If you’re a Duck fan, you may want to turn in early. It’s going to be a long night. The NCAA announced today it will be releasing it’s penalties against Oregon after a very long investigation beginning in March 2011. If you haven’t been paying attention, the main issue has to do with alleged recruiting violations that included a 25,000 payment to Will Lyles, who is now considered to have been a booster rather than a reputable recruiter. For a more detailed explanation, see my previous article, Oregon NCAA Investigation, To Panic or Not to Panic.
Tomorrow morning, many months of hype, anxiety and overall speculation will finally come to an end. Tonight though, the speculation continues. Will the NCAA hammer fall? Or will Duck Nation breathe a collective sigh of relief? I think it’s safe to say all will be well as long as the hammer that is the “Post Season Bowl Ban” doesn’t drop. Everything I’ve analyzed recently suggests that it won’t and that Oregon should expect a slap on the wrist. I want to believe that. I really do. Unfortunately since all we can do is speculate and read into this, that or the other thing, I can’t seem to shake this one little thing: Marcus Mariota’s actions and demeanor following Oregon’s most recent records release.
I happened to be at post-practice interviews that April morning when the coaches and players were questioned. The message from the coaches was that they were continuing to cooperate and could not elaborate. The message from the players was that they weren’t totally kept in the loop, but had some meetings with the coaches about the situation on occasion. They also said they weren’t focusing on the situation and “just moving forward as a team”. Now I know that all sounds good and I’m not dumb enough to think the players have any direct knowledge of what lies ahead. However, I have to believe they have some clues or “vibes” if you will, and that’s what makes me worried.
See, as I’ve talked about before, when Mariota was asked about the situation, he answered in a typical “PC” fashion; but he also added that he had talked to his family that morning about things. He described his mother’s words of encouragement, which to me, suggested he needed some. That, accompanied by his more subdued demeanor that morning left me feeling a little worried. I’m hoping it was my “rookie reporter” nervousness reading too far into things. I guess we’ll find out in less than 12 hours. In the meantime, do what you must to pass the time. If you’re interested, Twitter has a fun hashtag game of #OregonSanctionRumors going. I will not be participating. Instead, I’ll be heading to bed, saying some extra prayers and dreaming of an Oregon 2014 Natty win.
Goodnight Duck fans and stay tuned…