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Kelly the scoundrel? Or Kelly the straight shooter?

Kelly the scoundrel? Or Kelly the straight shooter?

FishDuck Staff
Reported by FishDuck Staff on March 4, 2012
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| 12 Comments

If you read the CBSSports.com piece on Friday, and you were from say, Georgia or South Carolina, and had little knowledge of Oregon football and its culture, you no doubt shook your head and wondered what the heck is going on under the tall Douglas firs.

Later, sitting on a bar-stool swivel with your beer-drinking buddies, you probably let ‘er rip. “Why up at that Or-e-gone, they got a coach who’s flat out buying players. That shoe company is backin’ him all the way. And the college outfit that puts the schedules together, that N-C-A-A, is in on the deal, too.”

Indeed, the piece by CBSSports.com national columnist Gregg Doyel had these choice blows:

— “… What happened at Oregon doesn’t look like a misunderstanding or an honest mistake. What happened at Oregon looks like blatant cheating.”

— “If you ask me, the USC sanctions should be the starting point for Oregon. The minimum. … At USC, the checks were written by outsiders: agents, runners, marketing reps. At Oregon, the check was written by the Oregon football team.”

— “This wasn’t some mysterious off-campus figure exerting influence. This was Chip Kelly making sure $25,000 went to the guy in Houston who says he helped steer recruits to Oregon.”

— “Why would Nike matter here? It shouldn’t, and I hope it doesn’t. But I can’t ignore the fact that Nike has multimillion-dollar deals with scores of Division I schools, making it one of the NCAA’s biggest revenue streams. … What would an unhappy Phil Knight mean to scores of NCAA athletic departments relying on his money to stay solvent? I don’t know, and I hope it doesn’t matter to the NCAA. But you have to wonder about the whole thing. How could you not?”

Now, juxtapose that with this recent news from Eugene:

— One of Kelly’s recent ‘grads,’ former Duck linebacker Dewitt Stuckey, has set up his own nonprofit foundation and auctioned off his Rose Bowl jersey and two other game jerseys all in an effort to fund a college scholarship for needy prep athletes.

— Oregon players visited a Eugene elementary school to talk about anti-bullying as part of the team’s “O Heroes” program.

— Without fanfare, Kelly slipped former NBA player Chris Herren into town to talk to the school’s athletes about his drug addition and the sad path it led him down.

Or compare the image of Kelly in Doyel’s piece with these older “nuggets” from Eugene: Kelly attending the funerals of soldiers, embracing the wife of a slain police officer, giving LeGarrette Blount the second chance he deserved.

As for the NCAA investigation, these stories from those who regularly cover the Ducks — a report by The Oregonian and a Eugene Register-Guard column — both leave the impression the Ducks are many moons removed from SEC-like duplicity.

Yes, good deeds by student-athletes and coaches go on elsewhere. So does balanced reporting. So does advocacy journalism.

But since the Will Lyles story first broke a year ago, there has been a disconnect between the national media narrative and that of the regional media, including the likes of ESPN’s Pac-12 reporter Ted Miller.

Who’s to be believed? Which view more accurately reflects the truth about Chip Kelly the person and coach? And the Oregon program as a whole?

Is Kelly a villain, a scoundrel, the author of an SMU-like chapter in Duck football history? Or is he is a wise-cracking, hard-working, straight-shooting ball coach with a humanitarian streak?

Could he be both?

My experience, after a 25-year newspaper career, including stints as an editor and investigative reporter, is the more local you get, the more the truth emerges. Professional journalists living in the community or region in which they report develop more sources, retain more institutional knowledge, get to stare in the eyes of those they interview, get to watch their body language, hear all the rumors.

They aren’t inclined to write good-deed stories about someone who they know is a bad apple.

Contrast that with a columnist thousands of miles away who knows he is not likely to run into the people he writes about. At least not anytime soon.

In following the nuances of human behavior, it’s also my experience the deceptive personality doesn’t change. Which flies in the face of the story line pushed by some: That Kelly went from being a good person to a low-life con artist and then back to a good person.

We’ll see how the NCAA investigation plays out. We have yet to hear Oregon’s side of the story. Maybe there is a “smoking gun” that has yet to be photographed in Kelly’s right hand. Maybe the parts redacted in the UO’s recent release of the NCAA’s “Proposed Findings of Violations” will reveal that more than sloppy mistakes led to rule-breaking.

But at this point, I’m reminded of what transpires in a court of law. The judge and jury weigh the evidence and listen to testimony. They also weigh the credibility of those who come before them, their past deeds and history of truthfulness.

It’ll be interesting to discern what NCAA investigators made of Kelly’s talks with them.

It’ll be interesting to siphon out who they believed.

With that, I rest my case.

* * *

OK, here are the week’s best stories and blogs (I’m the judge here) on Oregon Duck football:

Oregon fans can be found at other colleges … and in the most unlikely places.

A surprise from the NFL combine where former Duck cornerback Cliff Harris didn’t exactly post a fast 40 time. Odd, given how quick and fast he appeared returning punts during his brief career at Oregon.

Here’s a big picture view of the importance of quarterback battles at Oregon and Stanford.

Oregon quarterback legend Bob Berry is on the upcoming College Football Hall of Fame ballot.


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FishDuck Staff

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Dano Dunn

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  • a reader

    While I appreciate your dogged attempt to defend Kelly, your quick trigger bias leaves you with a weak argument. Kelly’s not a ‘scoundrel’ and didn’t cheat because he brought in a speaker on substance abuse, and some players have involved themselves in charitable acts? Then you inject the judge and jury meme? That’s not only weak, it’s lame. Didn’t your 25 year local stint include refining the ability to reflect before committing momentary thoughts and knee-jerk reactions to paper?

    Quite possibly it’s time for you to get out into the real world and stop using your past as some sort of merit badge. If you are familiar at all with how a con works and the planned obfuscation that goes with it, you wouldn’t even have touched this subject. The bigger the power structure behind the con, the more likely it succeeds.

    Only one word fits here: sucker.

    • Scorb18

      I wonder if “a reader” even read the article. Because the position he’s attacking is not what was written… lol talk about the pot calling the kettle black with weak arguments…

    • Aggie

      Maybe you could inject some actual insight into this large structured con you speak of?

  • Steve Maher

    The point is simply this: Someone who has a long history of being a good person and of being honest — and Kelly has possessed that track record for many, many years — isn’t likely to engage in the behavior CBSSports.com Gregg Doyel paints and isn’t likely to suddenly become “a con” and then retreat back into the truthful, good life. It doesn’t add up. I’ve studied human behavior for many years. I know how a con artist works. I wrote about them. Some of the most successful cons are those that target two- or three-employee businesses. Furthermore, someone with a socio-pathic personality disorder doesn’t change overnight.

    Those who accuse Kelly of buying players (without any proof) as Doyel did are injecting the kind of cynicism that appeals to the lowest common denominator in people. For Doyel and others to further suggest a conspiracy is at work involving Kelly, Nike, and the NCAA is delusional at best.

  • Steve Maher

    Due to the website update taking place today, an unfinished and unedited version of my column was inadvertently published this morning. The final one has now been posted. Thanks for your patience!

    • a reader

      Sure, chalk it up to ‘website update’. Unlike in print journalism, it’s easy to do online even when something has been uploaded.

      Your first version wasn’t ‘unedited’, it was quick and pandering BS. After getting called out, you thought a little deeper and published a completely different article incorporating the first one as a guide. Nice job. Just remember, new media can’t be taken seriously when a story changes due to negative feedback.

      • Steve Maher

        I do not lie. And if you don’t believe me, you might want to check with the owners of this website about your latest assertion. … Funny, too, because ultimately there was little difference between the first and second versions. Mainly just some paragraphs being moved around, some sentences cleaned up, some links added. … My advice to you: Stop injecting so much negativity into people’s motives. You don’t have a clue what is in my head or, for that matter, anyone else’s. … 

  • sjb

    It may have always been this way, but it seems to me that the habit of having outrage be one’s default sentiment, and interpreting a series of events in order to justify the outrage, is SOP for many folks who post online.  I am disappointed that Gregg Doyle doesn’t particularly care that his poorly researched diatribe will live on forever.  Perhaps he is hoping that it will bring him enough attention to get his own gig as a talking head on some 24 hour sports channel….

  • Madeline_murphy

    Steve- thanks again for another great article.  I wish others out there would take some time to read this.  It is easy to get incensed about writers out there like Doyel who wrote the CBSSports article , but in actuality he clearly shows that he has no interest in learning about the subject.  He clearly is only interested in generating hits to his webpage so he can report to his boss on the success of his vitriol.  It would be interesting to know if this is what he really thinks or if it just meant some financial incentive to him.  This is the TMZ world we live in now days.  That is why we are thankful for people like you and others on this site.

    One can only hope that he ends up looking silly in the end.

    BTW- thanks for the great article awhile back on Cody Carriger.  What was best about that was that you captured the essence of Butte.  I was born there (no longer live ther and have been gone for many years) and still have some relatives in the surrounding areas.  It is truly a one of a kind place.  Thanks for the great work!

    • Steve Maher

      Yes, as you can tell, I am not a fan of the inflammatory approach used by Gregg Doyel (which is his preferred shtick, by the way). It adds little toward getting to the truth of things. And, frankly, is lazy. Similar to the “yellow journalism” of eons ago.

      Butte is an amazing place! I always tell people who are visiting or moving to Montana — which is one of my favorite all-time states — to have a look around Butte. Cody Carriger may or may not become a star at Oregon. But I have no doubt he will bring with him the tough-as-nails, hard-working approach every team needs. Chip Kelly is said to be high on him.

    • Steve Maher

      Yes, as you can tell, I am not a fan of the inflammatory approach used by Gregg Doyel (which is his preferred shtick, by the way). It adds little toward getting to the truth of things. And, frankly, is lazy. Similar to the “yellow journalism” of eons ago.

      Butte is an amazing place! I always tell people who are visiting or moving to Montana — which is one of my favorite all-time states — to have a look around Butte. Cody Carriger may or may not become a star at Oregon. But I have no doubt he will bring with him the tough-as-nails, hard-working approach every team needs. Chip Kelly is said to be high on him.

  • Mezcal

    How ironic is it that the self-annointed messiah of ultimate knowledge posting as “a reade” becomes, by his own admission, nothing more than a sucker.