If Convicted, Masoli Could Face 5 Years In Prison

At 8:30 AM Friday morning, Oregon starting quarterback and current 2010 Heisman Trophy candidate Jeremiah Masoli will be arraigned on a charge of second degree burglary in courtroom 305 at Lane County Circuit Court in Eugene, Oregon.

Jeremiah Masoli could face five years in prison if convicted on felony burglary charge

Masoli, who has a criminal past that includes a guilty plea to multiple, strong-armed robberies as a juvenile in 2005, is accused of what the state of Oregon classifies as a Class C felony.

164.215 Burglary in the second degree: a person commits the crime of burglary in the second degree if the person enters or remains unlawfully in a building with intent to commit a crime therein.

(2) Burglary in the second degree is a Class C felony.

If convicted of the felony charge, in lieu of his criminal past, Masoli could face significant jail time.

The maximum prison sentence for conviction of a Class C felony in Oregon is five years in state prison and a $125,000 fine. While a sentence like that for Masoli is perhaps impossible to comprehend, consider that it took an extremely cautious Eugene Police Dept. well over a month before charging Masoli of the crime.

The seriousness of the charge is also hard to believe considering Masoli has faced no punishment from Oregon Coach Chip Kelly, despite the coach’s assurances that he was closely following the matter.

Also charged in the alleged second-degree burglary is former Oregon football player Garrett Embry.

Embry, who didn’t figure to see a lot of playing time in 2010 for the Ducks, was dismissed from the football team by Kelly on Feb. 1. In the official statement about Embry’s release, Kelly claimed that the player had actually been kicked off the team on Jan. 8 for a previous team rules violation.

But after the theft report Ken Goe of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN reported that on Jan. 24, “Oregon officials refused to confirm he (Embry) had been dismissed (from the team).

If Embry had already been dismissed from the team on Jan. 8, why didn’t Kelly report it then? Meanwhile, starting quarterback Masoli has faced no such penalties since the theft allegation - though both have now been charged with the same crime.

By claiming that Embry’s role in the alleged theft had nothing to do with the dismissal, Kelly covered himself when it came to questions about Masoli not receiving any discipline. And perhaps Embry’s ouster was indeed because of a prior, team-related offense.

But because Kelly refused to confirm Embry’s status on the team for over a week after the alleged crime, it isn’t unreasonable to think that the alleged theft was a factor in Embry’s dismissal.

If Embry’s role in the incident was indeed a reason for his ouster, why would Kelly try to backdate his dismissal? Did the coach think he knew something about the situation that caused him to punish Embry but not Masoli in the aftermath of the alleged burglary?

George Schroeder of the EUGENE REGISTER-GUARD reports Thursday afternoon:

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been told by various sources in and around the football program that Masoli adamantly denied any involvement at all to coaches.

John Canzano of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN also noted Thursday:

Kelly is big on trust.

When Kelly signed his recent recruits he asked them, “Can I trust you?” before offering the scholarship. It seems that a violation of that trust is at stake when it comes to the returners as well.

If Masoli has indeed denied the charges to Kelly, was it the coach’s faith in his player that caused him to not discipline the quarterback?

It’s always important to tread lightly in these situations, but the backdating of Embry’s dismissal leaves Kelly wide open for questions about his disciplinary methods. Or, in the case of Masoli, the lack thereof.

As I noted yesterday, Kelly already staked his reputation on the innocence of starting running back LaMichael James. With James set to reportedly change his not guilty plea to assault charges Friday in the same courtroom that the cases of Masoli and Embry will be ajudicated, Kelly’s credibility is in danger of being completely shredded in a matter of minutes.

It appears that there’s a serious possibility that like James, Kelly doesn’t know Masoli as well as he thought he did. That for a second time, Kelly made an extremely serious misjudgement.

If that’s indeed the case, is it time for a higher authority in the university administration to have a serious word with Kelly and athletic director Mike Bellotti about how Oregon’s football program is being comported?