With numerous incidents over the past month, the Oregon Ducks football program and its fans have seemed to reach a crossroads.
Chip Kelly led the Ducks to a conference championship and Rose Bowl berth in season one, but has also had a rash of high profile incidents since Sept. 2nd.
I will preface the body of this article with the fact that I do not condone any of the actions that allegedly took place over the past month. If these individuals are found to be guilty, they deserve to be punished.
But let's take a step back and consider the larger picture in what has become the corrupt world of college football.
There is a fine line to be walked by a major Division I football program between success and running an out of control program.
The Ducks don’t even come close to the chaos of the Miami Hurricanes in the 1980s and 1990s. Or that of Florida State here in the last decade.
The Ducks' issues also don’t touch those of some programs with very well-respected coaches.
Under Urban Meyer, Florida has seen 24 arrests in the past four years. Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions went through a stretch where they had 46 arrests in a six year period.
This past football season, three Tennessee football players robbed a couple citizens at gunpoint. The best player involved played football that year for Tennessee.
Do we hold our citizens and athletes to higher standards in Oregon? If you have been paying attention to how things have been handled here, that answer is yes.
Unfortunately, what has been proven in recent years is that the most successful teams seem to have more off the field problems than those that are mediocre or struggling.
The two most prominent incidents out of Eugene have been those involving quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and LaMichael James.
Now, we will either never know the facts involved in both of these stories, or we will eventually be enlightened to how both incidents allegedly occurred.
But what has gained steam locally, is the arrest of backup linebacker Kiko Alonso and the dismissal of Jamere Holland. As almost everyone felt, Holland’s dismissal seemed imminent, as this was his second chance after not making it at USC. Alonso was just suspended for the 2010 season after being arrested and cited for driving under the influence.
No more than 14 hours before Alonso’s arrest, Chip Kelly had given a press conference expressing that the University of Oregon would not accept bad behavior from their athletes.
Pundits are already banging on Kelly’s handling of the incidents, specifically Alonso and James. People are questioning how he can make such a quick decision on Alonso and let the process run its course on James.
This question can be easily answered. When you are arrested and cited for a DUI, the police officer has performed a breathalyzer and other field sobriety tests. Therefore Alonso was almost assuredly guilty because all the research was done by the officer at the scene.
Looking at James’ incident, unless there are witnesses, which it doesn’t sound like there are, this is a he said, she said battle. But lets also remember, James has been charged with three misdemeanors, yet he is being treated as if he has been charged with a felony.
There is where the small town effect comes into play. Back in 2006, former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez was arrested for an alleged rape. The LAPD took the necessary steps, released Sanchez a little more than eight hours after the arrest took place and Sanchez was eventually exonerated.
In James’ incident, the actual event took place on Monday night. The female reported the incident to police on Tuesday morning, and James was arrested at 3 AM on Wednesday morning.
This doesn’t make much sense. Also, it is unheard of in the Eugene area for someone arrested for the three misdemeanors James was, to have to post $100,000 bail. This shows that the police have wanted to make an example out of James.
Chip Kelly likes to get his facts straight before making a decision, even if that means that the facts initially gathered by police are not enough.
In the James case, especially with some of the rumors I am hearing out of Eugene, makes me believe that there is more to this story than initially thought in favor of James, but there is no point in bringing them to light because they are just that, rumors.
If he doesn’t, Kelly should have the trust of the University because he has stuck to his guns and suspended players when he has received all of the information.
Media members in Oregon can sometimes jump to conclusions based off what they think all the facts are, but Chip Kelly seemed to imply there is more that the public does not know about the James case, profiled on Outside the Lines today.
No one really knows how this will all play out, but Duck fans must acknowledge that when dealing with young people, there are guaranteed to be some bumps along the road.
There are 85 scholarship athletes on a Division I college football team, and to expect all of them to be choir boys is unrealistic, like it or not.