Canzano: State Senator hot about Oregon Ducks recruiting class – OregonLive.com
After business at the State Capitol closed up on Friday, Senate President Peter Courtney dialed me. He was upset. About football.
“It bothers me,” he said. “It just does for whatever reason.”
Sen. Courtney pointed to the publicly funded institutions across college football, particularly the ones in the Pac-12 Conference, particularly the one in Eugene, and said, “Are we to believe that there’s not one high school senior who plays football in this state good enough for Oregon?”
None of the Ducks 22 commitments on Wednesday’s National Signing Day were Oregonians. It bothers Courtney that scholarship offers were sealed with nine California-produced players, three Washingtonians and three more Hawaiians without any Oregonians. Two Ducks signees were from Georgia and while the states of Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, Florida were all represented, what was missing was a single player from Helfrich’s home state.
“Helfrich grew up in Coos Bay,” Sen. Courtney said. “He went to Marshfield High, if anyone should get how important that is, it should be him.”
Oregon State, it should be noted, signed only one in-state player — Central Catholic offensive lineman Blake Brandell. Also, high schools in our state produced only seven total players who signed with FBS schools this year (down from 13 players in 2012 and 2013). Three of those went to Pac-12 schools.
Bothered me too. If only because the beauty of Oregon’s success in the last decade is partly that the Ducks have taken undervalued and unheralded players such as Marcus Mariota (No. 12 rated dual-threat QB in 2011) and made magic with them. Kellen Clemens, Taylor Hart, Dante Rosario, for example, were mixed over the years with gifted high school players from other states in a way that made us all feel like the Ducks could still wear green.
We’ve all noticed UO wearing less green these days, though. Literally and figuratively. Oregon signed only one in-state player in 2014 after signing nine total between 2011-12-13.
Now, the most powerful legislator in the state knows he has better things to do than to sit around contemplating legislation that might require the in-state universities to look harder at in-state high school recruits. Not even sure how you’d pretend to enforce that aside from withholding state funding. But it bothers Sen. Courtney to see a Ducks program that proudly represent this state in the title game pass over every single high school senior while it’s building for the future.
Helfrich spoke to the omission this week. He called it “unfortunate” and said, “sometimes that’s by choice, sometimes it’s not.” Cameron Scarlett (Central Catholic HS) committed to Stanford and Beaverton High offensive lineman Jared Hilbers (Washington) left state too.
“(Ndamukong) Suh leaving to Nebraska should probably never have happened either,” Courtney said.
Helfrich said, “I think part of it is just the Oregon brand and as that’s grown the Pac-12 recruiting footprint is the world now. We’ll go anywhere.”
Feels like there’s a couple of things going on here. The numbers don’t lie. This state needs to do a better job of churning out FBS talent. But I agree with Courtney. The in-state universities that collect tax dollars need to mine this field more carefully than they might anywhere else, especially Oregon which can walk into any living room in America now.
Gary Anderson at Oregon State, took a junior college player who played his high school football in Australia (Nick Porebski). He gets off the hook here by virtue of a single signee.
National Champion Ohio State signed 12 in-state players on Wednesday. Alabama signed seven high school players from its state and Florida State has a dozen players from its own state committed. I know. I know. Different beasts, those guys. But maybe Oregon’s staff should look around Autzen Stadium on a game day and think about its responsibility to foster our in-state connection.
Earlier Friday, before Courtney’s call, I received a tip about OSU’s planning of its future football schedules. The Beavers would like to schedule Portland State once every four or five-year cycle rather than throwing a regular $500,000 payday to an out-of-state university.
Oregon State sees what you and I see. There’s some concern in Corvallis that PSU might drop football between now and, say, a potential 2019 date, so there’s a lot of diligence being performed as the details are ironed out. But I expect that game will be put on the books in what amounts to Oregon State doing the right thing.
Courtney would like Oregon to try harder next year.