By Ken Goe
In the wake of a BBC report that French prosecutors are investigating the process that awarded Eugene the 2021 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships, TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna mounted an emphatic defense. "We are very proud of and stand by our bid," Lananna said Wednesday at the Oregon Convention Center. "We are 100 percent confident that there was nothing outside of what are the norms for an IAAF bid."
TrackTown USA is the local organizing committee responsible for staging major meets such as the U.S. Olympic trials and the 2014 World Junior Championships in Eugene, and the 2016 World Indoor Championships in Portland. TrackTown USA had put together a bid to bring the 2019 World Outdoor Championships to Eugene, but was beaten out by Doha, Qatar, in November 2014. The International Association of Athletics Federations, the governing body of international track & field, then awarded the 2021 World Outdoor Championships to Eugene last April without a formal bidding process. This has come under scrutiny as part of a wider criminal investigation by French authorities into allegations that the IAAF covered up doping violations and accepted bribes.
All of the IAAF decisions are being examined during the investigation. The Eugene bid drew fresh scrutiny because of ties between Nike, the sports apparel giant located near Portland and IAAF president Sebastian Coe. Nike is a major supporter of both USA Track & Field and TrackTown USA. Awarding a world championships to a city without a formal bid process is not unprecedented for the IAAF. The IAAF awarded the 2007 World Outdoor Championships to Osaka, Japan, in 2007 and the 2018 World Indoor Championships to Birmingham, England. Lananna said there were no major differences between the Eugene plans for 2019 and 2021. "We presented the bid with complete transparency in 2019," Lananna said. "The only thing different about the '19 budget and the '21 budget is that we crossed out the number on the top of the budget, and it went from '19 to '21." "People can be frustrated by whatever process people use, but we didn't create the process," Lananna said. "We presented the bid. And it was up to the IAAF Council to go ahead and accept it."
Lananna, IAAF competitions director Paul Hardy and Portland mayor Charlie Hales were appearing Wednesday at an event to promote the 2016 World Indoor Championships, which will be held March 17-20 at the convention center. The BBC report, though, quickly became a prime topic of conversation, particularly given the ongoing IAAF scandal that has ensnared former IAAF president Lamine Diack. Coe was on the Nike payroll and earning $150,000 annually while a member of the IAAF council, and after being elected the organization president in August. Coe has denied lobbying on behalf of the Eugene bid, although he said he did vote to award the 2021 World Championships to Eugene. Coe resigned his position with Nike last month.
Hardy said Wednesday there is no chance Eugene will lose the 2021 World Outdoor Championships. "We are coming to Eugene in 2021," Hardy said. "This was seen as a unique opportunity for the IAAF and the sport of (track & field). Strategically, this is a place where we need to be." The World Outdoor Championships never have taken place in the United States. Some critics in Europe have complained about the size of the Eugene metropolitan area. "I was in Eugene last year with the evaluation team," Hardy said. "I know the strength of the bid. It was a very, very solid bid. The IAAF understood that. "We know if we're going to be in the USA, this is where we need to be, in the state of Oregon and particularly in Eugene with its very long history in track & field. We know that. People in the athletics world know that."
Lananna said he made a trip to Europe last winter to meet with Diack and make Eugene's case for 2021. He was pushing for a quick decision while he had all the pieces for his bid in place. Lananna said he talked to Diack "about the potential and possibility of coming back sooner than waiting for a normal process, so they would potentially talk about it on the council." He said he believes his case was strong. "Isn't it logical," he said, "that this event should be in the United States?"
By Andrew Greif
Record-setting TCU receiver Josh Doctson wants to play against Oregon in the Jan. 2 Alamo Bowl but could have only a week on the field to prepare due to an upcoming surgery.
A return by Doctson would give the Horned Frogs (10-2) their two most dynamic offensive weapons in time to play an Oregon defense ranked 113th nationally in scoring defense. Quarterback Trevone Boykin had injured an ankle in November but TCU coach Gary Patterson expects Boykin to be at "full strength" by the time of the bowl game in San Antonio.
On top of that, TCU received good news Wednesday when several outlets reported that offensive assistant Sonny Cumbie — who along with play caller Doug Meacham has been critical in the development of TCU's prolific passing game the past two seasons — will remain at TCU after turning down an offer by Texas to become Longhorns offensive coordinator.
USA Today named Doctson to its All-America first team Tuesday after he caught 79 passes for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns this despite missing two games after undergoing surgery to fix a broken wrist in early November.
"It's a big motivation, but I've got to be smart as well," Doctson told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Wednesday. "I can't be out there hurting my team. I want to be out there being able to help them."
Doctson is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the top receiver in the country while Boykin — who's thrown 26 career touchdown passes to Doctson — is a finalist for the Davey O'Brien Award, for top quarterback.
BY JAY GARNETT·
The Pac-12 was left out of the second annual College Football Playoff. The conference ends up as the odd man out one year after the Ducks made it to the football’s final four. Whether you blame it on the nine-game conference schedule or call it a snub, it won’t change the fact that it happened.
Oregon is at least partially to blame for this. If Stanford had won its matchup with the Ducks, it would have been nearly impossible to keep them out of the top four following their conference championship. Michigan State or Oklahoma would likely be the team looking up, but it doesn’t matter now.
Stanford would probably be in the College Football Playoff absent a home loss to the Ducks.
While the Pac-12 may have been left off of the College Football Playoff docket, there is still plenty to be happy about as a fan of the conference and our Ducks. The Pac-12 boasts 10 bowl-bound teams (the most of any Power 5 conference) and several will play in exciting games.
The nationally-highlighted game, of course, will be the Rose Bowl between B1G runner-up Iowa and Stanford, but possibly the most entertaining non-New Year’s 6 game will be between our Oregon Ducks and the TCU Horned Frogs.
In an article from ESPN’s Chantel Jennings for the ESPN Pac-12 blog, she mentions that this Valero Alamo Bowlmatchup has a “playoff-level” billing largely due to both programs having such high expectations coming into the season; seasons that were derailed thanks to unfortunate injuries to key players.
We all know how well Oregon played with a healthy Vernon Adams (and how poorly they played without him), but how did TCU play with and without Adams’ counterpart, Trevone Boykin?
Vernon Adams and Oregon’s offense will need to keep pace with Trevone Boykin and TCU.
Prior to his injury, Boykin was among the Heisman Trophy frontrunners along with LSU’s Leonard Fournette. His offense had been averaging just shy of 47 points per game prior to his injury, and he had accounted for 40 total touchdowns.
And while the Horned Frogs lost to Oklahoma State in Stillwater, they have every reason to believe they could have dealt Big 12 champion Oklahoma their second loss of season had Boykin been healthy (without him, they fell to the Sooners by one point).
A huge part of Boykin’s success is due to the play of his number one target, wide receiver Josh Doctson. Prior to his own injury against Oklahoma State, he had been having an absolutely monster season. Against Texas Tech he amassed 267 yards and 3 TDs on 18 receptions. Between September 19 and October 29, Doctson eclipsed the 100-yard mark and scored at least two touchdowns in every game.
My point here is not to simply sing the praises of the TCU offense, but to point out its strengths and how they relate to the Ducks’ greatest weakness: pass defense.
The Oregon secondary has certainly made strides since being embarrassed across the board to start the season. That said, it is still a very vulnerable unit, and it hasn’t faced an offense that can pass the ball as prolifically as the Horned Frogs. Oregon will need to turn to its own high-powered offense to keep pace, while being wary of giving TCU too many possessions.
The Oregon defense will have its hands full against the Horned Frogs.
This aspect of the game is particularly intriguing given the news that former offensive coordinator Scott Frost has taken a head coaching position at University of Central Florida (Go Golden Knights!).
It remains unclear whether Frost will coach during the Alamo Bowl, but should he elect not to, this game could be one hell of an introduction for wide receivers coach and passing-game coordinator Matt Lubick, who is considered the favorite to fill the vacant OC position.
This game should be an electric battle sure to produce highlight after highlight. I personally can’t wait for January 2. It’ll be a very interesting offseason for the Ducks (new OC and an impending quarterback competition), but let’s enjoy the moment as this season winds down. While the 2015 season was far from perfect, it was a thrilling ride.
Searching for a Wide Receiver Coach (and Offensive Coordinator-in-Waiting)
First, the news that everyone already seems to know: Matt Lubick will be the next Oregon offensive coordinator. He wants the opportunity and, as Mark Helfrich well knows, he definitely deserves it.
Matt’s first game might be very interesting. The Ducks offensive play caller must match wits with arguably the best defensive coordinator in college football — Gary Patterson of TCU. I say “might” because Helfrich might call the plays in the Alamo Bowl to take the pressure off Lubick, although I very much doubt that will happen. Both the lack of confidence in Lubick and the actual play-calling would be very awkward for Helfrich. “F*** ’em, Matt. It’s your offense now!”
Lubick’s skills as OC will be tested against TCU in the Alamo Bowl.
Now, for something that many folks don’t seem to understand: Lubick HAS to be the Ducks’ QB coach in order to be the OC. Logistically, an OC can’t be the WR coach; he needs to continually work with the QBs.
A WR coach has a limited view of the offense. Just as Frost had to change jobs, so will Lubick. For the same reason, a defensive coordinator can’t be the DB coach. Can Lubick effectively coach QBs? A great football coach can do an outstanding job coaching any position.
So the Ducks are looking for a replacement for Lubick, not Frost. But Helfrich also needs to find a WR coach who’s capable of being the next OC when Lubick leaves for a head coaching job.
Is that really necessary? Yeah, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. When Lubick signed on, I recognized he’d be the next OC when Frost left. Doing it that way sure makes for a far better transition than bringing in a new OC who has no knowledge of the personnel and how things are done.
So who does Oregon hire? That’s the big problem: There are many very knowledgeable offensive coaches out there but they’re almost all OC-QB coaches already. Most of them don’t want to give up their powerful and creative position to be a WR coach at Oregon. Frost and Lubick were unique in that they weren’t already OCs when Oregon found them.
The next WR coach at Oregon has a talented group to work with.
So Oregon probably needs an outstanding WR coach capable of being an OC-QB coach in the future. There is one potential candidate for this job who is extremely well-qualified. He knows everything about the Oregon WR techniques thoroughly — what and how they’re meant to do the things they do. He also knows the personalities and abilities of all the WRs well. And those WRs greatly respect and like him.
AND besides being extremely well-qualified to coach Oregon’s WRs, this guy knows enough about the QB position in Oregon’s offense to effectively coach it right away. He’d provide a great transition when Lubick leaves.
This coaching candidate is also very charismatic and likable, and would be an outstanding recruiter and mentor to the players. AND he’s already on Oregon’s staff.
Aw, you guessed it already. Yeah, Nate Costa seems to have everything the Ducks need for the new WR coach.
Nate Costa could see a step up in his duties in 2016.
So, what’s the problem?
Helfrich would have to have against-the-grain courage to hire Costa because of Costa’s lack of experience. Nate’s still just a GA [graduate assistant]. He’s never coached at any other school, at any level. Many would say Costa’s not qualified. He hasn’t paid his dues.
Some would advocate for a new coach, to bring in new perceptions and ways of doing things — fresh eyes and ideas. But Helfrich very often praises the courage and non-traditional ways of the Oregon program.
I have no specific knowledge of what other candidates are competing with Nate Costa — or even if Helfrich considers Costa a viable candidate because of his inexperience. I’m just like most of you — enthusiastically looking forward to the next outstanding coach to join the University of Oregon Ducks’ football program.
On Sunday Titan's QB Marcus Mariota put together one of the most dynamic performances of his young career in the Titans’ 42-39 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, becoming the first player in NFL history to throw for more than 250 yards, run for over 100 yards and throw for three touchdowns in a game. Mariota completed 20-of-29 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns, and added his first 100-yard rushing game of his career with 112 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Mariota opened the scoring with a 10-yard pass to Craig Stevens, and found Delaney Walker from seven yards out in the second quarter. With the Titans up two in the fourth quarter, Mariota found Dorial Green-Beckham for a 47-yard strike to widen the Tennessee lead. After the Jaguars scored 13 unanswered points, Mariota found a seam up the left side and raced 87 yards to put the Titans up for good. The win snapped the Titans’ 11-game losing streak at home. Through 10 games this season, Mariota has thrown for 2,512 yards and 19 touchdowns while completed 63.4 percent of his passes. On the ground, he has rushed for 249 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. His 87-yard run on Sunday is the longest in the NFL this season.