Oregon Duck Chopping Block: Axes Always Looks Bigger In The Air

Will the NCAA finally explain the evils of Chip Kelly?

All the man did was put Eugene on the recruiting trail. What he didn't do was learn to wipe off fingerprints along the way.

Maybe it's excusable for a New Hampshire guy who's never worried about fingerprints, and maybe for a university that never mattered enough for anyone to throw under the bus.

Kelly made the Ducks matter while he lasted. They mattered to the football world who marveled at the field management. They mattered enough to rake the muck of big time college football.

That’s a lot of concern.

Wrong-doing in the first, second, or third degree won't change Eugene as a destination for players ready to make a mark that matters.

Nothing the NCAA hands down will change their minds.

But, is that fair? Fair to Coach Kelly, to the University of Oregon, to the NCAA? Whether it's fair to the players or not isn't part of the equation, so why ask?

All they do is play the game, but even the most sheltered of recruits have heard of SMU's death penalty. In case they haven't, this is from wiki:

•     The 1987 season was canceled; only conditioning drills were permitted during the 1987 calendar year.

•     All home games in 1988 were canceled. SMU was allowed to play their seven regularly scheduled away games so that other institutions would not be financially affected.

•     The team's existing probation was extended until 1990. Its existing ban from bowl games and live television was extended to 1989.

•     SMU lost 55 new scholarship positions over 4 years.

•     SMU was required to ensure that Owen and eight other boosters previously banned from contact with the program were in fact banned, or else face further punishment.

•     The team was allowed to hire only five full-time assistant coaches, instead of the typical nine.

•     No off-campus recruiting was permitted until August 1988, and no paid visits could be made to campus by potential recruits until the start of the 1988-89 school year.

That's not happening to Oregon, not after how long it took SMU to matter again. How many sports fans think SMU should have received the death penalty to begin with?  Something severe, but not that severe.

If that's the worst punishment in recent history, where do Oregon's illegal acts rank? Are they comparable to THE Ohio State Buckeyes? Or even USC? Penn State ought to be closer to SMU, but no.

Oregon won't vacate national titles or Heisman trophies, and maybe that's the bigger picture. First, they don't have them to vacate. Second, the loyalty trail didn't dry up to Eugene any more than it has to either OSU or USC.

One lost a coach, and in return got the only one named after a Pope. That's a blessing with Urban Meyer.

The other kept their coach, Lane-something, who convinced USC's quarterback sensation Matt Barkley to come back for one more season. That ended up a curse to him and falling draft stock.

But there is a silver lining in this playbook.

If you hear any cursing after the NCAA finally drops the hammer it may come from Philadelphia where Chip Kelly and Barkley wear matching Eagle's hats.

Let's hope this new duet keeps with Philly's tradition of great singers like Hall and Oates, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, and The O'Jays.

The last group had a big hit in 1972 called Back Stabbers. So far the case against Oregon hasn't made Kelly sing that one. 

About Arran Gimba