Like most Duck fans, players and coaches, I really wish this whole thing would end already. It’s like the moment before you rip off a band-aid- maybe it’ll sting a lot; Maybe it won’t. For now, it looks like that band-aid’s staying on a little longer.
Yesterday, KATU.com released records provided by the University of Oregon. These records had been requested last September and were finally released. The 500+ page document is a draft and is pretty out-dated. Nonetheless, it provided a bit more detail than what’s already been out there. There are a few different issues at hand and honestly, we’d be here all day explaining it all. (For the basics, please feel free to check out my previous posts on the issue:NCAA Sanction Hype/Anxiety and Oregon NCAA Investigation Marches On).
After reading through quite a bit of the document and checking out some other articles and commentary, I have to admit my head was spinning. So, I decided to pack up and head to Spring practice. I thought to myself “With all those journalists and veteran football experts, someone ought to know what’s likely to happen, right?” Wrong. At the end of the day, there is so much speculation and unknown information, it is absolutely impossible to figure out what might happen. As one reporter from a large media outlet told me, “Our guys have been following this from the beginning and even they don’t know.” So, what are we left with? Speculation- a game of NCAA Clue if you will.
Just like trying to figure out what’s going on in a top-team-in-the-country closed practice, sometimes you have to listen for clues. As a trained investigator (yes, really), I’ve spent a lot of time trying to piece together tidbits of information and observations, hoping to at least get a vibe. At this point, I’m 1/2 panicked, 1/2 not. For those of you who are interested, here’s why:
Reason’s to Panic
1. Chip Kelly did an about-face. Yes, he was expected to leave for the NFL, but the timing of it all felt a way too Pete Carroll-esque. If anyone knows what happened and what penalties are likely to come, it’s Chip. One has to wonder if he jumped ship just in time.
2. The NCAA hasn’t been terribly forgiving as of late. In case you haven’t noticed, several schools are suffering many consequences- some rightly so, some not so much. The NCAA can be somewhat unpredictable at times, so that in and of itself is unsettling.
3. As much as I hate to admit it, the violations pertaining to Will Lyles seem pretty obvious. I do think his actions were likely pretty slimy, but I’m not really sure how you pay over 25,000 for very limited recruiting information that could essentially be found on Rivals.com. Hmmmm?
4. The NCAA didn’t accept Oregon’s Summary Disposition. I have spent many years in court via my day job, and this leaves me feeling unsettled. I have to believe the NCAA feels they have enough evidence to proceed. Given Oregon offered to self-impose giving up 3 scholarships over 3 years and to be on probation for 2 years, it seems this will likely be the “best case scenario.” I’m no NCAA Infraction Committee expert (disappointing, I know), but it seems if they felt Oregon’s self-imposed penalties were sufficient, this thing would be over.
5. As much as Marcus Mariota said all the right things this morning as he talked about staying focused on practice, he seemed a bit down. He acknowledged that he had talked to his mother about the issue this morning. I don’t believe he knows the full scoop about what’s likely to come, but you have to think he’s close enough to get a vibe. If he’s worried, or is at least processing things enough to talk to his mother…
Reasons Not to Panic
1. From what I understand, harsher penalties tend to come with “lack of institutional control” and “ethical misconduct” type findings. At least in this draft report, it appears the NCAA did not find basis for these two findings. That more than anything gives me the most hope.
2. Both Coach Helfrich, Coach Kelly and the University have all stated they look forward to talking about the investigation. If you know you are guilty, I’m not sure you’d be looking forward to talking about it.
3. Individuals I’ve talked to (who spend a lot of time rubbing elbows with UO administrators, coaches, etc.) have been given the impression that those close to the investigation aren’t too worried.
4. The University of Miami is also currently under NCAA investigation and what a mess that is. Without going into all the details, what’s important to know is that the NCAA has come under fire for its handling of the investigation. Some speculate this could have a positive affect on the Oregon investigation in that the NCAA will have to cross their T’s and dot their I’s.
5. Last but not least, in the words of our favorite quarterback, Marcus Mariota,
“It is what it is”.
We can speculate all day about what might happen but at the end of the day, we will all pile into Autzen and cheer on our team. If nothing else, we have a great quarterback and a very funny coach, which should keep things fun right?
What side are you on? #Panicked or #NotPanicked?