After a convincing 35-17 win over Kansas State, most Oregon fans find themselves looking to the future. And with the NFL coming after Chip Kelly, it seems to be consuming the thoughts of Ducks fans everywhere.
Lionel R. (Sacramento, Calif.): Chip's gone isn't he? Will the class really fall apart like people say it will and what about the coaching staff? Will he take any of them with him if he goes to the [NFL]?
DuckNation: The Ducks do in fact have a plan in place, and reports have surfaced that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich would be promoted to head coach if Kelly were to move on. That continuity could help with recruits like Dontre Wilson, who said, "I've heard that if Coach Kelly leaves, then Coach Helfrich, the offensive coordinator, would be the new coach. So it really doesn't bother me at all."
Reginald A. (Eugene, Ore.): I heard that Thomas Tyner and the Robinson twins, and possibly Dontre Wilson would all look elsewhere if Chip [Kelly] bounces out of here. Are those all true? Are any of them true? That would be a brutal blow to their recruiting class!
DN: It would be a crippling blow this late in the process to lose any of those listed, as they are likely the four best athletes in the class. The good news is that it seems like only one of them would so much as look elsewhere. Oddly enough, if any of them did decide to decommit -- or just look around -- after Kelly's potential departure, it would be in-state star Thomas Tyner (Aloha, Ore./Aloha). The No. 90 player (No. 11 RB) already decommitted once due to his interest in at least visiting UCLA. He quickly recommitted to the Ducks, but the fastest high school player ever in the Ducks' home state was very vocal on Twitter when Kelly nearly took off for the Tampa Bay job last January.
"It wouldn't be a good thing that he left, but I have to worry about myself and what's best for me, you know?" Tyrell Robinson said. "It's about the school, the entire football program and the basketball program, too. I know my brother feels the same way."
ATH Dontre Wilson (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto) has been committed to the Ducks since May, due in part to his game being the perfect fit for the Ducks' high-flying offense. In addition to it being a perfect fit on the field, Wilson considers Ducks' running backs coach Gary Campbell to be a father figure. He said recently that if Campbell leaves, he would likely be open to looking around. He also said that, if Campbell stays, he's heading to Oregon no matter what.
Gary W. (Boise, Idaho): With or without Chip [Kelly], four straight BCS appearances, with two wins, a last-second loss in the BCS National Championship Game, and a close-game loss to highly-ranked Ohio State, the Ducks have to be considered a top 7 or 8 program overall, right? Recruiting has improved greatly but will it ever match their success on the field?
DN: Does it need to? I think you answered your own question there. The only true way to evaluate a recruiting class is to revisit the class after the players' college careers have been completed. The Ducks' class of 2006 was in the lower third of the Pac-10 in most recruiting rankings. All that group did was win nine, 10, 10 and 12 games to become -- at the time -- the winningest class in school history.
Ask USC, Florida State and Clemson fans what they really think about recruiting rankings. Between the three schools, they have three BCS wins in the past six seasons. Would you want a top-five recruit ranking in February or a top-five BCS ranking in January?
The Ducks will never have a top-10 recruiting class every year. Geography alone makes it nearly impossible. That being said, there are only one or two programs that develop and get more out of their players than Oregon has in the Mike Bellotti and the Chip Kelly eras.