Documents: Oregon, NCAA agree ‘major violations’ committed

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Chip Kelly may be off to the NFL, but the NCAA cloud that formed on his watch still looms over the Oregon football program.

In documents released to both The Oregonian and KATU-TV, both Oregon and the NCAA agreed that the school’s football program had committed what the television station describes as “several major violations” in its use of so-called recruiting services.  The documents were provided to the media entities following open records requests that were several months in the making.

The vast majority of the allegations — which in addition to utilizing suspect recruiting services include impermissible phone calls and too many coaches on the recruiting trail — occurred under Kelly, who left shortly after the first of the year for the Philadelphia Eagles.

One of the more significant takeaways from the released documents is that the NCAA’s enforcement staff made “no finding of lack of institutional control and no finding of unethical conduct.”  Such a development, if it holds through the next couple of steps in the process, could be a signal that the Ducks will avoid significant sanctions.

For its part, Oregon released a lengthy “no comment” in response to the reports.

“The review is ongoing until the NCAA Committee on Infractions issues its final report,” the school’s statement began. “The integrity of the process and our continued full cooperation with the NCAA prohibits us from publicly discussing the specifics of this matter.”

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.

It was reported in late December that UO will appear in front of NCAA’s Committee on Infractions at some point this year, likely in the spring, after the school’s attempt at a summary disposition failed.  That failure apparently stemmed from the severity of one of the allegations involving Lyles.  From The Oregonian:

Oregon and the NCAA, however, reached an impasse late in 2012 while attempting to agree on the severity of one violation concerning the Ducks’ $25,000 payment to Texas-based talent scout Willie Lyles.  The Ducks believe the impermissible “oral reports” delivered from Lyles constitute a secondary violation; NCAA enforcement officials believe them to be another “major violation.”

Because the summary disposition fell through, the television station writes, “the findings discussed in this draft document will not necessarily be binding.”

According to the document dump late Monday night, the school has already proposed two self-imposed sanctions: two-year probation and a reduction of one scholarship for each of the next three seasons.  Following the hearing in front of the COI, sanctions will be handed down on the football program, at which point UO can either accept the punitive measures or appeal all or part of the sanctions.

UPDATED 11:38 a.m. ET: In response to the document dump, former Ducks and current Eagles head coach Chip Kelly released a statement that echoed comments made last December.  For what it’s worth, here it is.

“I am aware of the recent reports and of the ongoing investigation being conducted by the NCAA and the University of Oregon. While at Oregon, I know we were fully cooperative with all aspects of the investigation and I will continue to contribute in any way that I can. But until the NCAA rules on the matter, I will have no further comment.”

Report: TCU QB Shawn Robinson to transfer

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At the 10:43 mark of the third quarter of TCU’s Sept. 15 game with Ohio State, it seemed the Horned Frogs and quarterback Shawn Robinson were on top of the world. Behind their talented sophomore quarterback, the 15th-ranked Frogs had just taken a 21-13 lead over the No. 4 Buckeyes and seemed in position to win the game and announce themselves as a real Big 12 and national title threat.

Turns out, that was the peak of the Shawn Robinson era at TCU.

Robinson threw a pick-six to Ohio State defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones later in the quarter, turning TCU’s 21-19 lead into a 26-21 deficit, and it was pretty much all downhill from there. The Frogs never re-gained the lead in that game, losing 40-28, and Robinson would turn the ball over three times in a 31-16 loss at Texas the following week.

TCU would recover to beat Iowa State the week after that, overcoming two Robinson turnovers in a 17-14 win. After a bye, Robinson turned the ball over three times in a 17-14 loss to Texas Tech.

After an ineffective start against Oklahoma, Robinson was pulled in favor of Penn transfer Mike Collins, and Gary Patterson announced the following Monday Robinson would miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery. As far as TCU was concerned, that turned out to be a career-ending surgery, as Jeremy Clark of HornedFrogBlitz reported Sunday that Robinson will seek a transfer.

Clark says Robinson will be on the NCAA’s transfer portal by Monday.

The transfer is a stunning end to Robinson’s TCU career, though not necessarily a surprising one.

He played at three different Dallas-Fort Worth area high schools before settling at DeSoto High School as a senior, where he led the Eagles to a 16-0 state championship, the program’s first. Robinson arrived at TCU as one of the school’s most heralded recruits of the Patterson-era and certainly the most highly-regarded quarterback. A consensus 4-star, he was listed as the Class of 2017 No. 6 dual threat quarterback.

Robinson flashed that dual-threat ability as Kenny Hill‘s backup in 2017, throwing for 184 yards and three touchdowns while carrying 23 times for 159 yards in three games. After beating out Collins to win the starting job ahead of this season, Robinson again showcased lots of natural talent, but his 9-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio and his 6.5 yards per attempt on 204 passes showed he still has a ways to go figuring out college defenses.

And now it appears he intends to do that figuring out somewhere other than TCU.

Utah State re-hires Gary Andersen as head coach

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One of the enduring lessons of the 2018-19 coaching cycle is that you can always go home again. After Mack Brown returned to North CarolinaGary Andersen is going back to Utah State.

The Aggies announced their former head coach as their current head coach on Sunday evening. The coach who proceeded Matt Wells will also be the coach who succeeds Matt Wells.

“Stacey and I are thrilled to be back at Utah State University,” Andersen said in a statement. “This is a special place and we are excited to meet these young men and play a part in seeing them succeed off and on the field academically, socially and athletically. We are grateful to reconnect with many great friends and supporters in Logan and want to thank (AD) John Hartwell and President (Noelle) Cockett for the opportunity. Go Aggies!”

A Salt Lake City native and a Utah graduate, Andersen took over at Utah State in 2009. At the time one of the most moribund programs in college football, Andersen took the Aggies to a 7-6 record and a Famous Idaho Potato Bowl appearance in his third season, then a school-best 11-2 mark with a Mountain West championship, a Famous Idaho Potato Bowl win and an AP No. 16 finish in 2012.

That success led him to Wisconsin, where he went 20-7 in two seasons but was not a culture fit, and then to Oregon State, where he left the school with a 7-23 record in two and a half seasons.

He spent 2018 down the road as Kyle Whittingham‘s assistant head coach, and will now make the 80-mile drive north back to Logan.

“We welcome Gary and Stacey and their family back to the Utah State family,” said Hartwell. “His care-factor for his players, coupled with his recruiting philosophy and plan to win, are keys to the continued success of Aggie football. His knowledge of the state of Utah and our program are unparalleled and we feel those attributes will greatly aid in the continued growth and success of Aggie football.”

Andersen takes over a program in much better shape than he first found it. Though Wells has taken the bulk of the staff with him to Texas Tech, he inherits a team coming off a 10-2 season that won a share of the Mountain West’s Mountain Division championship.

Mack Brown hires Army’s Jay Bateman as defensive coordinator

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Mack Brown 2.0 has his defensive coordinator hire, and it’s a good one.

North Carolina on Sunday announced Army defensive coordinator Jay Bateman as the Heels’ new defensive coordinator and safeties coach.

“Jay Bateman is an outstanding football coach and I’m thrilled he is joining our staff,” Brown said in a statement. “He is a great teacher of the game, a brilliant defensive play caller, and an excellent recruiter with many ties to North Carolina and this region, including strong relationships with North Carolina high school coaches. Sally and I are excited to welcome Jay, Heather and their two children to the Carolina football family.”

Bateman spent the past five seasons as the Black Knights’ defensive coordinator, helping engineer one of the most impressive turnarounds of the decade. Army has ranked among the top 10 nationally in total defense in two of the past three seasons.

(It should be noted that Bateman’s units benefit heavily from the triple option offense, which Brown is unlikely to duplicate. Army has defended 615 plays this season, 85 fewest than the next-closest team that has played 12 games this year. In fact, Army is 57 plays ahead of Southern Miss, who finished its year playing only 11 games. On a yards per play basis, Bateman’s defense is tied for 69th.)

Bateman spent 2006-10 as the defensive coordinator at Elon and has been such a recruiting mainstay on Tobacco Road that he was considered an early candidate for the Charlotte head coaching job.

With the hire, Tommy Thigpen will now shift from co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach to linebackers coach.

Matt Campbell signs contract extension at Iowa State

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Now that we know Matt Campbell will not succeed Urban Meyer as Ohio State’s next head coach, Iowa State is getting down to business of keeping the 39-year-old in Ames for as long as possible.

Campbell signed a new 6-year, $22.5 million contract after last season’s 8-5 campaign that saw Iowa State register wins over then-No. 3 Oklahoma and then-No. 4 TCU, but the school wasn’t done investing in him.

On Sunday, Iowa State announced Campbell has signed an extension keeping him in Cyclone colors through 2024. While this extension doesn’t include a raise for Campbell — last year’s deal boosted his salary from $2.1 million to $3.5 million immediately — it does carry an additional $1 million for his assistants.

In addition to the $1 million Iowa State also committed last year, the school has now committed an extra $3.4 million annually to keeping Campbell and his assistants over the past 13 months.

“Coach Campbell and I had a great end-of-the-year meeting Friday and during our visit we mutually agreed to extend his contract to 2024 and further demonstrate Coach Campbell and the University’s commitment to one another,” Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited for our current players, fans and recruits to receive this great news.”

Iowa State’s assistant pool was $2.982 million in 2018 according to the USA Today salary database, putting the Cyclones 49th in the country. Adding another million would boost the Cyclones to 27th, based on 2018 figures.

Ranked No. 24 in the final College Football Playoff poll, Iowa State concluded the regular season at 8-4 and in third place in the Big 12. The Cyclones’ six conference wins are the most in the program’s 23-year history of Big 12 membership, and this year’s club was the closest Iowa State team to reaching the Big 12 Championship since the 2005 team that came within a game from winning their first (and only) Big 12 North title.

The Cyclones will finish Campbell’s third season against No. 13 Washington State in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28.