Oregon Magazine

Pigskin Pete
Whew! UO's Chip Kelly
Makes Correct Decision

 by Fred Delkin

       Duck coach Chip Kelly cited "unfinished business" as a reason for spurning the Tampa Bay NFL coaching offer.  That can only mean that Kelly is focused upon bringing a national title to Eugene.  He's already accomplished everything else that even the most rabid Webfoot fan could fantasize.  He knows his 2012 squad is loaded with talent and faces a relatively easy schedule: 

(3 straight 'gimmes' @ Autzen vs. Arkansas St., a fading Fresno St. & Tennessee Tech to open the season).  The tough ones for the Ducks are rNovember road games at USC and Cal.

Consider the Webfoottalent situation:  only 9 performers of note are gone (7 seniors + NFL escapees Darron Thomas & LaMichael James.  Returnees are legion.  Quarterback gets Brian Bennett back as a better runner in the spread option than Thomas, as he showed in 2011 appearances...and he faces a true challenge from redshirt frosh signal-caller Marcus Mariota (6-4, 200-pounder  from Hawaii who sparkled in scrimmages this past season).  James will be succeeded by speed burner Kenyon Barner and the burly (230 lbs.) Tra Carson, who shone well as a 2011 powerback.  Then there's the versatile DeAnthony Thomas to light up the scoreboard as a kick returner, wide receiver and superbly elusive running back from scrimmage.  

Receivers?  The Ducks had highly touted wide receiver recruits that couldn't crack the veteran ranks in 2011, and returning frosh sensation Colt Lyerla is capable of earning all-conference honors at tight end.  Defense?  Rose Bowl defensive MVP Kiki Alonso is back, as is the scourge of opposing QB's, defensive end Dion Jordan.  The DB ranks began 2011 as green and a potential squad weakness, but they ended as a strength that returns in numbers.  The Webfoot ranks up front, both OL & DL, are a possible problem, but have been a focus of current Duck recruiting efforts, and we doubt that any team outside either USC or leviathans from the SEC conference will rival UO here.  

It is no wonder that Chip Kelly declined what must have been a very lucrative offer to coach in the NFL!  Those Tampa Bay owners failed to carry the clout wielded by Phil Knight, whose Nike-spawned dollars have made lil' ol' Oregon a national athletic power, with facilities second to none in Division 1.  Just consider what recruiting ammunition the Ducks carry into any prep star's living room!  

ROSES & RASPBERRIES---while we're tossing bouquets, an Oregon basketball team unexpectedly tied for first in the Pac12 deserves a floral salute...no such honors can be extended toanyone doubting that the almighty dollar is the deciding factor in televised sporting matches, as the old Pac10 conference realized when that TV messiah Larry Scott came forth with two additional conference members, Utah & Colorado, providing increased  major market revenue and unprecedented televised  coverage for all...and, still, campus live attendance ticket revenue is not threatened. 

© 2012 Oregon Magazine