On Saturday, multiple media reports surfaced indicating that Oregon will promote current linebackers coach Don Pellum to be its new defensive coordinator. While there's been no official word from the university, Pellum looks to be the man to replace longtime defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti, who retired following the Ducks victory over Texas in the Alamo Bowl.
Pellum has been a part of the coaching staff in one form or another since his playing days at Oregon ended in 1984. He has served in multiple capacities since then, including as the defensive backs and defensive line coach.
Pellum is also the Ducks recruiting coordinator, a position that carries immense importance. The Ducks have enjoyed plenty of success this year on the recruiting trail, and are poised to finish strong before National Signing Day on Feb. 5. Pellum, himself, has had plenty to be happy about lately after four-star linebacker Jimmie Swain, a former TCU commit, flipped to Oregon last week.
The impending hire continues the Ducks practice of promoting from within. Not only does this keep stability amongst the current roster that has played for Pellum, but it keeps one of the Ducks key recruiters on staff. He is well respected amongst his peers and by the Oregon family, making this an easy hire for the fan base to digest once everything is made official.
The tricky part is determining what will happen with the rest of the defensive coaching staff. Someone will have to replace Pellum as the linebackers coach, and the Oregonian reported that Philadelphia Eagles assistant Erik Chinander is slated to take over Pellum's duties.
But, the real key will likely be hanging on to John Neal. The longtime secondary coach was rumored to be a candidate for the coordinator position and should he leave, it could complicate matters with the current roster as well as this year's recruiting class.
Junior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu spurned the NFL Draft to return for his senior season, citing Neal as a main factor for coming back. The deadline to declare for the draft is Jan. 15, meaning that if Neal decided to go elsewhere before then, Ekpre-Olomu could change his mind.
Already this season, Neal has recruited four talented defensive backs to the 2014 class in Arrion Springs, Dominique Harrison, Glen Ihenacho and Budda Baker. Louisiana prospect Mattrell McGraw, who has spoken numerous times about the strong bond he has with Neal, remains another top defensive back target that could land at Oregon.
Without Neal, McGraw likely wouldn't land in Eugene. Ihenacho could go somewhere else, as he is already listed as a soft verbal. Springs talked to Scout.com analyst Greg Biggins at the Under Armour All-American Game and said that he was solid with Oregon. However, he indicated that Neal and the defensive scheme were reasons why that was the case.
Odds are that Baker, who could play offense, and Harrison, who is joining the team for spring ball, would likely stay.
But, with a little over three weeks to go until National Signing Day and dead period coming to a close on Jan. 16, the Ducks coaching staff would want to avoid having to go on damage control like they did last season after Chip Kelly left.
If Neal hangs around, the Ducks shouldn't miss a beat. Consistency has always been the key to a successful program at Oregon, and keeping this recruiting class in tact will ensure that said success can carry over into the future.