Flock Talk: Penalty box

Penalty Box
With last week's release of penalties against Mississippi State for recruiting violations, it began to be widely speculated that Oregon fans would finally get the monkey off their back late this week. While that has not happened as of the writing of this piece, it is, nonetheless, expected within a short time frame.
The focus of most fans has been what appears to be the good news behind the possible release of sanctions; no bowl ban and fairly light scholarship reductions. As with most complex structures, however, justice is not always served by the obvious penalties. There are other penalties, that, though they seem insignificant by comparative standards to bowl bans and heavy scholarship reductions can cause just as much damage.
Friedrich Nietzsche once said that "we are in the greatest danger of being run over when we have just gotten out of the way of a carriage."
As Oregon fans are pondering the potential good news regarding the lack of a bowl ban and the limited loss of scholarships, it is important to reflect the other potential penalties that, though not as glaringly obvious in the public agenda could cause quite a bit more damage.
Increased Compliance Staff On the one hand, this is a no-brainer that it is a positive concept to have more people ensuring that no more major infractions occur. If, after all, they do their job, situations such as the Will Lyles scouting service will not arise and Oregon athletics will continue to thrive unabated. So where is the hidden danger?
While the additional staff will be beneficial from a rules compliance standpoint, the significant number of new personnel, including sport specific personnel that will be responsible for monitoring phone calls and compliance staff members manning the player-guest entrance for football and men's basketball home games, the additional cost of these personnel will cost something. Money spent on their behalf will take away from other areas inside the athletic department.
This is, of course,a fairly minor cost as the added value of rules compliance should save the university hundreds of thousands of dollars in future legal expenses.
Reduced number of official paid visits The university proposed a 10 percent reduction from 41 to 37 for two recruiting cycles. Official visits are a critical component to the recruiting process. While unofficial visits have become a rage over the past five years in college football, there are still far too many prospective student athletes that cannot afford a trip to Oregon without the official paid visit.
Because Oregon has instituted a no-commit without a visit policy, getting kids to visit is important. Fewer official visits mean that the coaches have less room for error when scheduling official visits. If they set a prospect to visit in January and that prospect commits elsewhere and cancels the visit, that may lead to a lost opportunity as another prospect may not be able to visit.
Reduced evaluations Oregon had recommended reducing their permissible fall evaluations by 15% from 42 to 36 in Fall 2012 and 15% in the Spring 2013 evaluation season from 168 to 144; that is a total of 30 lost evaluation opportunities. Even with a reduced amount of scholarships available, Oregon coaches will still extend nearly 100 offers each recruiting season. The loss of 30 evaluation opportunities means that Oregon coaches will likely miss out on a few hidden gems and have to pass on a few prospects that may have been game changers. Imagine the difference in Oregon football 2012 had coaches not had enough evaluations to watch Marcus Mariota. Where would that have left Oregon coaches?
Once again this also means that there is less room for error. Coaches have to be very careful about who they use evaluations to see as there are less options.
It is also possible that due to the nature of the violations, the NCAA could decide to extend the period of time with fewer evaluations, or they could decide to take even more evaluation opportunities away. This is entirely within the realm of possibility given that the Ducks main violation surrounds receiving improper scouting information via oral reports rather than written.
Phone call restrictions This last sanction which Oregon suggested could cause the most damage. Oregon recommended requiring that all permissible recruiting related calls be made by countable coaches for one full year; even those calls that could be made by other personnel.
Consider the number of impermissible calls that Oregon has admitted to making over a three year period; over 700. Those calls were presumably made by a member of the football operations staff. And those are just the impermissible calls; imagine the number of permissible calls that were thus made by the same personnel. The amount of workload that these staff removed from the coaches is almost immeasurable.
If one of the countable coaches (on field staff) is required to make those calls, that is less time in the film room; less time evaluating practice; less time prepping for the next opponent.
This is a significant penalty. It takes the focus of the coaches away from tasks that help win football games. And, once again, it also requires them to prioritize a little differently. If the coach has to make every phone call, there are some calls he might have to not make; and that could the difference in gaining a commit from a player that might become the next game-changer.
Summary The one thing in common that these penalties all share is that it magnifies the importance of every contact the coaches are able to make with prospects. There always has to be a margin for error in recruiting and on the field and these penalties make that margin considerably slimmer.
So, while Oregon fans certainly have much to be thankful for if the sanctions reveal no bowl ban and limited scholarship reductions, there is still plenty of room for program changing level penalties behind the blue curtain.
Recruiting Buzz
After the excitement of last week's newly rediscovered "commit Wednesday," this week has been a little slower. With most high school seniors graduating, there was little movement on the commitment front for Oregon.
We did begin to see a trickle of new offers this week as Oregon coaches search high and low for prospects. We also learned that Oregon made the top five for a prospect many did not know was serious about Oregon as Jimmie Swain, a four-star linebacker from Missouri announced that Oregon was in his final five.
Top Trio and Hidden Gems looked at the tight end position this week.
As always, stay with Duck Sports Authority as we continue to bring you the latest recruiting information and break down those recruits looking at Oregon.