The Oregon Ducks have been through a lot in the last couple of years under Chip Kelly, including a BCS Championship Game loss in the closing seconds to Auburn and a slew of marijuana arrests. But it’s the recruitment of 5-star running back Lache Seastruck that could be the most damaging, as rumors have flown around the Internet today suggesting Oregon is on the verge of being heavily sanctioned by the NCAA.
Oregon paid $25,000 to Willie Lyles and Complete Scouting Services in 2010 after Seastrunk committed to the Ducks, and Lyles’ tight relationship has long been suggested to be an NCAA violation if it’s deemed that he steered the talented back to Eugene. Coach Kelly faced a rash of questions at Media Day last year, and Seastrunk fled Eugene for Waco, where he’s set to play for the Baylor Bears this fall.
So on the whole, there’s plenty of merit for sanctions to be levied down on the Ducks. But, the chances of sanctions coming down now, with just 18 days until the start of the season, has got to be slim. Especially, considering the source of the rumors: message boards.
Chris Larsen of ESPN in Wisconsin took to Twitter to fuel the fire, tweeting the rumored penalty for the Ducks, which ironically read as the exact same sentence that USC got back in 2010. Larsen was quick to explain his information came from forums, and subsequently changed his Twitter handle and made his account protected after receiving a bevy of flack from people calling out his reporting. Here’s a retweeted version of Larsen’s original tweet, by John Hunt of the The Oregonian.
— John Hunt (@JHuntweet) August 14, 2012
Oregon’s media personnel has maintained that they’ve yet to hear anything from the NCAA, something that NCAA expert John Infante questioned on Twitter.
“I believe rumors about penalties are premature because there’s no way in this case did Oregon get the notice and do a hearing that quietly,” said Infante on Twitter.
And of course, it makes sense. When the Trojans were sanctioned, it was a long ordeal that dragged on for ages, only to get longer with appeals that ultimately were turned down last spring.
Infante suggests that the only way Oregon would be punished this quickly is through self-imposed sanctions, the same way Ohio State began their probationary period. But even though self-imposed sanctions would be the only likelihood that Oregon would miss the 2012 postseason, the timing is just off. Plus, why on earth would the Ducks give themselves the USC punishment if they’re adamant that they did nothing wrong, as Coach Kelly said last July.
One possibility is that this is just a sign of a possible Notice of Allegations, but as Infante points out, that hasn’t been confirmed by Oregon at all, making the rumors just rumors.
A NOA would make sense though, leading to follow up action in the winter and a possible sanctioning before next season.
Also, remember the leaks about Penn State last month? The rumors were way off in general, as they not only got the length of the sanctions wrong, but suggested that PSU would be able to re-classify as a Football Championship Subdivision school. That didn’t happen.
The fact of the matter is that the NCAA isn’t just going to sanction a team immediately before the season, especially where hasn’t been any foreshadowing. Rumors are rumors, and until Oregon confirms that they’ve been served the Notice of Allegations, they’re not going to stab themselves with a swoosh and self-impose themselves in a major way, including losing out on bowl money.