Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In what has seemed to become an
increasingly alarming trend, yet another premier college football program has
felt the sting of recruiting violations after reports surfaced this week
indicting the University of Oregon.
Over the last several years the Oregon Ducks have been one of the elite
football units at the FBS level. With a style of football all their own the
Ducks have racked up four straight BCS bowl invitations, finished among the
top five teams in the national rankings three times and even had their shot at
a BCS National Championship in 2011.
Like so many other programs before it (Ohio State and USC come to mind),
Oregon has now had that legacy tarnished as reports have surfaced of apparent
recruiting violations by Oregon under the tenure of departed head coach Chip
Kelly, who left the school in January to take on the head coaching job with
the Philadelphia Eagles, has said in a statement that "While at Oregon, I know
we were fully cooperative with all aspects of the investigation and I will
continue to contribute in any way that I can."
During a press conference after the Eagles' first day of voluntary mini-camp
Kelly also made a definitive statement that his choice to leave Eugene for the
City of Brotherly Love had nothing to do with the NCAA's investigation into
these reported violations.
"No, it had absolutely no impact on my decision to leave."
However Kelly's departure is eerily reminiscent of the same type of exit that
current Seattle Seahawks' head coach Pete Carroll made when he left USC after
the 2009-10 season. Carroll led the Trojans to the 2004 National Championship
and also coached Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Reggie Bush.
Carroll was officially named the Seahawks' coach on January 11, 2010 and
almost six months to the day, on June 10, the NCAA leveled a number of heavy
sanctions on the Trojans. Those included postseason bans for both the 2010 and
2011 season as well as a vacation of all wins in the 2004 and 2005 seasons,
which included a stripping of the 2004 National Title.
Bush was at the center of much of the recruiting transgressions and the school
as well as Bush himself ended up returning their copies of his Heisman Trophy.
No one can blame Kelly or Carroll for leaving for the big lights of the NFL
but their exits mean that they were able to take bigger pay days and
completely avoid taking responsibility for violations committed under their
watch. Meanwhile the players who remain behind are forced to pay for the
transgressions they had no hand in crafting.
Though it is unclear what the punishment from the NCAA will be for Oregon, the
school has proposed a two-year self-imposed probation period as well as a
reduction in scholarships over the next three seasons.
One area where the Ducks have managed to stay away from some predecessors is
that according to reports by the NCAA there was "no finding of lack of
institutional control and no findings of unethical conduct."
Without those types of violations, Oregon may be able to avoid such decisive
and crippling blows as the ones handed down to USC and Ohio State. The
Buckeyes finished 12-0 this past season but due to a postseason ban, were not
able to factor into the BCS Title conversation.
Oregon's reported violations come just weeks after reports that the NCAA was
investigating the football program at Auburn University came to light. Former
head coach Gene Chizik, who was fired following a dismal 3-9 campaign this
past winter, has been less forthcoming than Kelly about alleged violations
as the investigation continues.
Of course swirling around any possible violations by Auburn is the shady
history of the recruitment of former star quarterback Cam Newton. The 2010
Heisman Trophy winner enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in college football
history while leading the Tigers to the 2010 National Championship.
However there was always a dark cloud over Newton's accomplishments as a
controversy about his eligibility hung over the season based on supposed
illegal actions taken by Newton's father while he was being recruited out of
Blinn Community College.
Although the investigation of Newton's recruitment ended after 13 months in
October of 2011, recent developments just make any and all controversies in
the past seem more shady.
Oregon's violations do not seem to be as major as those by USC, Auburn, Ohio
State, or the long list of other schools that have taken hits of late in both
football and basketball.
Despite that, the fact that yet another successful and respected program is
embroiled in a controversy surrounding impropriety, just continues to chip
away at the 'idealized amateurism' that collegiate athletics are supposed to
perpetrate, replacing it with an air of suspicion of any and all programs
At the very least, it has created a numbness to this type of blatant rule
breaking in the name of winning.
It is unfortunate that when the dust settles following these investigations,
the people paying the price are very often not those that committed the
infractions, but rather the student athletes left behind.
The Sports Network