These are certainly interesting times for the boys in Indianapolis who are referred to, often laughably, as the NCAA Enforcement Division.
After only five years, they finally seemed to notice the nose on the end of their face and smacked Southern Cal pretty hard, sending Pete Carroll scurrying back to the NFL.
Things have moved just a bit quicker at Ohio State, where it was quickly revealed that the Buckeyes’ football Emperor had no vest. Even as Jim Tressel scouts out I-AA programs to start his comeback [at least at the I-AA level, the cars will be cheaper], it was revealed that a fresh NCAA investigation has been launched against OSU, LSU, Auburn and Tennessee, purportedly for paying South Florida recruits. Maybe Tressel couldn’t beat the elite of the SEC, but he could sure cheat like them.
It remains to be seen whether Auburn will set the record for the Fastest MNC Ever Vacated, as the harried NCAA investigators probe the auction of Cam Newton by his entrepreneurial Dad. The explanation offered by Tigers’ coach Gene Chizik of ‘You mean it was wrong to buy players? Who knew?’ certainly adds to the humor of the situation.
At Tennessee, they seem to be achieving the rare, Dooley-esque double of running afoul of NCAA rules in both football and basketball. Lane Kiffen was only there for one year; apparently he had little time to do anything else but cheat.
Then there is North Carolina. Butch Davis has long been a favorite of mine, dating back to his days at the U. Much laughter was provided by Butch losing to Frank year after year, then early every December proclaiming that the Canes would be Back next year, by golly. Uttering the words ‘Next Year’ to a crowd of Tech alums in the 90’s was guaranteed to produce howls of laughter.
Next year finally arrived for Butch, as he rode a Mike Vick injury into beating Frank. Butch took notice of the NCAA investigators poking around Coral Gables who didn’t seem quite convinced that all of those 280-pound linemen were actually swimmers. Well, they were; Butch cleaned up the Canes, Butch loudly proclaimed, from the scholarship reductions incurred from when Butch was an assistant under Jimmy Johnson, who ran what is widely-regarded as the most corrupt program in NCAA history. With Butch’s history of NCAA transgressions and the NCAA in the neighborhood probing possible new ones, Butch displayed a remarkable level of personal integrity by holding a televised news conference claiming that he had done nothing wrong and would remain coach of the Canes, giving his players his ‘solemn word.’ He left the next day for the NFL.
Things didn’t go particularly-well in the NFL, in large part because the pro league contains no franchises named Temple and Rutgers. Even as he was racking up the 6 and 7-win seasons, Butch continued to provide a source of humor by claiming that he would have won MNC after MNC with the Canes, had he not run away. Unfortunately for Butch, the Browns took more notice of the poor records he was delivering than his claims of how much he might have won and he found himself out of coaching. Not for long, however.
Apparently the only people around who actually believed Butch’s assertions that he had cleaned up the Canes and would have found the MNC a permanent home in soFla had he stuck around were a group of heavy-hitters at North Carolina, led by BOTBob Winston. They had grown weary of the general incompetence displayed by AD DickieB when it came to hiring football coaches, a strong track record that included the sneering NASCARL, DickieB serving as foil when Frank franked Tech and the genial bumbler Big John Bunting. Much the same as an exasperated Dean growing weary of the Matt Error at Carolina and ordering Ol’ Roy home, DickieB was told, this is your new coach. Butch has continued to provide lots of laughs.
Butch appears to have been up to the old tricks learned under Johnson. He also seems to have gotten sloppy in his advanced years. A rather loud whistle was blown when one of his star players, Marvin Austin, began tweeting about what a grand time he was having in places like LA and Butch’s old Miami stomping ground. Darned social media.
Pretty soon we were treated to the hilarity of a press conference featuring a grim-faced Butch, the hapless DickieB and even Chancellor Holden Thorpe stating that there were ‘problems’ in the football program, but nothing more than the usual stuff one incurs when Butch is hired as coach. It did result in quite a few players being suspended for all or part of the 2010 season, a year that, according to the good old N&O, would have certainly resulted in an ACC Championship and BCS berth were it not for those pesky NCAA rules. The words ‘almost’ and ‘might have’ sure attach themselves a lot to Butch, almost as often as ‘NCAA investigation.’
Fearing that some of us might not be laughing hard enough at his latest antics, Butch added a special treat this time around, declaring that while mistakes had been made, he was not aware of any of them and certainly was not responsible for them. Butch’s dead-on imitation of Sgt. Schultz [“I know nothing”] and his claims of being entirely too stupid to have known what was going on in his program induced peals of laughter around the ACC.
So did Butch’s claims that while assistant John ‘Black Santa’ Blake might have been his best friend, he barely knew the guy and certainly had no notion whatsoever of what Blake might have been up to, which seems to have been the same sort of stuff Butch did while on Johnson’s staff.
Rank has its privileges, and Blake was sacrificed last September with the lovely parting gift of a huge check cut by BOTBob. But wait, there’s more!
During the press conference describing the problems uncovered, DickieB, with only small amounts of sweat pouring down his face, vowed ‘full disclosure’ and an ‘open investigation.’ It was soon discovered that full disclosure meant something a little different to the Carolina brass than it does to most. Carolina fought like Auburn’s Tigers to keep secret most any information that might make them look bad. We finally found out why.
After being ordered to release various records by a judge acting on behalf of a bunch of media organizations that included, surprisingly enough, the good old N&O, all sorts of fun stuff came out. The first thing that jumped up was that Carolina football players sure received a lot of parking tickets on campus, almost 400 over a couple of years. Even more interesting was that the players seemed to have a fondness for the Ultimate Driving Machine, quite the ride for players of generally modest means. They also seemed to have been provided a different license plate and registration for every day of the week.
A good chunk of these cars were traced back to a Durham dealership, whose owner just happened to have recently been sentenced to 15 for laundering drug money. Not to worry, declared UNC’s General Counsel for Getting Away With It. Carolina had investigated the origins of said cars ‘thoroughly’ and all was well, at least by what increasingly seem to be Carolina standards. North Carolina native son John Edwards claiming, ‘Whose kid is that?’ pops to mind.
As the NCAA sighs and says, ‘Chapel Hill again?’ Butch continues his merry way, telling recruits that any pending sanctions will be a slap on the wrist, much like the Black Knight gazing down at his severed arm and claiming, “It’s only a flesh wound.” None of this has anything to do with him, says Butch and Carolina will be Back any day now. And, Butch claims, Next Year he will finally get around to beating NC State. The names and school colors might change, but little else for Butch.