It was a gloomy week to be a Duck.
Rumors continue to swirl about Chip Kelly leaving for the NFL. Recruiting is stagnant and brackish, the Ducks pursuing 2-star linebackers and unrated defensive linemen as they've gathered the fewest commits in the conference. An 18-game starter on the offensive line and a former Honorable Mention on the PAC-12 All-Academic team, Nick Cody inexplicably gets himself declared academically ineligible for the Fiesta Bowl.
Tuesday the Willamette Week, a free tabloid from downtown Portland that mainlines controversy like a heroin junkie, publishes a report full of unnamed sources stating long-time boosters are fed up with The Visor and ready to say good riddance.
And Wednesday, the NCAA's Committee on Infractions rejected a bid from Oregon's lawyers for a summary disposition, a football plea bargain that would have settled the Will Lyles case. There'll be a hearing in the spring, with coaches called to testify. Hard to say whether Kelly will take a chair at that hearing, or will be locked up in the war room of the Philadelphia Eagles, grinding for the NFL draft.
Welcome to the bizarro world of NCAA investigations, where a river of dirty money drains into a slough of inconsistency and uneven justice. The NCAA and their president, former University of Washington president Mark Emmert, want to dance gangnam style on the grave of the Oregon Ducks. Will Lyles has been condemned as a scum and a slimeball and completely untrustworthy, until the COI calls him as their star witness.
Now having pummeled the Dawgs 9 times in a row, having come within a missed block and two missed field goals of their second trip to the national championship game, the Ducks empire is crumbling, and the cackles of delight around the Northwest from the Crimson and Gray, Orange and Black and Purple and Gold, couldn't be louder or more justified. The Ducks won with flash and a stash of Nike cash. They were cocky and flashy and cut corners. Kelly himself is a classic Aristotilian tragedy, a great man brought down by the fatal flaw of arrogance. He was the one who had Lyles brazenly squire him around Houston, and the one who ordered the athletic department to pay the scout/runner/agent/exploiter of underprivileged kids with fast 40 times the top rate for recruiting services without a shred of the required reporting or documentation.
Kelly likes to play fast. But in dealing with the NCAA, where justice is both delayed and denied, there's no up-tempo way to blur the lines any more than Auburn already has. Somehow that $225,000 payment to Cam Newton's father never resulted in a single minute of NCAA probation, but the Ducks seem destined for a bowl ban and loss of scholarships. The hammer. It's a decision that will be applauded from Montlake to Heritage Hall.
Lost in this is the Fiesta Bowl. While the Ducks keep making headlines for all the wrong reasons in the days leading up to the game, Kansas State is quietly preparing with no distractions. Unless Kenjon Barner and Kiko Alonso play the game of their lives, or the coaches are cooking up miracles in those closed practices, look for the Ducks to lay another giant egg in Glendale, providing a fitting cap to this era of almost. Eugene burns, the lawyers are at the gate, and the coach is fiddling with his resume.
Auburn is really good at cheating guys. If your just now getting mad about them not getting caught, or rather not having enough proof to be punished, you'll have to get in the back of a really long line.
Hhmmm, reasonable write... Right up to last paragraph. Oregon will win, Chip most likely gone, and Oregon will lose a total of 10 schollies and limited recruiting. Oh and will probably "Donate" a fine to some well needed non-profit.
@RxDawg Not angry with Auburn, particularly. Just trying to illustrate how uneven NCAA justice is. The NCAA suspended Cam Newton one day and reinstated him the next. They took two years to make a decision in the Georgia Tech case, and ten minutes to penalize Penn State, interjecting themselves in the legal process while penalizing 80 student athletes for the heinous acts of one man who was already in jail. There's very little consistency in the COI process.
@JoeBarthlow JoeBarhlow, the troll express already left town. You should have been on it.
Dale, I always appreciate your knack for distilling disparate notes into one cogent view. Thanks.
@JoeBarthlow Joe, thanks for reading and of course you are entitled to do so critically. Rob Moseley is a journalist. Walter Cronkite was a journalist. I write a sports blog. Not purposed or purported to be the same thing, ever.
@Funduck FD--your forecast is unfortunately pretty accurate, I think, far more accurate than your average Willamette Valley weather prediction. Scholarship loss seems likely, and if Penn State, USC, and Ohio State can suffer bowl bans, no program is too big too fail. The NCAA wants to make an example of someone, and the Ducks had the misfortune to hastily cut ties with a fast-talking street agent who thought they still owe him money.