Are the Oregon Ducks rightfully under attack for something they had on their bill?
Oregon is in the eye of the hurricane as the American sports world sounds off on the Ducks' use of recruiting services to land top recruits, like five-star freshman running back Lache Seastrunk.
The Pac-10 powerhouse paid over $25,000 to Complete Scouting Services of Houston which helped it get game video and build a relationship between head coach Chip Kelly's staff and Seastrunk's coaches at Temple High School.
How did everyone find out about this? Because it was clearly marked on a list of expenditures for Oregon's football program. Not hidden at all. Because it's legal.
But it shouldn't be.
Not because it's immoral on Oregon's part. Reading The Oregonian's account of why the Ducks paid big bucks makes it sound a lot less like CSS was the kind of AAU leach who latches onto talented basketball players and more like what it probably is -- a set of legs and eyes for hire to cover a state that takes 14 hours of driving to cross, west to east.
Hey, if Nike mogul Phil Knight is going to spend millions of dollars and contribute 500 different uniform combinations to give the Oregon program the zip it needs to be a national name, what's a measley 25-grand to land a back who might run through a few of those SEC defensive linemen for a change?
Mere duck feed.
Sure would be nice for schools like UTEP to hire a recruiting service.
Alas, there are no Phil Knight-feathered wings to be taken under in El Paso. No T. Boone Pickenses to donate half their oil fortunes to the Miners' athletic program like Pickens does Oklahoma State's.
Sorry to say, ESPN is not knocking down UTEP athletic director Bob Stull's door to get MinerVision to their millions of subscribers. That's reserved for the mothership in Austin, which also gets the convenience of being allowed to televise in-state high school football games to fill out recru...pardon me, programming lists for the Longhorn Network.
Are you noticing a "Rich Getting Richer" theme developing, here?
The NCAA used to, but it isn't keeping up. And since these are large issues, it may not want to. NCAA lawyers and bean-counters aren't into looking at mosaics, they're too busy staring at the grout.
Plus, small schools allow the NCAA to look tough on rules enforcement when they run afoul of NCAA stricture. Even when UTEP fired a couple of basketball coaches who gave kids rides back in the early 1990's, the fact the Miners program had a "lack of institutional control" meant NCAA hacks were free to bludgeon the program as an example.
What is institutional control? Having a paper trail. Forcing schools -- whether they could afford a couple of full-time salaries or not -- to create compliance coordinators. People whose job is dotting the NCAA's I's and crossing its T's.
A whole department and multiple salaried jobs invented just to keep up with the rules!
Compliance folk are in every athletic department now, but when the Miners were put in the stockade the program couldn't afford one, so it had dumped the job on the Senior Women's Administrator. And paid for it.
Sadly, recruiting services for college football's "haves" are just now coming to light, while a potentially bigger problem with the advent of school-run television networks is something that probably won't be addressed for years after schools like Texas televise as many of the next Lache Seastrunk's games as it can, complete with a state-of-the-art HD production truck parked close to his locker room, conveniently branded with Bevo's burnt orange silhouette.
Wow, Oregon should totally do that, too. Wonder if Phil has any pull with the media?