Call this a topic for discussion, in a world where everything is a two-edged sword.
Both Mariota and Helfrich are celebrated for their easy-going, pleasant natures. Mariota is unfailingly polite, the product of what is obviously a very solid upbringing. He's been raised to be a gentleman and to share credit in everything he accomplishes. Duck fans love him for his modesty, his unassuming nature and his genuineness.
Brain trust: the 2014 Oregon football team will go as far as Mark Helfrich's and Marcus Mariota's leadership will carry them (Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports photo).
Helfrich, meanwhile diffuses every serious question with a joke, often a self-deprecating one. The adjective most often used to describe him is affable. Oregon fans love his small-town roots and the fact that he's a man who remembers where he came from, one who deeply values the opportunity to coach at Oregon, something he described as "my dream job" when he was promoted a year ago.
But there's another side to competing at the highest level. In an article in Grantland.com yesterday, Chris Brown wrote a thoughtful profile of Peyton Manning, Super Bowl quarterback of the Denver Broncos, one of the greatest of all time at his position. Among the telling observations was this anecdote about a young Manning vying for the starting job back at Tennessee in 1995, a fierce head-to-head battle with a highly-touted passer from Texas named Branndon Stewart. Brown writes:
While Manning and Stewart were always on friendly terms, Manning never missed a chance to gain an edge. “I locked [Stewart] out of a quarterback meeting one night,” Manning wrote. “We were scheduled to meet with coaches at eight o’clock, when a lot of the buildings on campus are closed and everything looks deserted. I was walking through one of the doors they had kept open for us and it ‘accidentally’ closed behind me, locking automatically. I knew Branndon was running late and that he’d have to get through that door. I didn’t bother to prop it back open.”
Brown adds a quote from Peyton's father Archie, from his book, Manning: “Peyton doesn’t laugh off defeats. He examines them, over and over, like laboratory specimens.”
It would be foolish to question the dedication, character or commitment of Mariota and Helfrich. Each devotes long hours to getting the most out of their ability and the talents of the Oregon team. But in a sport where the line between achievement and being forgotten is so fine, another element of the equation is "the killer instinct." Great coaches and athletes have it, a willingness to do almost anything to win or get an edge. Michael Jordan is probably the foremost example. Chip Kelly is another one.
Oregon fans love Mariota, justifiably. Most like and respect Helfrich, who is by all measures a decent and intelligent man.
Mariota doesn't have to lock anybody out of a meeting, because no one is going to beat him out for the Oregon starting job. Yet there are times fans might wish he had the capacity to be a little meaner, a little more assertive, more willing to "be confident in everything you do."
His modesty is admirable and his talent is undeniable. But in 2014, he needs to shut the door on Brett Hundley, Cody Kessler and the rest of the PAC-12. And his coach has to start pushing the right buttons and levers, starting with the next team meeting and film session with his coaches.
Marcus needs to be more of a TEAM Leader for this Offense to where he needs to be VOCAL LEADER as in 1 of the CAPTAINS, too which just 1 of the reasons Oregon didn't get there Goals accomplished is nobody wanted to be a Leader on either side of the Ball. Coach H needs to tell Mariota that He needs to be 1 of the Captains, and if he takes that with being more assertive, THIS OFFENSE will be even better because these guys will follow Marcus especially if he's being a little more VOCAL, like guys that miss their Assignments like a O Lineman missing his Blocking Assignment needs to let him know about it. This Team is really Talented and will be more so this year, but more guys from the start of Spring Ball need to be Captains and Lead this Team with words and actions, because this was sorely missing from them in 2013. Marcus will probably be gone in 2015, so realistkly this is the DUCK'S last real shot at even being mentioned for the NATTY, to which I say they have been the last 3 years and have failed to reach that Goal. I just hope we take the PAC 12 back and If we do indeed get even the last or 4th position, I wouldn't bet against these guys getting it done in 2015.
Were Roger Staubach and Tom Landry too nice to win? They were a couple of the nicest guys on the planet.
Dale, perhaps but there are many "nice" guys who have won many championships....Bart Starr comes to mind. My point is that lack of sportsmanship isn't a requirement to winning.
“It has always seemed strange to me...The things we admire in men,
kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling,
are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we
detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and
self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the
quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”
― John Steinbeck, Cannery Row
Btw, locking a teammate out of a meeting suggests to me you don't have the confidence to do what it takes the right way.
Hogwash, competitiveness doesn't have to be with a sneer. How many championships has Manning won anyway? If he gets beat by Wilson Sunday he will have been beaten by maybe the nicest guy in the NFL.
Marcus has had his moments, and I believe he'll have a few more. In the game against UCLA it was reported that a ref was ready to throw a flag after a late hit. Marcus asked him to hold it, preferring to make that UCLA player pay for it on the field.
And he made good on it, embarrassing UCLA's defense before the day was out.
I have no doubt about either one's competitive nature, and/or their respective fire.
What I do have my doubts about, is MH's ability to convert that fire into constructive discipline that prepares his players for every play of every game. There were too many times in 2013 when we seemed to take too long to get things right. We were just a little too blase' at times. Early in games we were dropping easy passes, and committing too many mental errors throughout the season.
Other signs of lack of discipline include the comments by Huff and DAT over the Rose Bowl berth.
I can't see that EVER happening under Chipper.
Aliotti is gone now, and Mark has his man at DC, so I expect bigger things this year. I have a feeling Mark relied on coach Al to be the disciplinarian. Hopefully, Mark will be able to translate his competitive nature, and analytical football mind into more than the go-along-to-get-along, nice guy persona, he has presented thus far. The various mantras that the team acquired under Chip have meant something, and Mark needs to live them, to own them, and make them work for him and this team.
Win The Day, and Fast, Hard, Finish have been the words "The Men of Oregon" have lived by since Chipper forged them. I don't think it's quite right to expect Mark Helfrich to be another Chip Kelly, but it's certainly not unreasonable to expect Mark to take the tools he was left with, and use them to forge a cohesive team with the single minded purpose of winning every game, by leaving it all on the field every__single__play.
Whether or not he can do that, will be the true measure of Mark Helfrich.
Nice guy or not.
Maybe Bobby Petrino is already ready to leave Louisville, or a Saban-disciple who knows how to force kids to take medical scholarships?
I kid, I kid.
Marcus worked on being more vocal and assertive this past year under Helfrich. Let us not forget that this is Coach Helfrich's first year of coaching, I am sure he recognized flaws in his leadership and will look to correct them moving forward. I don't think this is a question of being nice rather it is a question of wanting to be the best. During the Arizona game I saw something from Marcus that I quite frankly did not see from the more outspoken members of the team. I saw a young man who was injured, but played extremely hard anyway. Everyone around him seemed to have given up but his heart and desire was transparent to me that day. He fought that day , and I was never left questioning his desire to win that game. To me Marcus is a winner and a hard worker who wants to be the absolute best even though he will never say it, he has passion that is not visible in words and schemes to beat his opponents. I think Marcus will find ultimate success at some level in football and I hope he does not have to "change" anything about his nature to achieve said success, while continuing to work hard on the field and letting the arrogance and confidence of his game to do the talking for him.
I think we saw from last season that temperament had nothing to do with Mariota’s performance, we all appreciate his Hawaiian laid back personality, and how he did not solicit Sports Center attention. He was perfectly fine if nothing but his play on the field received attention. Helfrich on the other hand, in short, needs to grow a pair.
The Mr. Nice guy persona wore out quickly. People want their grocery store clerks to be affable and easy going, not their team’s head coach. His constant refrain of “I’m not Chip” became a crutch, he used to stand on. Without that he didn’t have a leg to stand on.Helfrich probably really is nice like he showed, but it never seemed like he was comfortable. Cracking jokes on the podium often reveals a nervousness, and constantly taking the blame for things is noble, but also indicates that things are going wrong a lot. Kelly was intense and energized. But he wasn’t a loose cannon like Mike Stoops was at ASU, or Graham can appear to be at Arizona. Kelly never berated his players on the sidelines. The players knew he had their backs and would “go through the wall” for him. I don’t think the players felt that way about Helfrich.
Helfrich needs to stop acting like everybody’s friend and become the boss to the players; and boosters might not have liked Kelly’s dismissive attitude toward them, but Helfrich needs to be more consumed with football, and less with public relations. Mark Helfrich is now the head coach of one of the top teams in the nation. He needs to own that and put his stamp on the program and move it forward.
On Topic: Troy Hill convicted of a misdemeanor charge of "Menacing". Because it is a misdemeanor he will be reinstated to the team. What kind of discipline should Mark Helfrich bring to this situation if any? Troy might be a candidate for the Oakland Raiders.
@DougMai Marcus is very successful with his own leadership style and has tremendous respect among his teammates, who consider him the best quarterback in college football.
@JonSousa Jon, the other thing is, it's a long off-season. I have to consider a variety of topics, questions, points of view, stories, to challenge myself as a writer and try to keep the blog interesting and informative. It's just a question, not an indictment, and a headline intended to spark the conversation. I felt the story was thoughtful and even-handed. I can't write 240 days of "the Ducks are great;" there's no profit in that, or interest or illumination. I have to take some risks. Got all kinds of ridicule on Twitter for writing this post.
@JonSousa Dallas players like Pete Gent and Don Meredith described Landry as a stern, demanding, stoic, unrelenting taskmaster, though he may have indeed been a nice man off the field, a devout Christian. Former Navy officer Staubach, though a thorough gentleman, was an icy competitor who referred to backup Danny White as "America's punter."
Sportsmanship is great, in my post earlier I cited how I felt Kelly was intense and completely wired into the game, but was never a hysteric like Mike Stoops or Graham at Arizona. It is possible to be intense and still a good sport. Nobody accused Kelly of being a nice guy, but very few accused him of being a poor sport. Washington fans called him arrogant, but with that I think you have to consider the source.
My problem with Helfrich the last season wasn’t that he was too nice. It was that he seemed timid and unsure of himself. Maybe that was because it was his first year as HC, and he was finding his way. If that is the case, then we will see a step forward next season in creating the “Helfrich Era”, where the program truly is his, and he no longer feels the need to constantly tell us that he isn’t Chip Kelly.
@bobmidd That's a reasonable point of view. John Wooden is another sterling example. Wooden, however, was legendary for the discipline and attention to detail he demanded of his players. And Starr played for one of the sternest and most demanding coaches in the history of the game. Would Vince Lombardi's style last a week with modern players?
@Dale Newton My experience in business was always that men were successful because of their flaws not in spite of their flaws. And, their flaws were indicative of the ceiling of their careers, ie the Peter Principle.
@Dale Newton "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:" Ecclesiastes 3:1. I believe a man can be both entities, the secret is knowing when to be each.
@Dale Newton This is "The Heart of the Matter" if I can steal from Graham Greene. What is the setting? In another life long ago, I served the USA in a combat role. In combat, leaders have to lead or they are ignored. The senior NCO's and junior officers in the field had to be tough. Their role was to succeed in the mission and bring their men and women back alive. They could be SOB's but you knew they were looking out for you. College football is certainly a gladiator sport. MH has to manage his Offensive Coordinator and manager his Defensive Coordinator. They in turn must take their guidance from MH in how to lead and motivate their players and they must be tough. If they coddle these aggressive young egos they will not get the best out of them. I think this may have happened with DAT. I know I mentioned this in another thread, but if i were Coach Helfrich and my Defensive Coordinator got out of line twice, he would have been gone after the second offense regardless of how good he was. The players saw what Nick could get away with and formed their own opinions. Helfrich did not show good leadership here.
@Dale NewtonAnother great quote, er rather the condensed version:
"We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful." ~ C.S. Lewis.
@bobmidd Are you saying Peyton Manning lacks confidence? That's a tough sell.
@bobmidd I recognize your point of view, Bob, and the article was written to spark discussion. It is striking, though, that most of the truly dynastic figures in sport, from Nick Saban to Bill Belichick to Vince Lombardi, from Kobe Bryant to Michael Jordan, are hard-driving, uncompromising, not particularly nice guys.
@Raygun383 Thoughtful post. Marcus' cool-breeze Hawaiian outlook can be misunderstood. I think he competes and prepares as hard as anyone in the game. I remember a column Rob Moseley wrote last summer about Mariota doing a drill with a medicine ball, throwing it against a wall, over and over and over. The questions and concerns about the coach are fair. He was hired, in Rob Mullens' own words to compete for national and conference championships. He has every advantage of facilities and staff to achieve that goal.
@atvinton That's the other extreme, isn't it?
But Chip maintained a high standard of discipline even though he was well-loved by his players.
@morgan1010 Good points about the first year, and the courage Mariota showed playing through his injury. I agree with you he's likely to be a success throughout his career and beyond football.
@Ducko30 Another part of this is that we don't get to observe the coach at practice, in the locker room or in the act of disciplining and correcting players. Of course, we do see the false start penalties, the turnovers and red zone failures, and the lapses in discipline before the microphone.
@Ducko30 People want their grocery store clerks to be affable and easy going, not their team’s head coach.
Love that one ^
@SonomaDuck Good point--definitely another indicator of the direction the team is going in terms of standards and accountability.
@SonomaDuck Probably punishment should be less than LMJ got for the incident where he chased then choked his girlfriend after she stole his car. He has already served a suspension against OSU and Texas. Maybe that's enough.
@Dale Newton I am not indicting you. Or criticizing you. I am saying the same things other comments have said - that nice has nothing to do with it. No such thing as too nice or too humble or too self-effacing to win big. I think, as others here, that Mariota has shown himself as a fierce competitor. He also seems to be very nice.
@Dale Newton @Raygun383The part of Helfrich's job that he has yet to fulfill, was summed up not long ago by a trusted football friend of mine that has been on the fringes of the UW Husky football program since the early 90s. In his own words:
"IMO, The greatest day in the history of UW football in the last 20 years was the day Chip Kelly left for the NFL. His teams were always the best prepared, ready-to-play college football teams I ever saw take the field. Whether they were the best athletes on the field made no difference, it was the fact that every player on the field consistently executed at such a high level that made them so hard to beat,"
Thinking about what this man said, I think too much has been written and said about Chip's "genius" in his game plan(s), his "system," his play calling and his innovation. And not near enough about his ability to prepare and motivate his players.
I am holding out hope, that regardless of whether or not coaches devise a plan to overcome our play calling and scheme, (Derek Mason is a ways off these days) MH will find the mojo to bring his/our players to that level of desire, attention to detail, and skill in execution.
@Dale Newton Chip broke NCAA rules and a number of close Oregon losses can be pinned on his bullheadedness in play calling (Auburn and Stanford stick out). But people forget that now that he's moved on.
One piece of advice that both Chip and Belotti told Helfrich when he started is "Be yourself." I think that's the right way to continue coaching. I have seen no evidence that Helf tries to be buddy-buddy with the players. If anything, I see him being very fatherly, trying to make them not just good football players but great men. I see no problem with that.
@Dale Newton @sozeduck CEO's, most other executives and even managers had blind spots that allowed them to do certain things, caused certain behaviors, to employees, to customers, to subordinates, to their family etc. The blind spots were not characteristics of what I would consider well adjusted individuals. It allowed them a certain level of success but eventually limited them as they could only effectively handle those situations that the blind spot supported. In other words the blind spots allowed them to be bastards in certain situations for lack of a better term . Most well adjusted people wouldn't have done some of the things I saw done and would hever have gotten the promotion that required it!. In a different business environment they failed because they continued to do what had always worked for them before but was inappropriate in the new situation.
@Raygun383 @Dale NewtonVery good observations, and a telling quote from the UW perspective. I've always thought that Kelly's ability to sell and communicate a vision to his players, and get total commitment to that vision, was one of the things that set him apart as a coach. Pete Carroll, an long-time Oregon nemesis, did the same thing at USC and Seattle.
@atvinton @Dale NewtonSaban and Belichick are two famously successful micro-managers. With the high walls around the program, the only evidence we can consider are the results on Game Day, consistency, execution and discipline reflected in penalties, turnovers and red zone efficiency. The other evidence would be how players and coaches represent the team before the media.
I agree with you it would be illuminating to see how things function behind the closed doors. Rob Moseley is the only one who does. We need Michael Lewis to write his next book about the Ducks.
@Dale Newton Without going back over the comments, someone on here made the comment that they believed (without any evidence) that Aliotti was probably the disciplinarian.
Food for thought - I would truly love to see how everything functions behind the closed doors. Chip and many players made the comment a year ago that the program is "player run. It could run itself." I've never heard that from any other team or program. In nearly every example of big time coaches, we see dictators who micro-manage, not the Chip Kelly/Oregon system of putting so much in the hands of the players. It just makes it even harder to critique the staff because it's unclear what onus is on who.
@atvinton @Dale NewtonIt has to be said also, atv, that Helfrich has been swift and decisive in disciplinary matters, very consistent about it. Just needs to instill more discipline in execution on game day, in my view, and demonstrate more control over the message and organization of his players and coaches.