The 34-year coaching veteran was reportedly offered an opportunity to interview for the head coaching vacancy at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he had spent his previous eight seasons overseeing the Blazers’ defensive backs before joining the Ducks in 2003, including his final two years as UAB’s defensive coordinator.
“I'm humbled and thankful for all the support I received to be a candidate for the coaching job at UAB,” Neal admitted. “That I got that far is a testament to the great achievements that we’ve accomplished at Oregon. I'm thankful for all the help and support I received from the Oregon family. I decided to not pursue this opportunity because of the love I have for this program. The coaches, players, support staff, friends, donors, alumni, fans and family that make this a unique place is why I'm staying.”
Neal, 57, has tutored defensive secondaries in the Pac-12/10, SEC, Conference USA and the Western Athletic Conference, including five seasons coordinating defenses throughout the country, and has enjoyed 11 successful years at Oregon.
He has coached 10 first-team all-conference selections, including returning All-American Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, and seven NFL draft picks during his Oregon tenure.
This season the Ducks led the Pac-12 in pass defense (204.5-yard avg., 21st in the country) and pass efficiency defense (7th nationally), allowing opponents to complete 14 touchdown tosses while throwing 17 interceptions. In addition, a trio of defensive backs finished the year among the team’s top five tacklers.
A year ago, Oregon led the country in interceptions with a school-record 26 picks.
“We are very excited about John’s commitment to the University of Oregon,” Helfrich said. “We look forward to his unique brand of enthusiasm and toughness to continue permeating the team.”
“It is a testament to our great staff of special people that others are interested in them.”
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