Oregon Magazine

Pigskin Pete
Grid Coaching Derby
Enlivens Pac10 Scene

          By Fred Delkin

'Tis the time when colleges consider football coaching changes and several 
Pac 10 members are in the mentoring hunt.  The State of Oregon's highest  paid public employee, Mike Bellotti,  has publicly refused an offer from  UCLA, with the Bruins now flirting with the idea of bringing alum Rick 
Neuheisel back.  Washington State has canned Bill Doba in favor of Eastern Washington mentor Paul Wulff.  Newspaper-fueled unrest over Tyrone  Willingham's tardiness in returning the Washington Huskies to former glory has been allayed by Tyrone's search for a new defensive coordinator.

Here's our take on this activity: 

OREGON-- Bellotti is wise to stay put, since no other Pac10 program has 
exceeded the upgrades   Nike has fueled the Webfoot program and Los 
Angeles is not a favored residence for a fellow who has already successfully mined the southern California recruiting gold mine.  Oregon is one of five  college programs chosen as finalists for attracting perhaps the finest high  school quarterback ever...one Terrelle Pryor, a 6-6, 235 lb. phenomenon from Jeanette PA.   Pryor will visit Eugene in January, then decide amongst 
bidders UO, Ohio State, Michigan, Florida and Penn State.  We think the  Ducks have a strong chance for landing this big fish, who has said he favors a spread offense that showcases both his running and passing abilities. 

The Webfoot offensive coordinator has crafted such a vehicle, one that had 
Duck fans dreaming of a national title this season until star QB Dennis Dixon
bit the dust in late October.  Pryor has the physique to easily withstand the 
punishment that did in the skinny Dixon.  What happens during the  nationally televised Sun Bowl clash between the Ducks and South Florida could well  determine which institution of higher learnng Pryor attends with his 3.4 gpa. 

WASHINGTON--the Dawgs came up with a fearsome offensive weapon  when Willingham recruited QB Jake Locker, whose physical dimensions and abilities are similar to Pryor.  Tyrone needed a drastic move to continue as  Husky head man, so his dumping of a long-term defensive coordinator, Kent 
Baer and special teams coach Bob Simmons was preordained, with   replacements still unresolved.  UW athletic director Todd Turner has stepped down, probably finding the Seattle scene a bit more troubled than his previous post at Vanderbilt.   The Dawgs lack returning strength at running back,  receivers and on the defensive line, but have veterans aplenty at defensive
back, offensive line, linebacker and kicker. 

UCLA--only in fantasyland would serious consideration be given to springing Neuheisel from his NFL quarterback coaching duties to take his third shot as a college head coach.  Tricky Ricky ruined a winning dynasty at Washington
after a brain-dead Huksy AD (and former star female gymnast at USC) hired him despite his bringing NCAA sanctions down on his Colorado program.  Methinks that if UCLA does hire Ricky, the clash between Huskies and  Bruins will have monumental proportions for bitter Dawg fandom. (ED: On December 30th, we heard that the impossible had just happened. They hired him.)

WASHINGTON STATE--the Cougars flirted with the idea of bringing Mike Price back to the  fold, but settled on a less controversial hire in Wulff, who 
knows the back side of the Cascades  territory.  However, it remains  questionable if Wulff can rebuild the far flung recruiting momentum that Price  achieved.  Doba is a good man, a solid tactician, but no major asset to 
convincing recruits that moving to the cold and rolling hills of Cougar country
was a ticket to gridiron glory.

All other Pac10 members are retaining their current coaching gurus. 

There is a very strong Oregon high school crop graduating this spring, which  should be a boon to the assiduous recruiting being performed by the Portland
State coaching leaders Jerry Glanville and Mouse Davis, who suffered  through a losing 2007 season with a group of players they inherited.  Viking  fans should look forward to a tuned up show with Davis' run & shoot offense.

Roses & Raspberries...an armful of proud posies to a revived Portland  Trailblazer entry in the NBA sweepstakes.  It's nice to see a young team 
winning with both skill and good citizenship, both lacking for well over a  decade under the inept ownership of Paul Allen...and another bucketful of boos for former Blazer GM Bob Whitsitt, wherever he is. 

© 2008 Oregon Magazine