This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to go down to Eugene for the University of Oregon football game versus Arizona.
Growing up I have been a Ducks fan since before I can remember. I would go to a game a year and always loved the Ducks. But now I have a new-found appreciation for that football program.
Every fall, I have the opportunity to coach high school football for a 6A team here in the Portland area. Being involved with this team and observing the Ducks' program has made me appreciate some of Chip Kelly's theories and coaching principles.
All Ducks fans are familiar with the phrase, "Win The Day". Through these most successful years of school history, the Oregon football players have really lived by this Kelly-coined phrase.
While I was appreciating the magnificent facilities the U of O athletic department has, I noticed something I found interesting.
On the outside of the locker room door there was a sign that said...
“When You Enter...
1. Have Fun
2. Stick Together
3. Eliminate Distractions
4 "Flip The Switch"”
In my opinion, this sign really signifies the Oregon football program of recent years, along with their successes and improvements.
The first one, "Have Fun" is what it's all about. Football is a fun sport and the number one form of entertainment in America. And football does not get any more fun than watching this fast-paced, high-scoring offense and ruthless defense.
The term "Stick Together" hasn't been any truer than this season with the Bryan Bennett situation. After not being named the starting quarterback, rumor was that Bennett would transfer. However, after a meeting with Kelly and an outpouring of support from his teammates, Bennett decided to continue his career as a Duck. And because of his loyalty is seeing a portion of snaps at quarterback and continues to be leader for this young team.
Kelly is the king of the third phrase, "Eliminate Distractions". He is such a no-nonsense kind of coach. Kelly has never been one to disclose accurate injury reports and has closed the majority of practices to the media. He preaches solidarity and that while winning the day, the only thing that really matters is right there on the field.
And last but not least, since Kelly got to Oregon, this team and program has definitely "Flipped The Switch". The Ducks have won three straight Pac-12 championships, been to a national championship game and two Rose Bowls. The improvement and development of this team into a national powerhouse has been astonishing. A team in a little town in Oregon is now a household name. Known for their jerseys, flashy play and connections with Nike, this program and school has now become a national force.
The game was incredible. The Ducks defense was superb, the offense did enough and the different sets Kelly sent out on the field were brilliant. But aside from the play, you have to be pleased by the focus and determination of this program. It's an awesome thing to have such a success story so close to home.