You no doubt have heard by now that the NCAA levied sanctions against the University of Oregon football program over recruiting violations between 2008 and 2011. You no doubt have heard this because the big story from the ruling locally was Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is prevented from returning to the Ducks or college football within 18 months of the penalty without first appealing to a Committee of Infractions – the so-called “show-cause penalty.”
It all sounds far worse than it actually is. For Oregon’s part, it’s nothing more than a slap on the wrist, or probation if you will. They lose one scholarship per year for each of the three years the violations occurred, which is a relatively small number. Plus, there was no bowl ban, and I don’t think three scholarships are going to derail that program.
As for Kelly, some might say an actual physical slap on the wrist actually would have been a stiffer penalty, as Jason B. did over at Bleeding Green Nation. The only way the show-cause penalty comes into play is if he quits the Eagles or is fired after one season. Seeing how much the organization wanted Kelly, they’ll definitely give him more than one year barring unforeseen and catastrophic circumstances. As for his running back to college, it could happen – as it did to Bobby Petrino with some years back – but Chip probably has too much pride for that. Even Steve Spurrier made it two seasons in the NFL.
So if Kelly does one day head back to college football with his tail between his legs, by then this whole thing will be behind him. Speaking of which, what is this whole thing about anyway? Recruiting violations is a vague term – that could be something as simple as sending too many text messages during the wrong time of year to a high school kid. They have some weird rules in that NCAA foosball.
Well, Chip didn’t really do anything at all. Apparently he wasn’t even directly involved with the violation that occurred. The coach’s only fault in this was his failure to monitor the activities of a staff member who improperly provided cash and lodging to recruits, which according to Ivan Maisel for ESPN.com, Kelly was unaware were taking place.
Chip Kelly met the NCAA announcement that it had banned him from college football for 18 months with characteristic straightforwardness. He didn't make excuses. He didn't blame someone else, even as the NCAA made clear that Kelly had been unaware that his staff had employed Willie Lyles in a manner not allowed by the NCAA manual.
As the NCAA made clear, Kelly committed none of the violations himself. His résumé may be smudged, but his hands are clean. Any athletic director who reads the infractions case will be able to go to his president and trustees and make a case for Kelly.
Maisel adds that Kelly accepts responsibility because, as the head coach put it himself while at Oregon years ago, “You can’t be a selective participant.” But as far as you or I or Ducks fans or the media or NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should be concerned, Chip is not the person who did wrong here.
With those facts in mind, it’s probably safe to assume this so-called scandal is not the reason Kelly bolted for the NFL, as it seems unlikely the NCAA would have suspended him had he stayed based on the rest of the toothless penalties here. And no, it’s not something Goodell needs to look into much deeper and stir up trouble over for the Eagles. Some rules were broken at the college level, although not by Kelly specifically – at least not knowingly – but he cooperated, accepted responsibility, and punishment was handed down. Nothing to see here it seems.
>> Chip Kelly owns up to mistakes [ESPN]