Dick Harmon: Utah Utes will benefit from other Pac-12 teams' mistakes

Published: Saturday, July 2 2011 10:55 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's entry into the Pac-12 couldn't come at a better time.

Nike U. appears to have just had an equipment malfunction. Oregon is mired up to its shoelaces in scandal. Reebok and Adidas are laughing.

Utah just joined the Pac-12 on Friday.

Two Pac-12 powers are in deep doo-doo and the Ute football program should be in position to capitalize.

Timing is everything. Just ask Neil Armstrong and the moonwalkers, or the pilots of the Hindenburg.

The Utes enter Pac-10 territory as mighty USC is dealing and managing the aftermath of having been slapped by the NCAA for breaking the rules.

Now it seems Oregon and Chip Kelly have created a big enough heap that the Ducks are failing smell tests left and right. If allegations hold true, Kelly and Oregon have major recruiting violations, an attempted coverup and it could lead to a resignation, a firing or penalties imposed by the university and NCAA once an investigation is completed.

Utah football has only to continue the course, play Kyle Whittingham football, recruit, and let Norm Chow's work rise to the surface while these two Pac-12 powerhouses clean up messes that could take years.

Utah can position itself nicely. And quick.

In case you've been in the mountains the past few weeks, a recruiting expert who runs a scouting service for high school talent told Yahoo! Sports that Oregon paid him $25,000 to steer talent to Eugene. Months ago, when an investigation began, Kelly allegedly scrambled to "create" documentation that the recruiting guru actually provided material like films, reports and breakdowns of recruits.

In they eyes of the NCAA, if Kelly can't prove he bought material like cutouts of films and weekly reports, the Ducks will be judged to have purchased influence from a booster. And that is forbidden.

We saw how quickly Ohio State's Jim Tressel's misdeeds, neglect and coverup snowballed into the Big Buckeye losing his job. Oregon could be forced to do the same.

In college football, you don't have to be off very far to suffer a big negative impact. Just ask Texas. Or Nebraska. Or Michigan. Or Miami.

In Kelly's $20.5 million contract, it says Oregon can terminate him for just cause if he commits "a serious and knowing violation" of NCAA bylaws and rules.

The recruiting guru in question is a man named Will Lyles. He has admitted to several investigative reporters that Oregon gave him $25,000 to "purchase influence" with recruits in Texas. Specifically, Lyles said he was paid for his access and influence with recruits Lache Seastrunk and LaMichael James.

If his statements is determined to be truthful testimony before Oregon, the Pac-12 or the NCAA, Kelly and the Ducks are in trouble.

USC is already reeling from sanctions imposed in various major violations, including benefits Reggie Bush received from an agent. Bush has since returned his Heisman Trophy and the Trojans have been in the business of forfeiting games.

Utah plays in the same division as USC. A Pac-12 championship game would pit the southern division (with Utah) against the norther division champion (likely Oregon).

Now, admittedly, nobody should want to revel in the misfortune of others. But for centuries, combatants have taken advantage of mistakes by competitors or enemies, be it chink in armor, broken swords, the weather, plagues, suspensions, probation, loss of scholarships, et cetera.

It's a dog eat dog business.

Thanks the to BCS, it's a money business with winners and losers.

Utah joins an elite conference, one where the dogs are used to eating up smaller animals without the pedigree.

It can't be too far out of good form to smile a tinge over the misadventure of Ohio State and tattoo gate, USC's Reggie Bush tribulation and Nike U's adversity over alleged cheating with recruits.

Sometimes just winning isn't enough.

Kelly is a liable guy. I'd like to believe he was just duped or taken advantage of by Lyles. I'll place all the "allegedly" copouts in front of reports of the allegations that are needed to give him the benefit of the doubt. I hope he survives because he's a great guy and has a dynamic program.

But this is smelling a lot like Ohio State and Tressel, Part II.

If Kelly cheated, he should be held responsible. If he attempted to cover it up to his employee or the NCAA, he should be gone.

Email: dharmon@desnews.com

twitter: Harmonwrites

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