The NCAA handed down its punishment to Oregon football on Wednesday, and much like the athletes the college football world has grown used to seeing in Oregon's offense, the Ducks dodged what could have been a huge proverbial tackler.
In the past, the NCAA has taken rule violations extremely seriously—just ask USC and Ohio State—but Oregon will be walking away from this virtually unscathed.
Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN.com reports on the NCAA's ruling and gives his opinion on the matter:
The NCAA placed Oregon on probation Wednesday for three years and took away one scholarship for recruiting violations under previous coach Chip Kelly. Oregon came under NCAA scrutiny after self-reporting violations stemming from payments made to recruiting services, including $25,000 to Willie Lyles and Houston-based Complete Scouting Services in 2011.
But in the end, the loss of one scholarship and limiting official visits for the 2014 to 2016 classes to only 37 per year is about as good an outcome as Oregon could have hoped for from a recruiting standpoint.
This is not going to impact Oregon recruiting all that much.
For some schools, losing one scholarship per season for the duration of a punishment would definitely be a lot, but Oregon is not one of those schools. The Ducks are unique in that they don't recruit like the Alabamas, Michigans and Ohio States of the world.
in the past, Oregon generally hasn't rushed to put classes together. That could change under new head coach Mark Helfrich, but it hasn't yet.
Sure, Oregon recruits star players, and many elite recruits are drawn to the program. But more often than not, Oregon is looking for a specific type of athlete who will fit the scheme, despite the star ranking.
It's rare to look at an Oregon recruiting class and find the same "star power" you'd see in an SEC class, for example. The Ducks will get one or two major recruits, especially at skill positions, but much of their recruiting success will come through development.
Oregon doesn't need a class full of 5-star recruits. It's all about quality over quantity and the ability to take recruits who fit a scheme and develop them into stars. The Ducks don't need a top-10 recruiting class to have had a successful recruiting cycle.
Due to that unique recruiting strategy, losing one scholarship a year is not going to hurt that process much.
The Ducks still have a million different jersey combinations, and they'll still run an exciting offense under Helfrich. Oregon will still be one of the most notable programs in the country, and it should still be a competitor in the Pac-12, if not nationally.
Simply put, Oregon will still get the recruits it wants. Most likely, it just will be lacking one developmental "project" player a year.
Losing official visits (from 56 to 37, per ESPN) and evaluation days stings a bit, but the Ducks will be able to conquer that challenge as well.
With recruits taking more and more unofficial visits, Oregon will still be seen by top-notch recruits. The only drawback is it will be a bit harder to recruit East Coast or SEC recruits, but the Ducks usually do fine on the West Coast, anyhow.
Nike's major recruiting camp, The Opening, is held in Beaverton, Ore., so that alone is a huge opportunity for elite recruits to check out what the Ducks have to offer.
If that is the only thing Oregon has to worry about, there's not much to worry about at all. It will all balance out.
The NCAA basically lobbed a softball at the Ducks. Helfrich and his staff should have no problem hitting it out of the park.