The Oregon Ducks football team had a winning record (116-55) before Chip Kelly took over as head coach in 2009 which puts a lot of pressure on a guy to perform. Kelly's record of 22-4 and a trip to the NCAA BCS Title Game this past winter certain bode well for his having a long tenure as the head Duck.â†µ
Then, almost on cue, came the allegations of cheating the NCAA recruiting rules.â†µ
The difference between the top programs and the field comes down to money and willingness to play fast and loose with the recruiting rules. The difference among the top teams who manage to stay on top is the ability to cheat without getting caught. Kelly has a lot to learn.â†µ
The latest blow to this Pac-12 rival of the Arizona schools is news of the cover up that only makes their guilt seem more likely. John Canzano of The Oregonian reports that Kelly flat-out denied knowing Willie Lyles..until he did.â†µ
Canzano: As Willie Lyles talks, Chip Kelly loses some credibility | OregonLive.comâ†µ
I believed him. That same evening, a Yahoo Sports story reported that Lyles was paid $25,000 by Oregon. So I texted Kelly, asking him why he lied to me, and we ended up on the telephone, where Kelly insisted I'd confused him by asking about "Willie Lyles." He said, "around here, we call him 'Will.' We've already distanced ourselves from him, trust me." I was a sucker then. I'm a sucker now.
The timing of some of actions in response to the Yahoo! Sports investigation are straight out of the Watergate playbook:â†µ
SPORTSbyBROOKS " March 3: Kelly Claimed Not To Know ‘Willie Lyles’â†µ
But only hours before Kelly claimed to have "distanced" himself and the program from Lyles, Oregon recently confirmed Kelly’s football program received spreadsheets containing names and phone numbers of high school football recruits from Lyles - on March 3. Names and phone numbers Lyles told Yahoo last week were a result of Kelly and Oregon "scrambling" to account for their $25,000 payment to him 11+ months earlier.
It was only a matter of time, wasn't it. There isn't a top college program who hasn't been tainted and those that haven't been busted are the ones good enough to hide their activities in layers of plausible deniability.â†µ
Perhaps the calls in Tempe for Dennis Erickson's head should focus on his unwillingness and/or inability to play outside the rules in order to land the top recruits.