Bud Withers, who many may remember from his time wrote an exceptional piece the other day about the TRUE origins of Oregon's rise to prominence.
Yes, I know, Husky and Beaver fans are wholly convinced that Phil Knight bought every ounce of success that Oregon has had over the years. They decry the amount of money Oregon has spent on facilities as some sort of unfair advantage.
First of all, Washington has a significantly larger donor base and alumni base to tap into, to call Oregon's advantage is simply silly. The new renovation at Husky Stadium cost $281 million... that's more than the Autzen upgrade, Jacqua Center, Hatfield-Dowlin Complex and Matthew Knight Arena... combined? Unfair advantage? Hardly.
As for Oregon State, it's not as if they did not have their own benefactor. Sure, Al Reser did not have the same kind of disposable wealth to pour into athletics as did Knight, but, as many within the Oregon athletic department have said in the past, what were the Ducks supposed to do, so no thank you? turn down money simply because rival schools do not have the same level of support?
The reality is that Oregon's rise was not purchased. The money enhanced the foundation that had already been laid by Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti.
This foundation lay in recruiting and player development. As the team got better results, they were able to see a higher caliber athlete willing to forsake the beaches and sunshine for the fog and rain of winter in the Willamette Valley.
What has made the Ducks special is not just the results on the field, or the money received from boosters.
The Ducks have become special for a simple reason. While other schools sell a "family" atmosphere, Oregon goes to a whole new level of family. With the exception of Ron Aiken and Matt Lubick, who were hired when Chip Kelly went to Philadelphia, this staff is one of the deepest and longest tenured coaching staffs in the nation.
Coaches like Gary Campbell, Don Pellum and Jim Radcliffe have been with Oregon for well over 20 years without leaving. Others like Steve Greatwood, Nick Aliotti and Tom Osborne have left, but returned with two of them totaling more than 20 years on staff as well. That kind of continuity creates a lot of positives on the recruiting trail.
The Ducks promote from within rather than continually looking for the "next big name" when it comes time to hire. Rather than looking outside the program for head coaches, the Oregon staff has used the coordinator positions to look for the next guy and that has worked fabulously since the last "outside" coach was hired in 1977. That is a long time to keep the head coach hires "in house" and it has paid dividends.
I talked about the specifics of that in Flock Talk. While the Washington apples have taken to falling further away from the tree than ever, Oregon has changed their entire approach to every aspect of success. The looked outside of their comfort zone to get better.
As long as the Ducks continue to find creative ways to stay ahead of the curve and avoid falling victim to complacency, there is no reason to fear the future.
The future is bright indeed and it likely includes their hallmark of success; continuity.