Just about two weeks ago, Duck fans learned Oregon Football veteran Defensive Coordinator, Nick Aliotti, was retiring. This week, the University officially announced who would be replacing him.
Former Linebacker Coach, Don Pellum, also a program veteran has been promoted to fill some very big shoes- a fact he openly acknowledged as he addressed the media in his first press conference since accepting the position. Although many were surprised to hear Coach Pellum had been selected, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate his promotion.
With many names floating around for this position, naturally pros and cons lists were drafted across the die hard fan base. With Oregon’s recent promotions coming from within, many wondered if Oregon should look outside? Wouldn’t some new, fresh ideas be a good thing? Perhaps.
But what many might have overlooked was one tiny detail. Oregon isn’t just any other program. It’s unique- a trendsetter if you will. With Oregon’s focus on an up-tempo, no huddle, spread offense, a Defensive Coordinator has a one of kind job. They have to prepare their guys differently, not only to go up against that offense each day in practice but to be in the best physical shape possible as they will inevitably see much more time on the field than average (consider the Oregon’s average time of possession). Not just anyone can operate in an Oregon-esque system and bringing someone in from the outside would likely mean an adjustment period- something Oregon cannot afford at this point. Enter Coach Pellum., perhaps an underdog in the list of names, but an absolute right call for Oregon.
Not only did Coach Pellum play for Oregon in the 1980’s, he has served in several different capacities since then under 5 different coordinators including Nick Aliotti and Bob Frost. To those concerned he may not have enough experience, Coach Pellum discussed sitting behind the scenes for years and added,
“I’ve been doing a lot of the game planning stuff for years. Portions of it, so it’s not something that’s foreign to me at all.”
Coach Pellum knows the Oregon system as well as anyone and gives the Ducks the best option to move the Oregon defense along without skipping a beat. Sure, changes need to be made and he was able to identify some of those changes, but overall, Pellum will be more than able to maintain continuity for an already very successful football program.
Perhaps what stands out most about Coach Pellum is just how humble he is. In his first press conference as Defensive Coordinator, he described the opportunity as a blessing and talked extensively about continuing to learn from those that have come before him. It’s apparent he’s confident in his abilities stating, “They don’t make these type of [hiring] mistakes at this level,” but also wants to learn as much as he possibly can from those he respects in the field.
3. Work Ethic
In his 30 minute Q&A session with the media, 4 areas shined through his responses: discipline, attention to detail, organization and working hard.
When asked about the biggest strength he brings to this position, Coach Pellum talked about his work-ethic.
“I’m a grinder and that’s what I do, I’m a grinder. I’m Really organized. I’m able to communicate with a lot different people at a lot of different levels.”
Falling right in line with Nick Aliotti’s never-satisfied reputation, Coach Pellum said this when discussing improvement upon the team’s football fundamentals:
“You not 11 and 2, 12 and 1 and you don’t have these great records without being good in those areas but we can be better.”
In this day and age of Oregon Football, recruiting is incredibly important. As the program has risen to the top ranks, it’s recruiting pool has drastically widened and now includes that highly coveted region, *ahem* . . .the South. That means some pretty stiff recruiting competition with those elite SEC schools and a need for a Defensive Coordinator to have a padded recruiting resume. Again, enter Coach Pellum.
For the past several years, Coach Pellum has served as Oregon’s Recruiting Coordinator. Additionally, he was brought in to head Cal’s recruiting efforts from 1990-1992, before returning to Oregon, where he has been since.
Although Coach Pellum isn’t sure if he’ll maintain his current recruiting responsibilities, but there’s little doubt he will be involved in the process and his experience, especially now, should prove invaluable.
When asked if becoming a Defensive Coordinator was a long time goal, Coach Pellum replied,
“I’ve always wanted to be defensive coordinator but as you go through the fork in the road you make a decision early on whether you take off and chase that dream and you go to a lot different places. Or, do you love the place you are and that you’re currently at and where you’re satisfied being an assistant at.”
Coach Pellum went on to explain that after a short stint at Cal (1990-1992), he realized how just how special Oregon was, describing how close the staff was and just how much he enjoyed coming to work everyday. He made a decision at that time that even if staying at Oregon for the duration of his career without moving to the DC position, he was OK with that.
With all the coaching changes happening around the country, Duck fans should be comforted by what appears to be a very loyal coaching staff. . .at least for now.
Welcome to your new rank Coach Pellum!