Here are my memories of Osaga running shoes.
1. They gave a pair to many of the volunteers who worked the 1976 Trials.
2. The shoes looked well designed, but were executed in poor leadlike materials, and hurt my feet like hell. So I wore custom Nikes (from Dr. Dennis Vixey (sp?)) during the trials and got crap from my crew chief, but the shoes hurt my feet, legs, everything. I had run in Tigers, Lydiards, Puma's, NB, Nike, just about everything. Osaga's were the only shoe, before or since, that I could not take a step in without feeling like I was wearing the crappiest materials on my feet. I gave my pair away. The funny thing is, the first time I met Bowerman, I was wearing custom experimental Nikes, that he did not make, and he did a double take!
(Nikes at the time, to me, felt great, but often poorly made/assembled. They had some quality control troubles in the early years under the Nike name; but the local store (Athletic Department) always gave you a new pair when you brought in a pair that was peeling apart.)
3. I was given a pair of the fist cantilever Osaga shoes...loved the idea...but again THEY SUCKED.
4. Osaga gave the Oregon team travel gear bags for their spring trip in 1979. Found mine in a box a year ago, but the nylon and rubber in the bag was dissolving...so sadly I threw it away.
Wish now I'd kept all the Nike prototype shoes and other artifacts of the day, but back then they were old smelly running shoes and the Parent's wanted their storage space back -- I am sure many a post college runner has that story!
20 years later I see the stuff going for 500 a pair in Japan.
I still have a pair of waffle racers from 1980, unused.
I have always thought that the Osaga sponsorship of the old Hayward Field score board was a Dellinger way to get back at Bowerman for their falling out. On the other hand, Bowerman did not allow Dellinger access to contributing to Nike.
As for Salazar, I never saw him in Osaga, that I can remember. (Believe me the team consensus was that Osaga's shoes SUCKED -- and from my experience they were the worst shoes I ever set foot in, sadly, cos we could have gotten a ton of them for free, lol). But, Salazar, before Nike, used to wear New Balance a lot. He'd rotate in different brands and shoes. He was very democratic. Nike shoes were still hit or miss, and then they hit their stride, and we pretty much all wore Nike. The spikes at the time, for distance, were just better than any other brand. Adidas was really aimed at sprinters, and I always hated their spikes.
Most of us were Nike guys cos they were so close geographically -- but if someone came out with a shoe with a nice ride, as NB did, we'd try them out.
It was weird, we knew there was some sort of rift between Dellinger and Bowerman... Dellinger even told us it wasn't required that we wore Nike. He actually told me that personally one day "you know, you don't have to wear Nike just because Pre did." "I said, I know Bill, I actually like the way they feel, better than any other brand."
...So, he'd tell us we didn't have to wear Nike, and then at the start of the season he'd have us all go in and get outfitted with shoes...Nike's.
I guess Phil found away to get around Bowerman's crap and still donate or sell to Oregon at a sweet heart price.
I was lucky, when I shifted from Adidas and Tiger to Nike late in high school -- the Nike shoes just had a better feel and a better ride for me.
Shoe feel, fit and ride, is very individual, isn't it?
I can't imagine anyone liked Osaga's; they had nice designs, and a real problem with materials and manufacturing execution (I am sure this is the real reason the company failed; the shoes indeed sucked, I don't remember seeing a single runner, elite, real, or otherwise wear their shoes, they were considered painful bricks).
But, here you have a few people saying they liked the shoes!
I am amazed that anyone could have stood them.