Tue Dec 21 10:35am EST
The NCAA rulebook: It's big, it's bad, it's coming for you. One way or another, its tentacles will discover even your most minor misdeeds, then track you down and slap your wrists so hard, you're better off going to the NCAA to present them for a slightly milder slapping in the first place. In Tennessee's case, it admitted running afoul of the bureaucracy in two interesting ways last summer, the first demonstrating just how fascinatingly tedious its strictures can be.
Already, coaches are forbidden from publicly naming potential recruits, allowing media access to visits or any other communication with recruits or posting any kind of public correspondence with recruits – i.e. sending a message to the wall of their Facebook page. How easy is that to violate? Easy enough for ex-Vol coach Lane Kiffin to violate on six separate occasions over the course of a single offseason. And as current UT boss Derek Dooley found out last summer in the process of recruiting Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., tight end Nick O'Leary (grandson of golf god Jack Nicklaus), it can be as easy as pushing the wrong button on your phone (from govolsxtra.com):
According to the report, which was filed Aug. 11 […] Dooley had been "permissibly communicating" with O'Leary through the e-mail function on Facebook. When he received an e-mail from O'Leary on June 3, Dooley, using a Motorola Droid, mistakenly sent his message to O'Leary's wall, which, depending on how O’Leary configured his privacy settings, could be viewed by all 500 million Facebook members.
The wall posting has since been deleted. […]
Dooley's message was not "a typical wall posting one would make on Facebook" and "is more consistent with a private, personal e-mail," according to a list of mitigating factors in the report.
Dooley was instructed not to use his phone to respond to Facebook messages and was set to receive "technical instruction in the use of the Facebook application on his mobile phone." Education of NCAA bylaw 184.108.40.206 was also provided to his entire staff.
Motorola Droid: We'll confuse your coach into a "stealth" recruiting violation!
Dooley – who is generally not confused by these things, and personally maintains his own Facebook page without assistance from more tech-savvy lackeys – presumably accepted the "technical instruction" on using Facebook with the same spirit of humility, education and self-improvement with which his players accepted his lecture on "proper shower discipline" in September. What a productive session that must have been.
Oh, and then there's the other thing. Tennessee also reported a secondary violation over improper benefits for 36 UT athletes – 26 of them football players – who were admitted without charge to Bar Knoxville, site of the infamous "Brawlunteer" throw-down that sent a bloodied patron and an off-duty police officer to the hospital with significant head injuries in July. The violation: "Regular" students had to pay to get in.
Despite two initial arrests, no charges were pursued against anyone – football player or otherwise – for the violence, and (except for safety Darren Myles, dismissed as a repeat offender) it didn't cost a single player a single snap this season. But for free cover? Throw the book at those hooligans.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.