Two wrecked vehicles... or programs?

Can you imagine being in the stands of Candlestick Park on that fateful day in October, 1989?  I remember watching the World Series and seeing the picture go out.  I remember the change in the quality of the audio as Al Michaels remained calm and tried to explain what was happening to the rest of the world.  The World Series was delayed due to a term we call force majeure.

One thing I know was that the reading on the Richter Scale was less than 10.1.  Any college football fan is scratching his head while just reading that number.  Does it sound familiar?  Well it should.  Two of the top programs face the NCAA Committee on Infractions because of violations of NCAA’s “10.1 Violation”.  Loosely translated, this is when a college program fails to notify its compliance office when the coach of the program suspects a violation of NCAA laws.

Call this College Football’s “earthquake”.  The head coaches of The Ohio State University and University of Oregon are on the way to see the “dean” so to speak because they either committed a violation that needed to be reported or failed to report a violation, which itself is a violation.  Now let’s take a peek at the cast of “Liar Liar 2″.

Charles “Chip” Kelly just completed his second year at the University of Oregon; the former offensive coordinator was elevated to the position of head coach following the retirement of Mike Bellotti after the 2008 season.

Despite a rocky season debut against Boise State, the Ducks under Kelly’s command cruised to a Pac 10 title and appearance in the Rose Bowl.  Led by freshman star LaMichael James, the Ducks quacked through the season, despite losing game 1, and losing Heisman candidate LaGarrett Blount to disciplinary reasons. Kelly received his first of two consecutive Pac 10 Coach of the Year awards.  Little did Phil Knight (Nike CEO and huge Ducks supporter) and the rest of the “Duck Nation” know that Chip was hiding a little secret.

Living in a land of "make believe"?

Ironically, Kelly and his Ducks faced Jim “The Vest” Tressel and the mighty Ohio State Buckeyes, the winners of the Big 10 in the 2010 Rose Bowl.  Led by Jeannette, Pennsylvania’s “man-child” quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the Buckeyes came in to the game hot off their 8th win over arch-rival Michigan in 9 tries.  With vest on body, Tressel’s “Bucks” executed a flawless offensive assault and clipped the wings of the Ducks in that game.  Only a soothsayer could predict what was going to take place in Columbus within the coming months.

All foreshadowing aside, we know what both head coaches did.  In case you don’t, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version.  Tressel did not notify his compliance office after receiving information his players may have used their celebrity to receive free tattoos and sold memorabilia for cash.  Kelly authorized the payment of $25,000 to Willie Lyles, a so called “recruiting” service owner, for professional services.  In the eyes of some, Lyles was a high school football player “pimp”, who steered players to Oregon.  Then Kelly asked that scouting reports be created to create a paper trail to disguise the real nature of the relationship.

Whose egregious acts are worse?  Is the ugly in the eye of the other beholder?  Will the penalties fit the crime?  What’s next?

All of the above are great questions.  Some can be answered.  Some cannot.

Tressel perjured himself from the ethical and credible persona Buckeye players and fans came to endear.  His actions were the polar opposite from what Buckeye Nation came to know as the norm.

Kelly stained the reputation of a program that has the undying support of the biggest merchandising name in professional sports, Nike.  I think if this becomes an episode of Celebrity Death Match, we will see our first draw.

Behind the scenes of both programs sit some very influential supporters of each respective university.  In Columbus, Ohio, Les Wexner of Limited Brand fame sits on the Ohio State University board of trustees.  Word on the street is what Les says, gets done.  Phil Knight of the aforementioned merchandising giant, Nike, wears his Duck feathers on his sleeve (or on the shoulders of the uniform ensembles he creates for his Ducks).  How many “black eyes” can the universities these men support withstand?

In Columbus, its obvious how many tOSU can withstand, a grand total of one, even if it’s the same eye being punched.  The clock is ticking for Kelly as the investigation continues.  Did this practice of using a “recruiting service” originate after Kelly’s coronation or his he simply a “Chip” off the old block of the previous regime?

To be continued……..

1 Comment

  1. MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    July 6th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    On Portland radio yesterday, Lyles said that Seastrunk was either given or shown (he changed his story a couple of times in the interview) some custom Air Jordans.

    If so, I wonder how “hands on” Phil Knight might actually be in Oregon- the SI article you link seems to imply that he knows more about the recruiting process than many donors.


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