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Questions arise over certification of Oregon strength coach

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Willie Taggart has not had the smoothest of transitions as Oregon’s new head coach and it appears the program is back in the news for yet another issue with the strength program.

CBSSports.com report came out on Friday examining the world of college football strength coaches and their various certifications for the job. Headlining the piece is not surprisingly Ducks strength coach Irele Oderinde, who was suspended a month without pay after three players were sent to the hospital in January after going through an extra strenuous workout.

Oderinde apparently met NCAA requirements through a track and field coaches association certification as part of a 21-hour course. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees were also not in an “exercise science” field like many others in the industry. All that leads to this from the story:

While in compliance with the letter of the NCAA bylaw, Oderinde is among a handful of those coaches who, experts say, are underqualified.

“I’m not sure why they suspended [Oderinde],” said Hoffman, a former NSCA president. “Is he going to get smarter a month from now? Either he’s qualified — then he shouldn’t be suspended — or he’s not qualified and he should be fired.”

The Ducks did change up their staff structure as a result of the incident involving three players and added more oversight beyond just the head coach. The school also told the site that Oderinde and his staff may seek “additional certifications.”

Oregon certainly is under pressure to make sure everything is on the up-and-up but the CBSSports piece clearly illustrates that the issue is one not limited to the Pacific Northwest and is a concern across college athletics.

Will anything change in the future as a result of the increased attention? Things seem to be in Eugene but not without another issue early in the tenure of the team’s new head coach.

Report: Pac-12, Larry Scott strike deal on contract extension

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Depending on your vantage point, this is either tremendous news when it comes to stability or another sign that the league will continue to remain stuck in neutral behind the two current conference behemoths.

According to a report from Pete Thamel of SI.com, Larry Scott has reached an agreement on a contract extension with the Pac-12.  The new deal would keep Scott as the conference’s commissioner through 2022.

Scott had one year remaining on his old deal.

Thamel writes that “terms of the deal aren’t known.” According to a report from USA Today‘s Steve Berkowitz in May of last year and based on tax return filings, Scott was paid nearly $4.1 million for the 2014 calendar year, making him the highest-paid commissioner in collegiate athletics.  By comparison, the Big Ten’s Jim Delany pulled in $3.1 million for the same period.

Scott’s tenure with the Pac-12 was initially marked by what was a then-record television deal with ESPN and FOX Sports in 2011.  Since then, that conference has watched both the Big Ten and SEC secure new deals that earn its members anywhere from $8 million to $13 million more annually than their Pac-12 counterparts.

And then there’s the inability of the Pac-12, under Scott’s guidance, to secure a distribution agreement with DirecTV for its collection of conference networks, causing it to lag well behind the networks offered by the Big Ten and SEC.

Former Oregon assistant earned more than $60,000 before ousting

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David Reaves was shown the door quickly at Oregon, but he didn’t go home empty-handed.

Reaves was announced as the Ducks’ co-offensive coordinator on Jan. 17 and arrested just five days later for DUII, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. He was quickly placed on administrative leave and resigned shortly thereafter.

He had signed a 2-year deal paying him $300,000, and on Tuesday the Eugene Register-Guard reported Reaves’ two-plus weeks of work earned him $63,750 in payment. The paper notes Oregon credited him with 26 hours of work, paying out a total of $3,750 at $144 and change an hour — which, naturally, equates to a $300,000 salary paid over 40 hours per week.

The nature of the $60,000 was not disclosed by the university.

Reaves has not found work since his arrest, while Oregon has filled his spot and that of Jimmie Dougherty — who was riding with Reaves at the time of his arrest and quickly scampered off to UCLA — by hiring Marcus Arroyo from Oklahoma State to coach quarterbacks and Michael Johnson from Michigan as wide receivers coach.

Reaves is due back in Eugene for plea hiring in Eugene Municipal Court on March 13.

Oregon announces hiring of Michigan staff target Michael Johnson as WRs coach

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Once ticketed for an off-field job in the Midwest, Michael Johnson has officially headed to the Great Northwest for an on-field role.

Nearly two weeks after it was first reported, Oregon confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Johnson has been added to Willie Taggart’s first Ducks coaching staff.  Johnson will serve as UO’s wide receiver’s coach.

Johnson had been expected to take a job on Jim Harbaugh‘s Michigan football staff, which caused more-than-mild consternation in some corners as he’s the father of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterback in the Class of 2019.

Johnson joins OU with some Pac-12 experience in his back pocket, having served on coaching staffs at UCLA (2011) and Civil War rival Oregon State (1997-99).  Most of his coaching experience, though, has come in the NFL.

From 2000 through the 2010 season, Johnson spent time with four different NFL clubs as either receivers or quarterbacks coach.  He was the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers for one season (2010) when Harbaugh was the head coach.  After not being retained by Harbaugh, he moved to UCLA and spent one seasons as the Bruins’ coordinator.

Willie Taggart no longer speaking with Oregon beat reporter

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Oregon strength coach Irele Oderinde is now back at work after serving a 1-month, unpaid suspension resulting from three players being hospitalized after Oderinde’s first supervised workout with the Ducks, but the story is not over in Eugene.

According to Oregon’s student paper The Daily Emerald, Taggart is no longer speaking with the reporter who broke the story, The Oregonian‘s Andrew Greif.

“When you’re not fair and honest, then to me that’s personal,” Taggart told the paper. “When you do something that’s negative and it’s going to be personal, then I won’t have shit to do with you.”

Greif, for his part, stands by the story and says the paper will not issue a retraction, as Taggart requested:

“Though the description of the workouts is understandably subjective, ultimately what has never been in doubt is that three UO players were hospitalized after the first week of offseason workouts and received treatment for several days,” Greif said in an email to the Emerald.

Complicating matters for Taggart is that the university commissioned faculty athletics rep Tim Gleason, a journalism professor, to review the report. In speaking with players, coaches, trainers and AD Rob Mullens, Gleason found the report not to be inaccurate.

“It’s not an unfair characterization; it’s just that the way it gets interpreted is regrettable,” Gleason said. “In the shorthand of journalism, it resulted in an impression that may not have been completely accurate.”

Also contradicting Taggart are members of his own staff, who said off-the-record that the workouts were “military-style.” Greif quoted them anonymously when inserting that phrase into the piece:

Players this week were required to finish the same workouts, which were described by multiple sources as akin to military basic training, with one said to include up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs.

It’s not clear where the story goes from here, except that Taggart made clear twice in his interview with the Emerald he has no plans to answer questions from Greif in the future.