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A USC Fan's Reaction To Oregon's Sanctions

Calum Hayes |
June 26, 2013 | 10:46 a.m. PDT


The University of Oregon football team doesn't deserve to be punished more severely. (Daniel Hartwig, Wikimedia Commons)
The University of Oregon football team doesn't deserve to be punished more severely. (Daniel Hartwig, Wikimedia Commons)
In a day filled with multiple breaking news stories, from the Supreme Court’s ruling on DOMA and Prop 8 to the New England Patriots releasing Aaron Hernandez shortly after his arrest in a murder investigation, I am writing about the least important of the bunch. The NCAA finally revealed its punishment for the University of Oregon football program. The penalties ended up being three years of probation, loss of one scholarship a year, an 18-month show cause for the former head coach who is already in the NFL and a restriction on recruiting services. There was no bowl ban; no large numbers of scholarships lost…the NCAA really didn’t come down hard on the University at all. 

Contrast that to a Penn State program that recently received a four-year bowl ban and a USC program that is still in the midst of three years of losing ten scholarships a year after completing its two-year bowl ban. Penn State was penalized for the Joe Paterno-Jerry Sandusky scandal and USC was penalized for Reggie Bush receiving upwards of $200k from a potential agent. The NCAA’s justification for coming down so hard on USC was that one of the coaches, Todd McNair, was aware of Reggie Bush receiving that money, which made the school complicit. In the Oregon case, it is widely accepted that the program was well aware of the violations they were making with recruiting services, and yet they get a ruling that required me to respond with “what sanctions?” when friends at the university asked me what I thought about it all. At the end of the day it leaves me with one overriding feeling.

I’m ok with it.

Disregarding the fact that it appears the NCAA lied about McNair so as to use USC as an example of what happens to cheaters, I don’t have any problem with the seemingly small sanctions leveled on Oregon. I’m supposed to tell you that I’m mad, that they got off easy and that USC got the short end of the stick and blah, blah, blah. The only problem I have here is that the NCAA has highlighted its own inconsistency. The way they handled the Oregon situation is 100 percent right. Oregon cooperated during every step of the investigation, something USC definitely did not do. In what world does it make sense to think that just because your school was wronged, someone else’s should be, too? In what world does it make sense to want a group of completely innocent teenagers in Eugene, Oregon to suffer just because your favorite group of innocent teenagers in Los Angeles, California is suffering? 

I am not the largest fan of the University of Oregon football program, and there’s a decent chance that that has to do with being jealous of their recent success, alongside other reasons. I seem to be one of the few people in the world who doesn’t think that their ever-changing uniforms are cool - they look like race cars, not football players for heavens sake. Even having grown up in Oregon, I don’t feel any sort of residual attachment to a team I grew up supporting due to proximity. Yet, through all that, through the jealousy, through the dislike, you wont find me rooting for the program to get crushed by the NCAA. Since I root for a program that was wrongly crushed by the NCAA, why would I ever wish that on someone else? Better yet, why would I ever wish that on the near hundred young men who committed no wrong and are just there to play for a team they love? 

It is easy to get wrapped up in seeing “The University of Oregon Football Team” as just a football team. It is easy to forget that that team is made up of young men who have spent their entire lives dreaming of the moment they would get to put on a race car shell (sorry, couldn’t help myself) and go play D1 football, young men not so different from the ones who make up your own program. So before you get up in arms saying Oregon got off easy, remember two things: 

1. They got the appropriate punishment for the crime; it just looks weak compared to the ridiculous punishments given to Penn State and USC.

2. These are real people, who did no wrong, who you are saying should be punished for the wrongs of other people. 

So really, this column comes down to one major question for those advocating a harsher punishment on Oregon. Since when did two wrongs make a right? 

Wait; don’t tell me, I know this one. 



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