Thanks to the kind folks over at Capital One, ATQ was able to get a brief interview with Jairus Byrd before the big game tomorrow. No idea who Jairus Byrd is? TAKE A LAP before I drop a brief bio on him.
Jairus Byrd is a former Oregon defensive back and current safety for the New Orleans Saints. He played for the Ducks between 2005-2009, and is currently in his sixth season in the NFL. He was awarded the Pac-10 co-freshman player of the year in 2006. In 2007 he was an All-Pac-10 honorable mention. In his final year at Oregon, he made the All-Pac-10 first team selection. Byrd was the 42nd overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Buffalo Bills. In his first year he made the All-Rookie team. In 2009 and 2012 he co-led the AFC in interceptions. He's also a three time Pro Bowler. This past offseason he was ranked as the #1 free agent and eventually signed a six-year $56 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. In other words, Jairus Byrd is DAMN GOOD at what he does.
The guy is an absolute BALL HAWK.
Now here's the part where I endorse the Capital One Cup! You should care about it because the Capital One Cup is actually a pretty cool thing, and no I'm not just saying this because Capital One pressured me into promoting it…seriously. The event allows schools to compete throughout the year for points that go towards the Cup. The schools that win are awarded a generous amount of cash in student-athlete scholarships. (They get to go to the ESPY's too!) The Capital One Cup promotes excellence on AND off the field, which I think we can all agree is a good cause. So there's that.
On to the interview.
DP: Could you briefly speak on the Capital One Cup, and how an Oregon win in the National Championship would put them at the top of the men’s Fall standings?
JB: Yeah, well basically Capital One is the official sponsor of this new playoff and pretty much by Oregon winning, they have a chance to win on the field and off. By them winning tomorrow it sets them up to win sixty points towards the Capital One Cup and with that sixty points, it goes towards their total athletic program. If the athletic program finishes first they have a chance to win a combined $400,000 in student-athlete scholarships at the end of the Spring athletic season. So that’s a huge advantage and a little twist to this all. So it’s a great thing that Capital One is doing.
DP: Despite being labeled only a 2-star recruit out of high school according to Rivals, what made you choose Oregon over the other schools that recruited you?
JB: Well, what you just mentioned, being labeled a two-star, there’s not many choices. You kind of go with who comes. I did have some opportunities, some offers, stuff like that, but I wasn’t highly touted coming out of high school. So it was an easy choice. Once I actually made a trip, I didn’t know much about Oregon at all, but once I came out here it blew me away.
DP: So did not being a "blue-chip" guy shape you into the player you are today?
JB: Yeah, definitely. I believe you always carry a chip on your shoulder even to this day. There’s nothing that makes you feel like you just arrived. You always have a chip on your shoulder. You remember those times, people doubting you, never thinking you’d be able to make it to where you are.
DP: Describe your emotions seeing Oregon rise from where it was when you were there – on the cusp of becoming an elite program - to where it is today. What’s it like now hearing Oregon mentioned in the same sentence as the traditional powerhouses?
JB: It’s great. This is what we all envisioned when I was there. Like you said, we were on the cusp when I was there, but we were knocking at the door. But that’s what we knew our next step was. We knew we were right there. And to see them with the coaching changes that have happened, to keep knocking at the door, and knocking it down pretty much, now people are mentioning us, not just for our uniforms, but for our play. I think it’s great.
DP: Having had such a stellar college career, what is your favorite memory as an Oregon Duck?
JB: Personally, two memories that I think of are when we beat Purdue at Purdue, and my last game, the Holiday Bowl against Oklahoma State. Those are two very good memories for me.
DP: In your opinion, how do you think Oregon has been able to transition from laughing stock, to respectable, to now a program that has national title aspirations every year? Apart from the Nike connection and uptempo offense, what key factors do you think have led to this new identity?
JB: Coaching. I think the stability within the coaching staff is obviously not mentioned, but it’s a key, key factor and what this program is built upon. Nowadays in college, you have coaches jumping around almost as much as the NFL and so that stability within the program is huge.
DP: How have the bragging rights been in the Saints locker room this season with your alma mater doing so well?
JB: It’s been kind of quiet. You know, no one’s really been talking too much, so that’s a good thing. Everyone talks about the SEC. You know I’m in SEC country, so with the Ducks now on that national stage, and with all the SEC teams out of it, it’s real quiet. And no one expected it. So they haven’t had too much to say out there.
DP: Do you see Oregon sustaining this level of success? Where do you see the program ten, fifteen, twenty years from now?
JB: Definitely, because obviously with this national stage, you’re getting more recruits. The name makes people want to come. Obviously the uniforms are already an enticing thing. They want to wear the uniforms, so you have that and like I said, when I was there we were knocking on the door, trying to get those recruits and now we’re here at the national level. So it’s more recruits, plus we’re getting better facilities. We’re always outdoing everybody with everything so I think it’s just going to keep getting better and better.
DP: The U is often credited for changing the culture of football forever with their outlaw persona that challenged the established philosophy of the game at the time. Would you say Oregon has led a similar change? We now see recruits more than ever picking schools for things such as state of the art facilities and fancy uniforms over just history, tradition, and the sheer name of a school. Would you credit Oregon for this shift in priorities amongst recruits or is it just a sign of the changing times?
JB: That’s a really good question. I would credit Oregon for that. Because when I was coming in we had just got the new facility. Obviously the uniforms were starting to pick up like right when I went there. No one knew too much about it but they just kind of skyrocketed and took off. So I think nowadays like you just said, I think Oregon is credited for that. They started all of that. And I assume people want to know what about the type of facilities, because there’s a mystique about Oregon, unless you’ve been there, you don’t really know.
DP: Oregon is known for having a bit of an unorthodox style to its methods that has allowed them to be so successful as well as innovative. Was the program like this during your tenure in Eugene, or did this evolution start in the Chip Kelly era?
JB: Good question. I think it started with Chip Kelly. When he came in he’s the one who introduced this spread offense and high pace, so I think he really is the one who brought this to us in Eugene.
DP: What will the Ducks have to do to come away with the win tomorrow?
JB: They’ll have to limit the explosive plays on defense. Offense will have to do what they’ve been doing. Obviously the offense has been doing it all year. Take care of the ball, no turnovers and defense will have to limit the explosive plays that Ohio State poses the challenges to do.
DP: Last but not least, what’s your final score prediction?
JB: 37-21, Ducks.
There you have it. A big thanks goes to Jairus Byrd. We wish him the best of luck next season, and GO DUCKS.