A bunch of quacks

16 03 2010

The University of Oregon athletic program was once known for two facets unique to collegiate sports: 1) A never-ending supply of hideously-designed football uniforms, thanks to Nike’s nearby corporate headquarters, and 2) An incredibly well-funded program with state-of-the-art training facilities (see video below).

We can add a third notch to Oregon’s belt: The college football version of the Portland Jail Blazers. Remember those Portland teams from the mid-’00s where seemingly every player was arrested? This Ducks squad is attaining the same reputation. What makes this situation more infuriating is that the head coach appears content to let the trouble makers stay on the squad. In review:

Star quarterback Jeremiah Masoli plead guilty to second-degree burglary for stealing two laptops and a guitar from a local frat house. After getting suspended for the upcoming season last Friday, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly conceded that Masoli was still due a redshirt year, which means he can still play for the Ducks after the upcoming campaign. He has to serve 12 months of probation, volunteer for 140 hours of community service and pay $5,000 in restitution fees along with former Ducks receiver Garret Embry, who suffered the same guilty plea and subsequent punishments.

Star running back LaMichael James was suspended for the 2010 season opener after pleading guilty on Friday to a misdemeanor harassment charge from an altercation with an ex-girlfriend. He originally faced five misdemeanor charges for the incident, including strangulation and assault. He’ll get 10 days in jail and must serve 24 months of probation.

Placekicker Rob Beard was also suspended for the opener after he plead guilty last week to a harassment charge stemming from a street fight.

Here are Kelly’s comments in regards to those arrests: “Their accountability for their actions is paramount and any tainting of the reputation of the University of Oregon and this football program will not be tolerated.”

Yet they all remain on the team.

Linebacker Kiko Alonso was suspended for the upcoming season following his ‘not guilty’ plea on drunk driving charges from last week.

Running back LeGarrette Blount was reinstated to the team last season after he initially was suspended for the entire campaign following an incident in which he punched a Boise State player after their game and then physically challenged Boise State fans as he was being led off the playing field.

Kelly did get two right, though.

Defensive end Matt Simms was dismissed from the team last month for striking a student he thought had a role in beating up Beard.

Wide receiver Jamere Holland was also dismissed after a profanity-laced tirade on Facebook regarding Alonso’s suspension.

My problem with Kelly’s overall disciplinary system is that he isn’t backing up his comments. If he truly felt that his player’s actions shouldn’t be tolerated, then he’d have kicked all of them off his team. Their level of punishment handed down from the court should be irrelevant. What the players do to repent their actions can’t dismiss what’s already been done to tarnish Oregon’s reputation. They’ve made the program appear like yet another playground for reckless, selfish athletes riding high on full scholarships and preferential treatment.

If Kelly were truly invested in turning the tide within his football team and in defending his school’s reputation, then he’d wipe the program clean of all the idiots who don’t respect it enough to stay out of trouble.

UPDATE: Found a much longer video of Oregon’s athletic training facility, although it’s without sound.




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