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.

As of now, Jim Harbaugh plans to play Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey in every game

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Michigan does not open training camp until Aug. 2 and does not play its first game until Aug. 31, so any “as of right now” statements are devoid of 20-odd practices worth of context.

Still, as of Big Ten media days, Jim Harbaugh plans to play both Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey in every game.

“Yeah, I do (see games where they’ll both play). Where it stands right now, and that could change later or not, is I see them both playing,” Harbaugh told the Detroit Free Press. “Where it stands right now, I see it as maybe redefining what a starter is…. I’m really not talking about playing them both at the same time (on a play), when I say both in games it’d be they’re both playing quarterback during the same game. And in the way it stands now, in every game.”

Harbaugh has been a one-quarterback man for the entirety of his career, but Patterson’s inconsistency and McCaffrey’s talent may demand a change. Michigan did juggle quarterbacks in 2017 — John O’KornBrandon Peters and Wilton Speight each threw at least 81 passes — but that was due to necessity, not strategy.

Patterson completed 64.6 percent of his passes last season for 2,600 yards (on 8.0 per attempt) with 22 touchdowns against seven interceptions while rushing 76 times for 273 yards and two touchdowns. In his second year in the program, McCaffrey completed 8-of-15 passes for 126 yards with two touchdowns whilst rushing 10 times for 99 yards and a touchdown.

The son of Ed McCaffrey and brother of Christian McCaffrey is certainly the heir apparent in Ann Arbor, and it appears Harbaugh isn’t willing to wait for the future to arrive in order to unleash arguably his most talented quarterback recruit since Andrew Luck.

Big Ten could realign divisions yet again, according to PJ Fleck

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Whether he knew it or not, Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck broke news that will set certain circles of the college football blogosphere (including this one) by touching on the topic that is consistently gobbled up like Thanksgiving turkey: realignment.

“Change is inevitable,” Fleck told The Athletic. “I think we all know that. I think that the East and West have been around for a while. I like it, I like the division of it. But I don’t think it will stay the same. I think we’ll change it at some point because change is coming somehow, some way. And I think people are going to want to move it around, and shake it up a little bit.”

Fleck said the topic came up during the Big Ten’s spring meetings in Arizona; the conference did not comment on the topic.

The Big Ten split into divisions upon Nebraska’s 2011 arrival, memorably going with the idiotic Legends and Leaders alignment that was designed to protect rivalries and preserve competitive balance. That alignment lasted three years, until Maryland and Rutgers joined the party in 2014 and the conference rejiggered its alignment into a more sensible East and West split.

While a geographic divide does preserve rivalries and makes both logistical and logical sense, it has come at the price of competitive balance. The East champion has gone a perfect 5-for-5 in Big Ten title games under the current arrangement.

However, the East is a mere five games ahead of the West in regular season matchups, an average of one extra victory per season.

If — and at this point’s a very big if — the Big Ten does realign again, the conference could return to a Legends and Leaders format (hopefully with different names) or it could scrap divisions altogether, giving each school two or three protected rivals while putting the rest of the league in a regular rotation. The positive aspect of this alignment is it guarantees the top two teams would meet in Indianapolis, but the drawback is it could trigger an instant Michigan-Ohio State rematch.

It’s too early to report when and if a second realignment would happen, but as Fleck reminded us this week it is never too early to speculate.

Penn State DE Yetur Gross-Matos, RB Journey Brown suspended through rest of July

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The season does not begin today, but if it did Penn State would be without one of its best players.

Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin confirmed to the press at Big Ten media days that defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos and running back Journey Brown are presently suspended for a “violation of team rules” dating back to spring practice. The suspension is slated to end Aug. 1.

Gross-Matos, a junior, led Penn State in sacks (eight) and tackles for loss (20) while registering 54 tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery on the season. He enters the year a candidate for the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year award.

“I talk to him all the time,” Franklin told Lions247 of Gross-Matos, despite the suspension. “[He is] doing great.”

Brown, also a junior, posted eight carries for 44 yards and a touchdown in 2018.

Ex A&M, Arizona LB can’t walk on at Colorado because of domestic violence arrest

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Santino Marchiol‘s college football career was brief and scandalous, and now it appears it’s over.

Marchiol first joined the news cycle at Texas A&M, where he attempted to cast himself as a whistleblower against NCAA violations committed by Jimbo Fisher‘s staff. When that stick of dynamite turned into a dud, Marchiol transferred to Arizona to reunite with the coach who signed him out of IMG Academy, but he was gone from Tucson as quickly as he arrived after video surfaced showing Marchiol using a racial slur against his black teammates at Texas A&M.

Marchiol returned to his native Colorado in attempt to walk on at CU, but that comeback attempt has once again died before it could live as it turns out Marchiol was arrested for domestic violence on June 24. From the Denver Post:

According to Pueblo police records, Marchiol was arrested at about 3:30 p.m. on June 24 and booked on suspicion of second-degree assault bodily injury, a felony. Marchiol faces two misdemeanor assault charges, court records indicated, as well as a violation for contempt of a court protection order. He was released on bail June 25.

“Santino was never enrolled as a CU Boulder student,” Colorado said in a statement. “He was invited to be a walk-on for the football team this fall. Coach Tucker has since rescinded that invitation.”

Marchiol would’ve had to sit out the 2019 season due to NCAA rules, but now it seems as if he may sit out the remainder of time as it’s unlikely any other college football staffs will take on a player who attempted to narc to the NCAA on violations that, frankly, aren’t a big deal to begin with, then was caught using a racial slur against black teammates and then was arrested for suspicion of domestic violence.