Former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly
After the NCAA appeared to be handling the Ducks' case with the vigor of a sloth after supper, the sanctions have finally been handed down.
Collegespun.com provides a nice summary of the penalties, the most notable of which is the loss of one scholarship per year over the next two years. Among other sanctions, Oregon will be put on probation for three calendar years, and former head coach Chip Kelly was issued an 18-month show-cause penalty.
What this means for the future will be discussed thoroughly over the next few weeks, although the ruling is almost guaranteed to be unanimously seen as a positive thing for the Ducks given the kind of trouble other programs have found themselves in after dealing with the NCAA.
Naturally, we're heading to the Twitter feed for reaction where fans, players, recruits and media have all begun chiming in with their thoughts on the ruling.
One of the top defensive backs in the country and an Oregon target, Arrion Springs, doesn't seem fazed by the sanctions.
Talk about a slap on the wrist— Arrion Springs (@A_Springs4) June 26, 2013
That has to be encouraging news for Duck fans, as the burden of impending sanctions has finally been lifted and won't be much of a hindrance in recruitment, if at all.
Another potential Duck, defensive back Mattrell McGraw, also took to Twitter to share his thoughts on his recruitment and what effect, if any, the sanctions will have on his decision.
Lol for EVERYONE who's blowing up my phone ... MATTRELL CARES NOTHING ABOUT THOSE SANCTIONS . That won't affect my decision . Calm down— K I N G (@MattrellMcGraw) June 26, 2013
Oh, and Kelly would have almost certainly been suspended. Maybe not a half season, but 2-4 games seems likely.— John Infante (@John_Infante) June 26, 2013
It's interesting to note that while Kelly's departure seemed to launch Oregon into a potentially rough offseason, his absence may actually have helped the Ducks to some degree.
MT @Rand_Getlin: Chip Kelly will make in excess of $9,000,000 w/ the Eagles while riding out the NCAA's show-cause penalty.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) June 26, 2013
Then there's Brett McMurphy, adding some light humor to the situation.
Chip Kelly's 18-month show cause when he can return to college is Dec. 25, 2014. Merry Christmas!— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) June 26, 2013
But McMurphy also tweeted what appears to be some skepticism about the slippery slope the NCAA may currently be on related to rules violators.
College football coach checklist: 1. Cheat, 2. Cooperate w/NCAA for minimal penalties, 3. Repeat Rule No. 1— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) June 26, 2013
One thing to remember here is that with the "gray area" Oregon was operating in, it would be fair to wonder if the Ducks got off rather easy simply because it was the first case of its kind. It may not be as simple as just cheating and then cooperating with the NCAA, while fans pray for light sanctions. Will the next school that gets in trouble for working with so-called "street agents" fair as well as Oregon?
UConn sports writer Ed Daigneault reports that the Committee on Infractions took the Ducks' cooperation into consideration.
NCAA COI said Oregon's cooperation was taken into consideration. Murderers often cooperate and still get harsh sentences.— Ed Daigneault (@EdDaigneault) June 26, 2013
This is a change of pace from other NCAA rulings, such as the case with USC, where the school appeared to be rather uncooperative which likely played a factor in the harsh outcome. (In retrospect, however, I don't know anybody who thinks the Trojans were given a fair deal, but that's neither here nor there at this point.)
Chris Huston of heismanpundit.com weighed in on how he thinks the NCAA handled each case.
The NCAA wanted to punish USC, so it did. It didn't want to punish Oregon, so it didn't.— Chris Huston (@HeismanPundit) June 26, 2013
I don't think it's a matter of the NCAA "wanting" to punish one school and not another, and even if that were the case, why USC? The Trojans are a major television grab and were a must-see team each week throughout the 2000's. But it's not entirely unreasonable to question the NCAA's motive after the unpredictable nature of its various rulings.
One silly thing is the NCAA doesn't name anyone in these things (e.g. former football coach). This is stupid. These are grown-ups. Use names— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) June 26, 2013
I suppose that to many (especially the USC defense), Chip Kelly is the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named of the college football world, although it is weird that his name can't be used in the report.
Staples also mentions one of the key penalties in the case is the loss of official paid visits, which is now 37 as opposed to the regular 56 allowed.
Reducing official visits from 56 to 37 is rough for a school like Oregon that isn't within driving distance of many players.— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) June 26, 2013
But it must be noted that the Ducks averaged just 41 over the past four seasons (according to the collegespun piece), and oftentimes those visits don't even result in a commitment. The selection process of deciding who gets the official visits may be slightly more daunting, but it's hardly unmanageable.
Staples then offers up his solution to the particular problem of reduced official visits.
How do you solve that issue? You pay handlers to deliver kids on unofficials.— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) June 26, 2013
Not entirely crazy, but if it even sounds sketchy, and it does, it's probably not an option even if Staples was only joking.
Finally, pennlive.com offers up some twitter reaction from fans, although there are 1995 Rose Bowl highlights on the page, so Duck fans have been given fair warning. (Despite the loss, Ki-Jana Carter was a beast!)
This news is sure to dominate the college football headlines for a few days, but it's a safe bet that Duck fans are more than excited to get back to making bowl predictions without fear of the team not being eligible.
Overall, it's a great day for the Oregon football program, which can now move forward toward the ultimate goal of a national championship without sanctions looming.