Suggesting Chip Kelly ‘ran away’ from UO is easy, but not necessarily right

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As John summarized this morning, recently obtained documents show that Oregon and the NCAA have agreed that the university’s football program committed “several major violations” in its use of recruiting services over the past few years. The majority of the allegations are said to have occurred under former coach Chip Kelly, who left to become the coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in mid-January.

Now, Kelly’s former employer will carry on and is expected to appear in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions at some point this spring, although exactly when has yet to be officially determined and/or announced. Such a timetable has given new life to accusation that Kelly got out of Dodge before he could personally be affected by whatever sanctions the NCAA hands down.

(UO has has already proposed two self-imposed sanctions: a two-year probation period and a reduction of one scholarship for each of the next three seasons. Additionally, the released docs say the NCAA’s enforcement staff made “no finding of lack of institutional control and no finding of unethical conduct”, suggesting potential penalties may not be as severe as initially thought.) 

The accusation is at least understandable when looking at things chronologically: Kelly leaves in January, one month after it was reported that a hearing with the COI was coming within the next several months; documents previously held by UO agree that major violations are at hand, though the definition of “major” is a wide brush by the NCAA’s older standards.

Therefore, it’s an easy accusation to make. But it’s not necessarily a correct one.

The idea that Kelly “ran away” from Oregon suggests he knows what’s coming and that simply isn’t close to being true. If it was, we should all be furious with Kelly for not disclosing the upcoming Powerball numbers.

Furthermore, it ignores the fact that he was reportedly thisclose to accepting the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a year ago — while the Ducks were still under the NCAA microscope. Before departing for Philly, Kelly was in the middle of a window where he was one of the hottest coaching names in the country. If the opportunity wasn’t with the Bucs, it was the Eagles. If it wasn’t the Eagles, it would have been another NFL organization the following year (or the following months). As elements of the spread offense filter up into the pro game, so has the league’s interest in great offensive minds like Kelly.

And those great minds will eventually answer that call.

Yes, yes: the timing. But when was the timing ever going to be right for Kelly? Let’s say Kelly left for the Bucs last year. Would the criticism of his departure have been any less? What if he left a year from now while Oregon was serving its punishment?   Unless Kelly stuck around long enough for UO to repay its debt, chances are he would have been criticized for leaving — whenever it was. And he simply doesn’t owe that to the Ducks.

That’s not to say Kelly shouldn’t be accountable for something that happened on his watch. He should, and the fact that he won’t be is the easiest bridge to make between his departure and the upcoming hearing for Oregon. Kelly’s ability to leave and let others suffer the consequences of NCAA wrongdoing is, in itself, fundamentally wrong. Unfortunately, that’s an issue bigger than Kelly. Unless the NFL decides to take action similar to what it did with former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel — and those are two different situations as Tressel was already suspended five games before his resignation in 2011 — Kelly will be able to wash his hands of what happened at Oregon.

Does that need to change? Absolutely. Will it? Almost certainly not, save for extremely specific cases.

The fact that Kelly won’t face repercussions for what allegedly happened at Oregon makes him a target for speculation, but you can bet that Kelly would still make the decision to coach on Sundays even if he did.

Colorado AD says Denver won’t be option for future CU-CSU games after 2020

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Colorado and Colorado State are scheduled to wrap up their current scheduling agreement in 2020, and the future of the in-state rivalry remains in question beyond that. Both schools are in talks to continue the series beyond 2020 once scheduling vacancies are available, but there is no target date currently in sight. What is known, however, is any such scheduling arrangement will not include games being played in Denver if Colorado’s athletics director has his say.

We won’t have any future games in Denver with CSU in any kind of new relationship,” Colorado athletic director Rick George said in a story published by The Daily Camera.  George did state he and his counterpart at Colorado State, Joe Parker, share an interest in keeping the series going on in the years beyond the current deal in place.

As it stands right now, Colorado State will host the final game in the current arrangement in 2020. No games will be possible in 2021 and 2022 because Colorado’s non-conference schedule is currently booked. The Buffs will face UMass, Texas A&M, and Minnesota in 2021 and TCU, Air Force, and Minnesota in 2022. Colorado currently has scheduling vacancies in 2023 and beyond, making 2023 the earliest possible year the series could be rekindled. The concern, at least for Colorado, will be overexerting the strength of schedule with games against TCU and Nebraska already lined up in 2023.

“With this College Football Playoff game now, there’s a lot of discussion on strength of schedules,” George said. “We certainly don’t want to over-schedule ourselves, but at the same time, we want to be in a position as we continue to compete on a yearly basis for championships, we want to be in the conversation. We don’t want the schedule to be a deterrent to us longer term.”

Geroge has previously expressed his interest in continuing the series if it could be agreed to play the games on campus sites instead of neutral fields. George has said it is not in Colorado’s best interest to continue the series. His latest statements about the strength of schedule keep in line with that logic. Having a potentially very good Group of Five program on top of previously announced games against power conference opponents in addition to a nine-game Pac-12 schedule becomes quite challenging. Having a less threatening opponent from the FCS provides a better chance to keep making money on a home game and increasing the chances for a win to rely on.

Colorado and Colorado State have faced off 88 times since 1893, with the Buffs holding a 64-22-2 edge in the all-time series. Colorado won last year’s meeting in Denver by a score of 44-7 for its most lopsided victory in the series since a 47-7 victory in Boulder in 1956. Colorado and Colorado State have played annually since 1995.

Mark Richt tweets his best wishes to Georgia

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A new college football season is just about here (there will be actual college football played this week), and Miami head coach Mark Richt has plenty to look forward to with the Hurricanes. A show at coaching Miami to its first appearance in the ACC Championship Game is right in front of him, but Richt spent a quick moment on Twitter to extended his best wishes to his former program; the Georgia Bulldogs.

Richt recruited the majority of the players currently on Georgia’s roster, and by all accounts, Richt had as healthy a relationship with Georgia’s players than any coach could hope to have. With that in mind, there is no shock in seeing a coach of one program offer this kind of warm and fuzzy feeling to his former program. This is also not the first time Richt has wished Georgia well under new head coach Kirby Smart. In May 2016, Richt was praised for his classiness toward Smart and Georgia for the upcoming season just months after being fired.

Georgia parted ways with Richt following the 2015 season despite a long and successful tenure as head coach (although without as many SEC titles as some would have liked, and a lack of national title appearances during a run that saw the SEC dominate the BCS era). Richt was quickly hired by Miami, and this season Richt is expected to help lead the Hurricanes forward another step toward national prominence.

If there is a college football god watching from the skies above, then we will be blessed with a bowl matchup between Miami and Georgia. Richt said in December 2015 that he believes the two programs are on a collision course for a national championship.

There is a solar eclipse tomorrow, but Nick Saban has work to do

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Stores may be sold out of special solar eclipse glasses for what some are dubbing the Great American Eclipse on Monday, but Alabama head coach Nick Saban may be more likely to be found in his office preparing for a mega matchup to open the season next week.

Besides, Saban has seen how an eclipse works already because he is a devoted fan of The Weather Channel.

“I watch the Weather Channel every day,” Saban said Saturday, according to AL.com. “They’re already saying what it’s going to look like in every city in America. So, what’s going to be significant? Watch the Weather Channel and you’ll see what it’s going to be like in Portland, Oregon.”

That Saban sure is a curmudgeon, isn’t he? But that’s part of the legacy of Saban. Unless the eclipse can help Alabama win a game against Florida State in Atlanta next week, Saban has little time to worry about such nonsense. Otherwise, it is business as usual for Saban and Alabama. However, Saban will allow his players to take advantage of what is, for some, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We’ll set it up so if the players want to go out there and get some sunglasses, I guess they can,” Saban said.

The eclipse is having a slight impact on some football practices around the country, including in the NFL. The Tennessee Titans, for example, have modified their practice schedule for Monday due to the eclipse and will organize a team party around the event.

“I thought what a cool thing to do, but then I thought I’d like them to finish practice and give them time to put the glasses on and really enjoy the experience,” Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said (per ESPN.com). “I wanted to be on the field when it happened, as a team, I thought it’d be a neat memory for these guys.”

Clearly, Mularkey is not watching the Weather Channel on a daily basis.

Kansas surprised four walk-ons with scholarships at Royals-Indians game

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There has been no shortage of videos and stories about walk-ons at various college football programs receiving scholarships by surprise. It is an annual tradition around college football during the offseason, and the fun and pure joy of the moment never gets old.

The Kansas Jayhawks took the game to a whole new level, and a whole new playing field this weekend.

Kansas took its football team out on Friday night to enjoy a Major League Baseball game between the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians. During the course of the game, four walk-on players — defensive end Mazin Aqi, offensive lineman Beau Lawrence, punter Cole Moos, and running back Reese Randall — were shown sitting next to each other on the video screen in Kauffman Stadium. As they were shown on the screen, a message popped up congratulating them on being awarded a scholarship.

Video of the players soaking in the moment and realizing they had just had their lives changed was captured by the Royals.

It sure beats the heck out of a stadium proposal.