To the rabid masses in the college football world who are looking for a bad guy, Chip Kelly is the new Pete Carroll. Yet, in their lust for someone to blame and vilify, people once again ignore the real problem—the NCAA's slow processes and punishment policy.
This week, in the wake of Oregon revealing "major violations" in its ongoing NCAA investigation, new Philadelphia Eagles head coach, Chip Kelly, issued a short and to the point statement, via Pro Football Talk:
I am aware of the recent reports and of the ongoing investigation being conducted by the NCAA and the University of Oregon. While at Oregon, I know we were fully cooperative with all aspects of the investigation and I will continue to contribute in any way that I can. But until the NCAA rules on the matter, I will have no further comment.
Pretty standard fare in the grand scheme of things. Exactly what was to be expected. As was the resulting fallout from fans and media pointing fingers at Kelly for "getting out of dodge" before it all hit the fan.
To the people crushing Chip Kelly this morning: coulda left for the Bucs last year. Almost did, but didn't.— Ben Kercheval (@BenKercheval) April 16, 2013
My buddy, Ben Kercheval, over at College Football Talk did a good job explaining why that was not necessarily the case where Kelly was concerned. We've talked about it here at Your Best 11 as well. Chip Kelly was waiting to pick his spot to leave, it just happened to be this year and this job; after the coach had already turned down the first Eagles' offer following his 2012 season.
On the Oregon-Chip Kelly-Eagles specific angle, Kercheval is absolutely correct. Kelly certainly did not run to the NFL—he took his time and got the exact situation he wanted, before he decided to leave Oregon. It was not an escape, rather, it was a planned move upward, to his next challenge.
However, on the more macro college football angle, we again see that the NCAA just is not very good at its job.
Whether you agree with the NCAA rules on the books or not, ultimately people who break rules should be punished. In this case, the offenders would be Chip Kelly as well as some of his staff and possibly players who were steered or enticed to sign with Oregon. Yet, as this case wears on, with the Committee on Infractions coming next, the bulk of those "offenders" will have moved on.
Which means Oregon will be left to suffer the same fate as other schools: new coaches and new players will be punished as the offenders move on, unscathed.
Yes, there are times like Ohio State, where Tressel and his players all got hit by the NCAA, or North Carolina where active players were suspended for their dealings. However, even in those cases the innocent in the program suffered through postseason bans and scholarship reductions.
The problem here is not that Chip Kelly took off before he could be fired or slapped with a show-cause. It is not Pete Carroll or Reggie Bush or anyone else who transitions to a new locale before punishment is rendered. Rather, the problem is the inefficiency with which the NCAA hands down punishment.
Being thorough is outstanding, but as Miami's case has shown us, taking your time does not mean your case will be more thorough.
Ultimately, what you have in Indianapolis is a group that is understaffed and incapable of properly policing rule breakers. It operates on the "we don't have the wares to catch you promptly, but when we do get you, watch out" principle. Essentially, hoping that fear will be enough to stop multi-million dollar operations, hungry for wins, from skirting a rule or two.
Even with the stricter sanctions coming, the gang in Indy will still be grossly understaffed and ill-prepared to handle the workload. Working as a reactive body that is already operating with a deficit is not how things get done.
Thus, the same issues that have existed before will persist. Coaches and some players, the offenders, will continue to move on before the NCAA is ready rule. New coaches and new players, the innocent, will continue to pay the price for the offenders.
And people will continue to point fingers at the rule breakers as if they are the issue, when the system itself is set up to react and punish the innocent, not catch offenders.