Oregon Ducks Elevator: Football Opening Game Week

The Oregon Ducks Elevator is a weekly series that tracks the ups and downs of players, coaches, personnel, celebrities, locations or really anything that needs to be reviewed from week to week. We'll check in on how the Elevator is operating every Monday during the Football season and periodically throughout the rest of the year.

Marcus Mariota: With our first real public taste of Mariota's game coming in the Spring Game earlier this year, the fanbase was already buzzing about the tools and polish of the redshirt freshman quarterback. Late last week, the announcement came down from the University of Oregon Athletic Department that Mariota had won the starting quarterback position in his fall camp battle with Bryan Bennett. The hype is unbelievable coming into the season with former Oregon running back LaMichael James saying that Marcus could be the best quarterback to come out of Oregon when all is said and done. Hard to find any negatives going into Arkansas State this week. Elevator: In the Penthouse

Bryan Bennett: If Marcus Mariota has represented the highest of the highs, the last 6 months have represented the lowest of the lows. With some people calling for Bennett to become the starter over Darron Thomas in 2012 (a completely bizarre notion to this writer), his stock dropped in the Spring Game with his performance, the post-game interview drama and then again in fall camp where he lost the starting quarterback competition. Fan rumors are swirling about a potential transfer as a conclusion to losing the battle but Bryan seems resolved to continue to battle for the starting spot. His ballsy appearance at Fan Day on Saturday showed me that he's learned from the Spring Game issues. Without that appearance, as well as his comments regarding staying to battle for the starting job, he might have dropped further. Elevator: Down 1 Floor

Autzen Stadium: Even though the powers that be installed a series of stairs on the west side of the stadium to help with traffic flow, the new soccer and lacrosse fields will be cutting into the tailgating and parking spaces. While the athletic department is partnering with a company to provide pre-built tailgating environments with TV and food, the cost for average fans will be over $3000 for one of these spots for the season. It's great to have these additional facilities, but it's a bit disappointing to continue to see Autzen accessibility continue to shrink. Elevator: On the Same Floor

Oregon Athletic Department: The issue on most fans' minds has to be the football ticket prices for 2012. With prices rising at a pretty heavy clip during the middle of economic turmoil throughout the country the last few years, we're starting to see families hitting their breaking point on being able to attend games due to affordability. What's the department to do? Begin a full court press through all possible channels to get those tickets sold. Current and former players, administrators, and media channels have been extoling promotions, but have also been going the "make them feel guilty" route by reminding us that we have a sellout streak going. While I understand the reasons for going on the offensive on ticket marketing, I think the Athletic Department needs to take a long look at the grumbling this season and head this off in the pass for next season. Elevator: Down 1 Floor

George Horton: No doubt, Horton has helped the Duck Baseball Team reach for the stars since its return to the diamond. However, reports came out last week that his agent is looking for a 5-year, $3 million contract which comes out to about $600,000 a year. While Baseball did host a regional, the program is $1.5 million in the hole and it's extremely hard to justify that high of a salary, a salary that would be one of the highest in the country. It never hurts to ask but with September 10th looming large, one might think that this is less a reasonable salary demand and more of a "I'd sure like to go back to California" demand. Elevator: Down 1 Floor

Dish Network and DirectTV: Talks with DirectTV are ongoing but nothing is finalized yet. Dish Network isn't even close. Looks like the season is going to start without the major satellite TV providers carrying the Pac-12 Network. This is a travesty for fans but it's hard to fault the Pac-12 in this. Elevator: Trying to Find the Lobby

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