Oregon Coach Not Shrugging Off Embarrassing Performance

Oregon Coach Not Shrugging Off Embarrassing Performance
As sports fans, we've all been there. We've decided we're going to pay whatever it takes to see our team play in the big game away from home.

We've dropped $100 for a ticket, another couple hundred for a plane ticket to get there and more for a hotel, parking and other tasty beverages and concessions once we arrive.

Occasionally, it's worth it. The team wins and it's a great all-around experience.

Other times, it's not. Your team loses, the players embarrass themselves and you feel like you wasted your money.

Such was the case for 1996 University of Oregon alumnus Tony Seminary. He runs an IT company near Portland and is a season ticket holder for the Ducks football team. He decided to make the trip to the land of blue turf to see Oregon face Boise State on Thursday, Sept. 3, in Chip Kelly's first game as the Ducks' new head coach.

And Seminary was there as the Ducks lost to the then-No. 14 Broncos 19-8. He saw his alma mater gain just 152 yards in total offense, garner less than 18 minutes of offensive possession and gain just six first downs all night long. And he witnessed Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount's postgame sucker-punch of Boise State's Byron Hout.

"I wasn't happy with the team's performance," Seminary said afterwards, "and it just left a bad taste in my mouth. I think most of the Duck contingent felt the same way, and that was even before the postgame shenanigans. I just felt like I needed to reach out to Coach Kelly and give him my two cents about how I felt about the performance."

And like we've been tempted to do time after time when we see our team perform miserably, Seminary composed an e-mail to his new coach in which he calmly asked for his money back.

"I was so angry with the game (even before the post-game melee) I am sending you an invoice for my trip to Boise," Seminary wrote to Kelly. "The product on the field Thursday night is not something I was at all proud of, and I feel as though I'm entitled to my money back for the trip. Please see my invoice attached in this e-mail. I will happily send along receipts if need be."

"The invoice was sent in jest," Seminary said. "I run a business and I invoice customers, and I have an invoice at my disposal. I just took all the company information and made it out to ‘Tony Seminary, Incorporated.' It was definitely sent in jest. Sometimes you send an e-mail, and you just feel better after you sent it. That's kind of how it felt."

Fair enough. No harm done. A hardcore Oregon supporter makes himself feel better following his bad experience by getting some thoughts off his chest to the new coach.

But Kelly, the Ducks coach, called his bluff.

Shortly after sending the message, Seminary received an e-mail response from Kelly asking simply, "What is your address?"

Playing along, "I replied with my address," Seminary said, "and a few days later I had a check in the mail. As a sales guy, it's really hard to shut me up. When I received that check, I was literally speechless."

The check was addressed to Seminary from Charles Kelly for $439, the exact amount listed on his invoice for the trip to Boise.

And though Seminary never cashed the check — he made copies of it and sent the original back to Kelly with a thank-you note — the coach's actions changed the way the once-critical alum feels about the Ducks' new man in charge.

"I think of Coach Kelly as a totally different person now," Seminary said. "I have a different bond with him now thanks to what happened. Let's just say he lost every game as an Oregon coach. You would never hear me calling for his head. It just wouldn't happen. The guy showed an incredible amount of class.

"I now know why his kids would run through a wall for that guy, because who does what he did, right? That is simply amazing."

Seminary isn't suggesting that all frustrated college football fans start sending itemized invoices to their schools' athletic departments hoping to be reimbursed for watching their crummy teams lose.

Looking at it cynically, maybe Kelly just realized that after his team took a serious public relations hit — no pun intended — from Blount's punch, the coach needed to do something to revive its positive image.

Whatever the case, though, it's hard not to be impressed with Kelly standing up and taking financial responsibility — even in this isolated case — for his team's struggles.

In this day of coaches leaving a school facing NCAA violations for larger contracts elsewhere — John Calipari and Rick Neuheisel come to mind — Kelly's actions restore some faith in coaching's humanity.

Said Seminary of his new hero: "He could lose every game 50-0 and he'd still be my coach, our coach, through thick and thin."

That degree of dedication alone is a reason to start quacking for the Ducks this season.

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