Tag Archive: Rob Mullens


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/

 

 

Damning with Negatives

I am not a crook.” – Richard Nixon.

Watergate.

I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” – Bill Clinton.

Monica Lewinsky.

People will complain, but this is not excessive.” University of Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens about the school’s over-the-top $68 million (at least) football building.

Ferrari Leather.

She’s not out of touch.” – Bill Clinton defending Hillary’s “dead broke” comments.

Hillary’s more than $200,000 per speech; $5 million New York home and more, much more.

hillarysawyer

What possesses some of the best-and-the-brightest to essentially confirm an allegation with a poorly conceived negative response, some of which become eternally enshrined? The same applies with those who use negative statements to try to overturn a mistatement or worse, a damaging gaffe.

Aren’t there more positive ways to deflect charges, clearing the way for a candidate, office holder or organization to move on, avoid less-than-pleasant headlines, and better yet, allow an incident to pass into history (if that is indeed possible)?

“When did you stop beating your wife?”

Reporter: “Would you say that (insert pejorative word)…”

Think of it this way: A reporter, editor, correspondent just handed you a rope and gave you the opportunity to hang yourself and by extension your employer.  As a former gubernatorial press secretary for eight years and corporate spokesman for a decade, the author of Almost DailyBrett is wise to the majority of the tricks employed by the less than scrupulous members of the Fourth Estate.

Reporter thinking: ‘Hmmm…let’s see if I can build a lead and related headline by coaxing an incendiary quote?’

Is Almost DailyBrett accusing the certain members of the media (and they know who they are) of trying to bait flacks and by extension their clients with inflammatory words in this discussion? The answer based upon oodles of experience is an unqualified, “yes.”

reporters

There are two iron-clad rules that one immediately learns from media training:

1.)   Always have an agenda. Know and rehearse your message points and what headlines you want to attempt to create before you talk to the ladies and gents of the media (both legacy and digital native media).

2.)   Never, ever let reporters, editors, correspondents, bloggers et al. put words in your mouth. Deliver your message the way it is intended whether the media representative likes it or not. If the same question is rephrased with the same incendiary or similar word or words, duck the offer and come back with an answer based upon your agenda. If the media rep becomes upset, so be it. Most likely, this will not be your first fight with a reporter.

Self-Inflicted Wounds 

Watergate finally caught up with Nixon, prompting him to read the obvious writing on the wall and become the first president to resign in disgrace. His legacy also includes the aforementioned, “I am not a crook” statement.

Almost DailyBrett will not add to the plethora of commentary about the Monica Lewinsky affair other than to contend that Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” is close to top of mind when it comes to contemplating the former president, eternally impacting his personal brand.

monicabill

Benghazi was expected to be the tough subject for Hillary’s Hard Choices book tour. Instead it was her comment to ABC’s Diane Sawyer about how the Clintons were “dead broke” and “struggled” financially when they left the White House in 2001.

This comment set off the media digging to find out just how “broke” the Clintons actually were including $106 million for Bill, $200,000 a speech for Hillary and $600,000 a year for Chelsea from the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. 

Bill subsequently kept the story going … yes this story does have legs … with his “she is not out of touch” comment. How about just saying the critics are wrong, and detail how Hillary understands the needs of middle and lower-class Americans trying to make ends meet?

That’s a positive response.

Bill’s, she is “Not-Out-of-Touch” explanation triggered a response from Hillary: “My husband was very sweet … but I don’t need anybody to defend my record.”

This story seemingly does not want to die. It has overshadowed the Hillary triumphant book tour, and it was egged on by inartful comments by both Clinton spouses, and a delighted media.

The lessons here are to remain on message. Stay with your preconceived agenda. If a slip does occur … flacks, politicians, executives etc are all human … don’t compound the gaffe with a defensive negative response.

The answer here is to stay positive, eschew any negatives particularly those force-fed by the media, and maybe even flash a winning smile. The net result may be a story that heads to the ash heap of history as opposed to a quote that becomes one for the ages.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hillary-clinton-draws-criticism-at-opening-of-book-tour-by-saying-she-was-dead-broke/2014/06/10/c376ceaa-f0b7-11e3-914c-1fbd0614e2d4_story.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/06/24/bill-clinton-says-hillary-is-not-out-of-touch/?wpisrc=nl_pmpol

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/some-democrats-fear-clintons-wealth-and-imperial-image-could-be-damaging-in-2016/2014/06/22/526746e6-f7eb-11e3-a3a5-42be35962a52_story.html

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/hillary-clinton-bill-clinton-defense-108292.html

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2014/06/hillary-clinton-stumbles-from-dead-broke-to-not-truly-well-off/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-the-clintons-went-from-dead-broke-to-rich-bill-earned-1049-million-for-speeches/2014/06/26/8fa0b372-fd3a-11e3-8176-f2c941cf35f1_story.html?wpisrc=nl%5Fhdtop

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/university-of-nike/

 

 

oregonfootballbuilding

“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.

deady

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.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/03/sports/ncaafootball/oregon-football-complex-is-glittering-monument-to-ducks-ambitions.html?_r=0

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nike,_Inc.

http://www.uoregon.edu

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

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

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joseph-lowndes/fighting-for-public-educa_b_3924676.html

Ducks to Represent Huskies in Pac-12

Seattle, WA, April 1, 2013/PR Newswire/The University of Washington and the University of Oregon have completed a preliminary memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreement calling for the University of Washington to outsource its Athletic Department teams to the University of Oregon.

Under the terms of the agreement, which takes effect immediately, all overlapping University of Washington sports, including football and men’s basketball, will be transferred to the administration and coaching provided by the University of Oregon. The exceptions are men’s and women’s crew and women’s gymnastics teams, which will still compete under the banner of the University of Washington in the Pac-12 Conference.

husky

The Athletic MOU follows on the heels of a similar academic pact between the two Northwest universities in which the University of Washington outsourced the teaching and research of business administration, architecture and allied arts, law, and journalism and communication to the respective professional programs offered by the University of Oregon.

Speaking at a joint news conference today at the University of Washington campus, Washington Athletic Director Scott Woodward saluted the University of Oregon for its protracted dominance in athletics, particularly the Ducks nine-game winning streak over Washington in football and its three-game sweeps in both men’s basketball and beisboll.

“The ‘Washington Way’ has become the ‘Oregon Way,’” said Woodward. “We have competed to the best of our natural abilities, but there comes a time when you have to accept reality: Oregon is a consistently better program in the Pacific Northwest. I am calling upon all Washington students, alumni, Tyee Club members and fans in the Seattle metropolitan area to become lifelong supporters of the Oregon Ducks.”

Woodward announced that Tyee Club donations will be transferred to the Duck Athletic Fund and that a Duck Store outlet will be established on the University of Washington campus to sell Nike Duck gear in emerald green, yellow, black and gray to support UW’s new teams. “Mighty Oregon” will replace “Bow Wow Washington” as the official fight song for the University of Washington.

The Washington Athletic Director acknowledged that other uses will have to be found for Husky Stadium on Lake Washington and Alaska Airlines Arena to justify their recent $250 million+ upgrades. Benefit concerts featuring Justin Bieber, Barry Manilow and Donnie and Marie Osmond will be held as Husky Stadium this summer (dates TBD) to celebrate the strategic athletic outsourcing agreement.

Woodward said that the University of Oregon Athletic Department agreed as part of the MOU to seriously consider outgoing UW Football Coach Steve Sarkisian and UW Basketball Coach Lorenzo Romar and their respective staffs for future coaching, administrative and facilities vacancies at the University of Oregon Athletic Department.

“We appreciate this a very difficult day for the University of Washington administration, the UW Athletic Department, the Tyee Club members, alums, students and fans,” said University of Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens. “The University of Washington administration deserves credit for having the courage to initially approach the University of Oregon about the possibility of an athletic outsourcing agreement. We are humbled by the realization that we are representing two universities in Pac-12 play.”

Mullens said a portion of the transferred Tyee Fund donations will be used to expand the 54,000-seat Autzen Stadium to accommodate University of Washington students at the enhanced student section at University of Oregon home games. University of Washington football season ticket holders will have limited opportunities to buy seats at an enlarged Autzen Stadium.

autzen1

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the University of Washington will retain its membership in the Pac-12 conference as an “emeritus” university. Scott said he is open to the possibility of Oregon State University and Washington State University entering into similar MOUs with the University of Oregon resulting in the entire Pacific Northwest being represented on fields and courts by University of Oregon student athletes. Scott confirmed that Portland State University will be considered as a replacement conference member for the “emeritus” University of Washington.

Scott said the Oregon Ducks represented both the University of Oregon and University of Washington student bodies and respective university families in their Sweet 16 matchup against Louisville last Friday in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Safe Harbor Statement: This preliminary strategic Athletic Department Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between the University of Washington and the University of Oregon is effective and duly constituted upon the playing of the “Sweet 16” game between the University of Oregon and the University of Louisville on March 29, 2013. All University of Washington athletic records with the exception of the men’s and women’s crew teams and the women’s gymnastics team will remain the official records of the University of Washington Athletic Department. They will be housed in the University of Washington Athletics Museum in which Washington fans can remember the days in which UW actually  fielded its own sports teams. A final Memoranda of Understanding will be consummated between the University of Washington and the University of Oregon later this calendar year. A corresponding MOU between the University of Washington and the Pacific-12 Conference designating an “emeritus” status for the University of Washington Athletic Department is expected to be signed in the next 90 days. None of the stipulations stated above should be constituted as a guarantee by the University of Washington administration or its agents.

About the University of Washington

Founded in 1861 by a private gift of 10 acres in what is now the heart of downtown Seattle, the UW is one of the oldest public universities on the West Coast. We’re deeply committed to upholding the responsibility that comes with that legacy. And being public has always meant being accessible. Anyone can enjoy and be enriched by all the UW has to offer, including world-class libraries, art, music, drama, sports and the highest quality medical care in Washington state. Being public also means being engaged with our communities, and through knowledge and discovery we are elevating the quality of lives of others. http://www.washington.edu/discover/

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon, founded in 1876, is the state’s flagship institution. Located in Eugene, an energetic college town, the university offers academic excellence and hands-on learning opportunities in a welcoming atmosphere. Towering trees shade the 295-acre campus, where students, faculty members, and employees from a wide variety of backgrounds share a commitment to preserving the environment and pursuing innovation in more than 260 academic programs that range from Eugene to Portland and from the coast to the mountains. http://uoregon.edu/about

http://espn.go.com/blog/pac12/post/_/id/54990/oregon-wins-this-pac-12-title

http://www.gohuskies.com/

http://www.goducks.com/

The number three-ranked Oregon Ducks begin practice tomorrow with a big-time, storm-cloud hanging over the program.

It is the prospect of some kind of NCAA penalty (ranging from the proverbial wrist slap to something much more substantial) arising from a $25,000 payment to “recruiting services” guru/ “street agent”/stud athlete “mentor” Willie Lyles of Houston, Texas.

Under the advice of the department’s hired legal gun, sports attorney Mike “The Cleaner” Glazier of the Collegiate Sports Practice Group of Bond, Schoeneck & King, Head Coach Chip Kelly and/or Athletic Director Rob Mullens will deliberately be both cautious and boring with the media when asked about Lyles. Why unintentionally resurrect the incident, when a more interesting competing story is at hand…the commencement of fall practice and the preparation for the nationally televised opener Sept. 3 against LSU?

Kelly as expected tomorrow will mumble something about allowing Glazier’s internal probe of the le affaire Lyles while continuing to cooperate with the NCAA. This is a textbook public relations punt formation.

But is there another course that Oregon can take that may even win the approval of legal counsel and at the same time improve the program’s reputation and brand?

How about being on the side of working with the NCAA on legislation that essentially curtails so-called “street agents” that are trying to ultimately make big bucks off high-school football prodigies? Isn’t this another way of cooperating with the NCAA? Instead of being seen as being part of the problem, why doesn’t Oregon become part of the solution?

Former President Bill Clinton confounded his Republican critics in the wake of charges that he illegally raised campaign funds for both himself and the Democratic National Committee from the Oval Office. After the allegations were made, he quickly pivoted and became a champion of “campaign finance reform.” Some offered the metaphor of Al Capone opposing bank robbing after he was caught red-handed to describe Clinton’s actions. Nonetheless, Clinton offered a solution to the issue and took political steam away from his critics.

In no way in offering this aside am I comparing the Oregon Athletic Department to the Clinton administration. What I am saying is that street agents are a clear-and-present danger to the integrity of high school and college football. It all arises from gobs and gobs of guaranteed millions being thrown at NFL rookies (regardless of the recently adopted Collective Bargaining Agreement).

It certainly has not escaped the attention of these youth “mentors” the size of the bank accounts of Leigh Steinberg, Scott Boras and other mega agents in professional sports. Ten percent or more of multi-million contracts is 10 percent or more of multi-million contracts. As Cuba Gooding Jr. made his agent Tom Cruise repeatedly recite in Jerry Maguire: “Show Me the Money.”

And if a “mentor” running a “recruiting service” can befriend a precocious super stud at a young age in making a decision regarding a big name college program?…That potentially leads to a successful collegiate career…Might that grateful student-athlete then turn to this “friend” as his agent when it comes time to sign a multi-year contract and related athletic shoe endorsement deal? Can you say: “Ka-Ching?”

The issue of real agents, street agents, mentors, recruiting services, seven-on-seven sponsors, football and basketball camp coordinators or whatever the cute names for the services these individuals offer, the issue is here and now before the NCAA. Oregon and by extension LSU and Cal (which also have engaged in business relationships with Lyles…and most likely others) has specialized knowledge. Can this unique insight be put to work without endangering an institution’s legal position with the NCAA?

Obviously, Oregon needs to protect itself in proceedings undertaken by the NCAA and Pac-12 conference. That is why “The Cleaner” and his firm were hired. Having acknowledged that, the Oregon Athletic Department can be a force for good. It should be working…cooperating with the NCAA in severely restricting the access of these leaches to immature and impressionable young men. They are not in the position of deciding who should represent them as a professional agent at 17-years of age.

The NCAA should pass tough legislation directly aimed at these individuals that prey on young athletes for their own long-term gain. The member schools have a direct interest in curbing this obvious abuse that is only going to get worse if it continues unchecked. Besides cooperating with the NCAA’s request for information about Lyles, Oregon (and presumably others) should work with the NCAA to resolve this problem.

It is not only good public relations with the NCAA and the general public; it is the right thing to do as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaiSHcHM0PA

http://www2.registerguard.com/cms/index.php/duck-football/comments/report-seastrunks-family-suggests-little-influence-from-lyles-in-recruiting/

http://oregon.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1248695

http://www.oregonlive.com/ducks/index.ssf/2011/08/oregon_ducks_rundown_sunday_mo.html

http://articles.cnn.com/1997-09-29/politics/poll_1_clinton-and-gore-gops-republicans?_s=PM:ALLPOLITICS

http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/1997/gen/resources/infocus/reform/index0.html

 

…when the circle-the-wagons strategy clearly is not working and your reputation and brand equity are in serious jeopardy. What are the golden rules for Crisis Communications? Tell the truth. Tell it all. Tell it fast. And say what you are going to do about it…And most of all: Don’t even think about covering it up.

As a 21-year University of Oregon football season ticket holder, a member of the Duck Athletic Fund for just as many years and now as a Graduate Teaching Fellow, pursuing a master’s degree from the UO School of Journalism and Communication, I am not exactly an unbiased and dispassionate commentator. Let’s face it: I bleed emerald-green and lemon-yellow or whatever combination of hues the Ducks are wearing sporting the Nike logo on a given Saturday…or Thursday, Friday etc.

At the same time, I have also been engaged in some very serious crisis comms activities during the course of my three-decade career in public relations most notably California’s response to the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake in San Francisco. I have dealt with more-than-my-fair share of chanting demonstrators, taunting political hacks, screaming reporters and editors to last a lifetime.

Now that I have made this necessary disclosure, I have to admit that these stories about Oregon and its relationship with Texas high-school football stud “mentor” Willie Lyles are very difficult to read particularly as both a passionate Oregon fan and as a communications choreographer.

The story of Oregon’s $25,000 payment to Lyles for recruiting services (some allege illegal contact with intensely recruited running backs LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk) refuses to settle down. It’s time to make the call: This story has legs and the submerged submarine strategy is not working, and will not work.

It was revealed last week that the Oregon Athletic Department hired renowned sports attorney Mike Glazier, otherwise known as the “Cleaner.” He and his firm, the Collegiate Sports Practice Group of Bond, Schoeneck & King, have reportedly counseled Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Florida, Missouri, Minnesota and others in dealing with NCAA investigations and probes. Oregon is paying big billable hours in the face of the Willie Lyles caper.

And obviously if you are paying that kind of money to someone who knows something about the NCAA, it makes sense to listen to him and his colleagues. Having said that, the typical advice from attorneys is usually to shut down all public communications. After all, the NCAA and Pac-12 will ultimately decide Oregon’s fate, even if the university later decides to self-impose penalties. And for a while that strategy appeared to be working. If Oregon Sports Information Director Dave Williford has nothing new to say, the story gets boring. And if the story gets duller by the minute the media goes elsewhere for news.

That changed today with the publication by Yahoo Sports of its interview with Lyles, complete with personal notes to Lyles from Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly. Lyles is contending that Oregon frantically was asking for recruiting information…any information…to justify the payment for recruiting services…not for assistance in landing four-and-five star players.

The time has come for a change in strategy and the attorney will most likely counsel to the contrary. The highly compensated cleaner and his colleagues should have their say and be part of the process, but this story is not going away. If Oregon does not talk, others will continue to talk. Oregon’s reputation and brand are in play in this social media world just like equities on the NYSE and NASDAQ and they are going downward to the right. Sometimes you reach a point when the reputation damage is permanent. Oregon is not there…yet.

The public needs to see University of Oregon President Richard Lariviere, Athletic Director Rob Mullens and Coach Kelly together on the same stage. Oregon should not be hasty in making them available, but the appearance should be sooner-as-opposed to later. They should be well prepared including “hot box” sessions with very difficult questions posed in preparation. Kelly in particular needs to be coached (coaching the Coach?) to drop the smart-aleck one-liners and to provide complete answers to these questions. This is not a sideline interview with Erin Andrews.

If the truth is that Oregon paid Lyles to deliver Seastrunk and/or James or others, the university should own up to it. Don’t even think about following in the failed cover-up footsteps of Anthony Weiner, John Edwards or Arnold Schwarzenegger…the truth will win out.

If the truth is Oregon behaved properly but has an Autzen Stadium-sized perception problem, the Big Three should calmly and carefully walk the reporters, editors, and bloggers through their side of the story. We really have not heard Oregon’s side of the story, just Nixonian blanket statements that the department has not done anything wrong.

No one wants the media to drive the story and set the agenda. That may be true, but in this case the blood is already in the water and the hungry sharks are circling. There is nothing else really happening in college football in July and this is a big story.

And it is made bigger by blogging, podcasting, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the literally the millions of computers tied together by zillions of miles of fiber-optic cable.

As Mike Riley, the head coach of Oregon’s rival about 40 miles up the road from Eugene said recently about the loss of control in this new world of social media:

“I tell our players all the time, ‘As soon as you start going down the wrong track and you start doing something wrong, the clock starts ticking until the day you are caught, because it’s going to happen’…”In our world today, you think it’s not going to be found out eventually?” Oregon State Football Coach Mike Riley

Coach Riley’s words don’t just apply to football players.

 

 

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