The legacy of former Oregon running backs coach Gary Campbell includes a long list of great ball carriers that helped propel the program's rise to prominence over the last 25 years.
No player better defines Campbell's 34-year legacy at Oregon than LaMichael James. He remains the program's all-time leading rusher (5,082 yards), helped lead the Ducks to their only undefeated regular season (12-0 in 2010) and James placed third in the 2010 Heisman Trophy balloting.
But none of those accomplishments matter more to James, he said, than his relationship with Campbell, who today announced on Twitter that his career at Oregon has officially come to an end.
The news hit James hard. Below is his heartfelt written response to CSN regarding Campbell's announcement:
- "Over my time at Oregon, and even beyond, Coach Cam has become the most influential person in my life, next to my grandmother. Growing up without a great male role model I began to look to you for guidance and then before I knew it, it turned into much more. You went from a coach, to a role model, to a friend, and then to a father. I often tell people that when I look back, that it didn't really matter how good I was talent wise, the fact I couldn't let myself ever let you down is what pushed me to be great. I listened to everything you said to me, every piece of advice you gave, every direction you pointed me in. You instilled in me my drive and my focus as a person, not just as a player. It's no secret that you're the only Coach who could deal with my unique personality, and I would be lying if I said that you leaving the University of Oregon didn't take a piece of me with you. You were there for me when I was at the lowest point in my life. I had you there, always, pushing me and motivating me, not as a player, but as man. The bond I share with you is far bigger than a player and a coach. It's funny to think back at how you used to kick me and Kenjon (Barner) out of the meeting room for goofing off, or how you were always having to match every single piece of clothing you wore, and to see now how far you've helped me come in my life. I will forever be grateful for you as a coach, as a friend, and most importantly, as my dad."