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June 26, 2013

Oregon forecast more promising after sanctions


The NCAA's Wednesday decision to place Oregon on probation for three years but not issue a postseason ban left recruits and others close to the football program optimistic the Ducks can move forward without much interruption.

"It affected recruiting to the extent that for two years, recruits and high school coaches were waiting to see what happened," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said. "Moving forward now that it's over, this won't affect them at all, except for the official visit reduction."

Oregon will lose one scholarship from a maximum of 25 in each of the next two recruiting cycles and have its total number of scholarships cut by one from a maximum of 85 for each of the next three seasons.

The NCAA ruling stems from an investigation after questions about a 2010 payment of $25,000 to Will Lyles and his Houston-based recruiting service. Lyles had connections to recruits, including former five-star running back Lache Seastrunk, who signed with Oregon before transferring to Baylor.

The NCAA Infractions Committee released its report early Wednesday, a much-anticipated day for Ducks' fans, and it stated former coach Chip Kelly and Oregon failed to monitor the football program.

Other minor penalties included an 18-month show-cause order on Kelly, which would require schools looking to hire Kelly to appear before the committee to see if the school would be subject to those procedures. Since Kelly recently left Oregon for the Philadelphia Eagles, that probably will not figure into any equation.

For Oregon fans, the feeling is things could have been much worse. The penalties are now clear and the Ducks can move on. That means a national title contender has not been knocked off its perch by previous indiscretions and its former coach.

"The view of most Duck fans is that no matter what the infractions were it's just about getting it over with," DuckSportsAuthority.com publisher A.J. Jacobson said. "Those that follow recruiting very closely, these types of things are used in the living room against the school with infractions hanging over the head of an uncertain nature. Now that they're defined, moving forward with recruiting in particular, that's something they could do a little easier now."

However, the reduction of Oregon's official visit allotment from 56 to 37 for the next three years could have a detrimental recruiting impact, since the Ducks rely so heavily on out-of-state recruiting. Oregon's recent recruiting success has come from bringing in top prospects from California, Texas and other talent-rich states.

The majority of the news is positive -- considering what Oregon could have been dealt -- but the official visit reduction might be difficult for the Ducks.

"If you're an Oregon fan you're very excited about this because it could have been a lot worse," Farrell said. "Long term, this won't affect them at all. The only thing I can see is the reduction of official visits. Oregon is not easy to get to and they really use those visits to recruit kids. That's the only thing I can see that will affect their recruiting going forward."

To Jacobson, the official visit cut could play a factor but not a major one. If Oregon had been using its full allotment of trips then it would be serious, but in recent years, after crunching the numbers, Jacobson found that the Ducks only utilized 42-43 official visits per year.

Factoring that into the penalty, if Oregon stayed the course on the number of trips used, the reduction would be more in the 5-6 range per recruiting cycle.

"Really when you look at it like that it's about a five-visit reduction for those years," Jacobson said. "I don't think it's as big a deal. They end up not using that many and they're highly selective in how they're used.

"It will have an affect but what will happen is they'll save them for the guys who are most-likely candidates to be a Duck. They'll be more selective and they probably won't bring in as many guys they hope will switch but really doubt."

The early reaction from Oregon commits was relief.

Via Twitter, Arrion Springs, a four-star safety with a final two of Texas and Oregon, seemed to think the Ducks got off easy.

Three-star offensive lineman Tyrell Crosby from Henderson (Nev.) Green Valley said he heard from rival schools that things could be much worse, including a bowl ban, so he's pleased the report was not too damning.

"It's a relief to hear there is no bowl ban because a lot of other schools were using that as a way to get me to flip or de-commit," Crosby said. "It's a relief to hear there's no bowl ban and it's not too severe."

Quarterback commit Morgan Mahalak said he thinks this could eventually help Oregon's recruiting class. Now that the penalties have been established, prospects who have been waiting on the sidelines to hear the severity of the sanctions will now feel even more comfortable with the Ducks' future.

Mahalak, from Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic, seems at ease with how things turned out.

"It's great," Mahalak said. "It will help us get more commits to come in now. It will help us in recruiting because kids will know that's in the past and now they can just focus on all the great stuff Oregon has to offer so it will be huge for us.

"I don't think (the official visit cut) is too big of a deal The kids that want to go to Oregon will go to Oregon and I think there are a bunch of kids out there know that's where they want to be. Oregon will find the right kids for them and that shows in the success they've had."

After reading news about the findings, Mahalak seemingly had a similar reaction as many Oregon fans.

"It's all good," he said.



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