When Chip Kelly left earlier this week for the Philadelphia Eagles, there must have been a huge sigh of relief from a lot of West Coast teams' fan bases.
Finally, Kelly was out of their hair.
Unfortunately for those fan bases, it really won't matter much.
The wackiness of its football culture, its cutting-edge uniforms, the spectacular facilities and the trending up of its football program all point to a status-quo for the Oregon Ducks.
Kelly's genius certainly attracted a lot of high profile recruits but the branding of Oregon, backed by Nike co-founder and chairman Phil Knight, isn't going anywhere.
If you build it, they will come. Recruits like flashy uniforms and shiny stuff.
Knight has donated hundreds of millions to Oregon, and the school has invested the money wisely by building athletic facilities that rival the best in the country—not just in football, but in basketball, as well. Last year, the school opened its new Matthew Knight Arena which includes a crazy looking, "Deep in the Woods" floor. Among the fir tree graphics are rumored hidden messages—it's only a year old and the court already has lore.
But all this aside, will Pac-12 teams have an easier time recruiting with Kelly off to the NFL?
Actually, they may have an easier time recruiting, but it may not be due to Kelly's absence; instead, it may be due to the looming Committee on Infractions meeting with the school regarding the recruiting scandal that had prompted an NCAA investigation.
Negative recruiting is a staple for college football coaches—it's generally despised but despite coaching staffs saying they focus on the positives of their own schools, they probably can't help but negatively recruit when an unusual situation presents itself.
Looming sanctions are not going to be ignored by any savvy recruiter and despite the possibility that Oregon will avoid severe sanctions, the seeds will be planted in a recruit's mind. But would that steer a recruit away from Oregon
National Signing Day is February 6, and the NCAA will probably not have wrapped up its decision on Oregon by then. Most recruits who sign their letters of intent on February 6 will be doing so not knowing what, if any, sanctions are in Oregon's future.
If Oregon received some stiff penalties and a recruit hadn't attended a class yet, he can transfer without losing a year of eligibility at an FBS school. The NCAA might also provide a student-athlete with a penalty-free transfer if postseason bans are imposed on the school—he wouldn't have to sit out a year if he transferred to another FBS school.
But that transfer rule may limit exactly who can transfer and who can not. When USC was hit with a two-year postseason ban in 2010 by the NCAA, only active upperclassmen were allowed to transfer without penalty. Conversely, all active Penn State players were allowed to transfer without penalty after the school was hit with a four-year postseason ban.
If Oregon were to be hit with a one- or two-year postseason ban, NCAA past precedent indicates it's likely the underclassmen would not be able to transfer without penalty. That possibility could weigh heavily on a recruit, but it still may not be enough for him to waiver on his commitment to Oregon.
We need to remember that most recruits forge a relationship with the specific coach who recruited him to a school. Thomas Tyner, a 5-star running back currently committed to Oregon, was recruited by Gary Campbell. It should be noted that Campbell is the Ducks' running back coach and has been at Oregon since 1983.
Kelly's departure won't hurt the Ducks' recruiting as long as the coaching staff remains intact. With reports indicating that current offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is the leading candidate to replace Kelly—the school must interview one qualified minority candidate to satisfy a state law—it's assumed the coaching staff will remain intact if Helfrich is indeed named the new head coach.
That bodes well for Oregon.
In the end, Oregon's recruiting won't take a hit due to Kelly's departure. And while the NCAA's pending decision may affect some recruits on Signing Day, unless Oregon hires a head coach from outside the school, Pac-12 coaches will have a difficult time poaching Oregon commits.
Pac-12 coaches will also face the same recruiting roadblocks they had when Kelly was still at Oregon: state-of-the-art facilities, a well-defined branding, a high-tech atmosphere and a four-peat in BCS bowl appearances.
And a lot of flashy, shiny stuff.
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