The Specialists

The University of Oregon has won plenty with teams led by "system quarterbacks" without NFL futures. But what have those quarterbacks gotten from the experience?
Share |

Finished in 2010 and funded by a $41.7 million gift from Phil Knight, the John E. Jaqua Academic Center rises from a reflecting pool like the pyramid of the Louvre, a monument to student-athletes gilding a busy Eugene, Oregon thoroughfare. This past August, the unveiling of the University of Oregon’s latest uniform prototype—a Chain Maille Mesh design touted by Nike as “pinnacle performance innovation”—drew hype from ESPN, CBS, and Sports Illustrated. Last Saturday, a sellout crowd rocked the revamped Autzen Stadium as freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Oregon offense hung a 50 on the scoreboard with 7:06 remaining in the secondquarter.

Meanwhile, former Duck signal-callers kick off the 2012 season in professional obscurity: Dennis Dixon is mulling an offer from the Sacramento Mountain Lions (UFL), Jeremiah Masoli is riding the injured-list of the Edmonton Eskimos (CFL), and—following failed NFL workouts in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Arizona—Rose Bowl-winning QB Darron Thomas stares down his rookie-season from the ranks of the unemployed.

System quarterbacks. Chip Kelly’s high-flying Spread Offense is hardly the first scheme to control for imbalances in size and talent by employing specialized role-players, and no shortage of record-shattering collegians produced diminishing professional returns. Some cashed-in (Houston Run and Shoot busts Andre Ware and David Klingler), some didn’t (Nebraska Power Option mainstays Tommie Frazier and Eric Crouch), and some could still go either way (Nevada Pistol-eer Colin Kaepernick and Texas Tech Air-Raider Graham Harrell).

College coaches earn their contracts by fielding competitive teams and recruiting players who fit their systems, not by producing draft-worthy pros. But there’s a difference in Oregon—a difference of about $14 billion separates Kelly’s Big Green from system-driven programs in Houston or Reno. Nike founder Phil Knight’s net worth has capitalized Duck football with both a Fortune 500 infrastructure and the commensurate top-down hierarchy. 

“The tempo is unique,” Jon Gruden told the New York Times in 2010, speaking of Chip Kelly’s legendary go-go-go practices, adding that “he had never seen an operation that was both this fast and this refined.”

Ceded the coach’s headset in 2009, Kelly adopted the winning culture instilled by Mike Bellotti and adapted the existing systems with an efficiency expert’s eye: shaving drills from five minutes to three, eliminating excess plays, and minimizing team risk through an emphasis on interchangeability rather than a focus on key individuals. Kelly also displayed a consultant’s taste for chunk-style jargon. “The practice field is not where we talk,” Kelly said in a 2009 Nike Coaches Clinic. “It is where we do the skills.”

The results, though, were the opposite of PowerPoint dryness--not just back-to-back-to-back BCS appearances and a regular slot in the top five for total offense, but some of the most exhilarating, flat-out thrilling football on either side of Sunday. This has meant the unflappable Darron Thomas, rallying his squad into formation after a failed down and snapping off the identicalplay for breakaway yardage; Jeremiah Masoli at the goal-line, executing the Zone-Read with such finely honed legerdemain his touchdown do-se-do’s demanded replay, with the lead camera having joined the entire defense in biting on a pitch that never left the QB’s hand; Dennis Dixon exploding into the open field: before blowing out his ACL on the Autzen Stadium turf in 2007, no single NCAA player was more critical to his team’s BCS hopes.

In training his quarterbacks to master the Spread Offense, Kelly stresses fundamentals, teamwork, and accountability, but after a competitive spring battle in which UO freshman Marcus Mariota (Mario-TAH!) narrowly won the starting job over sophomore Bryan Bennett, there remains the question of what broader skills these system quarterbacks gain during Kelly’s rigidly planned, obsessively focused practice schedule. A legitimate consolation exists for the competition’s loser—Joey Harrington’s one-time backup, A.J. Feeley, has enjoyed the longest NFL tenure of any Bellotti/Kelly signal-caller—but will the winner be positioned with marketable tools or are they investing the entirety of their human capital on a skill-set with little currency beyond their college eligibility?

“Education is the transference of knowledge,” Kelly said during that same 2009 Coaches Clinic, though in prioritizing a skill-set that produces far greater benefits for employer than employee, the transference of this specialized knowledge runs counter to the University of Oregon’s stated educational mission: “the establishment of a framework for lifelong learning that leads to productive careers and to the enduring joy of inquiry.”

Such Mission Statements should seldom be taken to the bank, and the glass-walled Jaqua Center deconstructs any myth that UO sports are an integrated campus arm: the yearly maintenance for the state-of-the-art tutorial center proved so burdensome the University required a separate $5 million gift to provide for the structure’s upkeep. In a bit of TARP-tastic bookkeeping, while the athletic department’s $2 million annual tutoring budget is paid through the University’s general fund, the majority of the Jaqua Center remains off-limits to the student body.

In the flap over Darron Thomas's decision to defy coaches, scouts, and skeptics by declaring for the draft, pundits and commentators have held up the Rose Bowl-winner as a cautionary tale, an athlete whose hubris cost him the chance to lead the Duck juggernaut in one last quest for BCS glory. Underlying that perception, though, is a lurking sense that for such system quarterbacks, these BCS seasons are precisely where their skills peak. In this reading of the decision, Thomas’s on-field education is presumed over, so why not stick around for another title run?

Thomas himself seemed to believe he’d learned all that Oregon had to teach. Bob Jones, Thomas’s high school coach, recounted a conversation he had with his former player before Thomas made the decision to turn pro: “He asked ‘How much better can I get as an NFL quarterback doing what we’re doing at Oregon?’”

This is no slap upside Chip Kelly’s visor: Thomas owes his college quarterbacking career to Kelly, as Thomas backed out of a high school commitment to LSU when he suspected the Tigers viewed him as either a double-threat or a straight receiver. (And anyone who’s seen Thomas chased down from behind by pursuing linebackers already knew what his disastrous 4.8 40-time at the combine confirmed: for all his talents, the man does not have the wheels of an NFL wideout).

“Masoli lacked the height and arm talent to play in The League while Thomas was much too erratic in his accuracy and fundamentals,” ex-Seahawk quarterback and current ESPN analyst Brock Huard explained to me via e-mail. “The credit really goes to Chip Kelly and his staff for minimizing their weaknesses, playing to their strengths, and having the flexibility within their scheme to adapt to their personnel.”

And some credit surely is due. During Saturday night’s season-opening blitzkrieg, the primary suspense quickly shifted to what would be the first to reach fifty: Mariota’s full-tilt offense or commentator Matt Millen’s use of the word “poise” while lauding the freshman’s cool under center. In declaring for the draft, Thomas overestimated the value of poise as an isolated asset, comparing himself to Cam Newton and believing his leadership qualities could provide the type of spark Newton brought to Carolina as a rookie.

Like Thomas, Newton wasn’t charged with a pro-style offense at Auburn, but he did have a track-record of executing against pro-style defenses; nothing to date has stymied Chip Kelly’s scheme like an SEC front-seven. And for a quarterback tasked with dropping back against NFL-level size and speed, no amount of poise can compensate for a lack of accuracy, arm-strength, or mechanics.

***

A recent Slate article advocated an exemption for high school tailbacks to make the leap straight to the NFL, minimizing years of uncompensated wear and tear on bodies with a limited shelf life; an oft-cited stat pegs the average NFL career at 3.3 years. But what numbers indicate anything “unprofessional” about Thomas’s three seasons quarterbacking Oregon’s Spread?

Thomas’s Rose Bowl win provided the Pac-12 a payout estimated between $18-$22 million. Chip Kelly enjoys the security of a six-year, $20.5 million contract. Nike isn’t merely footing the bill for a $63 million dollar expansion of the Ducks’ training facility—the corporation will also select the architect and contractors while controlling the paper trail. Week in and week out, the Ducks charge from the tunnel in brand new unis, serving as walking, winning billboards for Nike, Inc.’s Pro Combat uniform systems.

“If a player, especially a quarterback has a 'professional' talent, then the NFL will seek to find it and develop it for their own best interests,” Huard told me, and the exact same could be said of elite college programs: they seek out and develop specialized talent for their own best interests. Which, mission statements notwithstanding, is winning games and making money, not necessarily in that order.

Efficiency-expert Chip Kelly learned perhaps his most valuable professional lesson in 2007, when Dennis Dixon’s torn ACL turned the Ducks from BCS-contender to divisional also-ran. On both sides of the ball, Kelly’s recruiting has since targeted both speed and interchangeability—throughout the competition between Mariota and Bennett, Kelly has maintained confidence that either athlete would succeed in the starting role. Only two individuals remain irreplaceable in Oregon’s top-down model: Chip Kelly, who calls the shots and Phil Knight, who writes the checks.

Rather than swerve into digressions on Dependency Theory or offer pie-in-the-sky suggestions that Nike provide severance, pensions, or back-end compensation to productive college athletes, it's probably better to simply look back to Auburn. Cam Newton provided one optimistic model, but Dr. Paul Johnson’s definitions of Political Economy cut to the quick on this question. Per Dr. Johnson, an “exploitive division of labor” exists when a superior entity reaps the principal gains from specialization, at the expense of worsening conditions for the specialized worker. All those years producing in the system before finally being turned loose to earn a living: Dennis Dixon in the UFL, Jeremiah Masoli in the CFL, and Darron Thomas on the couch. 


Share |

Comments

Your substance is completely splendid from numerous points of view. I think this is drawing in and educational material. Much obliged to you such a great amount for thinking about your substance and your perusers. bahis siteleri

A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing us. spor bahisler

Every one of the substance you said in post is too great and can be extremely helpful. I will remember it, much obliged for sharing the data continue upgrading, looking forward for more posts.Thanks actor theatre

I was taking a gander at some of your posts on this site and I imagine this site is truly enlightening! Keep setting up.. superbetin yeni giris

I have as of late begun a website, the data you give on this webpage has helped me extraordinarily. Much obliged for the greater part of your time and work. bayrulet.com online

I really enjoy simply reading all of your weblogs. Simply wanted to inform you that you have people like me who appreciate your work. Definitely a great post. Hats off to you! The information that you have provided is very helpful. bags & shoes

Bahis sitelerinin sürekli gelismesiyle birlikte bahis severler de en iyi bahis sitelerine yönelmeye baslamistir. Bu tür sitelerin hem güvenilir hem de kisa sürede islem yapabilme hizmeti sundugunu söyleyebiliriz. Bu konudaki tüm arastirmalari artik internet üzerinden takip edebilir ve güvenilir bahis sitelerine ulasabilirsiniz. Ayrica tüm bahis sitelerinin inceleme bilgilerine ve sunduklari bonuslara da sitemiz üzerinden erisim saglayabilirsiniz. En iyi bahis siteleri arastirmasi yaparken sitenin ilk olarak lisansli olup olmadigina ve daha sonra müsteri destek hattinin bulunup bulunmadigina bakabilirsiniz. Yurt disi lisansli bahis sitelerinde herhangi bir sorun yasamadan hem spor bahisleri yapabilir hem de Casino oyunlari oynayabilirsiniz. Ayrica birbirinden eglenceli slot ve masa oyunlari da kullanicilarini beklemeye devam ediyor. online bahis oynanabilen siteler

Although today's Poodles seem to epitomize a life of leisure and luxury, make no mistake: These are real dogs bred to do real jobs. Although it hardly seems possible when you look at a primped-up Poodle in the show ring, the breed was originally a water retriever, a job that requires jumping in the water to fetch waterfowl for hunters. Jenloren poodles

Herkesin aklina gelen soru. En iyi canli bahis sitesi hangisi? Arkadaslar en iyi bahis sitesi yoktur. Sormaniz gereken "bana en uygun online canli bahis sitesi hangisi?" sorusudur. Çünkü. Adini veremeyecegim bahis sitelerinde müsteri hizmetleri temsilcisi olarak uzun süre çalistim. Ve binbir çesit müsteri talebiyle karsilastim. Kimi bonus istiyor kimisi ise bana kesinlikle bonus vermeyin diyor. Kimisi canli bahis, kimisi maç öncesi bahsi oynuyor. Söylemek istedigim herkes farklidir ve farkli tarzda bahis yapiyor. En iyi canli bahis siteleri diye size bilgi vermemiz ve bahis bürolarinin çoklugu bu yüzdendi. Canli bahis siteleri

I can see that you are a specialist at your field! I am propelling a site soon, and your data will be extremely valuable for me.. Much obliged for all your help and wishing all of you the accomplishment in your business. en iyi kumar siteleri

"Organize an amazing and fun-filled event through Eventdex. All event management processes are simplified into a single app - EventApp. This highly functional event management software will help you to organize, all your event data in real time. It is integrated with all social media platforms to promote your event and attract more attendees.
You can schedule your event instantly and send it to your event team as well as to attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. The event technology helps in managing the attendee check-in, which is very helpful for event planners to make different event strategies at various event cycles. Its on-site event registration software is integrated with badge design and printing tools to speed-up the attendee's check-in time at the entry gate of the event.
Eventdex offers a perfect business matchmaking app – MatchLeads, which helps in matching the same business profiles of different attendees at an event and can schedule their appointments on request. Its Lead retrieval app is one such app which is beneficial for event managers and organizers, especially in getting a real-time data of all leads generating through various online channels for an event.
Eventdex is providing multiple event management technologies and applications to suit various business needs of an event. The technology, service and cost-effective prices presented by us, is unmatched as compared to other companies of the present event industry" lead retrieval app

"Organize an amazing and fun-filled event through Eventdex. All event management processes are simplified into a single app - EventApp. This highly functional event management software will help you to organize, all your event data in real time. It is integrated with all social media platforms to promote your event and attract more attendees.
You can schedule your event instantly and send it to your event team as well as to attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. The event technology helps in managing the attendee check-in, which is very helpful for event planners to make different event strategies at various event cycles. Its on-site event registration software is integrated with badge design and printing tools to speed-up the attendee's check-in time at the entry gate of the event.
Eventdex offers a perfect business matchmaking app – MatchLeads, which helps in matching the same business profiles of different attendees at an event and can schedule their appointments on request. Its Lead retrieval app is one such app which is beneficial for event managers and organizers, especially in getting a real-time data of all leads generating through various online channels for an event.
Eventdex is providing multiple event management technologies and applications to suit various business needs of an event. The technology, service and cost-effective prices presented by us, is unmatched as compared to other companies of the present event industry" lead retrieval app

This substance is composed exceptionally well. Your utilization of arranging while mentioning your focuses makes your objective facts clear and straightforward. Much obliged to you. online blackjack oyna

This substance is composed exceptionally well. Your utilization of arranging while mentioning your focuses makes your objective facts clear and straightforward. Much obliged to you. online blackjack oyna

I've been surfing online over three hours today, yet I never discovered any intriguing article like yours. It's really sufficiently worth for me. As I would like to think, if all website admins and bloggers made great substance as you did, the web will be significantly more helpful than any other time in recent memory. casino siteleri

Its an extraordinary joy perusing your post.Its brimming with data I am searching for and I want to post a remark that "The substance of your post is wonderful" Great work. Mroyun giris

That is truly decent to listen. much obliged to you for the redesign and good fortunes. casino bonuslari

Exceptionally helpful post. This is my first time i visit here. I discovered such a variety of fascinating stuff in your web journal particularly its exchange. Truly its extraordinary article. Keep it up. portrait photography in Katy

Awesome post, and incredible site. A debt of gratitude is in order for the data! canli bahis

I might want to thank you for the endeavors you have made in composing this article. I am trusting the same best work from you later on also.. online casino

A stone like this gives me an opportunity to show off a little.The faceting on the top of the stone has a square pattern, so I will start my design by using this pattern on the back of the pendant. The divider pictured is used to mark out the shape, the thin thread across the top is the sawblade, and the wood it is laying on is the bench pin, which works for cutting off the sides and piercing out the center. Again, this plate will be at the back of the finished pendant, lying against the skin. енонощен ключар

Undoubtedly this is a phenomenal post I got a considerable measure of learning subsequent to perusing good fortunes. Subject of online journal is astounding there is just about everything to peruse, Brilliant post. Official Musically Website

"With our nontraditional students, gender trends have fluctuated depending on the times," Jorgensen said. "I'm not worried about it. We meet a need in the community, so whoever walks in our door we serve." free tour estocolmo

Extraordinary post, you have pointed out some astounding focuses, I also trust this is an extremely great site. The Woman men adore

An entrancing examination is worth remark. I surmise that it is best to compose additional on this matter, it won't be a forbidden theme however for the most part individuals are insufficient to chat on such points. To the following. Here's to you Thomas F Paquin

Exceptionally helpful post. This is my first time i visit here. I discovered such a variety of fascinating stuff in your web journal particularly its exchange. Truly its extraordinary article. Keep it up. Unsecured Debt Consolidation Loans

Hi. I discovered your online journal utilizing msn. This is a greatly elegantly composed article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to peruse a greater amount of your valuable data. A debt of gratitude is in order for the post. I'll positively rebound. lovetraction lines

Extraordinary post, you have pointed out some astounding focuses, I also trust this is an extremely great site. Tobacco

A debt of gratitude is in order for giving late reports with respect to the worry, I anticipate read more. full report

Nicorinse removes tar and nicotine from your mouth, gums, teeth, tongue and throat for better oral health and protection all year long. It might even help you quit tobacco. Dry mouth

Superb and extremely energizing site. Adoration to watch. Continue Rocking. find more info

Extraordinary post, you have pointed out some astounding focuses, I also trust this is an extremely great site. earn money online

SEO Professional experienced in link building. With my techniques I can help you to get your desired rankings. 100% white hat and 100% ethical professional. Full time working on Search Engine Optimization. buy dofollow backlinks

Incredible data! I as of late went over your site and have been perusing along. I thought I would leave my first remark. I don't comprehend what to say aside from that I have.
appvn apk android

They did a good job but most of all they really understood. I’m very pleased with my procedures done by the doctor, I would like to thank you for everything.
happy birthday wishes for lover

The data you have posted is extremely helpful. The destinations you have alluded was great. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing.. Tradesman Winnipeg

This article gives the light in which we can watch the truth. This is exceptionally decent one and gives indepth data. A debt of gratitude is in order for this decent article.
brestrogen uk

much obliged this is great web journal. Race medals

Incredible data! I as of late went over your site and have been perusing along. I thought I would leave my first remark. I don't comprehend what to say aside from that I have.youtube bots | get more youtube views

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to start my own BlogEngine blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a fine example of it.
subway surfers pc

much obliged this is great web journal. Christian Mejia Fitness

I truly adored sasperusing your web journal. It was extremely all around composed and straightforward. Not at all like different online journals I have perused which are truly not that good.Thanks alot! wifikill for pc

r the endeavors you have made in composing this article. I am trusting the same best work from you later on also. Website

Extraordinary post, you have pointed out some astounding focuses, I also trust this is an extremely great site. His secret Obsession

I truly welcome the sort of themes you post here. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing us an extraordinary data that is really useful. Great day! tours estocolmo en español

Incredible data! I as of late went over your site and have been perusing along. I thought I would leave my first remark. I don't comprehend what to say aside from that I have.diet pills that work fast without exercise

Your music is astounding. You have some extremely skilled craftsmen. I wish you the best of accomplishment. Chinese medical diagnosis

The latest craze fidget spinner toys everybody is talking about are here from C2BPromo.com for your customization with your brands, logos or business messages as promotional fidget spinners or branded fidget spinners or Logo Fidget Spinners for your marketing campaigns, trade show giveaways, corporate gifts, promotional gifts and event giveaways. You are guaranteed your audiences will love them, spin them right from the package and spread your business message out! Check out the largest product line of Custom Fidget Spinners in the industry at C2BPromo.com, the No. 1 factory-direct Custom Platform of promotional products to save up 60% and free shipping and free logo here! Branded Fidget Spinners

Incredible data! I as of late went over your site and have been perusing along. I thought I would leave my first remark. I don't comprehend what to say aside from that I have.
brestrogen amazon

Great information it is very useful for us.I really impress to reading this article thanks for sharing this nice article.

best whitening cream for asians