The Oregon Football program has been somewhat of an anomaly lately. For many years, Oregon Football was mostly mediocre. The Ducks fielded a good team once in awhile, but only since the end of the Rich Brooks era have the Ducks become a more consistently successful, exciting and recognizable football team.
When asked about college decisions, recruits have mentioned liking Oregon because they are always in the top 25. Although that may not be entirely true right now, the Ducks have been ranked pretty consistently for awhile. Oregon football's success has had more than recruits talking. Some wonder if Oregon is going to become a national powerhouse in the future or if they have already reached their ceiling.
The fact that Oregon is even in this situation is extraordinary because it isn't as though the University of Oregon is in a big football city, or state. It's one thing to be a private college in the middle of L.A., the nation's second largest city; an area loaded with talented recruits and millions of fans. I look at USC and say, of course they should be successful. If they weren't, something would be horribly wrong. Its another thing to succeed in a college town of 150,000 where you wouldn't expect a big football team. Despite the disadvantages, Oregon has been making an impact. This may be due to the fact that our donors could be making up for our location and win percentage. So how do we make it less about the money we have, whether we earned it or not, and all about our game? The answer probably resides in coaching.
Rich Brooks coached 18 seasons with Oregon before leaving on a high note Rose Bowl season. Bellotti is in his 19th season overall with the Ducks and has been the head coach for 14 of those seasons. While I don't think he's on the proverbial "hot seat", I'm not sure how much longer he'll be the coach. Look at Pete Carroll and Mike Bellotti's win percentages sine 2002. While Carroll has been close to winning 9 out of 10 games, Belllotti is just over 60%.
Last year, it felt like the Ducks were excellently coached. Oregon seemed to be comfortably in control of the games they played before the collapse. I know we lost two very valuable players but the coaching this year is clearly different. The good times of 2007 reminded me of how Boise State looked when they came to Autzen this year. Although Chris Peterson's player's were less "talented' based on recruiting boards, he demonstrated superior coaching abilities and a more talented team. This is why I really like the idea of Chris Peterson (or someone like him) taking over the head coaching spot at Oregon.
Please don't mistake my anticipation of Oregon's next coach. I think Bellotti has given 100% to the Ducks and done some amazing things. Even though he turned down the UCLA job and seems motivated to win a national championship at Oregon, it doesn't seem like he can stick around much longer winning slightly more than half his games. It is apparent that Bellotti has some flaws that will continue to limit Oregon's potential. One of those flaws is his soft spot for friends. Aliotti appears to be the bane of the Duck football team. Since Bellotti arrived on the scene, Oregon has had to depend almost completely on prolific offenses to win games in shootouts. The Ducks cannot expected to become dominant with half of a really good team.
Reasons why Peterson (or a coach like him) and Oregon would be great for each other. Peterson has a great set up at Boise State. They have good fans and USC like dominance in their conference. Problem is, BSU can go undefeated and will continue to struggle for good bowl games. Oregon would provide that BCS status, better recruiting tools, and a bigger salary. Hopefully Chris Peterson remembers his 6 seasons assistant coaching for the Ducks fondly.
Of course, there is the possibility that Chris could take the head coach job here and fail. The key is getting the right coach, at the right place, at the right time. I'm interested what other Duck fans think. What about the Future of Oregon Football? Have we reached our peak? Could we get Peterson? Do we want him?