UO Recruiting Dictates Stronger Supervision of Athletes
Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Gary Crum
University of Oregon football coaches, support staff, boosters and fans are shaking their heads as they try to deal with disaster after disaster stemming from players' off-field behavior. What's going on? What's the problem? What can be done to address it? And, from the less charitable, who can we blame for it?
May I offer some opinions and suggestions based on 28 years teaching and counseling dysfunctional and delinquent adolescents?
First, and of considerable importance, the Oregon football program, just like every football program across the nation, wants success. The program wants that success now. And when a little comes, it wants more. There's massive pressure from within the university, and even more so from fans and boosters, to clear the ever-rising bar defining that success.
Obviously, achieving such a level of success requires a sound program, excellent coaching and, probably even more important, truly outstanding players. Just as obviously, the recruiting competition for those top-tier athletes is intense - top candidates have virtually their choice of any school in the country.
I define a top-tier recruit as a player who excels on the field and has a clean, solid record off the field as well. An example (who has become almost a clich) is Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for the University of Florida, who could have attended his choice of schools. At Oregon, one can list such recent success stories as Dennis Dixon, Haloti Ngata and Jonathan Stewart.
But Oregon, like most schools, is unable to fill its roster with only these top-tier recruits. Therefore (and I say this at the risk of offending players, staff and boosters), the UO program has often been forced to recruit at a slightly lower level.
Usually this means recruiting players with a lesser on-field record, hoping they will improve, or recruiting players with strong on-field credentials but a more questionable background off the field, hoping they can improve that behavior and remain eligible to play.
I suggest that Oregon has often chosen the second route - recruiting players with greater playing potential who fell from the top tier of recruits based on assessments of their off-field behavior. …