The Oregon Ducks have been that team to keep an eye on since the last decade and they have won at least 10 games in each of the last five years.
However, with Chip Kelly no longer around and a first-year head coach in Mark Helfrich now calling the shots, it is important for the program to hit the ground running on the recruiting scene.
The overall success of this program was built with improved recruiting, and according to 247Sports, Oregon has a Top 20 recruiting class heading into national signing day. But what do elite players have to look forward to now that Kelly has taken his talents to the NFL? Will Oregon change and take a step backwards, scaring recruits in another direction?
Don't count on it.
Besides Helfrich being very close to Kelly and likely keeping the offensive game plan intact, Oregon has many other things to attract some of the top players in the country.
The Flashy Uniforms
I say Oregon, you think uniforms. Correct? If that wasn't the first thing that came to your mind, then you need to get with the program.
In an era where every college football team under the sun is switching up its wardrobe, there is no other school in the world that does it like Oregon.
Will the Ducks' recruiting suffer now that Kelly has left the program?
While most seem to be taking fashion tips from Nicki Minaj, the Ducks seem to always get it right. There are never any messed up helmets like what Notre Dame attempted and you will never see a uniform as ugly as this in Eugene. It doesn't matter how many different combinations of green and yellow Nike can come up with, there is not one uniform that was a design fail.
Some traditionalists don't like seeing a different look every time their team takes the field and that's fine for most schools, but don't get upset with the Ducks. Get mad at all of the other guys who are attempting to be like them and failing miserably.
Besides, what the program is currently doing is much better than the old-school helmets with the interlocking "UO."
Every other school should just stop with the nonsense and the Ducks need to remain the same. If you want to look awesome on the field and not have to worry about looking like Lil Wayne at a basketball game, Oregon is the school for you.
Autzen Stadium Is the Real Deal
Provide a list of the biggest stadiums in college football and Autzen Stadium is likely only half that size. List a couple of the stadiums that you think are the loudest and you better include the Ducks' house. It is absolutely amazing how loud a stadium can get, especially when it holds fewer than 60,000 people.
After the Michigan Wolverines had lost to the Oregon Ducks back in 2003, J. Brady McCollough of the Michigan Daily wrote something interesting in his column:
Autzen's 59,000 strong make the Big House collectively sound like a pathetic whimper. It's louder than any place I've ever been, and that includes "The Swamp" at Florida, "The Shoe" in Columbus and "Death Valley" at Louisiana State. Autzen Stadium is where great teams go to die.
Due to the fans being so close to the action and the game being played on a sunken field, the noise is much more deafening than you would expect from a smaller crowd. This is truly a home-field advantage for the most exciting team in the country and one of the toughest places to play for visiting teams.
All recruits want to play in a packed house that makes opposing teams cry on the flight home and Autzen Stadium fits the bill.
More Swagger Than Those Other Guys
Besides the uniforms of course, Oregon just bleeds swagger.
Whether it is the flashiness of the offense, the cool colors the players are wearing or one of the sexiest mascots in the game, Oregon has that "it" factor many seem to talk about. There is just something about this program that stands out from the rest and makes you intrigued with what the Ducks have to offer.
Every era in college football has seen this type of team over the years. At one point, it was the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Notre Dame had its run, Florida State was the popular team during the 1990s and of course Miami was on top for several years.
Although Oregon hasn't won a national championship during its success, much like the elite programs before it, there is just something special that draws you in.
Kids nowadays will call this "swagger" and it tends to be extremely popular with recruits. The better you feel and look on the field, the better you will end up playing. There is no other team in the country that carries itself quite like Oregon and that shows in the play on the field as well.
If you are a recruit that prefers to be swagged out and walks with a certain type of confidence, Oregon is the school for you.