Oregon Ducks

Chip Kelly to Alabama as OC under Nick Saban makes zero sense

Chip Kelly to Alabama as OC under Nick Saban makes zero sense

Chip Kelly doesn't have a job.

Alabama has a vacancy at offensive coordinator.

1+1 in the sports world of connect the dots = Kelly to Alabama.

However: reality + logic = no way in hell that happens.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban has been left with a huge job opening after former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who held the job for all of one game, accepted the newly vacated job of offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons.

While a Saban-Kelly marriage would be as entertaining as all get out, it would appear to be far more likely that the vacancy would be filled by Oregon offensive coordinator and former Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal, who was Alabama's offensive line coach before joining the Ducks. Even former UO coach Mark Helfrich seems like a more viable candidate for Alabama than Kelly.  

Still, the immediate hot rumor is that Kelly could become a candidate in Tuscaloosa. 

But that makes about as much sense as Kelly returning to Oregon as OC. Here are the reasons why:

  • Kelly has made it clear he wants to stay in the NFL. To do so, he must stay in the NFL, even if it's as an assistant or a consultant for his good pal, Bill Belichik at New England. Coaching at Alabama would do nothing to improve Kelly's chances of remaining in the league. He must reinvent himself as an NFL coach. He can't do that in college. 
  • Kelly runs what was a revolutionary and up-tempo offense that made Oregon a national power. Although Kelly didn't win big in the NFL, his offenses were typically quite productive both in Philadelphia and San Francisco despite having limitations at quarterback. But his style wouldn't play well with Alabama's defensive-minded philosophies.In the past, Saban has complained about the impact no-huddle offenses have had on college football, particularly his defenses, which dominate conventional offenses but have struggled against no-huddle teams with dynamic quarterbacks (Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel, Deshaun Watson).  The last thing Saban wants is to see his defense on the field for 35 minutes while Kelly is calling a play every 15 seconds.  This reason also makes Helfrich appear to be an unlikely candidate, although he does have a pro-style background he could lean on. 
  • If Kelly wants to return to college he would do so as a head coach. If nothing materializes in the NFL, Kelly would become a hot head coaching in the college ranks when jobs come open next season. He could use coaching a year at Alabama as a springboard to a college head coaching job. But, again, he wants to remain in the NFL and he wouldn't need a boost of any kind to land a big time job in college. So, coaching at Alabama for one season doesn't help him at all. 
  • Speaking of being one-and-done, why would Saban want Kelly as a rent-a-coach for a year? It wouldn't benefit Saban to have Kelly waltz in, reinvent the offense and then leave after one season. Again, Cristobal would be a better choice than Kelly would be for one year. 
  • Kelly could possibly adapt his offensive style, but why would he want to do that for a season? Plus, for all we know Kelly would be an average coordinator of a conventional offense. His calling card is a spread, up-tempo offense, not pro-style attacks. 
  • Could you imagine this clash of egos? Think Godzilla vs. King Kong. Saban is a bully. He intimidated and verbally abused Lane Kiffin to the point where he left Alabama to take the head job at Florida Atlantic. Nobody leaves Alabama for Florida Atlantic. But Kiffin did. Saban couldn't bully Kelly like that. Kelly wouldn't take it. And Saban likely wouldn't want someone that strong working under him, potentially undermining his authority, and that works both ways. Kelly taking orders from Saban on how to run the offense probably wouldn't go over very well. I don't care how good of pals they are. 

To be fair here, maybe this is all too negative. Maybe Saban wants to get some of that spread attack philosophy into his system to see how it meshes with his defense. Maybe their friendship would derail any potential clashes. Maybe, just maybe, it would be a match made in heaven.

Or, maybe math doesn't lies and this coaching equation is a non-starter. 

I'm betting on the latter. 

Civil War Preview Part I: Friday night's showdown at Matthew Knight Arena

Civil War Preview Part I: Friday night's showdown at Matthew Knight Arena

Tonight marks part one in a two-part Civil War series between the No. 4 Oregon Ducks (15-2, 5-1 Pac-12) and No. 7 Oregon State Beavers (16-2, 4-2 Pac-12). The first of a two-game series between the Ducks and Beavers tips off tonight at 7 p.m. (PT) at Matthew Knight Arena. Part two will tip off 40 hours later and 45 minutes North in Corvallis at Gill Coliseum at 1 p.m. (PT). 

Two games separated by less than 48 hours. Two teams separated by 45 minutes of one another. Both teams ranked inside the Top-10. A Civil War weekend series that will have major implications in national rankings, Pac-12 conference standings as well as future NCAA tourney seeding. This should be a good one.

Below you’ll find a list of Civil War historical facts, how each team has earned its ranking as well as specific matchups to watch this weekend.

FAST FACTS

- Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck is 15-3 all-time against the Ducks.

- Last year, the Civil War series was split with each team winning on their respected home court.

- Sabrina Ionescu is one assist away from becoming the Pac-12 leader in assists. 

- Mikayla Pivec leads the Pac-12 conference in rebounds per game (9.6).

- The Beavers are averaging 5.4 blocks per game.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

POINTS PER GAME:

Oregon - 87.5

Oregon State - 71.4

ASSISTS PER GAME

Oregon - 21.5

Oregon State - 18.3

REBOUNDS PER GAME

Oregon - 11.3

Oregon State - 13.4

OPPOSING POINTS PER GAME

Oregon - 56.5

Oregon State - 53.4

OREGON

It started with an empathetic win over Team USA. You knew Oregon was going to be good coming into this season, but a win over the best professionals in women’s basketball? That’s pretty impressive. The Ducks went 10-1 in non-conference play and their only loss came to top-10 opponent Louisville on neutral grounds.

Oregon out-scored its opponents 192-110 this past weekend including a 32-point win over the No. 3 Stanford and then a 50-point win over Cal. 

OREGON STATE

Started off this season with a perfect 15-0 record, the best start ever in program history. These past few weeks, the Beavers have been tested and have now lost two conference games: an eight-point loss at Arizona State and a three-point loss to then to top-10 ranked Stanford. 

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Sabrina Ionescu and Minyon Moore vs. Destiny Slocum and Mikayla Pivec

This guard matchup will feature four of the top guards in the nation. The Ducks love to push the pace with Moore and Ionescu. These two have played once before for the Cal Stars, an AAU team in California. Moore and Pivec have similar styles of play in regards to pushing the pace and not being afraid of contact. One key that Oregon must do when guarding Pivec is limit her rebounds. Pivec currently leads the Pac-12 conference in rebounds and she does it from the guard spot. Ionescu and Slocum are also similar in terms of knowing how to score, choosing your shots wisely and the ability to take over games.

Ruthy Hebard and Erin Boley vs. Taylor Jones and Kennedy Brown

How this forward play turns out may decide how the rest of the game plays out. The Beavers have two outstanding freshmen forwards in Jones (6-foot-4) and Brown (6-foot-2) that will be a problem for the rest of the Pac-12 for the foreseeable future. Both are a tough matchup in terms of rebounding while Brown also has the capability of hitting the outside shot. Senior Ruthy Hebard brings her own dynamic play down low and holds the third best field-goal percentage in the nation (68.5). 

GAME INFORMATION

WHO: No. 4 Oregon vs. No. 7 Oregon State

WHEN: Friday night, 7 p.m. (PT)

WHERE: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR

TV: Pac-12 Networks

RADIO: Oregon Sports Network

Chris Duarte’s 30 points wasn’t the best part of his game vs. USC

Chris Duarte’s 30 points wasn’t the best part of his game vs. USC

An uncanny, almost rare, near impossible, almost triple-double.

A “standard” triple-double is points, rebounds and assists. That’s the easiest way to record one, if there ever were an "easy" way. And technically a player can post double-figure turnovers, but that’s besides the point. 

Tonight, it was a combo of offense and defense that lead the way for the Ducks, and it all started with Chris Duarte. 

The 6-foot-6, junior transfer from the Dominican Republic recorded 30 points, 11 assists and eight steals in No. 12 Oregon’s (16-4, 5-2 Pac-12) double overtime 79-70 win over the USC Trojans (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12).

With 26 seconds of game clock left, senior guard Payton Pritchard made a layup to tie the game at 62 apiece. Duarte immediately stole the inbounds pass giving Oregon the opportunity for a game-winning shot. A steal that gave the Ducks a chance, but could not follow through. This one needed two overtime periods to decide a winner.

But, it was Duarte’s quick, sticky hands and intuition that was the difference-maker in this one tonight.

I was watching the point guards’ eyes. I was watching everybody’s eyes. So I knew when they were going to pass the ball. — Duarte

Duarte’s defensive efforts on one end of the court translated to his offensive game on the other. To be able to contain the energy and adrenaline from a steal or critical rebound to a calm energy on the offensive end to hit big shots is no easy feat. But for Duarte, it’s all about effort.

I had to listen to coach. If I want to be on the floor, I have to listen to coach. I got to do it for myself too and for my teammates too, to help them win. And it’s just all about effort man, it’s all about effort. — Duarte

The last D1 player to post a similar stat line? You have to go all the back to 1999 for that one.

His steals were huge. The one in the press there to tie it up. Did a great job flying around making some defensive plays. He was the difference in the game, those eight steals, no doubt about it. — head coach Dana Altman.

Duarte can party like it’s 1999, but not for too long.

UP NEXT: The Ducks have an extra day to prepare as UCLA (10-9, 3-3 Pac-12) comes to town for a 2 p.m. (PT) tip-off on Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena.

Instant Analysis: Payton Pritchard sets record, Chris Duarte balls out in win over USC

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Instant Analysis: Payton Pritchard sets record, Chris Duarte balls out in win over USC

EUGENE - Coming off a thrilling overtime victory against the Washington Huskies, the No. 12 Oregon Ducks next looked to the leaders of the Pac-12 conference, the USC Trojans. 

So, why not have a DOUBLE OVERTIME contest?!

USC (15-4, 4-2) proved to be a formidible opponent. But, in the end, it was the Ducks that claimed victory to remain perfect at home, 79-70.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

PAYTON PRITCHARD

That's it! That's the takeaway!

While he wasn't the Ducks leading scorer, he did set a record! 

The four-year senior point guard from West Linn continues his very impressive senior season. Pritchard became the first player in the Pac-12 to record 1,500+ points, 600+ career assists and 500+ rebounds. Against the Trojans on Thursday night, Pritchard recorded 24 points, 7 assists and 2 steals.

CHRIS DUARTE LEADS OREGON

Offensively, the 6-foot-6 junior guard found his shot early, which was critical to establish an outside game early on this USC defense. Duarte finished with a double-double 30 points and 11 rebounds. He also got it done on the defensive end, getting his hands in the passing lanes and getting 8 steals.

Finished the job

The Ducks had a 3:30+ drought in the closing minutes of regulation, but were able to push past that and force overtime. And then double overtime. In 2OT, it was Duarte and Pritchard who took over and closed the game out. The duo scored every point for Oregon in the double overtime. 

Oregon forced 14 steals in the win. 

UP NEXT: The Ducks host UCLA (10-9) on Sunday afternoon. Tip-off set for 2 p.m. (PT) at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon Ducks' Payton Pritchard makes Pac-12 history

Oregon Ducks' Payton Pritchard makes Pac-12 history

Payton Pritchard continues to show why he's one of the greats in school history.

The four-year starter made conference history Thursday evening against the USC Trojans by becoming the first player ever to score 1,500 points, grab 500 rebounds and dish out 600 assists.

The accomplishment occurred on Pritchard's fourth assist of the night with 8:05 remaining in the game when Chris Duarte finished a lay-up.

Talkin’ Ducks: Ernie Kent says Payton Pritchard ‘epitomizes what a point guard is'

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Talkin’ Ducks: Ernie Kent says Payton Pritchard ‘epitomizes what a point guard is'

What’s better than one Oregon legend on Talkin’ Ducks? Two.

In this week’s Talkin’ Ducks podcast, host Jordan Kent is joined by his father Ernie Kent, former Ducks basketball coach from 1997-2010. Ernie recounts the toughest environments he ever traveled to (hint: one of them is in Washington), the growth of parity in college basketball and Payton Prtichard’s impact on Oregon.

Pritchard is coming off one of his best performances of the year. The Player of the Year candidate nailed a three from deep to complete a 16-point comeback in overtime over Washington in Seattle last week. Ernie says he kept his eyes on coach Dana Altman, who didn’t even flinch during Pritchard’s 26-foot dagger.

“I saw Dana just stay nice and calm because he trusted a very good point guard, who knew in the moment, why let Washington set up that zone with athletes up top," Ernie recalled. "He pulled up with total confidence and ended up winning the game. To me, that’s a senior point guard who knows the moment, knows the play and more importantly, his coach trusts him to run the show.”

Ernie says he’s seen Pritchard evolve over the years. He first watched him at the USA Basketball tryouts in Colorado Springs during his freshman year.

“His work ethic, his ability to understand the position—it’s very difficult playing the point guard,” Ernie said. “He has really epitomized to me what a point guard is. He’s smart, he’s tough, he understands the game.”

The two also discussed how elite players like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum slipped through the crack when it came to recruiting in the Pac-12 Conference. You can listen to the full podcast below.

Five incoming Ducks, one Beaver headline McDonald’s All-American roster

Five incoming Ducks, one Beaver headline McDonald’s All-American roster

The McDonald’s All-American rosters are out and this year’s game is stacked with future Ducks and Beavers.

Oregon commits Angela Dugalic, Te-Hina Paopao, Sydney Parrish, Maddie Scherr and Kylee Watson, as well as Oregon State commit Sasha Goforth, will take their talents to the court at the Toyota Center in Houston for a game featuring some of the top high school talent around the country.

Both teams showed some love for their incoming players on Twitter. 

Parrish, the nation’s No. 1 guard and No. 11 overall prospect, announced her commitment to Oregon in April. Just a week later, Dugalic, a 6-4 forward out of Maine West High School, shared her commitment to play for Graves and the Ducks.

In May, five-star point guard Te-Hina Paopao committed to Oregon over offers from California, Oregon State, UCLA and more. She is the a No. 14 ranked player in the country. Maddie Scherr, the nation’s No. 25 prospect and projected 5-star recruit, chose Oregon over a dozen other offers. She is the reigning Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year.

Five-star forward Kylee Watson was the last of the group to announce her commitment to Oregon. She is the nation’s No. 18 overall prospect and recently led Mainland High School to its first, ever New Jersey Group III championship in 2019.

With Watson’s commitment, Oregon has four of the nation’s top 23 prospects in the 2020 class.

Sasha Goforth is the only player from the state of Arkansas selected for the McDonald’s All-American team. The nation’s No. 1 wing and No. 9 overall prospect committed to Oregon State in June over 30 other scholarship offers during her recruitment. She is the second-highest Pac-12 Conference commitment in the class of 2020. 

Just when we thought the Pac-12 Conference couldn't get any more competitive, it did. The McDonald's All-American game will also feature Southridge High School’s Cameron Brink, who has committed to play at Stanford and Garfield High School's Dalaylah Daniel, who will take her talents to Cal. 

Where does the Ducks fanbase rank among the best in the country?

Where does the Ducks fanbase rank among the best in the country?

The fans of Autzen Stadium are known as some of the loudest in the country, but where exactly does the Ducks fanbase rank in the nation? 

Well, Matthew Barlett of Saturday Blitz compiled a list of the top-50 fanbases in college football.

He ranked the Oregon faithful at 17th in the country, citing their dynamic Nike uniforms and recent success as elevating them to the elite of modern college football. 

However, he also mentions that Oregon is a "sturdy challenger" to Washington. I guess Barlett isn't aware that Oregon has won 13 of the previous 15 matchups against Washington because it appears that they dominate the Huskies, not challenge them. 

As for the bad, Barlett claims that Oregon never reached the heights that Chip Kelly envisioned, which I suppose refers to not winning a national championship since last decade they made two national championships, won three Rose Bowls and a Fiesta Bowl. 

Here's Barrett's bottom line for his ranking of Oregon.

Few programs have achieved what Oregon has in the past 20 years. The Ducks had four top-5 finishes in five years and boast one of the loudest and most intimidating atmospheres in college football. The decibel level at Autzen Stadium frequently reaches deafening levels. In many ways, Oregon and their zealous fanbase has arrived. In every way, the Ducks are a top-tier program with the on field results to back it up.

Multiple other Pac-12 teams appeared on the list: Arizona State (50th), Washington State (37th), Colorado (35th), Utah (34th), UCLA (25th), Stanford (23rd), Washington (20th) and USC (8th). 

Have you ever been to a game at the Coliseum? It's an old, sleepy stadium that only gets up for big plays... which is a perfect of their fanbase.

Then, of course, this list, just like the national pundits, has an SEC skewing bias. Because, why not? 

Additionally, Ohio State was ranked as the nation's best fanbase. Oregon fans will get to dispute that ranking next season when the Buckeyes play in Autzen during week-two and the following season when the Ducks migrate to Colombus. 

Five-star kicker Harrison Beattie commits with Cristobal, Oregon

Five-star kicker Harrison Beattie commits with Cristobal, Oregon

The Oregon football 2020 class just added five more stars to the roster.

On Wednesday, five-star kicker Harrison Beattie has committed to the Ducks. 

The 5-foot-11, 170 pound kicker from Owings Mills, Maryland received a PWO (preferred walk-on) from Oregon on January 8 and committed to Mario Cristobal and the Ducks exactly two weeks later.

The five-star rating is presented by Kohl’s Professional Camps who have their own rating system. You can view the rating system here.

According to 247Sports, As a senior, Beattie had 8 touchbacks on kickoffs, averaged 36 yards per punt, was 34-36 on extra-point attempts and was 8-12 on field goals with a long of 46 yards. 

Beattie will join sophomore kicker Camden Lewis, redshirt sophomores Henry Katleman and Taylor Koth, and junior punter Tom Snee.

Marcus Mariota has "no doubts at all" about being a starter next season

Marcus Mariota has "no doubts at all" about being a starter next season

It's weird to think that given the preseason expectations for the Tennessee Titans, losing in the AFC Championship game would constitute a bad season but it was that for quarterback Marcus Mariota. 

The only Heisman winner in Oregon Ducks history was benched following a 2-4 start to the season in favor of former-Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Quite a fall from grace for Mariota who Tennessee drafted second overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, and threw, ran and rushed for a touchdown in the 2017 Wild Card round at Kansas City. 

The Titans would go on to earn a wild card playoff berth, ultimately advancing to the AFC Championship, while Mariota held a clipboard.

When asked after the season-ending defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs if he still believes he's a winning, starting quarterback in this league, Mariota reaffirmed full confidence in himself.

I have no doubts at all, no doubts at all. I'm just hopeful and ready for whatever that next opportunity is.

Mariota has shown flashes throughout his professional career, including an impressive sophomore campaign when he threw 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions with a career-best 7.9 yards-per-attempt until a broken leg ended his season. His junior season saw massive regression as he threw 13 touchdowns to 15 interceptions while playing through a hamstring injury. That regression would continue into his fourth season under first-year head coach Mike Vrabel. 

Before being benched, Mariota has a 29-32 record in 61 games as a starter with 13,207 passing yards, 76 touchdowns, and 44 interceptions. After being benched Mariota was a consummate professional until the end. Head coach Mike Vrabel praised Mariota's professionalism throughout the season. 

It's not entirely Mariota's fault, however; few young quarterbacks would succeed with four offensive coordinators and five different play-callers during their rookie contract. When he hits the open market in March, he can seek out a better opportunity to turn his career around. 

NBC Sports Northwest's Seahawks Insider Joe Fann speculated that five teams could bring in Mariota to compete for the starting job: Dolphins, Chargers (if Rivers leaves), Colts, Bears and Panthers. Additionally, if all of those teams don't want Mariota as a stopgap solution as they groom a rookie or stay put with their current starters than perhaps Mariota could return to the pacific northwest to back up Russell Wilson.