Hello from the modest 5-at-10 compound. We're spending time with the 5-at-10 clan and getting ready for Christmas.
For those new to the show, here's how we roll when the sports editor takes a hiatus. It's a mini-5-at-10, more of a single topic with 5 items, per se. So it goes.
Before we get started, remember we're still looking for your bowl picks. The prizes are going to be pretty sweet - Jefe said when he wins he wants the prize to be a title belt and that every one must refer to him as "Bowl Champion" in conversation for all of 2012 (and we have to admit, that's a pretty sweet prize). The rules can be found midway down in last Friday's mailbag http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/dec/16/5-10-friday-mailbag/. The deadline is 5 p.m. Thursday (we may have said Wednesday, but we originally said Thursday. so it's Thursday), and if you want to see who the 5-at-10 picked, we'll have our Fab 4 (plus-1) bowl picks Thursday. Let's roll.
From the "Mama McNabb stage at the Al Davis studio," here we go:
In business, locations is everything. In fact, the saying goes, it's location, location, location. In the modern age of dealing with the NCAA, the fundamental truth now appears to be timing, timing, timing.
After learning of the NCAA's punishment against THE Ohio State University, it is clear that the the series of events in the last three years has completely reshaped the NCAA's view of punishment. We all know what Ohio State did and didn't do, and how coach Jim Tressel lied about it from the start.
Now we also know that the NCAA is going to hammer coaches more than members schools. Now coaches will be blamed, brandished with the dreaded show cause penalty that is the cheating version of the Scarlet C.
Here are the top 5 talking points from the NCAA's punishment against THE Ohio State and Jim Tressel:
1) Coaches are now in charge of monitoring their programs. And when we say in charge, we mean responsible, as in winning and losing can determine whether you keep your job, but keeping in good standing with the NCAA will determine whether you get another job.
Hey, major college coaches are making major, Major, MAJOR bucks, and with that comes the major responsibility of making sure no one under your watch - players, coaches, even boosters - is breaking major NCAA rules. It goes to whom you recruit - Terrelle Pryor was more than likely going to accept extra benefits whether he was in Columbus, Ohio or Columbus, Ga. - and who you hire as assistants.
Tressel's college coaching career was all-but-ended Tuesday. His five-year show cause penalty means he won't be eligible to coach an NCAA school until he's 64. Tressel's drew the blunt force trauma from the NCAA ruling Tuesday and that's how it should be. We've said from the get go that Tressel's infractions were far more egregious than Bruce Pearl's. Which brings us to...
2) In the grand scheme of things, Bruce Pearl's timing was lousy. What he did was scummy - especially the part about calling the recruit and his family to see if they would lie for him - but his three-year show cause penalty seems harsh by comparison. If Pearl had lied to the NCAA five years ago so the NCAA could have handled it before the Tressel lies surfaced, Pearl would have gotten a milder sentence because it would not have appeared there was a serial lying problem that the NCAA had to address. If it had happened today, Pearl would have gotten a milder sentence because it would have seemed like small potatoes compared to the rest of ailments around college athletics. Timing, timing, timing, which leads us to...
3) How about the dichotomy of timing for the USCs. Southern California got a much harsher sentence than THE Ohio State from the NCAA for one assistant coach knowing/should have known about one player breaking big-time NCAA rules. USC's violations seemed huge when they surfaced several years ago and the NCAA dropped the hammer, as then-head coach Pete Carroll high-tailed it to the NFL. Across the country, South Carolina's major NCAA violations and recent self-imposed penalties seem like speeding tickets compared the background noise in the NCAA offices right now. The NCAA offices leads us to...
4) It appears there will be some serious teeth and bite for coaches that commit NCAA violations. Now, there needs to be a restructured NCAA rule book. First, there has to be a layered system that has more than two levels. That Jim Tressel committed major violations for his acts and UGA coach Mark Richt committed secondary NCAA violations for paying his assistant coaches bonuses and extra benefits out of his own pocket, and those are the only two stops on the NCAA punishment elevator must be addressed. Next on the agenda brings us to...
5) The agenda appears to be full for the NCAA. There's still Miami's mess. There's still the complete and total lack of institutional control at Penn State that must be addressed (and if you think the NCAA doesn't have an issue there, well, sorry - it's no where close to as pressing as the legal matters that must be handled, but the NCAA will need to weigh in at State College, too). There's a load on the NCAA, and where they go from here will be interesting. We now know, though, that the coaches will be held to a much higher standard.
What are your thoughts (and remember our bowl challenge deadline is Thursday)?