March 25, 2010

Greatwood getting them ready

The month of February was a mixed bag for the Oregon coaching staff. The part they could control was good, hauling in the 13th ranked recruiting class in the nation on National Letter of Intent day with a relatively small class. But on its heels came the spate of off-field antics by a handful of players, throwing cold water on the warm glow of the Pac-10 championship and LOI successes. It flew in the face of the discipline first year Oregon head coach Chip Kelly had consistently demonstrated and demanded of his players since his arrival in Eugene.

The winter escapades of the few had no pattern other than random untimely-ness. However, once again the large offensive line unit had no participants.

One could say Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood makes his own luck. Highly regarded in coaching circles across the nation, the 30-year veteran has had great success graduating his athletes and keeping them on the straight and narrow path. Duck Sports Authority asked the coach for his assessment of why his group continues to have clean noses.

"I think number one it's the nature of the position," replied Greatwood. "These kids are unselfish kids and are ultimate team guys. Offensive line doesn't play because they are going to get ink because they're not going to. Every group I've had has bonded well as a group and has formed some lasting friendships that carry on through their college careers and on through life. If you treat kids fairly as a coach, they may disagree with you but they can understand their role. That's what I try to do, make sure every kid understands his role on this team. I've been fortunate. A lot of it is the type of kid I recruit. I'm not going to recruit some kid who is going to come in here and say 'what are you going to do for me?'"

Recruiting for character is not something unique to Steve Greatwood. Head coach Mike Bellotti emphasized the trait during his tenure. As Oregon rose up the polls over the years it became easier to recruit the athlete/character fit that a town like Eugene demands. Kelly seemed to take the issue up a notch his first year; consistently recruiting the character athlete if all else was anywhere close. Over the years, Greatwood has learned that even when you sign quality young men, they still need constant reminders of behavioral limits.

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