Over the last two years, NCAA violations have given me a whole lot to write about: how Stanford’s academics-first approach casts doubt on pay-for-play systems for collegiate athletes, how sanctions like those at Ohio State often harm fan bases and entire institutions instead of the perpetrators within the violating athletic department and how USC’s postseason ban made a mockery of the inaugural Pac-12 Title Game.
Stanford’s main football rival over the last three seasons, Oregon, admitted to major NCAA violations by its football coaches in a report released Monday night, marking the most definitive move since the Ducks’ controversial dealings with talent evaluator Willie Lyles were exposed in early 2011.
Pasadena, Calif– While Stanford’s 20-14 win over Wisconsin last night means the Rose Bowl trophy is making its way to back to the Farm at this very moment, the No. 6 Cardinal also carries with it something much less tangible but perhaps more important: national credibility. Playing in three consecutive BCS games and losing just five times in three years will do that for a program. So will having guys by the name of Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck and 11 total players in the last three NFL Drafts.
I did my best to offer a few words of kindness, to break through their despair with a sliver of hope. It worked, but not quite as I had intended. As they disappeared off into the cold, dark Oregon night, I realized something: There might be just one game left to play in the regular season, but this is far from over.