Footballscoop.com and Justin Hopkins of Duck Territory are reporting this morning on Twitter that Don Pellum is going to be named as the new Oregon defensive coordinator.
If so, given the candidates considered and their track records, the initial reaction is that this is a shocking and disappointing development. The linebackers were the main problem on defense this year in a season the Ducks struggled to stop the run and had just 70 tackles for loss all year.
Pellum has been a capable recruiter and a faithful position coach, but nothing about this selection suggests excellence or improvement in the Oregon defense. He's 80% of Nick Aliotti after the Ducks had considered some of the top defensive minds in the country, including defensive backs coach John Neal, Todd Orlando of Utah State, and Clancy Pendergast, a 15-year NFL veteran who transformed USC's defense this year.
Seems like there are a lot of assumptions being made with relatively little fact at this point to back them up. I pose the following for your consideration:
Many have said publicly that Pendergast does not like to recruit and really wants to go back to the NFL. He is rumored to the first choice for a couple of open jobs at that level. If what is said about his dislike of recruiting is true why would he even be considered????
We don't know who other than Shannon expressed interest in the job. We only know what Twitter and the message boards have told us. We may not know for sure as that may remain confidential .
Todd Orlando's name was bandied about as well . What if he was interested but only if he could bring in his own position coaches?
What if Shannon was interested but only till he found another HC job? Again conventional wisdom is that he wants to get back to being a head coach so perhaps his interest was only to use this as a spring board to something better.
I only pose these for consideration . I don't know if the Pellum hire is right or not. Time will tell. It just seems lots of conclusions are being drawn with little back ground info.
Dale, on a side note, I think you do a terrific job. I enjoy your writing.
Hope at least everyone will give Pellum a chance . He at least deserves that.
What is the measure of a man? There is no dipstick to yard from him, to find the depth of his soul nor sample the heat of the fire in his belly. Is it easier to say a man cannot do well something he has not done before than it is to believe any man is capable of greatness, even when doing something for the first time?
In my lifetime, I have seen great, experienced men fail at simple tasks, and simple, inexperienced men conquer the impossible. The wisdom of hiring of Don Pellum will not be known until we see the product he puts on the field, and only then will we be able to take his measure. There are no time machines or crystal balls to know now what that product will be, or what it would have been under some other coach. Thus, I cannot be disappointed.
I am actually rather happy that the search for a coach has ended and recruiting will resume on January 16th, with a DC in place for 2014.
I am disappointed, not by the hire, but by the strong negative reactions here, especially from Dale, who has normally shown a measured, cautious perspective on matters.
Dale, you know very little about the alternatives that were considered/available and, more important, I think you unfairly judge the choice (if it is indeed the choice). Just because he is not a big-ticket name doesn't mean he won't make a big positive impact. We really don't know. (How many people were complaining about Dana Altman, and now most realize that he is a good coach.)
Here are some possible reasons to hire Pellum and to be happy about the hire.
(a) Oregon has had problems recruiting the very best defensive players; perhaps Pellum is the man to change that.
(b) Pellum has a history of producing very good linebackers, often 2-3-star high-school players becoming multi-year NFL players. This year, our personnel was limited, so don't make him a "bad coach" after one modest season.
(c) I like the fact that we would have an African American coach in a prominent position. It's a scandal (with many, complex causes) that so few African American coaches emerge from a vast predominance of African American players.
(d) I second another commentator's caution that we have no idea what Pellum would do to our defense -- innovation is not what makes a great position coach; to assume there won't be innovation is unjustified.
(e) Everybody hails Oregon's long-term commitment to its position coaches (and their commitment to Oregon). GIving one a chance to prove himself at the coordinator level is only fair. If he doesn't have success, he will be gone quickly.
I wish people withheld judgment until there is actually some evidence. Subjective disappointment is one thing, negative judgment is another.
@Dale Newton "When Chip Kelly hired people, he brought in intelligence, innovation and energy..." People like Helfrich and Scott? Be careful what you say. Your negativity on this hire is profound. After spending 4 years with him, Chip also thought Helfrich was the guy to follow him and lead this team into the future.
Frankly I didn't care for Orlando or Pendegast. I was rooting for Neal. The bad thing in hiring Neal would be that he couldn't be the DBs coach. He might not be anyway if someone else snags him for DC. Ifo said that one of the main reasons he stayed was because of Neal - I hope Neal stays.
As to Pellum being/not being an innovator, we really have no clue, do we? There may be a fire burning in his belly to completely change how things are done and he has just been a team player because he is "just a position coach". Helf is the head coach and I assume this is 99% his decision. Maybe Helf doesn't want to radically change things on defense. I am sure that during the process he talked to each candidate about what they were interested in doing with the D at Oregon.
As always, I think the smart thing to do is wait and see rather than judge someone before he even has a chance to show what he's got.
Maybe Mark wanted to NOT upset the chemistry, ruffle feathers, step on toes. Hmm...what about defense?
Would an Orlando or Pendergast be a threat to the young HC? Hope that wasn't the issue.
Pellum may prove to be just the right hire, but I was hoping for some fresh fire.
Maybe Helf will bring in Orlando, with a raise, to be LB coach?
Why this IS a great move for Oregon: 1. Hiring from within and continuity of staff are universal signs of stable organizations. People who have worked for years in an organization deserve promotion, if at all possible. Makes everybody trust the organization will support existing personnel. 2. Who has evidence that Oregon didn't look nationally at prospects? Were they willing to come to Oregon? Were they a good fit for Oregon? 3. Current and recuited players would likely be thrilled that Pellum, who they know, would be there for them in the near future, both scheme-wise and relationship-wise (these are college kids). 4. Had Oregon hired someone from across the country, how many of our long term assistants would have stayed? (More turnover?) 5. (And I think this is the biggest) Since when did continuity of coaching staff start becoming an bad thing at Oregon? For years the narrative has been that Oregon is one of the most tenured and consistent coaching staffs in College Football, and that it has been paramount to the program's success. Now Oregon only has too replace one position coach. 6. Finally, who was saying Don Pellum wasn't a great linebacker coach when we had Kiko, Clay and Jordan coming off the end. My point is personnel affect outcome as much as coaching. How do we know he didn't do an exceptional job THIS YEAR with the personnel he had to work with. Only the coaches and Athletic Department know that, because they were at the practices. I think it's a great hire.
Wow this is disappointing. Oregon AD Mullens did not do the national search for the new Head Coach that we deserved. Mark Helfrich may succeed but was probably chosen immediately because of Chip Kelly's poor timing regarding his resignation. Now we could probably search and hire the best DC in the nation and we are not doing this. Is the boat headed for rocky shoals? Off topic here is a nice article on La Michael from the Santa Rosa Press Democrathttp://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20140109/sports/140109585
@profemDana Altman's probably not the best example to advance your argument--his team doesn't play very good defense either.
@profem You make some solid points. What underwhelms me about the choice of Pellum is that it was so simply done. He may turn out to be a great DC, but so might have Orlando, Pendergast or Neal. Did they all turn the offer down? If that's the case, then when Pellum got picked, it's worse than simple, it's sad. It just doesn't make sense to me that no candidates would want to link up with a team thatn has ben in the top 10 for a good while now.
@GlennHannaIn the long run he'll be judged by results, but the initial reaction is that there were other possibilities with more experience as defensive coordinators and a history of creating Top Ten defenses.
@JonSousaI have opinions all the time and because you don't agree with this one you call it negative. I gave good reasons to support my point of view and investigated all the candidates and their track records thoroughly. If you think Don Pellum is an inspired choice as defensive coordinator, I hope you're right.
When a story breaks, realize a website of opinions, commentary and analysis is going to have a reaction. Based on the data, the stats and the information available on the coaching experience of available coaches, I don't see this as an inspired hire. Don Pellum is a capable football coach and a good recruiter. He's been a position coach at Oregon for 20 years.
Something NEEDS to radically change on Oregon's defense. They alllowed 164 yards a game on the ground and got shredded in their two losses. The entire defense had just 70 tackles for loss last year. A new coordinator from outside might have turned that around.
@rgyleThere's little chance Orlando accepts a demotion to position coach. He's a future head coach. When Chip Kelly hired people, he brought in intelligence, innovation and energy, people like Jerry Azzinaro. This is a safe, careful, non-threatening business-as-usual hire. It won't make the defense significantly better, and it needed a transformation.
dddupree-Helfrich could have done all you said and hired John Neal, which at least would have been the best candidate on staff.
@dddupreeThis makes sense - from a management standpoint. I just hope improved defense is the main goal. Not that it was bad. But also not so great. And all the DT offers in January, what's that? Hope they land 'em but that's cutting it awfully close.
@dddupreeBy that reasoning, Jim Lambright and Bill Doba were great hires. Pellum's been a position coach for 23 years, and the other candidates had all coached top ten defenses I think it's a very underwhelming hire, potentially disastrous.
@duckifiedUnless the offense just outscores everybody. Neither Frost or Pellum would be considered a game-changer or innovator as a recruiter. This may suggest that Mark Helfrich is the type of manager who wants to surround himself with people he can easily control rather than a team of rivals and exceptional minds.
@SonomaDuckThanks for the link. I agree that this is a disappointing and uninspired decision.
Dale, I completely agree with your opinion and perspective. This is not the direction I thought the hire would go. What the hell do I know though.
I agree. According to cfbstats.com Oregon's defense has been mediocre averaging the past 7 years 53rd nationally. Pellum has never been a DC and has no track record. An unremarkable hire at best. Hope Im wrong.
Pellum may or may not be a good DC, my concern is how much of a hand does Rob Mullens play in this? As a football staff we are woefully underpaid by comparison with other schools in the Pac 12. Did Mullens tie Helfrich's hands with dollar amount allowed for DC? Is that why it turns out to be Pellum?
I'm not at all discounting that as a possibility, but what actual evindence is there to support that outlook at this point?
@samuraiduckI liked Neal better as an internal candidate. His unit has sent more players to the NFL and has been Oregon's best on defense over the last 10 years. He's been a defensive coordinator before and coached a top 10 defense,
@Dale Newton @SonomaDuck Dale, you are a master of the understatement. This is a disastrous hire but is consistent with the downward spiral caused by an untested, immature and politically correct AD. At least when the downward spiral ends, it will be easy to completely flush the staff. All the quality will be long gone and only the remaining yes men will be affected by Helfrich's downright foolish choice. And, I take it back, Helfrich isn't half the coach Mike Riley is.
Now wait a minute.
MH's job security is based on the win/loss record of the team. As a whole. He can ill-afford to have a woeful defense, as not every year will prove to be one with stellar offense(s).
MH is the head coach, with the admin's approval as well as the approval of the booster(unclePhil)(s).
Regardless of what anyone thinks of Mark as a coach, I am absolutely certain that anyone he hires knows who the boss is, and anyone that doesn't like it is free to leave.
These are grown men, and highly skilled professionals in their craft. To think otherwise is to underestimate not only their capabilities, but their qualities as people and coaches. I would wager heavily that Don Pellum knows better than ANYONE the problems we had on defense this past year, and where the fix is. He was but one cog in the defensive scheme, that struggled.
Now is his chance to fix it. I for one am not afraid to give him that chance, and am actually glad that he'll get the opportunity to do just that.
Come Dec 31, 2014, some of us will be wrong about this hire, but here's hoping we'll all still be supportive of our team.