There’s a story Tony Romo tells about how he, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Jones’s son and Cowboys personnel executive Stephen Jones were once riding in the elder Jones’s plane when Romo extolled the Cowboys’ owner to put the pedal to the floor because, while Garrett and Stephen Jones had plenty of years ahead of them to oversee the Cowboys, Romo’s and Jerry Jones’s times were coming up. Romo’s because he would have to retire soon. Jones’s because, as Romo realized as he was making his argument, Father Time was on his way to the billionaire’s door.
Phil Knight is in the same situation.
The Nike founder and Oregon uber-booster has essentially self-funded the Ducks’ rise to prominence, twice reaching college football’s ultimate game this decade, but the Ducks’ downturn has come at an unfortunate time for Knight.
And so, as ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports, Knight is willing to pay what it takes for Oregon to be in the nation’s elite for as long as he’s around to watch them.
There is, of course, the matter that Oregon has a coach in Mark Helfrich. He signed a 5-year, $17.5-million contract last February but, if Knight is truly willing to write a blank check for a new coach, he won’t be stopped by Helfrich’s buyout.
In the meantime, Oregon is still fighting for bowl eligibility at 3-6 with losses in six of their past seven games, allowing 35 points or more in each of them. The Ducks close the season with Stanford on Saturday, then back-to-back road trips to Utah and Oregon State.