- Brandon P. Oliver, Reporter, DuckNation
When you have one of the nation's most exciting offenses, top-notch facilities and fashion-forward uniforms, other programs have to combat those advantages. For those programs competing for recruits with the Oregon Ducks, it even means negative recruiting against a team that will appear in its fourth straight BCS bowl next month.
In the past, programs have used Oregon's high-flying offense against them by telling offensive linemen that the zone-blocking scheme and the up-tempo pace won't be as fun or rewarding to play in. They have told wide receiver recruits that they will block more than they will catch the ball.
They have also pointed out the lack of NFL success by some of the best players the Ducks have had in their program. During this recruiting cycle, the Ducks have had to deal with the latest recruiting tactic that programs are using against them.
When Chip Kelly almost bolted for Tampa Bay after the 2011 season, rival programs did everything they could to sell recruits that Kelly wasn't loyal to the Ducks. In the end, Kelly stayed with the program and ended the 2012 recruiting cycle with a fantastic crop of recruits.
Now that rumors of his impending departure are making the rounds, the Ducks coaching staff is being faced with another barrage of questions surrounding Kelly's future in Eugene. Luckily for the Ducks, it doesn't seem to have had any affect on their recruiting efforts as they look to finish the class of 2013 with a late flurry.
Most of the Ducks' targets -- including Oregon tight end commit John Mundt (Modesto, Calif./Central Catholic) -- are focused on the program as a whole and their respective position coaches.
"Honestly, Coach Kelly is a great guy and an amazing coach, but I know that once I get there, [Ducks tight end coach Tom] Osborne is going to be the one that I work with each and every day," Mundt said.
While Kelly has been one of the keys to the Ducks' unprecedented run of success, the rest of the Oregon staff has been and will continue to be the glue that holds the program together. Only wide receiver coach Scott Frost and defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro have been on the staff for less than five years. In total, the coaching staff has been at Oregon for an average of 17 years. That statistic seems to carry more weight that anything else when it comes to the way recruits view the program.
"They have been real good for a while now. They have great coaches and they all know how to coach their players up," said Oregon commit Chris Seisay (American Canyon, Calif./American Canyon). "They have been there as long as the kids they are recruiting have been alive."
In the midst of Kelly flirting with the NFL after the 2011 season, the Ducks were in a heated battle with Washington, Cal, Alabama, USC and others for 2012 ESPN 150 lineman Arik Armstead. Some of those schools made Kelly's indecisiveness a fixture in their recruiting pitch for the two-way lineman. In the end it turned out to benefit the Ducks as Kelly's honesty won over the Armstead family.
"He just said that he couldn't promise that he would be there my whole career, but he would do everything he could to help me for whatever amount of time he was at Oregon," said Armstead, just before signing day in 2012. "That's all anyone can really say because you never know what the future will be. My parents and I really appreciated the way he handled it and the way he laid things out."
Kelly's reputation and enormous success have given the Ducks a chance to compete with elite programs for recruits from around the country. The common theme from recruits in the classes of 2013 and 2014 is that the overall atmosphere of the program and the rest of the staff are what really matters.
"There are a lot of things that I'm going to look at when it comes to making my decision. I think the style of play, the overall feel of the program and who my position coach is will be bigger than who the head coach is," said ESPN Watch List cornerback Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra). "It's nice to know who your coach would be, but it's about more than that."
With the uncertainty surrounding the program's future, all of the Oregon coaches are seemingly taking the same approach. Honesty is always the best policy and by being up front with recruits about the coaching situation seems to have paid dividends to this point.
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