Look good. Feel good. Play good.

Ed’s Note: Please welcome newest contributor Joe Schiller to the blog. He attended Cal State East Bay for his first two years of college on a baseball scholarship, but he’s returning home to Eugene to enroll in the University of Oregon this fall. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Every year at the beginning of the football season, Duck fans anxiously wait to see the years’ latest fashion statement. Last season, fans embraced the traditional (traditional? Oregon??) all white look — although I must say I expected something a bit flashier from the program that received an 18-slide “uniform” feature on Sports Illustrated.com.

Although eye-popping at first, this is your humble editor's favorite uniform combination in recent memory.

Sadly, Oregon football received more publicity from their disappointing loss and LeGarrette Blount’s entertaining hissy fit. Rumor has it, Chip Kelly intended to wear the all whites again in the Rose Bowl but was concerned the jerseys might have played a role in Blount’s classless behavior (and maybe the loss as well). He decided on green jerseys instead.

So what might this season bring? One can only hope Chip takes a different approach to the start of the season as he looks back to the tragic loss on the Smurf Turf last year. With all the negative attention surrounding the program, the football team needs to punch back without actually hitting anyone.

Why not start the season off wearing all yellow? That way if Costa fails to live up to the expectations, the media can focus on the team’s vibrant appearance. Just a thought.

Oregon has become the trend-setter in college sports apparel. Teams throughout the nation are constantly turning to Oregon for the latest fads, often finding themselves inspired to reconsider their own appearance.  Ask any current or former athlete: most will confirm that if you look good, you feel good, you play good.

Oregon’s success as a top tier athletic program is closely related to the exceptional uniforms and athletic gear provided to the athletes who decide to quack and become a Duck.  Let’s be honest; how else could Oregon continue to bring top recruits around the nation to little ol’ Eugene without some sort of incentive? They couldn’t.

Darron Thomas, Eddie Pleasant, and (gasp!) Jeremiah Masoli had a hand in developing the most recent “winged” uniforms. Nike vice president for design and special projects Tinker Hatfield said the ability to help design new uniforms with Nike is a selling point used in Oregon’s recruiting efforts. It’s working.

Rivals may make fun of our uniform ADD, but while they’re laughing, we keep reeling in top flight recruits — and winning.

The support the athletic program receives from Nike has proven to be a substantial contributor in turning Oregon athletics into a national powerhouse.  Phil Knight should be known as “Santa Claus” throughout Eugene.

Where would Oregon be without Uncle Phil?

Since making the Rose Bowl in 1917 and 1920, the Ducks rarely found their way into bowl games until 1989. Coincidence? I think not.

Maybe my theory is absurd but I challenge those who disagree to prove me wrong.

Check the top ten teams in the latest AP poll and notice which brand teams are sporting. Cincinnati is the only team wearing Adidas.

Realistically, uniforms and equipment can only do so much, but Nike has me — and nearly everyone else — convinced.

As for now, may the saying remain true:  You look good, you feel good, you play good.  Or as LeGarrette might put it; you look good, you feel good, you hit hard!


No Surprise Here: Ducks Waste No Time in Firing Ernie Kent

Most everyone knew Ernie Kent would be fired following this season. Unfortunately, it had to happen during the second half of the final Pac-10 game at historic Mac Court. At least they got the win though, right?

This was a move that had to happen. The program was basically stuck in neutral, waiting for its talented young players to blossom once they became seniors. Problem is, in college basketball these days, you can’t only win once every four years. (He only had four seasons where his teams finished conference play over .500).

With a brand new, state of the art $200 million stadium due to be unveiled at the start of 2011 Pac-10 season, Oregon needed a change. If Ernie couldn’t sell out the shoebox that is Mac Court, then, well, there would be a lot of empty seats at expansive (and expensive) Matt Court.

Although it certainly wasn’t a smooth ending, Kent should be greatly appreciated for his 13-years as the Ducks head coach, as the program has grown leaps and bounds under his leadership. (Although I could make the argument that the growth was almost completely connected to Nike’s sudden “interest” in the program).

According to KVAL’s initial report, athletic director Mike Bellotti fired Kent on Feb. 22, after home losses to Stanford and California. The TV station says the firing will take effect, when the Ducks wrap up the 2009-10 season, presumably after their “play-in” game to the Pac-10 tournament. KEZI reports Kent was fired earlier last week. KMTR says talks between Bellotti and Kent will continue through the Pac-10 tournament.

In addition, Kent’s entire staff will be replaced, with the possible exception of assistant Kenny Payne.

This is where it gets interesting, at least in regards to Kent’s replacement.

Payne has long been friends with ‘World Wide Wes’, who is often called the most powerful man in basketball because of his influence behind the scenes. Payne’s friendship helped create a recruiting pipeline in Detroit, bringing in Malik Hairston and Tajuan Porter.

Yesterday, SI’s Seth Davis wrote a story that William Wesley has agreed to be an agent, representing NBA and college coaches for Creative Artists Agency. Its client list includes Lebron James and John Calipari, among just about every others big name in sports.

Wesley has a special gift for befriending star players, including Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans. Both of those players coincidentally went on to play for his client.

I hope athletic director Mike Bellotti lets Payne stay on, and hire a client of CAA.

As for Oregon’s needs for its next basketball coach, the goal is clear: fill the seats. The Ducks couldn’t even fill The Pit tonight for its last conference game ever, and if you haven’t heard, the new stadium is a bit bigger.

Yes, the athletic department might be in the red right now, but the boosters won’t allow the basketball program to wallow in mediocrity. The Kent firing signifies this.

One donor in particularly might have an interest in Bellotti’s hiring process. (Here’s a hint who: he donated $100 million towards the new stadium).

If Phil Knight has already given that much, spending a few million more on a top coach is a must in order to make the most on his already weighty investment.

Although I don’t have a complete list of CAA coaching clients, I’m sure there are a few big names on there that could be attracted to Oregon for the right price.

Of course, filling the seats is not the only thing of interest. Winning is important as well, although it’d be nice to have a coach who can create interest in the program and sell tickets in and of himself.

My top quality: player development. That has been Kent’s biggest bugaboo. Kent would get talent, but very rarely would there be noticed improvement, thus, leading to his teams only being competitive when his star players were seniors (Luke, Luke and Fred; AB, Malik and Bryce).

Hopefully the new coach can teach Michael Dunigan what a “screen” is, and also run a half-court set that actually resembles a functional offense.

Is that too much to ask for?

(I will have another piece in the next day or two further discussing possible coaching replacements for Ernie Kent)

For now, here’s a quick list of possibilities: Mark Few, Steve Lavin (five sweet 16’s in 7 years at UCLA), Jeff Capel, Mark Turgeon, Tubby Smith, Terry Porter, Cameron Dollar and Randy Bennett.

Jeremiah Masoli, Ed Dickson Power Ducks Upset over #6 Cal

Apparently, all Oregon needed to turn their sluggish offense around was just another set of new uniforms, and Uncle Phil was more than happy to oblige. The University of Oregon legend even went so far as to put a radar on Ed Dickson’s number 83 for Jeremiah Masoli. Jeremiah, you remember your teammate Ed, right? Boy, did he ever.

I guess 8,000 uniform combo's weren't enough. And hey, one more never hurt.

I guess 8,000 uniform combo's weren't enough. And hey, one more never hurt.

After forgetting that he had one of the nation’s top tight ends at his disposal during the first three games (4 receptions for 58 yards), Masoli quickly made up for lost time, looking for Dickson early and often, connecting 11 times for 148 yards and three scores, spelling a disastrous 42-3 defeat for a No. 6 California Golden Bears team that was clearly not prepared to deal with the raucous environment at Autzen Stadium.

With non-conference play leaving much to be desired from the Ducks offense, as well as several pundits questioning themselves for picking Masoli as a dark horse Heisman candidate, Oregon needed to make a statement that they were still the same high-flying offensive attack that earned them a 42-31 drubbing of Oklahoma State in last year’s Holiday Bowl. And man oh man, what a statement they made.

After a fumble on the opening kickoff (again Walter, really?) and a three and out, which brought all sorts of “here we go again” face palms from the student section, the defense stepped up and held Cal to a field goal and a punt; a major win, considering the short distance between dangerous Jahvid Best and the end zone.

The energy the defense displayed on those stops must have translated to the offense, because on Oregon’s next series, the Ducks walked on to the field with an aura of confidence, a swagger even, that they didn’t show at all during their first three games.

Looking much more comfortable in the pocket, Masoli calmly checked his reads and accurately hit Jeffrey Maehl and D.J. Davis on screen passes for back-to-back first downs.

With speedy LaMichael James and a stable of other capable backs imposing the threat of the run, the Oregon offense finally was able to move the ball at will. Although the drive ultimately ended in a tying-field goal, that was all the confidence the Ducks needed for the offense to finally get in a rhythm.

Instead of locking into a single receiver even before the snap and forcing throws to covered receivers, Masoli patiently waited in the pocket and took what the defense gave him, which was a plethora of screens, short throws over the middle on drag routes, and designed roll-outs that found the seams in Cal’s usually stingy defense. The result? 524 yards and a 42 spot on the scoreboard.

The defense, who were once again without T.J. Ward and Walter Thurmond (who was injured on the opening kick-off), did a masterful job of containing Best, thanks in part to a series of drops by Cal receivers that must have damaged quarterback Kevin Riley’s confidence in the passing game, because Riley, who was visibly flustered by most likely the loudest crowd he had ever faced, continuously missed open receivers, allowing the Ducks stack eight in the box which let Oregon hold Best to just 55 yards on 18 carries.

Masoli finished an efficient 21-25 for 253 yards and three touchdowns, James contributed his second straight 100-yard game, ending with 118 and a score, and Remene Alston, Kenjon Barner, Andre Crenshaw and Masoli combined to add over another century mark to the rushing total.

The defense added four sacks, numerous pass break-ups and allowed just 207 total yards to a Cal offense that had averaged just less than 500 yards in each of their first three contests.

With the confidence of today’s huge win and noticeable improvements in each game, Oregon finally seems to have hit their stride at just the right time, knocking off back-to-back ranked opponents for the first time in the Chip Kelly era.

In college football, when you lose is almost more important than who you lose to, and in a month, voters will look back at the Boise State game as simply an 11-point loss on the road to an undefeated Bronco squad who were playing for their season. And even though it was a horrific game, that really doesn’t sound too bad.

So with the defense looking frighteningly legitimate and the offense re-finding their high-flying form, the Ducks have the early edge on the Pac 10 and a serious chance to sneak their way back into the BCS mix.

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