An article out by ESPN The Magazine suggests that the Oregon football program is at the center of a growing problem in college sports-the use of marijuana among student athletes.
While I've talked to plenty of former college football players that acknowledge that there is marijuana use in college football, most indicate that it isn't as widespread as the ESPN article suggests.
Quoting former Duck football players, the article suggests that between 40 and 60 percent of former Ducks smoked weed, and says that estimation holds true when assessing the current roster, coached by Chip Kelly.
"They can only do so much, because, you can't police these players 24/7," says former Duck receiver Jordan Kent. "And unfortunately, it's always going to go on...you can't police it 100 percent."
Kent was a receiver for then head coach Mike Bellotti in 2005 and 2006, and says while he thinks the 40 to 60 percent estimation is too high, he believes college athletes should do better.
"Because like it or not, college athletes are role models, especially in this town," says Kent. "When you see a young kid that says, 'yeah I do it, and I'm successful', it doesn't send a good message. If I'm a parent, and I have a kid, I don't want my child learning lessons that it's ok to smoke pot and be a great athlete....the two do not go hand in hand."
On the other side, Cristin McLemore played receiver for the Ducks from 1992 to 1995, and admits he made some mistakes as a young man who was incredibly gifted athletically, but still had a lot to learn about life. At one point in the article, former Duck quarterback Akili Smith suggests that some guys can use marijuana and 'ball because they're relaxed'. McLemore says that may appear to be the case to an 18 year old athlete.
"I have come to know as a grown man, that it was actually just a fallacy in my opinion," says McLemore. "You take away from yourself when you do anything that inhibits your normal motor skills. I don't care who you are. You may just luck out and have a great game or opportunity. But could you imagine if you hadn't done that, how great it actually could have been."
A statement from Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, released in response to the article reads, in part, like this:
"Student-athletes at the University of Oregon are tested for illegal substances to the full extent possible under existing Oregon state law, which prohibits random testing. We continue to work diligently to educate our student-athletes on the harmful impact of illegal substances. In addition, we have articulated our illegal substances policy to our student-athletes and have clearly defined sanctions for a positive test."
As for curtailing the problem, no matter how severe it actually is, McLemore suggests that things are actually tighter now than when he played under then head coach Rich Brooks.
"First off, he's very fortunate, he has a very high level of depth on his football team. So people are much more expendable than they were when i was playing. So I would err to think that these guys were being held to a much more stringent policy."