The Oregon Ducks football program kicked off spring football practice today.
With a likely top 10 ranking entering the upcoming season, all eyes are focused on whether the team can play its way into the inaugural four-team college football playoff.
There are three things Oregon fans and reporters alike have been able to count on over the past five years: points, wins and not being able to attend team practices.
But this year there's one well-known writer at practice. The catch? That writer is a state employee who was hired away from journalism to promote the team as a hybrid reporter-publicist.
After 10 years of sterling coverage of Oregon football and basketball for the Eugene Register-Guard, Rob Moseley last year accepted the position of editor of the Oregon Athletic Department’s website, GoDucks.com.
“[Attending Oregon practices has] kind of been the running joke of why I would have taken the job,
” Moseley told the Daily Emerald
The joke is now a reality.
You can read his practice reports at Moseley’s blog
on the website. So far, the model has worked in getting select coverage of the team posted to major media outlets. For example, here you can view photos provided to The Oregonian
by University's football photographer.
Meanwhile, the real press is left waiting in a sectioned-off area for athletic department personnel to herd players and coaches to them in the post-practice scrum.
Spring practices are a chance for die-hard fans to get what little taste of football available in the long dry-period between National Signing Day and the start of the football season. The Ducks are now restricting that access to anyone who is not an employee of the athletic department, including the school's well-known football publicist Rob Moseley.
Is this the Faustian bargain reporters must make to get access to the powerhouse program?
Is this the future of access-driven publicity at state-supported universities?
We'll tell you sometime after we're allowed to see the 2014 Ducks in action.