In the last 20 years few college football teams have gone through the change visualize below. Oregon is one of them.
HOW DID OREGON DO IT?… And… HOW CAN THEY KEEP IT GOING?…
1. COACHING LEADERSHIP >> Recruiting & Game Strategy:
Coaches put endless hours into recruiting, and rightly so. The best guys are the most important raw ingredient to start with. But a head coach manages all aspect of the game and one of the most critical, again to refer to Jim Collins, is getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats. It all takes a lot of collaboration among coaches and players with “team success” taking presidence over individual agendas.
But the next question is: Where is the bus going and how will it get there? A unified game strategy that fits the players’ unique talents allows the coaching staff to work smarter, not just harder. Here’s an illustration: To better utilize the speed of QB’s Kellen Clemens and Jason Fife, Coach Bellotti wanted to change to a no-huddle, spread offense as early as 2003 but he just couldn’t get the other coaches fired up about it and the Ducks suffered it’s only losing season under Bellotti, 5-6 in 2004.
Finally, to take advantage of QB Dennis Dixon’s dual threat, in 2005 he made a full commitment to it and brought in Gary Crowton as offensive coach but he had limited success moved on after a disappointing season and crushing defeat in the 2006 Las Vegas. What took place after this bowl defeat was a little known team intervention led by Bellotti. There for his first team meeting was Chip Kelly, his perfect candidate to implement a fast-pace, no huddle spread-option offense. (For more details, click here.) Coach Kelly ended up being arguably the most innovative coach in the country with a four-year 46-7 record to show for it. With coach Kelly came a new mantra, Win The Day!
2. PLAYER LEADERSHIP >> Talented Athletes become a Unified Team:
A couple of rating organizations give high school football athletes a 1 to 5 star rating. This means something, but how much? Marcus Mariota was a 3-star rated high school player. Looks like somebody missed something! But Coach Helfrich, then offensive coach, didn’t miss Marcus’ potential. Even though he went to his high school to watch another player, it was Marcus that he came away impressed by… and the rest is history.
Raw talent–speed, strength, game intelligence, is well, raw. How coaches and team members forge a TEAM makes all the difference as well as the CULTURE they build and develop for young players. Those who put aside self, for the greater good, have the potential to become something special. Jim Collins says the two paradoxical qualities of Level-5 leadership are 1) an iron will and 2) personal humility–“I want the team to succeed more than me and will do what I can to that end.” It’s that second quality that is often not valued or lacking and yet so necessary for a good team to become a great one. So, which have been Oregon’s greatest teams. Here’s one person’s opinion.
And who’s the best player? Well #1 is not hard to agree on, although here’s a list from someone who thinks Marcus may have some competition. Here’s the top #100 as rated by fans. Current fans, however, don’t have a memory that stretches back more than a couple of decades (like for QB and punting legend Norm Van Broklin), so here’s yet another ranking.
3. SUPPORTIVE LEADERSHIP >> Administration, Key Donors and Fans:
See: The Right-Hand Column
While Oregon stumbled or more like collasped in the 2016 season the coaching staff and pieces are back in place to return the Ducks on their Good-to-GREAT ways.