Bellotti to Remain at Oregon

Jan. 16, 2001

EUGENE - Another chapter was added to the University of Oregon's record-setting 2000 football campaign Tuesday when head coach Mike Bellotti announced that he had withdrawn his name from consideration for one of the most prestigious college coaching jobs in the country.

Bellotti, who led the Ducks to their first 10-win season in school history as well as their highest season-ending national ranking ever (7th according to the Associated Press poll), informed Ohio State athletics director Andy Geiger and Oregon's Bill Moos Tuesday morning of his intention to remain in Eugene, Ore., despite reports that the Buckeyes could be willing to offer close to twice his annual salary.

He returned to the recruiting trails Tuesday one day after touring Columbus, Ohio and the university's facilities with his wife, Colleen, and meeting with Ohio State officials regarding its opening.

The 50-year-old head coach, who first joined the Oregon staff as offensive coordinator in 1989 before assuming the top post in 1995, emphasized that he was never tenured an offer from the Big Ten institution which has won three national championships (AP) and remains the seventh winningest college program in the country. Yet it was his desire to continue building a program, which has won more games than any other in the Pacific-10 Conference (49-22) during his six-year Oregon head coaching tenure, which proved to be too much to walk away from.

'When you play a role in developing something special such as we have here, it becomes very difficult to ever consider leaving,' Bellotti said. 'I'm very appreciative of the interest shown to me by Ohio State, yet at the same time it reaffirms my commitment to the University of Oregon and what we are building here with the football program.'

Bellotti admitted to being contacted by as many as three other Division I schools about their head coaching vacancies since the conclusion of the 2000 season when his name became rumored in connection for the previous opening at USC. But he said his interest had never been intrigued as much with the others as it had with the opening at Ohio State.

'I've been offered four or five jobs since I became head coach here and I have never, ever interviewed on another campus or taken my family to visit the site of one of those opportunities. But I felt that the interest was genuine on their part and it is one of the finest programs in the nation. But there is a uniqueness to our program that I wanted to continue to be involved in. I have come away from the process with affirmation that I have one of the finest jobs and one of the best overall situations in all of college football.'

The Ducks earned a share of their second conference championship in seven years and capped their ninth post-season appearance in 12 seasons with a 35-30 win over Texas in the Culligan Holiday Bowl. With that unprecedented success and attention has come an increased attempt by other schools across the country to lure Oregon head coaches and assistants away.

Bellotti still has three assistant coaching vacancies to fill on his staff. Tight ends and special teams coach Tom Osborne departed for Arizona State for the role as that school's assistant head coach, while secondary coach Bob Gregory and receivers coach Chris Petersen both have headed to Boise State as defensive and offensive coordinator, respectively.

'People across the country the last couple of years have taken notice of our accomplishments and our success, and certainly Mike is responsible for that,' Moos said. 'And he's going to get a lot of attention, but as I've said before and I will reiterate, the University of Oregon has become a destination and not a stepping stone. I think both the situation with Ohio State and USC has proven that.

'I would expect that (other schools) will continue to come after our quality coaches, yet I'm confident that we are able to retain them. First of all, I think we've got a wonderful place here, a good family situation, a wonderful city, a great institution with good people, and that we have the facilities, the budget and the means to win at the University of Oregon. There are a lot of coaches that would aspire to be at Oregon and we're fortunate to retain the ones we have.'

Bellotti went out of his way to praise Ohio State and its officials, while both he and Moos confirmed that the exploration in regards to the opening had nothing to do with increasing his financial package with the Ducks. Oregon extended Bellotti's previous contract in December for two more years through the 2007 season while increasing the financial incentives to $1 million annually for the duration of the pact, which has yet to be signed. Yet no new provisions were added to that extension as a result of Bellotti's inquiries with the Buckeyes.

'My curiosity in regards to the opportunities this opening presented was genuine and was not provoked by any other alternative motives here, and I appreciate the patience displayed by the administration at the University of Oregon,' according to the school's third-winningest football coach of all time.

And when he steps into Autzen Stadium for the start of his seventh season with possibly the school's first pre-season national top-10 ranking ever, Oregon fans will be relieved knowing that Bellotti will do so longer than all but two other coaches (Len Casanova and Rich Brooks) in school history.

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