BellottiBut Bellotti, 59, stepped aside as head coach last year and his offensive coordinator, Chip Kelly, stepped in. Bellotti became Oregon's athletic director, giving up the work he'd done his entire adult life.
Then those players and first-year coach stepped up and earned a berth in the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi.
Bellotti and the Ducks had some great seasons during his 14 years as head coach -- they finished ranked No. 2 in the country in 2001 -- but they didn't play in a Rose Bowl together.
It's obvious, isn't it? Bellotti has to ache a little, right?
"A little bit but I knew what I was getting myself into," he said.
Bellotti seems far more thrilled that the Ducks are here in Pasadena than disappointed that he won't lead them onto the field on New Year's Day.
He said he thought Oregon might be pretty good this year. His stepping aside, though, wasn't about football. It was a personal and family decision.
"I had family and friends tell me -- football people -- that, 'You're not going to walk away. You've got a quarterback coming back. You've got a good team. USC is going to be down. All the stars are aligned,'" he said.
But he did. And he said he's fine with it. He noted that he did coach in a Rose Bowl -- he was the Ducks' offensive coordinator under Rich Brooks in 1994.
"I have that experience indelibly etched in my heart and my brain," he said. "I will really enjoy going in as the AD. It's still going to be the same pride factor."
It should. Those are his guys out there.