Did Chip Kelly just pull a Pete Carroll?
News broke Tuesday that the University of Oregon has acknowledged major NCAA violations and proposed a self-imposed two-year probation that would include the loss of one scholarship each of the next three years.
In these situations, the school often attempts to preempt further punishment by imposing sanctions on themselves rather than wait for the NCAA to drop the hammer. That way they avoid accusations of taking the matter lightly and they can, hopefully, limit the damage by insisting that they've already been punished.
The NCAA has been looking into Oregon's relationship with the talent "scout" Willie Lyles for a couple of years now and the case has yet to go in front of the NCAA infractions committee. So with this self-imposed punishment happening now, it seems plausible that the school is getting ready for more severe punishment soon.
The fact that Chip Kelly finally took an NFL job after turning down offers the last few years seems to support this idea as well.
Obviously the situations are quite different, but in January of 2010 USC coach Pete Carroll accepted a job with the Seahawks. Less than six months later, USC was hit hard by the NCAA after a multi-year investigation into the USC football program and after the school imposed less severe sanctions on itself.
One important difference here is that the report that Oregon released said there was no "lack of institutional control"- the key phrase that doomed USC and then Penn State in 2012. In other words, Oregon thinks its crimes were not as widespread and that its punishment will be lighter.
Maybe it's just a coincidence that Chip Kelly happened to decide he was ready for the NFL this offseason. And maybe Oregon will only have to deal with their self-imposed punishments.
But don't be surprised if more information about Oregon's wrongdoings surfaces over the next few months, followed by significant NCAA sanctions. And the man responsible for the Oregon football program during the period that is currently being investigated, Chip Kelly, won't have to worry about it at all.