Oregon gets off relatively easy in NCAA ruling

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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.

Butch Jones says the most Butch Jones quote of all time

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It’s become a theory among some in the media that Butch Jones is conducting a social experiment or participating some sort of performance art. While that’s the more charitable and fun interpretation, I tend to think the Tennessee head coach is just frighteningly insecure and, thus, fighting for every inch of public approval he can in a likely doomed attempt to keep his job.

That approach has backed him into some verbal corners that, in the long run, make his job more difficult on himself.

I’m talking about the “Champions of Life” quote of last season or, in February, actually stating that he didn’t want 5-star players, he wanted 5-star hearts.

This season has seen Jones go on an odd rant blaming the media for negative recruiting and saying Tennessee had one of the best bye weeks ever last week.

It wasn’t one of the best bye weeks ever, because Tennessee lost at home to South Carolina, 15-9. And you’re not going to believe Jones’s explanation for why Tennessee loss. Scratch that. You will believe his explanation, and that’s the problem here, isn’t it?

Here’s the full quote.

Jones is 33-24 in his four-plus seasons in Knoxville, and 14-21 in the SEC. Those numbers will likely fall to 33-25 and 14-22 after Saturday, when the Vols face No. 1 Alabama. The end is likely near.

And here’s the grand irony of Jones’s everything’s-sunny-here p.r. strategy: his attempt to keep his job by stating blatantly cliche quotes in the state of the obvious will live on much longer than Jones’s actual tenure. Two and three years from now, when Jones is working on someone else’s staff or sitting on his buyout money, the next time an on-the-hot-seat coach says his team won the game everywhere except the scoreboard, we’ll see he Pulled a Butch.

Houston Nutt settles lawsuit with Ole Miss

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Houston Nutt wanted money and an apology from Ole Miss. He’ll have to settle for the second of the two — and a largely different future for the program he used to lead.

It was Nutt’s lawsuit, remember, which exposed the documents that led to a Mississippi State fan finding Hugh Freeze‘s call to a Tampa escort service, which led to Freeze’s resignation, which led to… we have no idea what it will lead to, but, whatever that future is, it will be wildly different than if Freeze was still the Rebels’ coach.

Nutt amended his lawsuit in August to seek simply an apology from Ole Miss, and that apology finally came on Monday.

Each side released their own bitter, short statements.

Nutt will go on, with his apology but without any monetary compensation, while Ole Miss will play out the string of this season, hire a new coach, and move into a future that will be immeasurably different that the one it would have lived had it apologized to Nutt in the first place.

Washington loses LT Adams, CB Miller for the season

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No. 12 Washington’s loss to Arizona State was a disaster on the field — for more reasons than one.

The Huskies not only put their College Football Playoff hopes in danger — they’ll need to sweep their next six games, including a finishing kick that calls for games against No. 22 Stanford, No. 15 Washington State and, presumably, No. 11 USC, two of them away from Seattle. But the road to get there became noticeably more difficult after losing two starters.

Left tackle Trey Adams suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, and cornerback Jordan Miller sustained a broken ankle. Head coach Chris Petersen confirmed Monday that both will be lost for the season. Miller is the third Husky this season to suffer a broken ankle.

The Seattle Times noted that Washington is also without another starting corner in Byron Murphy, who is expected to return later this year from a broken foot. The Huskies are expected to replace Miller with either a pair of true freshmen or a converted running back.

But Adams may be the bigger loss for the Huskies. A junior, Adams was widely expected to be a first round pick in this spring’s NFL Draft. It’s the second straight season Washington has lost a key player in the trenches to a season-ending injury; a year ago, it was linebackers Joe Mathis, who finished one sack away from the team lead despite playing in only seven games, and third-leading tackler Azeem Victor.

Maryland AD Kevin Anderson to take 6-month sabbatical

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Maryland AD Kevin Anderson will not be the Maryland AD for the next six months.

Anderson announced Monday he will take a 6-month sabbatical to focus on “professional development.” That leave of absence will see him remain on his national committees with the NCAA and NACDA, the professional organization of ADs.

It was reported over the weekend that Anderson would be out completely as Maryland’s AD, but those reports were knocked down by the university.

Additionally, Maryland announced that former Georgia AD and current Terps associate AD/CFO Damon Evans will run the department in Anderson’s stead.