Last year I wrote about how Ducks fans needed to pick a side. They either accept the NCAA is bullshit and stop the ignorant “USC cheated” arguments or they continue them and gladly take the lumps they have coming.
It’s odd living in Oregon during all of this because it reminds me so much of the days leading up to USC’s penalties with only two major differences. The first is that USC got in trouble for not knowing about something someone else did with a student and Oregon is directly in trouble for improper recruiting practices. The second is that somehow in the screwed up world of the NCAA, Oregon is going to get off very, very easy.
Somehow, USC got slapped with “lack of institutional control” largely because Reggie Bush and his family took money from a would-be sports agent in San Diego. Somehow, Oregon is going to get slapped with the far less damaging “failure to monitor” tag even though they basically failed to monitor themselves. Oregon is also described in NCAA documents as a “repeat offender,” which just means they’ve gotten in a little trouble for similar situations within five years.
Oregon suggested probation and the loss of 3 total scholarships over 3 years. USC received 30 scholarships over 3 years, a two year bowl ban, fines, freedom for all players to transfer, vacated wins and MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL. They were not cited as a repeat offender, for what it is worth.
Now, to be fair, I think the NCAA is total bullshit especially when it comes to compliance. They have been slowly letting Miami self-sanction themselves at no cost. What is a bowl ban when you aren’t going to a bowl or a major bowl? Didn’t stop them from the NCAA March Madness tourney where Miami fared well.
That’s why this is confusing. Oregon got told “NO” by the NCAA to their initial self-imposed sanctions. Oregon has a scant football tradition when it comes to bowl wins. If you take their last ten year run out, they are basically an also-ran (not to take a damn thing away from how great they have truly been for some time now). They don’t want to hand back Rose Bowls and wins and Pac 10/12 Championships because it really takes down some banners. For USC, this was the last thing anyone cared about. If we win anymore Rose Bowls we’ll need to play on a 120 yard field so there more room to hang banners. We could give away ten and I’d be dead for fifty years before Oregon matched the total and I plan to live a long time. I’ve cured my insides with bourbon. I’m completely naturally antibiotic and antiseptic in there.
So, basically, Oregon paid Willie Lyles for recruiting services for some notable Texas players, two of which later signed with Oregon (LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk, who later transferred).
The thing was, when being investigated, long after the players had signed, Lyles could not provide Chip Kelly with any documentation, or “recruiting services”. Basically, they paid for influence as Lyles was a mentor especially to Seastrunk. When Lyles finally gave Oregon paperwork, it was outdated, the kind of thing you could get off ESPN for 4 dollars a month.
Oregon knows they paid for a guy to help shift interest for some players in a market that a school not known for recruiting coast to coast eventually landed. This means, any game LaMichael James played in could be vacated. Not that it will be.
But let’s talk about the screwiness of the NCAA. Read the quote above. “Playing with fire” and “should not be allowed to claim ignorance” seems more like lack of institutional control than “failure to monitor.” Actually, it’s somewhere in the middle. It’s “refusal to monitor.”
At the same time, USC getting pinned for not knowing Reggie was violating his agreement with the NCAA as a “student athlete” (sorry, just laughed at that term) sounds like “failure to monitor” not “lack of institutional control”, which sounds more like what happened at Miami where an on-field booster was paying for abortions and cocaine cruises on his yacht with 70+ players over a decade.
My point here is less to punk Oregon and more to call the NCAA out. What on earth is the standard. You can’t explain it because they can’t explain it. It’s easy to get excited for Oregon to face some kind of penalties especially after their fans were some of the most vocal revelers in USC’s misery, but really, we’re all going to lose because we’re going to see something handed down that is either too light or too hard, that either makes a little sense or makes no sense. We’re losing because they are ruling again.
Any time you try to settle and the NCAA rejects it and takes you to an Infractions Hearing, it’s going to sting. My guess? One year bowl ban, some vacated wins, may 3 scholarships a year for 2 years. How will that impact Oregon? I don’t know. I don’t care really.
I just know the NCAA is a total Ponzi and we’re all suffering. We’ll see how it shakes out.
In the meantime, we have to try to get used to focusing on football because if you focus on the rest of it, you are going to hate this sport so much.
I hope Oregon fans learn a lesson from this. When you root against someone else to go down in flames, you forget you are probably involved in the same things. If your school competes at a top level, which Oregon has finally done for about ten years, they had to do things to get there. I think the NCAA is a joke, but the biggest joke is a fan base that assumes they are “clean” when another powerhouse is “dirty”.
It’s a dirty game and worse, the rules are murky. I don’t agree with anything the NCAA did to USC, Ohio State and probably won’t agree with what comes down at Oregon. I will probably agree with anything they do to Miami or if they ever catch Auburn for directly paying players. It still doesn’t mean I agree with who is handing out the punishments.
I feel bad for Oregon because this will take a bite out of what was the beginning of a football history, they aren’t a Bama or USC or Michigan or Ohio State who has tradition to spare. I feel worse because I don’t think there’s any way to know what’s right or wrong and if the juice is worth the squeeze because the NCAA literally hands sanctions out by playing pin the sanction on the donkey.
Or in this case Duck.
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