Sunday, October 5, 2014

Advice from an "Idiot Fairweather Fan" - Time for coaches to "earn their pay"

After the Ducks loss on Thursday to Arizona many of us took to social media to voice our frustration. I was one of those people. I personally make no apologies for voicing my frustrations in regards to the coaches whom are professionals at their trade. I try not to voice negative opinions about the athletes because at the end of the day they are 18-22 year old young men who are no doubt trying their hardest to Win The Day. The athletes are getting a scholarship and stipend but in no way are compensated enough to call them professionals or hold them ultimately accountable. So this is mostly about the coaches. 

Who am I to hold anyone accountable you ask? Well I am a fan who purchases tickets and memorabilia (and lots of it) that goes back to the program which pays the coaches. I do donate in addition however that has no bearing on why I get to hold the coaches accountable any more or less than any other passionate fan, its simply because its a brand I've supported through good and bad no matter how frustrated or disappointed I've been with the result. 

Recently I hear some ex-players (and by "some" I mean "a few" and this in no way is meant to disrespect or group ex-players into a category or start some kind of useless counterproductive fan rivalry) insinuating that us "regular fans" know nothing, are idiots, and most commonly are fair weather blah blah blah... The irony here is after you are done playing and you are unassociated with the coaching staff and program you are relegated to becoming a fan (Though your blood, sweat, and tears to this program means you are a highly vested supporter/fan). You undoubtedly have a better base of knowledge than 99% of fans but don't assume they don't know anything because they didn't play. Here are a few points to consider for both types of fans:


1) Most likely that "fair weather fan" probably supported you when you were a player either directly or indirectly. 
2) Yes, most likely you know more about the game however you don't have to play to be highly knowledgeable.
3) These fans actually like you and are not trying to take anything away from the blood, sweat, and tears you gave this university. To the contrary they want your blood, sweat, and tears to be upheld with proper stewardship. 
4) Be aware that your personal relationship with the staff could make you more sensitive to the comments being made. 
5) Calling someone an "idiot" because they called someone else an "idiot" doesn't make anyone involved in the name calling chain look good.
6) It is just a game and here for entertainment purposes

Regular Fans 

1) Never let your insults become personal or assault a man's character as a human (Unless its a Sandusky situation or something egregious. You can fire away with gloves off at that point) 
2) Keep complaints related to football
3) The best "chaser" for angry criticism is helpful solutions
4) When engaging with ex-athletes understand that they have personally vested many years of their life for the benefit of this program and be respectful and even acknowledge it with gratitude. Also when you are taking a shot at coaches, understand these men have mentored many of these athletes and are a lasting father figure to them (so proceed with caution).  
5) Calling someone an "idiot" because they called someone else an "idiot" doesn't make anyone involved in the name calling chain look good.
6) It is just a game and here for entertainment purposes 

Now don't get me wrong there are "idiot fans" out there and I may well be one of them however I think you have to be blind or not interested in college football at all to realize that the Ducks just aren't the same since the coaching regime shuffle of 2013 & 2014. This is not to say they can't get it right but lets be honest, something is off as a power 5 coach referred to in Travis Haney's blog on this morning. 

Maybe this is what's wrong and maybe not...

1) Players are thinking too much: This is just an observation but to me specifically on defense the players appear to be thinking too much about being technical and not enough about just playing instinctively. This can be caused by being scared to make a mistake (micromanaged), miscommunication, lack of confidence, or just not being prepared properly.  

2) We've gotten away from running the ball first: Think about the mentality of running the football from an offensive lineman's perspective in cavemen language. I see guy, I flatten guy or I need to make a hole here and a guy is in my way, I move guy out of way. The mentality is aggressive and taking the fight to the defense vs passing seems to put you in more of a protective less aggressive mindset. This is what coaches like Chip Kelly, David Shaw, Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Les Miles, Pete Carroll and Gus Malzahn have always done, run the ball successfully. Granted the offensive line is an issue right now, but with the amount of talent that's in the backfield I think figuring out how to run the ball effectively is key. I think you have to run Marcus more. It sounds like a gamble and risking his health but if he runs the ball effectively it may lead to him getting sacked less and him being sacked is more dangerous than him running and diving or sliding. I'm not suggesting we Urban Meyer/Tebow him but he's just too talented of a runner to not try to give him some more run/pass options. 

3) Pass protection is broken: Giving up 12 sacks in 2 games is something that just isn't okay. I believe this is a product of major injuries to the line but also becoming somewhat predictable situationally (down and distance etc...). I see them trying at times to move the pocket occasionally and I think it has to be done more often until the line problems are solved. 

4) Defensive game plan not working: Don Pellum knows more about football in his right pinkie than I do throughout my whole body. But it's really hard to look at your own label when you are working inside the bottle. I think he will get it right but I also think he needs to look real hard at taking more risks defensively. If he believes in his secondary like we all think he does, then it seems like putting more than five in the box would be an appropriate gamble. I honestly think he's closer to getting in right than people are giving him credit for and a few small adjustments will probably make the difference. I would personally like to see him test his defense by putting them in higher risk reward situations much more often. 

5) Line coaching is suspect: This is probably my biggest gripe about Chip leaving. Not the fact that Chip left but the fact he took Jerry Azzinaro with him and the line has not been as good since. 

6) Lack of offensive creativity/play calling is becoming vanilla: I think the fear factor for opposing defenses is somewhat gone. Yes Oregon beat Michigan State but the B1G doesn't have offenses as good as the PAC-12 thus they have not faced that kind of tempo week in and week out for a few years like many PAC-12 schools have at this time. What was innovative by Oregon has been copied and rewritten by just about every offense in the conference. Opposing defenses practice against it daily now and so the tempo is less of a factor late in the games than it used to be. Oregon needs to find ways to get back to being the innovators they are and add new wrinkles to the offense. I realize that play calling is much easier in retrospect however it seems to me like its time for Mark Helfrich to take over the play calling responsibility from Scott Frost. 

7) Discipline: Oregon appears sloppy and undisciplined. I have no idea why but it seems like every game there are enough yellow flags thrown at the Ducks to create another uniform combo. I believe this comes back to discipline and coaching the athletes to be accountable for their actions and aware of themselves situationally in the game. Meaning the coaches need to teach the athletes to be aware of how the refs are calling the game, how their body language towards the refs may affect calls later in the game, and just work on playing smarter. 

I'm sure the coaches know everything here that I have said and much more. I don't doubt their knowledge of the game, passion for coaching, integrity, or their intentions. I am wondering if they have the process that is going to work for them or if they are so worried about living in Chips shadow that they don't feel like they have the true ownership ability to make necessary changes. The old adage "With great power comes great responsibility" rings true only if the ones with the perceived power understand they fully have the power to make change. I hope these coaches understand that the fan base though frustrated is behind them 100% and if that means changing WTD to put their own stamp on it, then make that change now and you will be supported. 

This loss is a great opportunity for the staff to show its moxie. There is no doubt that every member of the staff is an outstanding member of the community but this about football. I am fully in support of this coaching staff and hope with every ounce of my fandom that they are able to turn it around but the business of football is harsh, cutting, judgemental, and cut throat. On that note the coaches are on the business side of football and do in fact get paid six and seven digit salaries. With those salaries come expectations from fans. Therefore its fair to assume the fans want to see the coaches "earn their pay". What earning their pay means most likely varies from fan to fan but for me personally to answer a strip down a complex question is having the team playing with great efficiency and discipline, plain and simple. I think in a nutshell coaches "earning their pay" is the only reasonable expectation fans can have at least that's what this "idiot fairweather fan" thinks.


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