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Pac-12 Confidential

Bud Withers offers an inside look at the Pac-12 Conference and the national college scene.

July 1, 2013 at 3:13 PM

In the wake of a break: Some post-vacation observations . . .


Item: The NCAA gives a love-tap to Oregon for the Willie Lyles violations.

My take: I weighed in already last week with the notion (hardly an isolated opinion) that the Ducks got off lightly. It was almost laughable to hear Greg Sankey, speaking for the NCAA committee on infractions last week, trying to justify the Oregon penalties as significant, a purported match for its indiscretions. Those included several major violations.

There’s a theory out there that the Ducks caught the NCAA at just the right time — one in which the NCAA hadn’t yet settled on how to deal with recruiting services, and in which it will hold head coaches more accountable. Following that logic, at a time of transition the committee on infractions may have believed a penalty with teeth was pointless. Courtesy of Jon Wilner’s blog in the San Jose Mercury News, here’s a good summation of that take.

But let’s not dwell on the Oregon sanctions, instead thinking about them using the lens of USC. You have to believe there are (still) some livid people around Heritage Hall.

Yeah, I know, I know, all these cases are apples and oranges, and USC’s and Oregon’s are hardly parallel. USC was found guilty of lack of institutional control, Oregon a failure to monitor. In the NCAA eyes, that’s a big difference.

But on the football side (forgetting for a moment O.J. Mayo’s part in this), USC was party to knowledge that an agent was affording Reggie Bush’s parents with housing.  Oregon was party to knowledge that a third party — essentially, an agent — was helping steer players to the Ducks. In fact, Oregon did the paying of the agent itself.

Meanwhile, you have the hint of taint in the USC case introduced by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge last November. In a ruling in assistant coach Todd McNair’s defamation case against the NCAA, judge Frederick Shaller called “malicious” the treatment by NCAA investigators of McNair, saying they were “over the top” and “tend to show ill will or hatred” toward McNair. (By the way, the NCAA report said USC cooperated with the NCAA.)

None of this means USC and Oregon should have received the same penalties. But it should suggest that there might be a middle ground between the soft landing granted the Ducks and the scorched-earth sanction of two years’ bowl ban and 30 scholarships lost that hit USC.

It also means that if future penalties are going to be more coach-centered, we’re likely to see more head-scratching discrepancies in the comparison between recent sanctions and future ones. In the big picture, if that means sparing current NCAA athletes who haven’t been party to violations, we’ll live with it.

Item: Dana Altman does it again. The Oregon basketball coach lands another standout transfer in Joseph Young,  a 6-3 guard from Houston who scored 18 points a game there last season. Young left the UH because his father Michael was pulled out of his job as director of operations for the Houston program.

My take: By now, it’s clear that Altman, who was Oregon’s 37th or so choice to be its head coach, will be a major force in the Pac-12. Anything he’s lacked in ability to recruit high school athletes to Eugene, he’s more than made up for in attracting transfers — Olu Ashaolu, DeVoe Joseph, Arsalan Kazemi, and this off-season, Mike Moser (UNLV) and now Young.

Young may only be eligible for one season, depending on whether he can gain an NCAA waiver based on Houston’s ouster of his father. If he can’t, he must sit out one season and will be a senior for Oregon in 2014-15.

Altman has connections dating back to his Kansas State and Creighton days. Those are also schools in the middle of a rich pool of junior-college talent. His ability to pull in all manner of transfers has eased his road to major relevance at Oregon, and it has created one more major obstacle in Washington’s search for consistency in recent years.

Item: It’s crickets on NBA draft night for Washington and WSU players.

My take: It’s the first NBA draft without a Husky taken since 2008. If somebody was going to go, the likely guy was point guard Abdul Gaddy, but he fell victim to inconsistency, a lack of explosiveness, a too-high turnover rate (103 last season) and modest abilities as a scorer (10.9 in 2012-13).

Brock Motum was Washington State’s only candidate. But his numbers fell off last season after his breakout junior year (to 18.7 ppg), as he shot .456, only .336 on threes. It’s questionable whether he’d have a position in the NBA; he’d probably have to play the “three” spot, and there are far more dynamic, stronger athletes there than he. It would take some imagination to see him at the strong-forward position.








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