Passionate Fans Booing Hurts?

Eugene – Last week may have been one of the biggest recruiting weekends ever at Oregon and during the Ducks' 35-28 win over Stanford a smattering of boos echoed through the stadium at various points of the game. While Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti may have had head sets on during the game, the question remains did booing hurt the Ducks recruiting efforts?

"That's a great question," responded Bellotti to the inquiry. "I don't know. The young men that were here really enjoyed their trip. Several of them are top-rated players in the nation at their position, and it's down to us and another school."

Bellotti is restricted from specifically discussing individual recruits but according's database, Oregon hosted Bryce Brown, the country's best high school running back according to plus the top safety in Craig Loston last Saturday. Additionally, two other highly regarded players, running back Montrell Conner and wide receiver Jaz Reynolds made an official visit and took in the Stanford game. The Ducks never had such sought after prizes showing up at a game at one time and what makes this situation even more amazing is that Brown hails from Kansas, Conner from Louisiana while Loston and Reynolds are Texans from Houston.

That is top blue-chip talent from around the country visiting Oregon on the same weekend.

Twenty years ago the suggestion of that happening was laughable, 10 years ago only a fantasy but today it is a reality. While the 85-scholarship limitation is most responsible for leveling the playing field when it comes to recruiting the Ducks have taken giant steps forward. Through generous contributions from donors, Phil Knight in particular to make Oregon an attractive place for the nation's top football players to consider and hopefully chose where to spend their college careers, Oregon is now a serious contender for recruiting big name athletes.

So what happens last week when these highly sought after recruits show up? Boos, from some spectators. For years the Ducks hoped if they could only get the blue-chippers to show up that they could start landing players that would give them the best chance for success. Last year the Ducks were in the National Championship race up until the injury bug eliminated the possibility. This year, Oregon is 7-3 on the season and 5-1 in Pac-10 play. It wasn't too long ago that simply having that record would give the folks in the state of Oregon something really to cheer about. After all having Oregon struggle in the ‘70s and early 80s and having Oregon State record a 28-year stretch of losing seasons wasn't something to be particularly proud of.

Bellotti for his part was more forgiving of the fans booing his team than they were of him.

"We all expect or would like to play perfect games," admitted Bellotti. "It rarely happens. But the enthusiasm and the passion of the fans is something that, you know, we always tell them (recruits) that it's going to be loud, it's going to be crazy, they're (fans) going to be very passionate. You would hope that you always play well enough that there are now boos."

Especially you'd hope there wouldn't be much booing in games you win.

Normally in the recruiting process, recruits select one program over another for a variety of reasons, with the relationship with the coaching staff being the top of the list. What would be tragic though is to have a guy who obviously can help the program get turned off just because some loud mouths in the stands think they know more about coaching football than the guys being paid to do so.

Bellotti didn't address that issue but he is more upbeat about what he and his staff can do in bringing talent to Eugene. He was a bit defensive though when it came to one of his players, quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, a 5-star quarterback out of the junior college ranks who is growing into the role of quarterback for the Ducks. Masoli's play got some of the boos last week and while the boo-birds were shouted down or were oblivious to his play in the final two minutes in leading one of the great drives of Oregon history.

"When you take a team whatever yardage you needed in that time, don't have to use a time out, and score a touchdown and a two-point conversion, and you're the leader of that group, and you make plays both with your feet, your head and with your arm to win the game, I think the respect level goes up, the confidence level goes us," said Bellotti Masoli. "It's something that doesn't stop or end with that game. It continues."

For those that think booing the players is sending a message to the coach, consider this, the coaches are so wrapped in the game, they seldom hear what is going on with the fans.

"I don't really notice it because I'm wearing a double ear muff," Bellotti said of the game situations. " Usually the noise is so loud, regardless of whatever it is, that we can't hear unless we do that. I think it's just a condition of college athletics now days and the impatience of fans, and the immaturity of fans."

Bellotti mentioned after his weekly media conference that one of the stunts performed by the Duck Mascot was not looked upon favorably by the officials. Bellotti indicated that the referee told him that something had to be done when the Duck was doing push ups and a tree and chainsaw were brought out to the field. Bellotti, in the middle of coaching the game was unaware of what was going on and the only thing he could do was to assign one his administrative assistants to deal with the incident. It was and no penalty flag was thrown.
Drew Davis is lost for the season. The wide receiver will undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee.
The game this week against Arizona has a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised in Eugene on KLSR. It will also be shown in Portland live on Comcast 437 and 788 (HD). Anyone else that is able to pick up FSN Arizona on satellite will also be able to watch the game live.
Friday's Men's opener against Northern Colorado will be shown on Comcast 37 (delayed) due to the University of Portland Women's soccer game.

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