Press Talk: Is the Ducks’ O a gimmick?

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor



Come on guys, let’s be honest. It’s a gimmick.

Oregon’s football offense, that is.

Easy now! Before you get too many of your Duck feathers ruffled, hear me out. First a little background.

Oregon went 11-1 this year and by any win/loss standard that’s excellent. But this column isn’t about the Ducks’ record.

No, no, no. What this is about is how they won those 11 games. And they did it with a gimmick. Well, in my opinion, at least.

You know, all that rapid-fire offense, running their plays before the other guys have a chance to get ready.

That’s a gimmick.

First, what is a gimmick? Well, it’s something you use to trick someone. It’s a contrivance that, when done skillfully, gives you an advantage.

Now, who uses gimmicks? Well, that’s pretty obvious, right? It’s someone who doesn’t feel he can be successful straight up, so he looks for an edge. In this case, a gimmick.

If this were boxing, it would be considered a sucker punch. Hit your opponent before he’s ready. Before he is looking.

If it were a track meet, it would be going on “two” when everyone else is going on “three.”


Some college basketball teams used to employ a gimmick, until the rules committee got wise and ended it.

Remember when there was no shot clock in college basketball? That was because they didn’t need one. Everybody played an honorable game and the best team on any given day usually won.

But then a few smart teams got too smart. They invented the four-corner offense. Put simply, it became a game of keep away. Keep the ball away from the more talented team by putting your players in the four corners of the court. The more talented team couldn’t get the ball and the less talented team had a chance to win.

The basketball powers who set the rules had finally seen enough. They put in a shot clock.

End of the gimmick.

But back to Oregon. For me, there’s a reason why you shouldn’t use a gimmick.

If you rely on a gimmick and run into really good teams, like Stanford or Alabama or LSU, they can usually overcome it.

And here comes the bottom line: If you’ve relied on the gimmick to win your games and then suddenly you find it’s not working, you can’t go back to normal football. Why? Because you haven’t played it very often.

And you could lose.

Oregon’s gimmick is perfectly legal, mind you. Just like the four-corner offense was “legal” in college basketball.

My view is, Oregon has the talent to win it all. Frankly, the Ducks are extremely talented. But you should prove it without gimmicks.

Hey, not everyone agrees with me. We ran an unscientific poll recently on our website asking about this. And 70 percent said they didn’t think it was a gimmick. That puts me in the minority. But I feel the idea is worth kicking around.

So whaddaya say we just play football? You’ve got the chops. Who’s in?

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505, or

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