Oregon Football and Marijuana: Chip Kelly Faces Daunting Task Moving Forward

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2012

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the Oregon Ducks calls out in the second quarter while taking on the Wisconsin Badgers at the 98th Rose Bowl Game on January 2, 2012 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

If you hadn't noticed before, college kids smoke marijuana. This, of course, also applies to our beloved college football athletes. However, they're not the only athletes doing it—other college and professional players are known to use it as well. 

Seeing as how the drug is illegal in our country, this is a problem. So much of an issue that ESPN the Magazine did a huge feature on it in relation to college football. 

One team that was a focal point for this report was the Oregon Ducks. Sam Alipour reports that an estimated 40 to 60 percent of the Ducks football team smoke marijuana, citing interviews from 19 current or former Oregon players and officials.

This is not good news for Oregon head coach Chip Kelly. 

In the report, Alipour quotes a Duck from the Kelly-era saying that the coach has cracked down on everything. 

"I've heard weed was bigger before I got there," says one Kelly-era Duck, "but Chip cracked down on that. He'll actually attend classes with guys. If you miss a study hall, he'll drug-test you."

While this is good to hear, it doesn't change the damage that's been done from the overall view of this report. People are going to associate marijuana with Oregon even more so than they already did.

I know several of you might remember the Cliff Harris "We smoked it all" story. If not, watch the traffic stop of the now-former Oregon defensive back. I wouldn't be all that surprised if Harris was one of the anonymous players that spoke with Alipour. 

College kids are going to do crazy things, which entails experimenting with drugs. Besides alcohol, marijuana is easily the most popular drug of choice on college campuses. 

However, when it invades a college football program, serious actions need to be taken by those in charge.  

It's now up to Kelly and Oregon administrators to reshape the image placed on the Oregon football team at the moment.

This isn't going to be easy, and it's also possible Kelly might not be around much longer. After all, as The Register-Guard reported in January, the coach almost left the program to replace Raheem Morris as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' head coach. 

As we all know, winning changes everything. It's no secret Oregon has quickly become a household name in college football, and a lot of success is credited to Kelly. Continued success will most likely make the public forget about this ESPN the Magazine report, unless of course more Duck players get busted with pot or fail a drug test. 

With Friday being April 20, or the 420 pot holiday as ABC News points out, one can't help but wonder if Kelly will do anything that day or the following week. My gut feeling is that players will be getting drug tested, if they haven't already. 

Oregon state law prohibits random drug tests, so the school follows that too a tee. They only test players when there is a "reasonable suspicion," according to Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, via the Associated Press.

After this ESPN report, it's safe to say there is reasonable suspicion. It's a major concern if more than half the team is doing an illegal drug. 

Moving forward, Kelly and his staff will keep their heads focused on football, but there's no denying that actions must be taken to help remove the negative haze that clouds the Oregon football program. 


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