Oregon v USC

Oregon gets off relatively easy in NCAA ruling


Following an investigation that spanned over two years, the NCAA finally released its findings in the Oregon case on Wednesday.

And what had the formula for a hefty blow from the Committee on Infraction — the case included allegations of, among other things, Oregon paying recruiting service provider Willie Lyles $25,000 for his access and influence on recruits rather than a legitimate recruiting package — turned out to be a relatively painless result for the Ducks. Some of the sanctions handed down earlier today were self-imposed (minimal scholarship reductions, disassociation from Lyles), and while the NCAA’s additional reductions of official paid visits and permissible evaluation days are stiffer than many will care to pay attention to, it’s not a terrible outcome.

A bigger sanction would have been limiting the Ducks to 60 plays a game.

Oregon also cannot subscribe to recruiting services while on probation for the next three years (hello, YouTube!), but perhaps the best news is there’s no bowl ban for new coach Mark Helfrich to inherit.

UO hasn’t released a statement yet, but don’t expect them to appeal these sanction. Once again, being cooperative with the NCAA during the process helps significantly. For all the inconsistencies the NCAA has exhibited in handing down sanctions — the NCAA’s enforcement arm is aiming for more consistency beginning in August with a new penalty matrix — that seems to be among the few constants.

Chip Kelly was cooperative too even though he was hit with a failure to monitor charge. He gets an 18-month show-cause penalty that, incidentally enough, ends on Christmas Day, 2014. As the NCAA’s gift to him, Kelly becomes practically unemployable at a NCAA member program until then. Not that Kelly has to worry too much about that; he’s with the Philadelphia Eagles now and will be making a cool $9 million not to coach at the college level during the length of that penalty. It’s possible, in the loosest definition of the word, that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could take it upon himself to punish Kelly, but there are no specific penalties in Kelly’s show-cause.

But what if Kelly was still at Oregon? How would that have affected the penalties? NCAA guru John Infante speculates that Kelly could have faced a suspension, perhaps 2-4 games, and a recruiting ban over the length of the show-cause. Of course, that’s not happening now and the NCAA did what it could to punish the person responsible for violations taking place on his watch rather than athletes who had nothing to do with them.

Consider Oregon thankful. Now it can go forward with its new coach as a possible national title contender in 2013.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.

Unitas Award whittles watch list in half down to 15

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 03:  Trevone Boykin #2 of the TCU Horned Frogs looks for an open receiver against the Texas Longhorns in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season?  Watch lists are being whittled.

The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior.  The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.

The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).

The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten.  The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).

Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.

Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah