Oregon behind Brown probe?

It's a moot point now that the NCAA has ruled Bryce Brown eligible, but some people at Tennessee believe the Oregon Ducks were behind the NCAA's investigation into Brown's amateur status, a source close to the program says.

Brown is the heralded Vol freshman who was ranked the No. 1 prospect in America last winter by Scout.com. He committed to the University of Miami Hurricanes in 2008 but declined to seal the deal on National Signing Day last February. Miami reportedly pulled his scholarship offer shortly thereafter, and Brown eventually signed with Tennessee.

When the NCAA recently began re-investigating Brown's amateur status due to his participation in a tour of college campuses as a sophomore at Wichita East High School in the summer of 2006, many observers assumed Miami was responsible. They figured the Hurricanes, still upset that Brown reneged on his verbal commitment, complained to the NCAA in hopes the ensuing investigation would disrupt the player's college career.

That's a nice theory but there's a catch. Bryce Brown's brother, Arthur, is a linebacker for the Hurricanes who also participated in the summer of '06 college tour. How stupid would Miami be to turn in Bryce Brown, knowing Arthur Brown's amateur status inevitably would come into question?

Oregon also signed a Wichita prospect who participated in the summer of '06 tour, quarterback Chris Harper of Northwest High. But Harper, part of the Ducks' 2008 recruiting class, has since transferred to Kansas State.

By getting the NCAA to re-open its probe of the summer '06 prospect tour, Oregon could spite both Harper and Bryce Brown, who was heavily recruited by the Ducks last fall. Oregon was among Brown's five finalists, along with LSU, Miami, Southern Cal and Kansas State. Once signing day of 2009 passed and Miami withdrew its offer, Brown visited three schools before making his decision - Oregon, Clemson and Tennessee.

Clearly, there is strong evidence to suggest that the Ducks are behind the renewed investigation of Bryce Brown's amateur status. If that's the case, there is some irony involved. Consider:

When Tennessee dismissed promising tailback Onterrio Smith following the 1999 season, he transferred to Oregon and became a first-team All-Pac 10 player. Tennessee also hired away head coach Jerry Green from Oregon's basketball program - a move many Duck hoops fans are still applauding to this day.

But, as noted earlier, it's all moot now.

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