the Cure” was a crafty marketing campaign, a well-intentioned CSR thrust or a combination of the two. Let the Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Corporate Social Responsibility debate commence!


When it comes to 5-hour ENERGY and its guarantee of $75,000 to the wounded vets, compared to its massive marketing campaign, NASCAR race and race car, one has to make the call:

5-hour ENERGY once again stands guilty of disguising its massive for-profit marketing campaign as an attempt to help (fill-in-the-blank).

There you go again.























“We are the University of Nike. We embrace it. We tell that to our recruits,” – Jeff Hawkins, University of Nike senior associate athletic director of Football Administration and Operations.

Mr. Hawkins also told “that” to the New York Times.

Apparently, he said it on the record.

By the way, he works for the University of Oregon, not the University of Nike.

The correct brand is the “O,” not the “Swoosh.”

It’s so easy these days to get them mixed up.

This is an Almost DailyBrett blog that I wish I did not feel compelled to write…but I must.

I received my master’s degree from the University of Oregon, served as graduate teaching fellow for the University of Oregon and have contributed at least $1,000 annually to the Duck Athletic Fund since 1990…That is the University of Oregon’s Duck Athletic Fund, not the Nike Athletic Fund. I will leave the latter to Uncle Phil.

Hawkins’ quote is part of a massive New York Times piece that catalogues the excesses of the at least $68 million Football Performance Center complete with rugs woven by hand in Nepal, couches made in Italy, weight room hard wood from Brazil and fine Corinthian leather throughout…okay, there is no fine Corinthian leather…at least that is not in the NYT story.

Did the Athletic Department feel the need to provide that level of detail?

What is the PR strategy behind this public orgy of nouveau riche?

Asked about the extravagant football building, UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens used a negative: “People will complain, but this is not excessive.” Not excessive? How about: “This is appropriate for our student athletes, who give so much to the University of Oregon”?

One must wonder about the reaction of President Michael R. Gottfredson to the notion of the University of Nike? Something tells me he is not comfortable with this descriptor.

How about the university’s easily excitable faculty, particularly those that are not enamored with athletic emphasis? Will the University of Nike be thrown back in the face of university bargainers in collective bargaining agreement negotiations? I will take the over.

How about the UO development folks, who are trying their best to convince donors that the university really needs financial assistance, both academically and athletically?

And what about the students, who are not athletes? Are they students or employees?

Is the University of Oregon the equivalent of a publicly traded, multi-national athletic apparel company?

Does the University of Oregon have its own ticker symbol: (NYSE: NKE)?

Can we tune into CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg etc. every trading day to see how the stock is performing?

For history buffs, the University of Oregon was founded in 1876. Since then the University of Oregon has served as the premier liberal arts oriented public research university flagship of the Oregon University System.


Conversely, Nike came into being in its first iteration in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports and 14 years later as Nike.

Think of it another way, the University of Oregon existed for more than a century before Nike was officially born. The university’s football team with UOs on the helmets (and no Swoosh to be found on the uniforms) actually made it to the Rose Bowl in 1994 before Phil Knight dug into his legendary deep pocket.

Don’t get me wrong, we should all be grateful for the generosity of Phil and Penny Knight, but the brand is and will always be, the University of Oregon.

Former UCLA head coach (and former UO offensive coordinator) Bob Toledo once said that Oregon had the best “team owner” in the then Pac-10 conference.

As an alum and an über-successful businessman, Knight, has given and given to his two alma maters, the University of Oregon (undergraduate) and Stanford University (post-graduate).

I trust that no spokesperson, academic or athletic, would ever label Stanford, the University of Nike. Even though, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page both received graduate degrees from Stanford, there is no movement for the The Farm to be recast as the University of Google.

If University of Oregon football coaches want to celebrate the university’s connection to Nike in recruiting young studs with fast 40 times, Just Do It.

Telling the New York Times or any other media that UO is now the University of Nike is simply not smart.

If it was true, the band would be playing Mighty Nike as opposed to Mighty Oregon on game days.








The University of Oregon dodged a bullet.

The NCAA fired a shot across the bow.

The NCAA slapped the Ducks on the wrist.

What other metaphors seem appropriate just days after the not-as-big-as-we-initially-thought judgment day?

Is the coast clear for the University of Oregon?

That one is easy, no.

Teaching upper-division public relations at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and preparing client presentations during my days with Edelman Public Relations and LSI Logic, I became intimate with SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

UO leaders, whether they are university types at Johnson Hall or jock types at the Casanova Center, all know the exhilaration of being shot at and missed (another metaphor). Is this a time to celebrate? Or as the Independence Day holidays near, should the academic and athletic types use this welcome respite to reflect and ponder?

The next time, the university may not be so lucky.

Some imply that Uncle Phil’s money solves all problems. When something sounds so simple and frankly too good to be true, you know that is exactly the case.

First and foremost, the university must provide access to all worthy students and it must offer a quality education to all who walk through its gates. There are nearly 25,000 students that need to be educated in the best way possible at the lowest possible cost. Pac-12 titles, BCS Bowl wins and Sweet 16s are nice and provide onus to Oregon’s brand of success, but that is not the university’s primary purpose.

Taking all of these factors into account, how can Oregon totally restore its image for integrity, overcome previous charges of “mediocrity,” and most of all build upon its reputation, enhance its brand and give more charge to its cachet? That’s a tall order and that’s where a SWOT comes into play.

Oregon Strengths

● When considering the strengths of the University of Oregon, some will automatically think of the “O,” and will immediately tie it to the Nike “Swoosh.” Yes, Phil Knight is easily Oregon’s most famous alum, but he is not the only former undergraduate student who matriculated in Eugene.

Here are some other strengths: the relatively new President Michael R. Gottfredson, a breath of fresh air after his combative predecessor. The university boasts strong professional schools, including Architecture and Allied Arts, Business, Education, Law and my favorite, Journalism and Communication, and is widely regarded as a center for research and innovation.allen1

The university and the Eugene community are universally seen as leaders in sustainable environmental management and a healthy place to live. Eugene is a quality-of-life play … people want to reside here regardless of the temperate and temperamental climate.

Oregon Weaknesses

● When it comes to weaknesses, the comments made by former (read: fired) President Richard Lariviere and amplified by a frustrated Phil Knight about Oregon pursuing a path to “mediocrity” still hurt.

Oregon is located in America’s cul-de-sac, out-of-sight, out-of-mind of those who reside particularly in God’s Time Zone (e.g., EDT, EST). Geography and a small population will always be a factor. The State of Oregon has dropped its annual support to the university to about 5 percent of the university’s total budget, receiving $44 million in university generated revenues, and simply giving about the same amount back to UO. As a consequence, tuition is going up again, this time 5.8 percent, and the faculty has unionized. They are demanding a first-ever Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) … lovely.

Oregon Opportunities

● Surveying UO’s opportunities there is the continual upgrading of Oregon’s academic reputation (frosh numbers and GPAs are increasing) and enhancing athletic excellence. The university is looking north about 60 miles to Salem to see if the legislators will pass SB 270 (Haas, D-Beaverton) that would give UO its own institutional governing board.

The trick here is to convince the capitol movers-and shakers of the obvious: The University of Oregon is the state’s flagship university without spooking Southern Oregon University, Eastern Oregon University and Oregon Tech. We love you too.

If Salem is providing less-and-less, then it stands to reason to allow Oregon to have more of a say about how it will fund itself and build upon its impressive physical plant to better serve and meet the needs of its students.

Oregon Threats

● And what are the threats that keep the folks in Johnson Hall and the Casanova Center respectively up at night? The NCAA was one of them, and that monster has not totally gone away…it is merely taking a cat nap.


Assuming the completion of an initial CBA, who will be the winner and who will be the loser? If the CBA negotiations are handled correctly on both sides – the university and United Academics – will be able to each legitimately declare victory. The university’s finances will pencil out and the academics will do what they do best: research and teach (in that order).

This successful scenario will avoid a faculty “action” and hopefully will reduce the upward pressure on student tuition, easing the hit on family pocketbooks and escalating student loan amounts.

There is also the perception threat: Uncle Phil will always come to the rescue. He is 75 and needs to dispense with $14.4 billion. Why not more for UO?

One suspects there will be more from Phil Knight…both athletically and academically … and the university will be thankful and humble. That does not remove either the challenges or the issues and the threats that need to be met and addressed. There are also tremendous opportunities as well.

It’s time to damn the torpedoes (another metaphor).



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