How crappy is the NCAA’s call on Oregon in the Will Lyles matter? Crappy enough that I find myself in full agreement with a Gregg Doyal column.
And if you ask me, the USC sanctions should be the starting point for Oregon. The minimum. While it’s true that an actual player (and family members) received benefits in the USC case — and received them at a value well beyond $25,000 — there’s a distinction here. It’s a distinction Oregon fans will ignore because it’s convenient, but it’s a distinction that should appall the NCAA:
At USC, the checks were written by outsiders: agents, runners, marketing reps.
At Oregon, the check was written by the Oregon football team.
See that distinction? It’s grotesque. This wasn’t some mysterious off-campus figure exerting influence. This was Chip Kelly making sure $25,000 went to the guy in Houston who says he helped steer recruits to Oregon. And Lyles had a hands-on role, too: He says he advised eventual Oregon All-American tailback LaMichael James to transfer to Arkansas for his final semester of high school to avoid Texas’ standardized test required for graduation. Then he showed Seastrunk how to use his grandmother to sign his scholarship papers, because Seastrunk’s mother wasn’t sold on Oregon.
If this goes down as it looks like it might, were I a Southern Cal administrator, I’d be furious.
Doyal thinks this comes down to not wanting to piss Phil Knight off. Sad, if true. I’m not sure I totally buy it, though. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of Nike competitors who would be thrilled to step into the breach if Knight decided to create one out of spite.
Whatever the reason, it’s just another example of the inconsistency we’ve come to expect out of Emmert’s crew. The only surprise is that we’re no longer surprised by it.