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July 27, 2011

Media Day reveals little new for Ducks

Conference media days are seldom overly newsworthy. The first games are over a month away, the coaches haven't seen any of their newcomers yet, they can't discuss the details of recruiting and they have already been asked all the questions about spring camp. Sure they can clarify some eligibility and injury questions if the coaches are willing. But for the most part there aren't a lot of great questions available.

That was indeed the case when Chip Kelly stepped to the microphone in Los Angeles on Tuesday for his portion of the Pac-12 media day press conference. While some media members were chomping at the bit to use the national stage to dig for details into the NCAA investigation into Oregon's use of Willie Lyles' scouting service, Oregon and Kelly made it clear they were not discussing the issue at this time.

In a preemptive move, Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens sent out an email to stakeholders earlier in the week outlining Oregon's confidence and cooperation with the investigation. Chip Kelly started the news conference addressing the elephant in the room.

"Obviously the question everybody is waiting to have answered," began the Oregon head coach. "We sent out a release earlier concerning we have great respect for the NCAA in terms of their review and examination of our use of recruiting services. We have cooperated fully with them and will continue to cooperate with them. We've also asked an outside law firm to conduct a review of our situation and produce a report we will make public.

When those reports are public we would love to talk about the situation, but we're kind of bound by that right now. As the head coach of this program and as this football program, we're held accountable for everything that we do. We look forward to when we can; I would love to talk about it. There are a lot of answers that I would love to make sure that we get out there."

Not much new information in his statement, the exception being that the law firm's internal review report will be made public. What was implied in both the Mullens' email and Kelly's opening remarks: This is all we have to say about the subject at this time.

So with about 17 minutes left at the podium for Kelly and senior tight end David Paulson, the Oregon head coach opened the floor for questions. The gathered media had time for 19 questions as it turned out. Eleven of them involved the NCAA investigation, including both questions asked of Paulson.

The responses to those questions are easy to summarize:

No.

No.

Would love to talk about it later.

No.

We have the best fans in college football.

No effect.

We are always looking to improve recruiting.

We have great respect for the NCAA.

I can't answer that until the report comes out.

I would love to talk about it later.

Despite the incessant questions on a subject few expected would be answered, Chip Kelly maintained a calm demeanor throughout his time at the podium. Even with the final question in which the reporter was badgering him with inflammatory language, characterizing Lyles' information as "garbage" and the system as "broken", the head Duck remained unflappable.

The Oregon pair's twenty minutes in front of the reporters yielded little new information for Duck fans, but was not totally absent its tidbits.

- As mentioned above, Oregon will release the independent law firm's report on best practices for the football program and recruiting upon their works' completion

- While Cliff Harris is out for the season opener against LSU, Kelly has not made any decisions on Kiko Alonso

- True freshman RB DeAnthony Thomas is very fast. Kelly says the coaches need to find ways to get him the football

- Senior DE Terrell Turner is back after sitting out the spring recovering from surgery

Oregon's 20 minutes in front of microphones in Los Angeles was not enough time to go in-depth into the Ducks' upcoming season. Thankfully for their fans, Fall Camp opens on August 8th with the Oregon Media Day and the first day of practice, a welcome respite from discussing the gray points of NCAA regulations.


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