A Downside to Oregon Recruiting Nationally?

Over the past few years, Oregon football has been semi-successful in taking the program to the national stage.  In that time, the recruiting focus has turned to the elite prospects from every corner of the country.  In the past few weeks, Oregon has received 2011 verbal commitments from players in Arizona,  Florida, and Texas.

While the future contributions of these players are still unknown, it is very evident that Oregon is slowly turning away from the goldmine of California, and the hidden gems of the Northwest.  The time is perfect for Oregon to focus on southern California with the potential demise of USC, the inconsistency of UCLA, and the rising attention given to Oregon football.

In counterpoint, recently the Ducks have landed Oregonians Curtis White, Keanan Lowe and Tyson Coleman. With the return of prominence by Cal and the Huskies, the Ducks have missed out on some of the recent talent in the state of Washington and northern California.

The shift of recruiting attention is due to the confident attitude of Chip Kelly.  A New England transplant, Kelly is great for the program. He brings optimism, a swagger, and a fast thinking mentality that is certainly in the minority for Eugene.  Former coach Mike Bellotti held extensive ties to California, carried a quite calmness, and raised his family in the Eugene area.  Contrasting in character and goals of a program, neither coach can be criticized for the personalities they brought to the program.

While the talent level may be rising, the connection between players and the community are growing apart.  Eugene is the epitome of a Northwest stereotype city; a liberal young core surrounded by conservative outlying areas sharing an interest in the outdoors, culture, and stress-free living.

The football programs goal of becoming the most modern, attractive, talented team in the country is a far cry from the views of the Eugene community.

As the program has gained respectability, the support of a bandwagon fan base has shifted from connecting with the athletes to a “win at any cost mentality”.  The die-hard fan can only see talent and victories, but your average Oregon football follower places an equal amount of emphasis on the perception, and maturity of the student athlete.

The college personalities that fit well in Eugene, usually hail from Oregon, Washington, California, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Colorado, and Wyoming.  Recently Duck coaches have brought in high profile recruits from Texas, Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona that have never experienced anything quite like Eugene.  In some cases the fit is perfect, for others the transistion never takes place.

Many Oregon alums have enjoyed the community enought to make Eugene their home. Reggie Jordan, Rich Ruhl, Dino Philyaw and countless others have embraced the personalities of the southern Willamette Valley.

A joke for years, there is great reason behind the saying “The University of California in Eugene”.  Every year an abundance of non-athletic California teenagers move up north to become Ducks.  The foundation of modern Oregon football was built using California recruits sprinkled with a few from Oregon, Washington, Utah, Arizona, Hawaii and Colorado.

There has been success recruiting at the national level for the Ducks.  Florida native LaGarrette Blount for a season, Blair Phillips as a senior, LaMichael James as a freshman, and current Buffalo Bill Jairus Byrd.

Oregon fans can’t forget the disappointments of four star recruit Ryan Gillham from Florida, the dismissed Garrett Embry, the departed Chris Harper, current Montana Griz Justin Roper, and the ineligible Tyrece Gaines.

Think of the lost time and energy given to the rejections of Bryce Brown, Terrelle Pryor, Dominique Easley, and Tajh Boyd over the past few years?  All these pursuits simply gave Oregon fans a false sense of finally becoming a national powerhouse program.

Once again, this program was built over the past fifteen years on West Coast recruits. West coast student athletes have always been the major connection between the fans and players.

The only true downside of recruiting nationally is the potential to lose a communities connection with the football program, and not to mention the lost time and effort from pursuing these national recruits.

Failing to not mention the other side of the argument would be unfair.  West coast recruits have been disappointments, many have transfered, been suspended, and gave the program negative media and community attention.

Most prep athletes east of the Rockies have only took notice of Oregon football over the past few years.  In contrast, West coast recruits grow up in Pac-10 country, and haveviewed the Ducks as a respected program for over a decade.

When Oregon lands these players from the likes of the Midwest, South and East, they are adjusting to college life, high expectations and a tight knit community.

Predicting the success of a prep recruit is an art that will never be perfected. Much like the rest of our West Coast nation, I believe a blend of winning and a connection with the community is needed build a loyal fan base and following.  Much like growing a business, the unintended consequences are never felt until after a decision has been made.

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~ by philip d. on June 28, 2010.

10 Responses to “A Downside to Oregon Recruiting Nationally?”

  1. “With the return of prominence by Cal and the Huskies”

    Return to prominence for the Huskies? Do you just not watch football or are you a blind Husky fan? The Huskies are terrible and will be terrible next year too. And Jake Locker will not be a Heisman finalist. Last time I checked, a prerequisite for the Heisman trophy is actually taking your team to a bowl game. Something Locker has not done.

    And all the supposed draw backs you mentioned for recruiting nationally, i.e. Gilliam, Roper, Embry, Gaines, Harper, etc. Same exact stuff happened with California and Oregon recruits too.

    You never heard of Myles Wade?

  2. I’m the one maybe. I say that because of what is lined out in the article. Oregon was built on West Coast players. Take a look at the basketball team. Who has been Oregon’s best players over the last decade? Northwest players. Luke Jackson, Luke Ridnour, Freddie Jones, Maarty Leunen, Aaron Brooks….All from the northwest. All these Midwest guys have destroyed the team.

    The reason I said maybe is because I love the fact we’re getting players out of our region. Think about it…If we get an amazing player from the East, the east won’t be getting that amazing player. This will allow other Pac 10 schools that don’t have the reach of Oregon or USC to pick up that player from So Cal that might have gone to Oregon, making the Pac 10 better as a whole.

    I understand that recruiting nationally takes a lot more effort than bringing a kid in from the region…but until it doesn’t work out, it’s time to keep trying. Oregon had long been known for getting players from all over the US. Since Kelly has been here, has it backfired? Not yet. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    • Eric, I agree with you. The Hairston, Dunigans, Porters, etc have not elevated the Duck program but yet done the opposite. The fact that Oregon football can go into the east, south, Texas, and midwest and receive consideration speaks volumes of the confidence Kelly and his coaches have in the national respect of the program. Thanks for the read and great feedback.

  3. Cliff, I love the feedback and thank you. The Huskies have not returned to the Pac-10’s upper tier but their recruiting has picked up with numerous four star recruits over the past two years including a lot of leans from elite Washington prospects in 2011. I agree, Locker is overrated, and I did mention the number of West Coast prospects that have done the same things as our nationally rated recruits. Just sparking a debate on whether we are focusing too much on national recruits and getting away from the community connection with the Duck football program. Thanks for the read.

  4. last year i went to a penn state game for the first time in my life last year. born and raised eastern washington, went to UO for five years. best years of my life. graduated, worked in Seattle a bit and then moved out east. i asked the fans there what they think of west coast football. i kid you not when i say this – they said outside of Oregon and USC – it largely wasn’t relevant. I asked them why. A majority of them said the preoccupation for keeping things regional.

    And that is a regional fan base.

    this whole quality of life thing – it is ridiculous. stop it, please, before it permeates the entire article. you sound like a fan, and not a college football guy. college football is a business, and i’m glad those in Eugene recognize it as such. it’s why Oregon and USC are competitive, and Arizona State, Washington, Wazzu and Arizona and others are not. They don’t recruit nationally (no, UW really doesn’t, go back and check their lists – all west coast). It’s not about locality at all. In fact, you could argue that local ties KILL football teams. Look to Boulder, Colorado. Determination is a dirty word in Boulder. Has been for years. If there is anything, the laissez-faire, relaxed west coast mentality is horrible for football. Recruiting nationally for players (and coaches, hello Chip Kelly) is imperative. You have to do it to compete.

    It’s why Oregon IS national. Are they are a powerhouse? No. But they are really, really good and to say otherwise is to ignore their record. Give them time, they are amazing. And it’s all about innovation, stepping up the brand, marketing smartly and buying TV time (which outside of USC, who else in the Pac-10, the worst TV conference in the nation, gets on TV?).

    Listen, I appreciate your affinity for keeping things at home. But that was 1990, and this is 2010. The Pac-16 just tried to destroy the midwest by eating the Big 12 alive. Regional doesn’t cut it anymore and it’s a cutthroat business. I suggest if you want to start being more appeased, you go elsewhere, away from college sports, to the land where dreams come true and rainbows float over unicorn fairies.

  5. We should focus on west coast recruits! Let ‘s tell LMJ to take a hike. Oh and Lache and Huff and Dontae from Texas should go home. Is not not Curtis from Eugene, How about Lowe from Portland, Heimuli from Utah. Kelly goes after all the best west coast recruits. Name a top west coast recruit that showed interest in us that he did not offer. The fact that we can get some recruits from Texas and beyond is great. Will some of them not come here or get home sick and leave yes. LaMichael has been worth every potential flopping Chris Harper we have lost. In fact because we now have a potentially better program in Dawg land and we certainly have a better recruiter there now it will be harder to recruit the northwest. I am sure Kelly does not know he has a short term advantage in California/ LA, right now.

  6. SoDuck and rstroup27…i agree with your points. I did put a counterpoint in the article which i somewhat agree with. You are right, i grew up and watched the program become what it is today. That is why I am biased towards the community of Eugene. This is a debate article…is it right or wrong to recruit nationally? I don’t know, but I do know there may be unintended consequences. Thanks for the feedback and LaMichael James, Maurice Morris, and Blair Phillips have been great for the program. An article to make to you think back at real past of Oregon football….Keep it coming and don’t hesitate to speak!

  7. If the staff has a recruiting plan in place, then how is it lost time and effort to recruit nationally? You keep saying it is wasted effort, because we lost out on Bryce Broiwn and Terrelle Pryor, but that same effort landed 5-star Lache Seatsrunk and two other 4-star kids from Texas, not to mention 4-stars from Detroit, AZ & Utah, would you rather take a chance on a 2 or 3-star from the NW instead? Since Chip Kelly came on board in 2007, we have amped up our national recruiting efforts and gee, what do u know, a Rose Bowl in his third season in Eugene and first as HC. It’s about getting the best possible athletes, not about building a “communities connection” with the program in Washington or NoCal somewhere. We don’t need to feel a local connection with the players to have a loyal fan base, last time I checked, we have sold out every home game for years running now, and Duck football has never been more popular and nationally relevent than it is now. Winning is what matters.

    UW & WSU have built mediocre to poor football programs the last 5 years based mostly on what? NW kids. Many of them are overrated star-wise to make it appear as not so depleted. If they are good, Chip goes after them, simple as that. Canzano brought up the same thing to Chip on air last Feb, said he wasn’t focused on local kids, Chip shot him down, said if they are good enough, they always go after local kids first. The difference is, he doesn’t waste schollies on local projects like Bellotti did (Brooks had to, we weren’t good enough at the time), he is looking for the very best players, no matter where they are from.

  8. […] Champion Sports Views views on sports Skip to content HomeAbout Champion ← A Downside to Oregon Recruiting Nationally? […]

  9. […] to see Chip Kelly and friends attempting to bring players to Eugene  (you can refresh and read the article here ). Below is a list of players who’ve come from far away destinations during the past decade […]

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