Thoughts ($): Purdue's first official practice
This week's events have brought with them precious little peace of mind for a lot of college basketball coaches, as the sport was blindsided the past few days by news of an FBI investigation into recruiting-related corruption.
While Louisville coach Rick Pitino has already lost his job and assistant coaches from four other schools were actually detained in connection with the case — with more schools almost certain to be implicated — Purdue considers itself one of those fortunate few, for lack of a better term, with no reason for concern.
Purdue coach Matt Painter reacted to this week's news Friday after his Boilermaker team's first "official" practice.
"Obviously, it's pretty sad," Painter said. "You don't wish ill will on anybody, especially those in your business, but it's one of those things like steroids in baseball where we all wondered, 'What will it look like in 15-20 years and what will happen to a lot of guys in baseball that made that decision?' I think baseball's better because of it. Do we still think there's a problem with it? Obviously. There's still guys getting suspended here and there for it, but I definitely think the game is better because of what they did."
That is the long view.
The short view, though, is coaches losing their jobs, some facing prison even, and potential ruin to come for some of the programs entangled in the complex scandal, which involved apparel companies, agents and coaches alike.
"With this, I think it sends a loud message through college basketball that they're not messing around," Painter said. "I applaud what they did. You have a conscious decision to do what you're supposed to do in any profession and some people decided not to do that. Obviously they're going to pay dearly. But from a personal standpoint, it doesn't affect me one bit. You're worried about your team and getting guys to understand the opportunity they have here and getting them to grow as individuals, students and players and hopefully each year, have a good team."
The FBI has made clear that the revelations thus far — Louisville, Oklahoma State, Auburn, USC and Arizona are among those most perilously caught up in some form or another from what has been deduced from information released — might be just the beginning, as investigations are ongoing. The agency even set up a tip line, which more than likely did not go unused during the past 72 hours.
Some of the crimes being investigated — crimes, not NCAA violations, though in time, they'll be redundancies — are bribery and fraud.
"I think it's good for the game," Purdue point guard P.J. Thompson said. "People know what's going on. People aren't dumb. They know what's going on. I'm glad to be in a program where it doesn't go on and I can come to work every day, come to school every day, do my schoolwork, practice, compete and try to win games for my school. We do the right things here."
Many schools around the country are saying such things.
Purdue has slept well at night believing it knows such things.
Aside from the NCAA's standard-operating-procedure vetting of Caleb Swanigan and his unique situation, there's never so much as been a hint of red flag at Purdue under Painter.
"You shouldn't be rewarded for doing what you're supposed to do. They shouldn't have a parade for a bunch of coaches who do it the right way," Painter said, when asked if this week served as validation for coaches who've done things a certain way. "It's what you're supposed to do. It's like raising your kids. You don't get a reward for raising your own kids. They're yours. It's what you're supposed to do. Just like you'd raise your own kids, you make the best decisions you can for your own program. That's your job. People patting you on the back for doing what you're supposed to do, I don't think there's really any place for that."
Painter acknowledged that the recruiting landscape has been a treacherous one at times.
"It's your profession. You learn to navigate in and around it," he said. "You have a decision to make and we've always just tried to understand who we could recruit and who we couldn’t recruit. That's the best way I can put it. If you think something might be happening, something improper, you try to go in the other direction. A lot of times it's hard — maybe there's not a lot of big guys or not a lot of point guards or things of that nature — but after a while you get to the point where you find the guys who want to be at Purdue and want to be at Purdue for the right reasons.
"The only thing you can worry about is what you do, put your best foot forward and make the right decision. Things like (cheating) have been happening, they've been happening for a long time. This isn't something that just started up. The fact that the federal government got involved and is going to clean it up, I think that's a positive."
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