A few days after whispers of a potential situation first surfaced, the University of Oregon has come under national fire over the past 24 hours for alleged football recruiting violations. The story, which has been featured on ESPN web and TV all morning, alleges the UO made illegal payments to a high school recruiting service in the neighborhood of $25,000. By every indication, this is a serious PR situation for the University.
Before we all get daffy over this, the UO Athletic Dept. brilliantly issued a statement yesterday before the story broke, calmly and succinctly explaining UO’s innocence. And even though you won’t be able to tell by watching mainstream media this weekend, there is very little reason to believe there have been any violations by the UO. Here are the top five reasons why.
5. Most, if not all, NCAA teams pay recruiting services–which is legal in the first place
Oregon AD spokesman Dave Williford said it best in today’s Oregonian, “Yeah, we made the payment, everybody does it. This has all been run through our compliance office. We have nothing to hide.” Williford also provided media with a copy of the actual check, made out for $25,000 to Complete Scouting Services of Houston.
4. This is America: We can spend what we want on recruiting services
So $25,000 is a huge jump from UO’s normal $8,250 per-year tab from the same service . So what? There are so many reasons that could explain why last year was three times as expensive. We’ve practically set up a recruiting station in east Texas, imagine the cost alone of flying each recruit and a companion back and forth to the northwest. Northwest-based athletes have to travel more than anywhere else because of our geography.
3. Oregon is obligated to invest in the best recruiters if it plans to continue to dominate college football
The idea here is simple; it’s not Alabama, it’s not Miami, it’s not Ohio State. It’s Oregon. It may not be a powerhouse school yet, but with the progress it’s making many areas, Oregon is poised to be a national powerhouse by the end of the decade. Accordingly, you have to pay the price if you want to get talent out here to the Northwest instead of one of the aforementioned ‘sexy’ schools. Do that by buying off recruits? No. Do that by paying the best recruiters in Texas to say Oregon’s got next? Absolutely.
2. RB Coach Gary Campbell runs a tighter ship than the Japanese Navy
Seriously, if you’ve ever met coach Campbell, you know he is nothing short of a living legend. He has coached Oregon football for 27 years and that alone should say something about this guy’s ethic. He is beyond honest and trustworthy. He is a mentor and a leader to his RB’s (which are the focus of the investigation) and demands the best of them. When LGB and LMJ were on the chopping block for their respective altercations, Campbell was their greatest advocate. Needless to say, Campbell knows a thing or two about recruiting, and not a single thing about Campbell’s history or character indicates he would take on recruits from less-than-honest practices.
1. Honestly, who do you trust more?