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.

Wazzu statement: ‘The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinksi is devastating to all’

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Tuesday night, the Pullman Police Department confirmed that 21-year-old Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead in his apartment of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.  Very early Wednesday morning, the football program and athletic department released statements addressing the devastating developments.

HEAD FOOTBALL COACH MIKE LEACH
We are deeply saddened to hear the news of Tyler’s passing. He was an incredible young man and everyone who had the privilege of knowing him was better for it. The entire WSU community mourns as thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

INTERIM ATHLETIC DIRECTOR John Johnson
The tragic news today surrounding Tyler Hilinski is devastating to all. Tyler was a tremendous individual, great friend and teammate, and he will be deeply missed. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.

Earlier tonight, the football team was brought together and informed of the tragedy. There, they were met by campus and department counseling and psychological services, including athletics’ on-staff clinical psychologist and a licensed mental health counselor, along with WSU Athletics medical team. The university will continue to coordinate and provide ongoing counseling care for all student-athletes as long as needed.

Washington State QB Tyler Hilinski found dead in apparent suicide

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There is utterly tragic and horrific news coming out of Pullman Tuesday night.

According to the Pullman Police Department, Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was found dead at his apartment late Tuesday afternoon of what was described as an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. “A rifle was discovered next to Hilinski and a suicide note was found,” the police stated in a release.

Police officers were called to the residence at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:40 p.m. local time) for a wellness check after the redshirt sophomore failed to show up for a team activity earlier in the day.

Hilinski was just 21 years old.

As of this posting, there’s been no official response from the football program regarding the passing of Hilinski.  Wednesday, the university had been expected to announce the new athletic director replacing Bill Moos, Florida Atlantic’s Pat Chun; because of the football player’s death, that press conference will be rescheduled for a later date.

In place of Luke Falk, Hilinski started Wazzu’s Holiday Bowl loss to Michigan State.  With Falk off to the NFL, Hilinski was expected to be the Cougars’ starting quarterback in 2018.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all of those impacted by Hilinski’s way-too-early passing.

Former Nebraska OL coach Mike Cavanaugh hired by Syracuse

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Dino Babers has added a very experienced trenchman to his Syracuse coaching staff.

The school confirmed Tuesday that Babers has hired Mike Cavanaugh as his next offensive line coach. In a coaching career that spans 32 seasons, Cavanaugh has been a line coach in some form or fashion for 31 of them.

“Mike has an outstanding track record of teaching and developing quality offensive linemen,” Babers said in a statement. “He’s done it successfully at every level in college as well as the pros. This was an opportunity to add someone whose knowledge and experience will greatly enhance our staff and benefit our players.”

The past three seasons, Cavanaugh was the line coach at Nebraska. At the FBS level, he’s also served as a line coach at Oregon State (2005-14) and Hawaii (1999-2004).

From 1997-98, Cavanaugh was the assistant offensive line coach for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers.

“I’d like to thank Coach Babers for this opportunity and for welcoming me into the Syracuse family,” Cavanaugh said. “He and his staff have coached some of the most prolific offenses in college football. I’m excited to learn from them and to be part of the championship-caliber program they are building at Syracuse.”

The 2018 season will mark the first time since 2004 Cavanaugh is not a part of a Mike Riley-coached staff.

Kevin Stepherson one of four dismissed by Notre Dame

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At least in South Bend, Kevin Stepherson‘s freefall is complete.

According to 247Sports.com, Stepherson, along with three other Notre Dame football players — sophomore running backs CJ Holmes and Deon McIntosh as well as junior defensive tackle Brandon Tiassum — have been dismissed from the Fighting Irish program.  No specific reason or reasons for the dismissals were given.

Stepherson was one of four Irish players who were suspended for the team’s Citrus Bowl matchup with LSU, with the wide receiver’s suspension stemming from a handful of off-field issues.

Dec. 15, Stepherson was arrested for shoplifting.  The day before that arrest, Stepherson was pulled over on a traffic stop and charged with marijuana possession, driving without a valid license and speeding (he was clocked doing 80 in a 60 mph zone). To make matters worse, at the time of his twin arrests the receiver was already on probation for a marijuana-related arrest in August of 2016.

Adding to the off-field issues, Stepherson was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for reasons unrelated to the arrest in August of 2016.

At the time of the second suspension, Stepherson led the Fighting Irish in receiving touchdowns with five and yards per catch at 18.9 despite missing one-third of the regular season because of the first suspension.  His 19 receptions and 359 receiving yards were both good for third on the team.

Another of the players who were dismissed, Holmes, was arrested along with Stepherson in the shoplifting incident.  Holmes ran for 32 yards on eight carries this season.

McIntosh was the fourth of the four players suspended for the bowl game.  At the time of his suspension, McIntosh was third on the team in rushing with 368 yards and five touchdowns.

Tiassum played very sparsely this past season, and wasn’t looking at much more playing time in 2018.