Why the Oregon job is overrated

Why the Oregon job is overrated

zz Duck Stops Here

Why the Oregon job is overrated

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It’s been linked to death, but he’s dead wrong about Oregon and others:  Friday Andy Staples of si.com ran a list of ” the top ten coaching jobs in the country.”  Here’s his list:

  1. Texas
  2. Ohio State
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Florida
  5. Georgia
  6. LSU
  7. Alabama
  8. Penn State
  9. Auburn
  10. Oregon

Texas makes sense at number one, but Ohio State makes none at number two.  The Buckeyes are facing major NCAA penalties.  While there’s plenty of in-state talent in Ohio, the speed guys it takes to compete nationally are found predominately in California, Texas and Florida.  Increasingly, these players gravitate to warm-weather schools.  With the likely setback of vacated wins, a three-year bowl ban and loss of scholarships, it will take Ohio State much longer to recover than Miami and Alabama did before them.

Win a national championship at a true top ten program, get a statue that looks nothing like you.

At number five, Georgia is, as Staples points out, a school with a strong fan base, an iconic stadium and good revenue streams, but they don’t have quite the tradition of some of the other schools on this list. with a lifetime winning percentage of .647, one national championship in the last 40 years, one Heisman trophy winner in the last 60.  More than Oregon, certainly, but not appreciably ahead of SEC rivals LSU, Alabama, Florida, Auburn or even Tennessee.

If this is a ranking of jobs, rather than programs, Penn State shouldn’t make the top ten.  Following JoePa will be thankless, and the plain white helmets and black shoes don’t have the appeal to elite prospects they once did.  The recruiting base in the rust belt has deteriorated appreciably over the last twenty years.  The Nittany Lions used to get tough kids from the steel and coal  towns, but those towns have died around closing mills, and Pennsylvania high school football is not the rich hotbed it once was when it produced Mike Ditka, Joe Namath, Tony Dorsett and Joe Montana.

But the most glaring inclusion is the Oregon Ducks.

That I love the Ducks should be obvious, but Oregon is not a top ten job.  It may appear to be one as long as Chip Kelly is here, but it isn’t.  Oregon’s national success is a fluke, a one-off, a shell game of perfect promotion, temporary innovation and the convergence of several factors.  It remains a top ten job only as long as Chip Kelly is here to coach and Phil Knight is writing the checks. 

The Ducks have no natural recruiting base; the state barely produces three 1A prospects a year.  The stadium, by top ten standards, while lovely and loud, is tiny at 54,000 and standing room.  The donor base is too narrow; when Phil dies or retires, there isn’t the broad foundation of boosters and donors to keep the program at the top.  Add the lingering cloud of a potential NCAA crackdown, and the Ducks simply don’t belong on this list.  Despite the flair of Nike marketing and the electric sexiness of the high-powered offense, there isn’t the history or tradition to make this a sought-after job.  Oregon’s uniform and design edge is shrinking; Nike introduced Pro Combat looks for a dozen schools last year.  Arizona State and Boise and others have adopted uniform redesigns and multiple looks to close the fashion gap.  The Ducks are no longer unique in that respect, just often imitated.

The Oregon climate and the distance from home are huge deducts for recruits; they’ve been able to overcome these in the last few years with aggressive national recruiting and a hip image.  Eugene is a beautiful, wonderful town, but it will be hard, long-term, to sell college kids from warm weather states on 200 days of rain.

Kelly’s innovative offense and practice methods will keep the Ducks ahead of the pack for another three-to-five years, provided he stays to oversee them.  For the next guy, this isn’t a top ten job.  Sadly, the success Kelly has had here will be hard to duplicate or sustain without him.

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