Kelly's zeroes

Oregon Football makes the leap and pays the price; plus, taser fun on the Bayou
By MATT TAIBBI  |  March 17, 2010


Like Bob Beamon's long-jump record or Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak, it was once thought that no organized sports team would ever approach the string of arrests racked up by the infamous Portland Jail Blazers club of the early 2000s. Most observers considered it impossible for the multitude of bad personnel decisions required to put a Ruben Patterson, Zach Randolph, Bonzi Wells, Damon Stoudamire, and Qyntel Woods all on the same roster ever to be repeated — such a sequence was thought to be a mathematical anomaly.

The consensus was wrong — the University of Oregon football team is now firmly in the Jail Blazer class. For week after week this winter, this Ducks squad has found new ways to get itself into the headlines for various tawdry transgressions. In just the last month and a half or so, we've seen star running back LaMichael James busted for choking his girlfriend, linebacker Kiko Alonso picked up for a DUI, wideout Jamere Holland kicked off the team for making slanderous/race-baiting Facebook posts, and even a cheerleader arrested by an intrepid bicycle cop for trying to parallel park under the influence.

This is in addition to a number of other incidents that have taken place over the course of the past year, including a campus brawl involving both kickers and a defensive end, and a theft incident in which receiver Garrett Embry and quarterback Jeremiah "Holy Moly" Masoli were implicated but never formerly charged.

That changed last Wednesday, when Masoli and Embry were both booked on one count of second-degree burglary, in connection with the boosting of a guitar and a pair of laptops from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house. On Friday, they pled guilty to second-degree burglary charges; each was given 12 months probation and community service, and ordered to pay restitution.

Later that day, embattled coach Chip Kelly celebrated the end of his first year on the job in Eugene by announcing that Masoli would be suspended for the entire 2010 season (although he keeps his scholarship, and does have a redshirt year of eligibility left if he wants to use it), leaving the team without its Heisman-candidate quarterback. Furthermore, James — who pled guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge on Friday and will wear an electronic-tracking device for the duration of his 10-day sentence — was suspended for the Ducks' 2010 opener.

University president Richard Lariviere released a statement late Friday backing Kelly, saying the coach "understands the high expectations of Oregon's faculty, students, and fans." We'll see if the Ducks' boosters are so forgiving if all these off-the-field shenanigans translate to a slow start next fall. In the meantime, let's give Masoli and Embry 20 points apiece.

Taser alert!
There was another sports arrest last week involving the use of a Taser gun. This time it was up-and-coming LSU wide receiver Terrance Toliver, who, along with LSU basketball player Dennis Harris, was nabbed in Baton Rouge at a bar fight. In the course of the arrest, Toliver apparently refused to cooperate and had the crap zapped out of him with a Taser gun. He eventually got issued citations for interfering with a police officer, disturbing the peace, and public intoxication, good enough for 31 points on our list.

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