The start of the football preseason officially got underway on Monday as the Oregon Football program held their annual media day. As was expected, there were no shocking revelations of any kind. However, it was a great chance to get a general feeling from the team and from Coach Helfrich about how they are approaching the new season.
My initial reactions to Coach Helfrich were positive. He's not going to be any more forthcoming with the media than Coach Kelly was--he'll just be a lot more respectful about it. He seems very relaxed on the podium, and doesn't portray the general sense of annoyance that his predecessor held. One thing Helfrich was very adamant about is that he doesn't have a "stamp," meaning he has no intentions of changing much about the offense just to put a personal spin on it. Though what happens in games will be the ultimate judge, I very much get the impression that his every intention is to be just as aggressive as Kelly was. He also made a crack about Washington being 0-12, which was fantastic.
Of the players that we interviewed, I was extremely impressed with Alejandro Maldonado. Kid was a very forthright interview, didn't shy away from his ups and downs, and looked ahead with eternal optimism. Had a lot of interesting things to say, too. The other guy that really stood out was Bralon Addison, who has as bright a future as any underclassman on this team (and stayed way later than 95% of the team in taking interviews as well). I also really wanted to interview Rick Neuheisel who, as our former whipping boy Will Rubin observed, "looked equally awed and depressed when touring the new football operations center.
Speaking of the center, you can't help but be impressed by it. The function of the building is not over the top. And within ten years, all the major players in the industry will have one. There are functions to having a single large theater, a "war room," a commercial kitchen, etc. But what sets Oregon apart is the finishes, which are absolutely over the top. It makes sense to have a theater. It makes no sense to have Ferrari seats in it, other than because you can. Every players' lounge has video games and pool tables. Few have the logo hand carved in them. Nobody has a mural depicting the history of their football program in their parking garage. Many others will match the new center in functionality, because it makes sense. Few will be able to afford the finishing touches that really set Oregon apart.
And with that, fall practice is officially here, with real football soon to follow. Enjoy the audio and video that Jake and I took.
Coach Helfrich Press Conference:
Marcus Mariota Press Conference: