Case of the Mondays: Making an Example of Oregon Edition

1. Oregon’s Friday night document dump served its purpose well, as the news that the NCAA has sent the Ducks a notice of “proposed findings of violations” seems to have flown under the radar. (That may have something to do with the fact that the the whole thing is “proposed,” too.)

Unless the Association has a miraculous change of heart, we can take the document as a solid indicator of where this case is headed. For Oregon, this sounds like more trouble than many may have expected.

The NCAA has taken an interest in trying to eradicate the “street agent” game, and the Ducks’ involvement with Will Lyles represents the first highly visible opportunity it will have to send schools a message. The potential “failure to monitor” charge outlined in the report would be the first step. Stiff sanctions against UO would be the next. I would not be shocked at all if this resulted in a one-year bowl ban to go along with scholarship cuts.

If the NCAA is intent on blazing this trail, Oregon needs to worry about life as its first trophy.

2. Texas has pretty much had the spring football stage to itself so far this year, and the big news coming out of Austin has been Mack Brown’s reluctance to delve too deeply into the Longhorns’ situation under center. At his press conference to start spring ball, Brown talked about the need to have two quarterbacks ready to play, conjuring up visions of last year’s putrid combo of Case McCoy and David Ash.

Make no mistake, however – Brown and his coaching staff are banking on Ash being the man. Following McCoy’s late-season implosion versus Baylor, his days as Texas’ starter were numbered. Ash played every snap in the Longhorns’ win against California in the Holiday Bowl.

Ash has a clear edge on McCoy in terms of skills, and UT will clearly want to avoid another year breaking in a true freshman, so Connor Brewer sounds destined for a redshirt. Anything suggesting this is a true quarterback derby or that UT plans on playing two QBs in the fall is nothing more than Brown trying to keep his quarterbacks on his roster in check. So, if you’re a UT fan, step back from the ledge. For now.

Justin Blackmon3. I know it’s just dudes in spandex running drills, but I could watch the NFL Draft Combine all day. For my money, it doesn’t get any better than NFL Network talent guru Mike Mayock when it comes to separating out the contenders from the pretenders. Mayock has a direct style that avoids the inane scouting terminology and buzzwords that draftniks love to throw around to make the more casual fans feel like they’re not part of the club. He’s perfect for people like me who enjoy watching the draft process play out, but don’t view it as an obsession.

4. Helluva weekend in college hoops, and we have to start with the scintillating finale of the Border War.

With Missouri on its way out of the league, the Tigers could have given mortal enemy Kansas an all-too-sweet parting gift in the form of a season sweep. It sure looked like they were going to get it, too, before they coughed up a huge second-half lead in familiar Mizzou fashion.

KU has dominated this bitter rivalry on the hardwood, making the overtime win a fitting way for the rivalry to come to a close. The fact that Mizzou gagged blew a beatdown is a microcosm of not only the rivalry, but its entire stint in the Big 12. The Tigers just haven’t been able to get over the hump.

5. Color me skeptical about Syracuse.

I realize the Orange have an outstanding record to match a wealth of experience throughout their lineup. Fab Melo’s development has gone a long way to solidifying the front line and putting some extra teeth in Jim Boeheim’s vaunted 2-3 zone defense.

So there was ‘Cuse on Saturday night in Gampel Paviliion with a foot on Connecticut’s throat in the second half, and the Orange blinked. Syracuse’s outside shooting went cold. UConn finally figured out how to attack the high post. The Huskies started pushing the tempo, playing with some heat. In the end, the Orange clawed their way out Storrs with a win.

The Orange keep on winning, but as was the case Saturday night, they’re doing just enough to get by. Yes, the Big East is a bear, but I feel like this squad has peaked.

(Go ahead and print those national championship t-shirts now, ‘Cuse fans.)

Buzz Williams6. I guess I understand how Buzz Williams’ little postgame hoedown following Marquette’s thrilling come from behind win over West Virginia would irk Mountaineer fans. Whether or not he intended any ill will, it’s easy to see how it would rub WVU partisans the wrong way.

That said, it seems pretty clear that Williams meant no disrespect, no matter how horrible his moves were. The fact that this turned into some kind of controversy just shows how much we as fans need to grow up.

By the way, my affection for the Golden Eagles only continues to grow after this win, which came despite star Darius Johnson-Odom and three other players being suspended for a half.

7. The only part of the NBA All-Star weekend festivities that I happened to catch was the very end of the celebrity game starring Leon Black while I was waiting for that WVU-Marquette game to start. I think I caught a glimpse as I was flipping channels of highlights of someone dunking two basketballs in the dunk contest. I couldn’t tell you who won any of the competitions, let alone the game.

8. That goes for the Oscars as well. It sounds like a silent black-and-white movie won Best Picture. Ooh, how provocative!

We actually have the technology now to capture both sound and color on film, yanno.

9. Instead, I watched East Bound & Down, and, well, whoa.

Missed Luck, which has grown on me quickly. The show features some exquisite horse-racing scenes, capped by the prolonged, slow-motion sequence in the fourth episode documenting the characters’ reactions.The acting so far has been first-rate, too.

10. Check back this week for more information and analysis to help you gear up for spring practice. That includes Aaron Torres’ preview of LSU’s camp, dropping later today.

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