Report: NCAA infractions hearing looming for Ducks

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It’s been nearly a year since anything relevant has surfaced on the NCAA’s investigation of the Oregon football program as it relates to Willie Lyles.

Based on one report, that could very well change once the calendar flips from 2012 to 2013..

Oregon had been crossing every available appendage in the hope that the probe into its program would end in a summary disposition, with the NCAA agreeing to UO’s findings on rules violations and sanctions and end a saga that’s nearly two years in the making.  That apparently won’t be the case as Yahoo! Sports is reporting that the school’s bid for a summary disposition has failed, which will trigger an appearance in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.

While the exact date of the hearing is not yet known, Yahoo! reports that it will likely take place in the spring.  UO received its Letter of Inquiry from the NCAA in September of 2011.

In March of 2011, both Yahoo! and ESPN.com published reports that called into question the financial relationship between Oregon and a pair of so-called recruiting services.  One of those services was/is Complete Scouting Services, solely owned and operated by purported “street agent” Willie Lyles.

In late February of 2010, Oregon purchased for $25,000 from Lyles’ scouting service what was described as a “2011 National Package” that detailed recruits from several states.  One of the biggest problems with that? The package for 2011 purchased by UO contained zero recruits that would make up the following year’s recruiting class.  Instead, the vast majority of players highlighted in the 143-page book UO received from Lyles contained data on members of the 2009 recruiting class.

In the midst of rumors that Lyles had steered recruits such as Lache Seastrunk to the Ducks — and that he was paid handsomely for said steering (allegedly) — the man at the center of the controversy claimed in July of 2011 that UO “paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits. The service I provided went beyond what a scouting service should … I made a mistake and I’m big enough of a man to admit I was wrong.”

That claim came a couple of months after Lyles, who has spoken to the NCAA on multiple occasions, labeled as ““unequivocally false” reports that he steered recruits to universities.

This latest development comes amid speculation that Ducks head coach Chip Kelly could be headed to the NFL following the completion of the 2012 season.  Such a move would be eerily reminiscent of another Pac-12 head coach leaving for the for the next level amid a lingering NCAA cloud; shortly before the NCAA hammered the USC program for violations, Pete Carroll, in a move that should be considered nothing more than a coincidence winkwink nudgenudge, left for the Seattle Seahawks.

Alabama announces future Bryant-Denny Stadium renovation, Nick Saban donates $1 million to the effort

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The old adage bigger is always better no longer seems true in college athletics and that includes the best around apparently.

Alabama on Thursday afternoon announced a sweeping set of capital improvements to their sports facilities as part of a new 10-year, $600 million athletics fundraising push. Chief among the changes will be a renovation of Bryant Denny Stadium that includes a slight reduction in capacity.

The move will see a complete reworking of the south end zone area and will include a huge new video board, an increased number of luxury box suites, a relocated press box and additional renovations throughout the rest of the stadium. Naturally, a fancy new locker room for the Crimson Tide will also be on tap.

via Alabama Athletics

Perhaps the most notable aspect of all the changes? Alabama will actually be reducing capacity at Bryant Denny and likely will dip below the 100,000 mark as a result of the changes. This kind of downsizing has been a growing trend in college football but comes just eight years after the school expanded their stadium to top six-figures.

Should the entire project be approved by the university board, construction is expected to begin after the 2019 season concludes in Tuscaloosa.

According to AL.com, a total of $143 million is already committed to the project and it received a further boost thanks to none other than Nick and Terry Saban, who pledged $1 million for the renovations.

Given that the school is paying Saban over $10 million on a regular basis each season, both he and the program can certainly afford things even with that big price tag. Perhaps the better question is if Saban himself will be coaching the team when the new venue opens.

LOOK: Oregon unveils new uniforms for 2018 and they’re limiting the options for once

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It truly is a new era at Oregon under Mario Cristobal and the biggest representation of that just might be in the Ducks’ uniforms. Well, perhaps that’s the lack of uniforms more to the point.

On Wednesday, the school unveiled their set of uniform combinations for the 2018 season and while there are certainly some colorful designs, the most notable aspect of the launch was the fact that there were only four –yep, count ’em four — different designs the program will use this year.

“These designs are a representation of Coach Cristobal’s direction for the football program: no-nonsense, discipline, strength and speed,” said Todd Van Horne, Nike’s creative director for football, in a statement. “This uniform reflects those values.”

The school added in their release: “The Ducks continue to zig while others zag; on the field, Cristobal wants to pair Oregon’s speed and explosiveness with punishing, physical play from a mammoth offensive line. Nike looked to amplify that philosophy with uniforms that exude strength and dominance through clean, bold reliance on solid colors.”

So gone are the days where there was a new uniform combination for every single game in Eugene, a “tradition” (if you call it that) that really came into vogue at the program under Chip Kelly. Though the options are more limited in 2018, we certainly can’t say that Oregon went conservative at all with their new look given the big, bold numbering and highlighter colors used.

Still, compared to the past, the program is going down right super conservative under Cristobal based on this.

Sun Belt confirms Commissioner Karl Benson is stepping down in 2019

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There will be a strange sight in college athletics come 2019: Karl Benson will no longer be a commissioner of a conference.

The Sun Belt confirmed on Thursday that Benson, a longtime figure in college sports, will be stepping down when his contract ends on June 30, 2019 after six years on the job.

“I have labored over this decision for several months, but I know that now is the right time to step aside from the Sun Belt and conclude my career as a commissioner and in intercollegiate athletics,” Benson said in a statement. “I am very proud of what the Sun Belt has been able to accomplish since starting here in 2012.  I greatly appreciate the leadership that the Presidents, Chancellors and Athletics Directors have provided both myself and the Sun Belt staff. They give us the needed support to drive the Conference’s existing members and new members to the next level.”

Benson joined the league back in 2012 after the dissolution of the old WAC, where he served as commissioner dating all the way back to 1994. Prior to his stint out West, he also experienced the joys of #MACtion as the commissioner of the MAC for four years and also a staff member at the NCAA national office as well.

A former Boise State baseball player, Benson is listed as the only individual to have ever served as the Commissioner of three FBS/Division I-A conferences. The Sun Belt release stated that the 66-year-old, will eventually move back to Denver once his duties with the league are over next year.

Congrats to Karl on one heck of a run as a commissioner.

LSU AD confirms discussions for series with Florida State: “Real possibility that could happen”

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With one ACC powerhouse already signed, sealed and delivered for a future series, LSU apparently is looking to add the league’s other blue-blood to the future docket as well.

The Baton Rouge Advocate transcribed Tigers athletic director Joe Alleva’s interview with 104.5 FM WNXX and it appears as though Ed Orgeron’s boss is not done adding to the football team’s future schedule by confirming talks with Florida State and others about a potential meeting.

“Yes. We’re in discussions with them. Nothing’s been finalized yet,” said Alleva. “But I’m hopeful something like that will be worked out in the future. I think there’s a real possibility that that could happen.”

Reports of an FSU-LSU meeting on the gridiron surfaced last week but unlike their home-and-home set with Clemson that will take place at both Death Valleys, the series against Florida State would amount to a somewhat neutral site home-and-home. According to Stadium’s Brett McMurphy, the plan being discussed is to have the two programs open the 2022 season in New Orleans at the Superdome and do the same to kickoff the 2023 season in Orlando.

While that would certainly not be quite as fun as having the Seminoles in Baton Rouge or the Tigers in Tallahassee, something is better than nothing. The two programs do have a history against each other — nine games total — but the last meeting on the gridiron came back in 1991 and the majority of those meetings took place at Tiger Stadium.

Both schools have plenty of openings in both 2022 and 2023 to accommodate a series and based on Alleva’s comments, it sounds like something will certainly happen between the two programs eventually.