Oregon still gets tweaked by occasional critics for being a "gimmick" or system team. Thing is, that is a partially true statement, as the squawks of the ignorant often are in amusing, unintended ways.
Oregon is a system team. So is Alabama. The Crimson Tide's system is Nick Saban's "The Process," which is fun because that sounds like euphemism for a torture technique.
Oregon's system is "Win the day." It's about a commitment to excellence on a moment-to-moment basis. It's about team above all else.
Talented tight end Colt Lyerla was no longer a properly functioning part of that system. So he had to go. On the scales that measure his value to the team as a playmaker versus the potential distraction his continued presence might produce, the potential distraction proved heavier.
The Ducks' system includes a phrase many coaches use: "Next man in." With some teams, that's just three words. With Oregon, it's a statement of fact.
Jeremiah Masoli gets into off-field trouble? Enter Darron Thomas. LeGarrette Blount gets suspended? Step up LaMichael James. James to the NFL? Enter Kenjon Barner. Injuries to safeties John Boyett and Avery Patterson? Next man in. Thomas dubiously opts to go pro. Let me introduce you to a guy named "Marcus Mariota."
Lyerla not around? Freshman Johnny Mundt introduced himself to Tennessee with an epic stiff arm.
Lyerla's immaturity has made headlines for the wrong reasons, starting with his idiotic tweets supporting conspiracy theories surrounding the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. Lyerla never seemed to grasp that it wasn't just that he was being offensive. It was that he was being cuckoo. His lame apology left out the fact that his tweets were completely ignorant, representative of folks on the Internet who specialize in something called "Making Stuff Up."
There were also hints that Lyerla wasn't fully invested in this team. Even when he got his foot out of his mouth and onto the football field, Lyerla's early performance wasn't up to snuff, with his two receptions for 26 yards eclipsed by his number of dropped passes. He missed the Tennessee game due to illness, then whined to a reporter that coach Mark Helfrich had made him look bad by terming his absence being due to "circumstances."
Whining to reporters about hurt feelings is not part of the Oregon system.
He was suspended for the Colorado game over the weekend due to a team rules violation. He was becoming the one bad story within a team again fighting to play for a Pac-12 and national title. His leaving the team -- or being told to do so while being allowed to save face -- while unfortunate for the young man who probably just lost himself several million dollars in future NFL income, was good for the Ducks.
There isn't ill will here -- or at Oregon, by the way -- toward Lyerla. Everyone's hope should be that he gets his head together and then has a long and successful NFL career.
"Team above all else" is an ideology. You can argue it's big-picture value or its intellectual underpinnings, but it's a proven way to get 100 guys working in unison toward a goal of winning.
Lyerla has proven that he's mostly focused on being an individual. Individualism is a good thing outside of the locker room. But it's not part of the Oregon system. And now Lyerla isn't either.