Am I missing something here? We're not talking about an inadvertent mistake but rather intentional disregard for the rules and a purposeful decision by one of their coaches to not only change a kid's mind but to persuade him to forge a signature and in doing so commit not one violation - but four - in an purposeful attempt to circumvent the rules.
If this incident had happened at Washington, would there be no investigation? Would Washington be allowed to punish itself? Would the NCAA simply give its stamp of approval and accept what ever sanction the Huskies placed on themselves?
Sour grapes, maybe. But I'm not sure I can answer those questions with a resounding "YES". Could you?
Didn't Cameron Dollar get suspended for a month without pay? The Oregon assistant received a suspension and a week without pay. Did Oregon find out and confess this cheating on its own, or was it only after Jeff Tedford at Cal called and demanded that they pull off this kid because he knew for fact they had cheated?
And why did it take a year and a half for this to come out? To borrow a phrase from the late John Lennon, "Strange days, indeed. Most peculiar, momma."
One thing I should make very clear. I want to commend Bill Moos and Mike Bellotti for coming clean and for being so straight and forthright about their problem. I think they showed strength and conviction in their confession. My main issue I'm raising is why the conference or the Oregon media never picked up on it, and why no one else even mentions it. This was a series of major violations that happened over a year and a half ago and nobody openly reported on it until now?
So after acknowledging that they cheated, Oregon gets two years probation with no scholarship reductions or no real penalties on the program. Some will point out that because this is their first infraction at Oregon in 20 years that they should be immediately forgiven.
Um, I don't think so.
Oregon has had just as many inadvertent violations as Washington over those same 20 years. It's just stayed under the radar of the conference. I know for fact I saw Phil Knight of Nike talking to their recruits outside their locker room after we played in Autzen. I know he talked to Maurice Morris before he became a Duck. I know they had illegal observations and evaluations of recruits a few years ago at the first Nike combine held on their campus.
The point is, they have made mistakes just like every other school has.
But, we're not talking about a mistake here. We're talking about flat out cheating. I'm not asking that they be hammered for any of those types of violations, but in this case it seems so obvious that the coach in question deliberately violated the rules, that it might at least warrant an investigation. Oregon sat in judgment on us years back and I know they were doing some of the exact same stupid things we were punished for.
It would be nice if everyone in the conference was treated the same. I know every school in this conference tries to run a clean ship. It used to be that we shared ideas and problems with each other, and certainly Tedford contacting Belloti about this shows a continued cooperation.
But, let's be real. Tedford used to work for Bellotti. Would he have made the same call to Gilbertson or would he simply have alerted the Pac-10 and NCAA?
No one knows. Just something to think about.
What I'm talking about is the double standard that the conference and NCAA holds with regard to investigation and punishment. Heck, everyone knows you can't be present when a kid signs his letter of intent. Everyone knows you only get one "contact" day per week. Everyone knows you can't ask a kid to forge a parent's signature. Everyone knows you can't ask a kid to lie about the time of his signing.
Yet that is what happened with JJ Arrington and his recruitment by Oregon.
When the Washington coaches committed visitation violations during Coach Rick Neuheisel's first year, they were collectively punished and publicly embarrassed much worse than the Oregon coach in question was over this situation.
Washington argued that the Husky coaches used a misprinted flyer with an incorrect date, so therefore didn't know that they were violating the quiet period rule. You can believe this or not believe it, but in Oregon's case, everyone knew exactly what the coach was doing. The coach knew exactly what he was doing and knew the exact rules that were being cast aside. There was nothing nebulous about any of it.
Another example of how consistent the punishments in the conference are, many don't know that Arizona's coaches committed the exact same "quiet" period violation that the Husky coaches did in Neuheisel's first year.
Washington's coaches received almost twice the penalty when you add up the sanctions that were doled out. The message there could almost be construed that Washington is being held to a higher standard than Oregon and Arizona.
Strange days, indeed.
The LA media market and the Nike money flowing into the conference schools are both critical to balancing everyone's budget. Nike's biggest target for their "donations" is Oregon, of course.
Just more fodder for discussion.
I noticed where one of Washington's top recruits in basketball got to visit the home of John Wooden at UCLA. Wow. Excuse me, but Coach Wooden is a "representative" and a "booster" of the Bruins. What is the difference between taking kids to meet him and seeing his "shrine" and, say, having a "booster" pilot a boat ride?
There is, of course, a huge difference! The "booster" on the boat that Rick Neuheisel was hosting recruits on was a no-name to the recruits. The guy drove the boat, and the kids had no clue who this guy was. Coach Wooden, on the other hand, is an icon in basketball and a living legend. Yet Washington was brought to task for this particular transgression.
I was reprimanded years ago for placing fruit baskets and a welcome sign in recruit's rooms when they visited. It was considered a major violation and we were cited by both the conference and the NCAA. Oregon was doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. UCLA was also violating the meals rule by supplying a sack lunch and USC was giving away jerseys.
I've given up trying to figure out what is consistent and what is just bull.
Oregon wisely waited until the summer to announce their confession publically. You certainly don't want to admit it during a recruiting period. I take my hat off to Oregon AD Bill Moos, as he obviously knows how to keep investigators away from his campus and knows how to defend his school.
And Washington? They spent tens of thousands of dollars to defend themselves over a $5 basketball pool and an unknown guy on a boat.
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