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Pac-12 Football Bites: Oregon Sanctions, Bowl Reshuffling and a Bruin Family Hero

The NCAA has announced a fairly minor package of sanctions against Oregon's football program after a 2-year infractions investigation; two Pac-12 Bowl games have re-upped with the conference and gained new partners; and a Bruin dad saves a life on an LA freeway.

There will be slightly fewer players on the Autzen sideline over the next couple of years
There will be slightly fewer players on the Autzen sideline over the next couple of years
Steve Dykes

The big news for the Bruins is of course last night's program-defining championship win by Coach Savage and the UCLA Baseball team. This year's squad have succeeded in finally letting the program of Jackie Robinson, Chris Chambliss, Eric Karros, Chase Utley and many other great Bruins be represented among the championship winning teams in the UCLA Hall of Fame.

But even with Baseball's success, there is news from around the conference. Earlier this morning, the NCAA announced the results of its infractions investigation against Oregon's football program for its involvement with high school scout Willie Lyles. Per the NCAA:

Oregon used a recruiting service provider, who became a representative of the university’s athletics interests, to assist the school with the recruitment of multiple prospective student-athletes...

The facts of the case, as summarized by SB Nation's Peter Berkes:

The Ducks ran afoul of the NCAA rulebook by paying Texas scout Will Lyles roughly $25,000 in exchange for influence with highly sought-after recruits, including LaMichael James (currently with the San Francisco 49ers) and Lache Seastrunk (who transferred to Baylor following the 2010 season). By taking that money, Lyles became a representative of Oregon in the eyes of the NCAA, which makes steering recruits to a specific school a no-no.

After a multi-year investigation, the NCAA's public, confirmable findings were not as extreme as what was first reported by Yahoo Sports two years ago, but still resulting in finding that Chip Kelly and the Oregon program had committed a major violation of the NCAA's bylaws.

The sanctions against the program are pretty mild for a major violations case: 3 years of NCAA probation, a loss of 1 football scholarship during each of the next two seasons (which was also self-imposed last season) and a reduction in the number of official recruiting visits the school can host over the next 3 years are the main penalties. Chip Kelly was also hit with an 18-month show cause penalty - with his offseason move to Philly showing that his internal NCAA-sanctions clock is just as accurate as Pete Carroll's was.

One thing that worked in Oregon's favor when compared to another notable, local infractions case was the reality that the athletic department in Eugene took the NCAA's investigation seriously and gave all the cooperation that could be expected. The university and the NCAA nearly reached an agreement on findings and sanctions months ago which were very similar to those announced this morning - with disagreement on one point leading to the Committee on Infractions hearing the case.

The past few days have also seen a bit of a reshuffle - and strengthening - of the Pac-12's bowl games. The Holiday Bowl and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl have both reached long-term agreements with the Pac-12 and the Big-10, expanding the traditional Rose Bowl partnership between the conferences further down the bowl ladder starting in 2014.

The Holiday Bowl will preserve its current place as the second non-BCS game (after the Alamo Bowl) in the Pac-12 bowl selection order, while the Fight Hunger Bowl moves up to fourth in the conference order as it leaves San Francisco's AT&T Park for the 49ers' new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, starting in 2014.

And as a reminder that heroes are most often found far away from the gridiron or the hardwood:

Marc Manfro of Castaic was driving to the beach Sunday morning when he saw something he could hardly believe: a woman standing in the middle of the westbound 10 Freeway as cars whizzed past her at up to 70 miles an hour.

... "What dawns at me when I see that is in all likelihood I'm going to see this poor woman get killed," Manfro, 51, said in a telephone interview Monday. "I didn't know how she got into this predicament. I never saw anything like that in my life. ...Even though it's a million-to-one shot, I said I'm going to see if I can do something about this."

And with that thought, the father of Steven Manfro stopped and got out of his car. After getting two other cars to stop next to his to help clear a path, he ran across three lanes of I-10, picked up the disoriented and disturbed woman and carried her to the relative safety of the freeway shoulder, keeping her safe until a CHP officer arrived to transport her to a local hospital.

Marc had a distinguished career with the NYPD, albeit cut short by illness caused by several months of work at Ground Zero after 9/11. His decision to relocate the family to Southern California after that national tragedy is likely what led to his son Steven becoming a Bruin, and certainly what caused him to be at the right place in time to save this woman. I don't know what, if anything, went through Manfro's mind before stopping his car. But it is so encouraging to know that someone in our society was willing to do so.