George Horton Rumored to USC? Why College Coaching is a Deeply Broken System

Ed’s Note: Written by Sean Highkin

 

About a week ago, news broke of the firing of USC Trojans baseball coach Chad Kreuter. The move wasn’t necessarily surprising—after all, Kreuter had failed in his four seasons to restore the school to its glory years of the 1970s, or even lead them to the playoffs once.

You know what else didn’t surprise me? The fact that about an hour after I first saw the story of Kreuter’s firing, somebody in my Twitter feed floated the idea of Oregon’s George Horton filling USC’s coaching void. Of course, it was just a rumor and Horton hasn’t been tied to the USC job in any official capacity (yet), but I started thinking about the fact that I believed it right away, and about the deeply broken college coaching system.

The constant shifting at the head coach position is arguably more detrimental to college athletes than it is to professional ones. If a high school athlete is sold on a college because of a recruiting pitch by the coach, who can guarantee that said coach will even still be there in the Fall? How many decisions by players as to whether to turn pro or stay in school are made because of a relationship with a coach who may be in danger of being poached by a bigger-name institution?

This lack of continuity in leadership is only making worse the biggest problem with college athletics today: the transformation of college programs into essentially a farm system for the pros. On NBA draft night this year, the University of Kentucky had five players taken in the first round, including No. 1 overall pick John Wall. UK coach John Calipari proclaimed the draft, and not any the school’s seven national championships, as “the biggest day in the history of Kentucky’s program”—an incredibly revealing remark about Calipari’s priorities, as well as those of big-money college sports in general. Calipari himself is coming off his first year at Kentucky, leaving Memphis to sign an eight-year, $31 million contract.

The other major coaching story of 2010 has been Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin, who skipped town after the first year of a six-year deal to accept a coaching position at USC. Kiffin replaced Pete Carroll, who left town the subject of numerous recruiting ethics complaints. These accusations didn’t prevent Carroll from accepting a job in the NFL (coaching the Seahawks); meanwhile, Kiffin will enter as head coach facing a two-year ban from bowl games and four years’ probation, all because of violations that took place while the team was under Carroll’s control.

It is this lack of accountability that keeps coaches giving under-the-table gifts to potential recruits, and leaving town when any kind of controversy starts. Kiffin himself has come under fire in recent weeks for not following protocol when hiring a Tennessee Titans running backs coach as his offensive coordinator at USC. What’s to stop him from leaving Southern California next year if another, higher-paying job opens up because some other coach leaves amid a cloud of complaints and sanctions? Hell, if he gets in trouble for something like this while at USC, he can leave and have no trouble getting a job somewhere else, while his replacement would be stuck with whatever sanctions are imposed on the school by the NCAA for his actions.

George Horton is ours, for now. But the fact that I saw that as an unfounded rumor and took it seriously speaks volumes about the corruption present at many levels of modern college sports. Nobody has to take responsibility for their actions, and upstart programs like Oregon’s baseball team are always in danger of having their coaches and recruits spirited away by bigger names.

Academics: Just One More Thing UO > OSU (US News & World Reports)

Sure Oregon’s beaten Oregon State in the Civil War the past two seasons, which, by all means is great. But there’s something else we’re better at than OSU that actually directly affects us — mere students, alumni and facultyinstead of 240-pound linebackers who were seemingly bred to play football.

The latest US News & World Report College rankings are out, and in a shocking discovery (Ed’s Note: not so shocking), the University of Oregon is a better academic institution than our rivals to the north.

And U of O is even a better value too!

 

However, UO still has a ways to go to crack the Pac-10 academic elite. Stanford, Cal, USC, UCLA and UW all blew us out of the water.

Conference Rankings:

Stanford – 5

Cal – 22

USC – 23

UCLA – 25 (just one more thing USC beats UCLA at)

University of Jake Locker – 41

Oregon – 111

Washington State – 111

Arizona – 120

Oregon State – 139

Arizona State – 143

For the next four months we can go back to not caring about how good our diplomas (will) look hanging on our office (cubicle?) walls, and just hope our genetically engineered three-percent body fat football players are better than theirs.

The Case for Kenjon (Barner)

Ed’s Note: Written by Jeff Spiegel

Immediately following the devastating Rose Bowl loss last January, the only positive Oregon headline in circulation read: “Kenjon Barner is the Lone Bright Spot for Oregon” (Los Angeles Times). For anyone who has forgotten the details of that game, that wasn’t a typo. It wasn’t Jeremiah Masoli or LaMichael James who carried the Ducks in the biggest game of the season; it was that other running back that kept it close. Said Chip Kelly after the game, “I know there’s a lot of negatives about tonight…but I get to spend three more years with Kenjon.”

You see, while everyone has spent the off-season touting LaMichael James, the breakout freshman from last season, it appears many people are passing over the explosive Barner. While many would claim they aren’t underestimating Barner, I’m asking you to consider the following: could Kenjon Barner actually be better than James?

On the face of it, the competition doesn’t seem that close. James was given four times the carries Barner was, and carried the ball for an astounding 6.7 yards per carry compared to Barner’s 6.0 YPC. Consider, however, that over the final eight games of the season, Barner’s averaged jumped to 7.2 YPC against defenses such as UCLA, ASU, USC, and Ohio State compared to James’ 7.0 against the same opponents. The reason to look at just these final eight games has nothing to do with the added importance of these games, but just the added grasp Barner had of the offense.

While James had the luxury of learning the system for an entire season during his redshirt year, Barner spent that time playing defensive back for the scout team. Last season, Barner was essentially a true freshman learning the offense on the fly after taking an entire season off. In addition to all this, Barner starred during his time on special teams last season, setting a single-season Duck record for kickoff return yardage, and figures to do more of the same this season. What I am trying to say is not that Kenjon Barner is definitively the best Duck running back on the roster, but that Barner hasn’t done anything to lead us to believe he can’t be.

To clarify further, none of this has anything to do with James. LaMichael is a freak, and figures to be one of the nation’s top running backs this season; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if Barner joined him in that group this season. During James’ Week One suspension, Barner will have the opportunity to make a statement regarding his place on the Oregon depth chart, and given the porous defense he’ll be facing, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes that statement at the top of his lungs.

With as much talent as the Ducks have rotating around the running back position with both of these elite backs — and the addition of two of the most highly recruited backs in Lache Seastrunk and Dontae Williams — Chip Kelly’s task of spreading the ball around will most certainly be difficult. All this being said, that remains a problem most coaches wished they had.

Expect a lot more of this, this year:

Correction: New UO Student Season Ticket Option is a Huge Win for Students

Last night I got all worked up about the horror that would be UO students paying for football tickets.

It turns out I was so blinded by the dollar signs that I didn’t completely understand the initial report and more importantly, didn’t include one crucial bit of information that, in fact, makes this deal a huge victory for students.

Instead of taking away 1,000 of the tickets the ASUO already allocates to students via that still bat shit crazy online distribution system, the athletic department is now offering 1,000 extra tickets to students — taking them from the general ticket marketplace. In essence, the AD just increased the amount of tickets available to students by 20%.

Now the only problem is the ethical dilemma it creates for students.

Should you pay the $200 — fair market value at $33 per ticket – and guarantee yourself a coronary-free Sunday, or save the beer money and add a little excitement — and possible heartbreak — to the end of your week?

Personally, I’ll pay the $200. I will be in Eugene for all six games, I’m lucky enough to afford it, and no matter how much of a rush it was to make it to that still ever-glorious checkout page, I’d rather avoid the stress and battle scars that come with it.

And if you think about it, there’s a good chance you’ll end up paying $200 for just two games if you happen to miss out on them through the online process. Sure, you can buy standing room only tickets to out of conference games, games against weak opponents (cough WSU cough) and games before the school year starts for $30 and then sneak into the student section, but for premium games like USC, UW or the Civil War (although we play none of those teams this year), even a standing room only ticket could set you back $100.

Of course, if you’re not going to be in Eugene for September, being in Autzen on Saturday isn’t a life or death proposition, or you already work two jobs paying your own tuition, then you can carry on as if nothing has changed.

By all means, this has not fixed the student football system but it does help those who are willing to shell out the extra $200.

Plus, this offers the added bonus of beefing up one of the already rowdiest student sections in the country with 1,000 new “O”-yelling crazies.

If anyone should be upset, it should be the alumni, faculty and the general Autzen Stadium-going populace.

I apologize to the AD and the ASUO for my disparaging post yesterday, and on behalf of all students, I’d like to thank you for finding a way to let 1,000 more students enjoy the privilege that is Oregon Ducks football at Autzen Stadium.

Here are the reports from the Daily Emerald and the release from GoDucks.com itself.

The only question is if the ASUO will continue to purchase as many tickets for students with student fee money as before, as the Emerald’s report says the ASUO will save $160,000 from this deal, which I’m not sure where that comes from.

Rivals Has the Oregon Ducks No. 4 to Start the Season

Of course, it’s all about the quarterback. But apparently, Rivals is buying either one or both of the Nate Costa and Darron Thomas duo.

Here’s my favorite line:

The Ducks are loaded, or at least solid, everywhere else [aside QB]. They have a strong line, an explosive running back, a productive receiver and a good defense.

Oregon appears to have the components to post a double-digit victory total for the third consecutive season and for the fourth time in six seasons. If everything works out right, the Ducks could challenge for the national title.

Don’t go booking flights to Glendale for January just yet, but there’s a good chance you might need to.

A couple interesting notes:

  • Prize DT recruit Ricky Heimuli has been tearing it up in camp and could see serious playing time right away, which would add much needed depth (behind Brandon Bair) to the defense’s weakest position. Aside from Bair, no other returning DT made more than 18 tackles last season. Yea, Heimuli will be important.
  • No kicker on the current roster has converted a college field goal. Seriously, check the stats (I know, it shocked me too). But that’s why true freshman Alejandro Maldonado is Olin Buchanan’s impact newcomer on offense. However, no matter how good he might be, a true freshman kicker is always a scary proposition.

Posts like this make me salivate for September 4th — which is good because I just booked my flight up to Eugene.

Go Ducks!

Attention UO Students: Get Ready to Shell Out $200 for Football Tickets

Ed’s Note: Read the updated/correct story here.

Any current (or former) U of O student knows how awesome football games at Autzen Stadium are. Not so awesome, however, is the process of how said students go about obtaining their virtual golden tickets.

Every Sunday evening before the next home game, thousands of students nervously log-on to GoDucks.com, holding their collective breath and hoping the server doesn’t overload while the seconds seemingly tick by at lightning speed. If you don’t get to the ever glorious checkout page by three minutes past your designated distribution time, you know there’s a good chance you’ll be scalping tickets come Saturday.

Well now there’s an answer.

From GoDucks.com:

For the 2010 Football Season, UO students will be able to purchase a Student Season Ticket. This season ticket will cost $200, and all 6 home games will be embedded into your UO Student ID card. Students with a Student Season Ticket will not need to claim a ticket through the lottery process on a game-by-game basis, though you will still get your UO ID scanned at the student entrance at Autzen before each game.

UO Student Season Tickets will go onsale on Sunday, August 22nd at 6:00pm. There is a limit of 1,000 season tickets and they will be sold to currently enrolled UO Students on a first-come first-serve basis.

Hold on a second here. Doesn’t every student already pay for football tickets as part of their student fees? Why should I have to shell out $200 more — on top of $35,000 for tuition — to ensure that I can yell “O!” on six Saturdays?

Of course, I’m going to do it — and I expect the other 999 tickets to sell out in mere minutes — because whether it’s right or not, being able to attend (and write about from the first person) Oregon football games is one of the top reasons why I chose the U of O.

Students get the short end of the stick already. Sure, you can cut back hours to the library, EMU and the Rec, close “The Break” pool hall, and eliminate needed bus routes without much complaint, but don’t mess with our football tickets.

The UO Athletic Department has put itself in a win-win position while putting the ASUO in a lose-lose. The old system was bad, blaming the ASUO for not having enough money to buy up the whole student section on gamedays. Now, students will blame the ASUO for agreeing to let the AD make $200,000 in pure profit off 1,000 so-called lucky, worry-free students.

Sure, it might be worth $200 to me to avoid the heart-stopping panic each Sunday night. * **

(*Note: Last year, I only managed to get a ticket to the epic USC game because a “friend” on facebook who I didn’t actually know, had made it into the system and decided to do a good deed, entering my username and password into his open ticket-gulping channel.)

(**Extra note: While thousands of students are turned away from even attempting to “purchase” student tickets online, certain lucky students have the opportunity to logout and back in nearly limitlessly to hook up all of their friends. Yea, the system is broken.)

But it’s $200 more than students should have to pay to attend football games. I may seem to be emitting a generous aura of entitlement, but I think my (well, my dad’s) $35k+ a year is enough to include a guarantee for six measly football tickets.

Yea, I’ll pay the $200, and it’ll be a relief for my blood pressure not to go through the roof on a weekly basis, but I think there’s a better way to let students attend football games — without gouging their pockets and offering its student body a collective weekly coronary.

TAILS: Madden Challenged

Ed’s Note: Written by Drew Norton

Aw yeah, it’s that time of year again. Are you ready for some VIRTUAL FOOTBALL?!

Madden 2011 was released last Tuesday and, just like every year, game designers who don’t work for EA are crying buckets into their pillows.

For those of you who don’t know, the Madden Football series is a series of videogames released every year since 1988. I’m not joking. This game is older than I am. It’s a powerhouse in the gaming industry and a benchmark for every other sports game on the market (except Mario Kart.)

Really, where would we be without John Madden Football? Playing Tecmo Bowl? Come on, who played Tecmo Bowl (even though people are still playing it after over twenty years and it was just re-released with 3-D characters)? Outrageous! A lot has changed since 1988, however. Game systems are no longer measured in bits. There isn’t a Bush in the White House. Janet Jackson is now the talented one by default. Is it justifiable to release a new game every year in the Internet age? Is the new Madden game worth it?

To answer this question, I need to get some biases out of the way. This is going to come up at some point, so I just want to give you guys all of the information: I hate EA. EA the biggest publisher of video games in the industry and I hate them. I hate them with a fiery passion. Electronic Arts is the devil. They are the Sith lords of the video game world. They make The Combine look like Alf. They rove around the gaming landscape, sucking up developers and then sucking them dry until they just plain suck. There is no joy in them, no heart. They’re like a giant black obsidian monolith that blocks the light and kills a beautiful rainforest full of adorable monkeys with gum-drop smiles. There are many, many reasons to hate them, but in the context of Madden the reason they are awful is that they bought the license to every NFL team ever. This makes it impossible for any other game developers to make a football game with real players without EA suing them until they die a horrible, legislative death. So I might be a little biased against them.

On the other hand, I don’t really hate the Madden games in particular. It’s boring to me, but that’s about it. Still, I wonder why they feel the need to release a game every year. All they do is add tiny updates to a game which has gone essentially unchanged since 1997.

This year they’ve apparently made it easier for noobs to pick it up and play. There’s dual stick play and 3-on-3 online. They’ve updated the rosters and stats, like they do every year. This is all very nice and I’m sure Madden heads are pissing themselves, (with anger. How dare they make it accessible?!) but why couldn’t this be released as DLC?

Downloadable content is the fastest growing market in the industry. Rockband has made over a billion dollars in revenue on DLC alone since it’s release. A billion. With a ‘B’. That’s ridiculous and those numbers are from around this time last year. If they released updated player stats throughout the year as updates and then released rosters, new modes and tweaks as DLC, they’d cut down on shipping costs, the cost of the disks and the cost of paying some asshole to be on the cover and then be cursed into obscurity. It just doesn’t make any sense to release a yearly full-priced deal.

All I ask is that they think about it. Of course they won’t because they’d rather rake in their motherload once a year than have a stead trickle of income throughout. They whip fan boys into such a frenzy that they’re willing to buy the same game every year until they die. It’s sad, really. Now who’s ready for the next Call of Duty game?!

Rivals.com Loves the Ducks; Petros Papadakis is Still Douchey

The other day Olin Buchanan over at Rivals.com picked the Ducks to finish atop the Pac-10 conference. Today, Rivals.com released their No. 6 team — the Florida Gators — on the their preseason top 120 countdown.

But that’s not the good news. Unless I’m missing something, Rivals has’t yet listed Oregon in their bottom 115 — which means they think the Ducks are a top five preseason team (Umm, they know we don’t still have Jeremiah Masoli, right?)

Whether they’re big believers in Nate Costa (they are on the record saying he’ll be the starter), or just love our uniforms, Rivals thinks the Ducks are in for big things this year — and I won’t disagree.

All reports say the offensive line looks deep, the running game looks as good as ever and the tight ends, well, look really good with their shirts off.

The Ducks have looked so good, in fact, that Fox Sports Radio mega-douche Petros Papadakis was in Eugene to take in practice from the sidelines. Has he found a new bandwagon to jump on now that USC will be done playing in early December?

P.S. — Here’s an awesome photo slideshow of fall camp so far by the Register Guard.

Go Ducks!!

Does Jacquizz Rodgers Deserve the Heisman Hype? Definitely

Lately, Oregon State has been on a mad — well, relatively mad — “Jacquizz Rodgers for Heisman” push. Putting my Beaver hate on the side for a minute, I can’t blame them. Quizz is really, really (really!!) good. Heisman good even? Probably.

And unlike our other rivals further north, Quizz has actually done everything in his power (on the field) to have his name put in the Heisman discussion.

But because Oregon State is Lunch Pail U and doesn’t receive the glam and glitz of other programs (cough *U of O* cough) — and probably doesn’t want it — there’s an unfortunately high chance that Quizz won’t even make it to New York come December.

Well that, plus they’re breaking in a true freshman quarterback.

Still, the Oregon State AD’s new video of the talented junior running back is pretty cool — but come on, they could have at least shelled out a few extra bucks for HD.