After penalties, life carries on for Oregon

And just like that, life carries on for the Oregon Ducks.

The anxiously anticipated NCAA sanctions were finally issued on Wednesday morning. After a two year odyssey of reports, radio spats, speculation and more Oregon was placed on a three-year probationary period, losing one scholarship per year over that span.

The biggest hit came with the reduction of official paid visits from 56 to 37 per year over the span of the probationary period. Evaluation periods for prospective recruits were also reduced from 42 to 36 during the fall period through 2015, and from 168 to 144 days during the spring period through 2016.

Also, the program was barred from subscription recruiting services. So, don't expect John Neal or Steve Greatwood to be commenting on the message boards.

In a move that won't affect the program, former head coach Chip Kelly was issued an 18-month show cause penalty, which requires a school to go before the infractions committee should they wish to hire him.

Most importantly: no forfeiture of victories, no bowl ban. Oregon's rise as a national power on the college football scene is likely to continue.

Sure, Ohio State and USC received harsher penalties for their illegal activities, but Oregon was largely more cooperative with the NCAA and was found not to have done anything with malicious intent.

The Ducks may have benefitted from good timing as well. Given the NCAA's mishandling of their investigation into the misdeeds at the University of Miami that has generated plenty of negative public relations material, bringing the hammer down on Oregon could've made the NCAA look more hypocritical. How can you tell a program how to control itself when you can't do the same?

Over the next three years, the Ducks will have to get a little bit more selective in who they want to bring out to see the school officially, but the scholarship reduction largely means nothing given that they have made a habit out of taking less than the maximum of 25 scholarship players allowed per recruiting period.

Additionally, the lighter punishment could bring some athletes, some of whom were on the fence about Oregon due to the investigation, back into the fold during this recruiting class.

If anything, all Wednesday proved is that expectations will remain high for new head coach Mark Helfrich. Living up to the best stretch of football in the program's history is no easy thing. I think Helfrich is up for the challenge, but a stricter punishment likely would've provided a buffer should things go wrong in the coming years.

In the end, don't expect much to change around Eugene. The game day atmosphere, the uniforms and Don Essig's booming voice over the public address system will all still be there. And for the foreseeable future, so should the continued rise of the Oregon program.


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