That last arrest came less than 24 hours after a Friday press conference where Oregon coach Chip Kelly cautioned against rushing to judgment while saying he would wait to take action against James, who starred for Oregon as a true freshman running back. But three Ducks have been arrested, two more implicated in a laptop theft, and a sixth has a court date on a misdemeanor assault charge, all stemming from incidents that have taken place since January 24th. And the last one happened hours after Kelly defended his program.
When would noting that Oregon has had a recent rash of arrests for stupid and violent behavior not be a rush to judgment? June?Not only does it seem to the untrained eye that Oregon's roster is stocked with criminals -- never mind that no convictions have occurred -- the close proximity of these arrests makes it look like Kelly and his staff can't even get their players to stay out of the news for a little while.
There's also the possibility of a troubling double standard. Little-used wideout Garrett Embry, one of the players implicated in the laptop theft, was apparently dismissed from the team in early January for a violation of team rules, while starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, also implicated in the theft, remains on the team. Sophomore Matt Simms, never a key player, was dismissed to little fanfare. And while James got the benefit of the doubt from Kelly, if you believe Jamere Holland's profane Facebook rant/goodbye to Eugene, Alonso, a backup linebacker, has already been kicked off the team. (If you would rather believe an Oregon spokesman, Alonso remains on the team.)
(Updates: Kelly announced Sunday night that he had booted Holland off the team for "violation of team rules." Kelly hinted that the Facebook post was the main reason. On Monday, Oregon announced that Alonso would be suspended for the 2010 season.)Though I stress that it's still possible -- perhaps probable, given the usual aid from legal eagles college football players receive -- that no player will be convicted of anything, there's more than enough mess for the hyperbolic "There's something rotten in the state of Oregon" stories to be a serious distraction for the Ducks at this point. At the very least, Oregon's troubles with the law are the dominant story early in this college football off-season.
I was wrong about Oregon not being in turmoil. But I still wonder if turmoil that racks a program in February will be more than a bad memory for the Ducks come August.â†µ
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