Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Don't Let Oregon Football Leave With Kelly

It was all just a bad dream. While we were in bed the other night, we overheard Daddy tell Mommy  he was leaving her for a fancy floozy in Florida.  Sister told us she saw him pack his bag. We heard the door slam. He was gone.

When we came downstairs the next morning, there was Daddy sitting at the breakfast table. Mom was dishing him a second helping of eggs. All was right with the world; and Daddy told us he would never leave again.

At least until next time.

My poor Oregon State Beaver friends
who were flipping me shovel loads of crap
the night we heard Kelly was most likely gone . . .
Here they were the next morning.

We got a scare, didn't we. The latest word I heard was that Chip did indeed accept an offer from Tampa Bay. But around midnight, after talking on the phone to a (ahem) "significant Oregon booster", he had a change of heart and decided to stay.

Here is a link to the story as A.D. Rob Mullens tells it to the Oregonian.

Speculation is that the Bucs offered him anywhere from 5 to 7 million dollars. But after his $3.75 million buyout clause with Oregon, it didn't amount to much more than what Oregon was paying him.

Still, let's not fool ourselves. Chip is not going to be like Rich Brooks and stay for 16 years. He's not the JoePa type to stay for 1-1/2 generations until he's revered as a god.

The Oregon Athletic Department would be wise to consider this a fire drill and plan ahead for what should happen WHEN Kelly leaves. When Bellotti left, the transition plan was pretty much in place. Oregon should do the same with Kelly.

Names of Kelly's possible replacement consisted of Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich, D. Coord. Nick Allioti, Chris Peterson of Boise State, Jeff Tedford at Cal., Tony Dungy -- the unofficial member of Oregon's coaching staff, Gary Patterson at Texas Christian, and -- back by popular demand -- Mike Bellotti.

First of all, why would Bellotti want to come back? If he lost more than two games in a season, he would be considered a failure. Why would he set himself up for that?

And Tedford? Are you kidding? He has raised Cal's level of game from low mediocrity to high mediocrity. He represents Oregon's past, not it's future.

When it's time for Kelly to go . . .
To me, the following would be the perfect scenario for everyone.

A smart NFL team brings in Tony Dungy and Chip Kelly together. They either make Kelly offensive coordinator and let Dungy deal with all the other duties and hassles of a head coach, or they make Kelly head coach and put Dungy in the front office for two main tasks: To secure the personnel Kelly wants, and to occasionally remind the owner of the big picture as Kelly transitions the team.

Meanwhile back at the Casanova Center, A.D. Rob Mullens announces that Oregon's new head coach is none other than (Are you sitting down?) Nick Allioti. That's right, the quintessential assistant finally gets the big desk.

I know. A lot of people don't care for Allioti. I know Duck fans who have called for Allioti's firing in the second quarter of a game -- only to change their minds by the fourth -- EVERY WEEK. But no one else on any short list has Allioti's tenacity, spirit and dedication. And for experience, he's seen it all.

If the AD told him, "Nick, you're the man if you can keep this thing going.", he would work 24/7/365 to do just that. He would keep the same proven pace at practices. He would let Helfrich continue to run the offense. He would make sure every player fed off his fire and energy.

Best of all, he would fill his previous position by calling Justin Wilcox and Peter Sirmon -- who have just signed on as defensive coaches at Washington -- and say,
"Get down here, NOW. . . . Why are you still talking? Why are you not in your car yet? I'm not asking. MOVE YOUR BUTTS!!!"

Stealing those two away from the Huskies would be a real low blow, wouldn't it? It would really piss off the Dawgs.

See? You're liking the idea already!

Why the focus on keeping the coaching change inbred?

It's The System Stupid.
It's not Kelly's charm that took Oregon to the next level, it's his system. The less-talk-more-action fast paced practices. The "blur" offense. Once Kelly leaves, it doesn't make sense to then say, "Well that was fun. Now let's abandon it all and get another coach to do something different."

Oregon's style and system works (Yes, I said Oregon's. Not Kelly's) . It's very successful. Very distinctive. Why change it?  It would make sense to bring in a Chris Peterson or Gary Patterson if Kelly only had the Ducks plodding along with more or less the same success as before.

But when you have the most successful program in the nation over a three-year period, why would you look anywhere other than within your program? What would you put it into the hands of someone who was doing less?

Putting it another way, the first time a new coach makes the Ducks huddle, I'm going to throw up. When he punts the ball on fourth down more than two times in a row, I'm going to boo.

People including writers like John Canzano are still calling the Ducks way of doing things a "gimmick". It WILL be merely a gimmick if the Oregon brass don't embrace it. All of this would be for naught if Mullens, Knight, Brooks, Pat Kilkenny and other members of the inner circle fail to look at the big picture.

It's not just about Chip Kelly.
It's greater than him.
 They need to see that what Kelly has done here hasn't just changed Oregon. He's changing football. I don't want to just see Oregon continue to play this way. I would love to see ALL teams play this way. I want to see huddles and automatic punting on fourth down go away with other 20th century dinosaurs like the pay phone and the fat box tube TV.

You look at the great football coaches of the past: Woody Hayes, Bear Bryant, Knute Rockne, Vince Lombardi, Len Casanova, Pop Warner, Joe Paterno . . . What do they all have in common?

They're DEAD!  And so should be their style of football. Why do we still have to play the game like they did? Why haven't we seen a significant change since the invention of the forward pass?

Who besides me is bored with "4-yards and a cloud of dust", Lazy, unconvincing play action passes. Street-style football where the QB stands and stares to see who got open.  Wasted time between plays watching a fat old coach stare at a laminated two-sided menu like he's deciding what toppings to put on his baked potato and steak. Then he talks into a microphone. The QB reads something off his forearm. The team circles together and listens intently. "Ready, BREAK" [Clap]. . . . It's like an offense run by the government.

HEY. IT'S BAKED POTATO AND STEAK. Run the damn play and let your quarterback decide the toppings on the fly. 

Have all of you figured out why an average Denver Broncos team made it to the 2nd round of the NFL playoffs? Did you see Tebow putting the ball into the running back's belly for a second, reading the defense, then pulling it out? They wouldn't have gone anywhere had they just stuck to the same ol' generic vanilla pro football. If only they would eliminate the huddle and speed up the pace . . .

I don't watch pro football regularly anymore. Haven't in years. Why? You see one pro game, you've seen them all. They all play the same, look the same. At least college football still mixes up styles and systems. You're more apt to get something different every week, every game even. This is why people across the nation are liking Oregon football.

It's different.

Now I know the arguments can be made that the spread option is not unique. The no-huddle offense is nothing new. Kelly isn't the first to go for it on fourth down (Look at any high school or small college team with a crummy punter). And I'm sure other coaches will claim they practice their teams just as hard and fast.

But Coach Kelly is the latest and greatest to successfully put all of these elements together and make it an ATTITUDE. A BELIEF SYSTEM. A RIGID STYLE. The results are eye opening, jaw dropping.

Today's Oregon football is THE CHANGE to the game that we've been waiting for for over a century.

When Kelly leaves, don't let it leave with him.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

At Last

The key word: "Champions".
No Championship Participation souvenirs this time.

What did Wisconsin learn from this?

1) Don't bet the dairy farm on a wide open shootout with the Ducks. Imagine if the Clantons brought a Gatling gun to the O.K. Corral.

2) Never, NEVER try to kill the clock with only two seconds left. It's already dead.

Playing fearless. I mentioned it last week. Coach Kelly talked about it in the postgame. (That's right. Kelly is as smart as me.)  Wisconsin's style and weaknesses played right into Oregon's hands so that every time the Badgers scored, Darron Thomas and Co. jumped off the bench like kids flying out of their beds and running toward a present-rich Christmas tree.

They couldn't wait to open another gift. "Oh goody. Another can of whoop-ass for Wisconsin!"

And after they scored, the offense just sat down and waited. With Wisconsin's customary high number of plays and time of possession, they waited for Alliotti's defense to exploit a mistake. In the second half, they got three.

Kiko Alonso was the defensive player of the game because before Monday, his most noticeable stat was the number of games he was suspended for alcohol related trouble. He was destined to watch the game from a couch somewhere next to Cliff Harris.

He took his punishment like a man and came back with great courage.

Great shot by Orange County Register just before interception.

It was a good pass. Kiko just "Wheatoned" it.

After game, Kelly can't say enough about how proud he is of Kiko.
The second mistake was what will forever earn Coach Kelly the name "Air Kelly". After Russell Wilson completed a 29-yard pass to Jared Abbrederis, Terrance Mitchell stripped the ball to watch it lay on the carpet for what seemed like an eternity. Michael Clay pounced on it, and a second Wisconsin drive was killed.
Kelly leaps as Michael Clay recovers fumble.
Below is what Duck fans know of as Oregon's "other" fight song featuring Air Kelly and the Fumblettes. Thanks to Mad Duck reader E.Z. for showing me this.

The third and final mistake, as mentioned before. Wisconsin tried to kill the clock and they killed themselves. What is Oregon's motto? Win the Day: Fast, Hard, and the most important, FINISH.

In the postgame, Badger QB Russell Wilson talked about losing three games this season in a total of about 40 seconds and just a handful of points. That's got to be harsh. Yet in this game alone, they can look at two pointless timeouts early in the second half to go with the clock-stopping blunder.

Finishing has to do with playing smart. And that partly comes with experience.  Looking for their first BCS win in three tries, I saw some very smart Oregon coaches and players the other night. Sure they had a couple of turnovers. But they didn't hurt themselves with stupid penalties, panic or mental blunders. They finished this thing.

What was that moment like for you when you saw Wilson spike the ball with 00's on the clock?
"It's over," I said to the other people in the room. But even after uttering the words I didn't believe it myself. This is the Rose Bowl after all -- the kind of game Oregon loses. They haven't lost yet. Shouldn't the football gods give Wisconsin one more chance to ruin it all?

The silence and chaos in the stadium transmitted through every TV in the nation. We were watching the most important official replay review in Oregon Duck history. Then the ref flipped on his mike.

"After further review . . . Prior to the spiking of the pass, the clock went to zero. The game is over."

This is what I saw and heard. The ref walked up and tapped on the TV screen, "Hey Killer Bee, the game is over. Pinch yourself. It's real. Your Ducks have just won the Rose Bowl."

The next sound I heard was from across the room -- a gasp from my wife. She was as stunned as I was. We just looked at each other forever. I walked over to her, still gazing into her eyes.

I can only think of two other moments when her eyes were that beautiful. Our wedding, and the Kenny Wheaton interception.

And right then and there, I pressed my lips to hers, and we just started making out wildly in front of seven other adults and at least one grandchild.

OK maybe it didn't happen exactly like that. And maybe the referee didn't say those precise words to me. But it was still that kind of moment. Real, yet unreal. True, but unbelievable.

The Oregon Ducks are Rose Bowl Champions.
The Oregon Ducks are Rose Bowl Champions.
The Oregon Ducks are Rose Bowl Champions.

Go ahead, say it three times. Then say it about 300 more. Don't ever get tired of saying it, because as a long suffering Duck fan like me, you've earned it.

Here's to us, Ducks.

Etta, get well soon. And could you sing that song just one more time while we peruse the following pics we've waited so long to see?

"After further review . . .The game is over."

D.T. was only sacked twice during the game,
 but numerous times after.


Offensive linemen aren't afraid to hug.


Duck Banatic?

Finally. Green and yellow confetti.

All season long, Darron Thomas said,
"Put the team on my back."

(Whew) Did the room just get warm?

DAT all smiles.

The Mayans predicted a Duck holding a Rose Bowl trophy
is the first sign of the coming 2012 apocalypse.
Sorry world. But, you know . . . priorities.

Letting the fans touch it.

Injured Carson York holds trophy.