Bellotti adjusting to his new role as AD
He classifies it as challenging, interesting and most of all, demanding.
Mike Bellotti has a new job and a new role within the University of Oregon athletic department — fundraiser.
"I'm reaching out to the state and sort of giving them a sense of what my leadership style is going to be and what I believe about our athletic program and our university," Bellotti said.
Bellotti, the all-time winningest football coach at Oregon, stepped off the field and into various country clubs beginning July 1, when he switched from head coach to athletic director.
On Wednesday evening, he was in Medford to give a speech and share dinner with approximately 65 donors in a fundraiser hosted by the Duck Athletic Fund and the Oregon Club of Southern Oregon at the Centennial Golf Club.
"It's a big deal to get him here and he works hard to come down here," said Mike O'Herron, the director of media relations for the Oregon Club of Southern Oregon.
It was Bellotti's second visit to the area this summer, which has kept him busier than during his 14-year tenure as head coach at Oregon. Bellotti has also made similar trips to Portland and Bend numerous times in the past two months.
"It's kept me very, very busy," Bellotti said. "In fact, the time commitment has rivaled football coaching so far.
"I did not take as much vacation. I didn't play as much golf as I had before as a football coach."
Bellotti said he has made an appearance at five or six practices, spending anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours as a spectator. He added that new coach Chip Kelly checks in every three or four days, but the questions are more about running an elite program than the fine details of Xs and Os — one of three aspects that Bellotti said he misses most about coaching.
"I miss the camaraderie of the coaches," he said. "I miss the ability to really get to know the players, the new, young players that I recruited. The last thing is the opportunity to match wits on the football field. The strategy, the game planning, the overall development of the football team."
Bellotti does have an opinion on this year's squad, which kicks off the season Sept. 3 at No. 14 Boise State. Bellotti said the 16th-ranked Ducks' receiver and linebacker corps are among their strengths, while the offensive and defensive lines present the biggest question marks.
"That's where we were the most hit by graduation," Bellotti said. "There's a lot of answers everywhere else."
Despite his rigourous schedule, Bellotti intends to attend all of Oregon's football games this season. However, where he watches them is up the air.
The field might be too much to handle and there's always the athletic director's box. Another option that might be presenting itself in the near future is in the television box as a guest analyst.
Regardless of his decision, Bellotti has made his intention to continue to promote and develop Oregon to elite status obvious with routine visits across the state to fire up the boosters.
"Basically, he's pumping everyone up for the season," said Joe Ancell, regional director of development for Northern California and Southern Oregon for the Duck Athletic Fund.
"What he brings coming down here, he's bringing a lot of energy. Him coming down here shows his support for the alumni and the donors. This is kind of a thank you."
The Oregon Club of Southern Oregon meets Tuesdays at 11:45 a.m. at the Rogue Valley Country Club.
Reach reporter Shawn Miller at 776-4469