March 10, 2009
The odds are very, very much against Dothan (Ala.) Eagle columnist Phil Paramore's having ever left a comment on this blog, but his reaction to last week's NCAA crackdowns on Florida State and Alabama are oddly reminiscent of at least half the responses beneath any post with the slightest relationship to Pete Carroll and/or Southern Cal:
Here we go again. The NCAA has suddenly re-discovered its ability to selectively enforce its rules.
Southern Cal star player Reggie Bush’s family allegedly lived in posh digs provided by a potential Bush agent, yet it’s simply too complicated for the NCAA’s sleuths to unravel. Ohio State’s Maurice Clarett says dozens of his former teammates in Columbus were getting extra benefits, the governing body of collegiate sports "can’t find" Clarett. Never mind he was at the Denver Broncos training camp.
But Alabama and Florida State -- two favorite whipping boys of the NCAA -- now those two rogues are a different matter entirely.
So here we are, sitting at the feet of the omnipotent NCAA. And as we so well know, a different set of rules apparently applies for some as opposed to others. If history is any indication, Alabama and FSU are in the "others" category.
Where violations are concerned, Alabama and Florida State are a different matter than, say, USC for one very specific, very obvious reason: Alabama and Florida State both turned themselves in. They opened the books, purged the rolls, pled guilty and hoped the Association would let them off with a slap on the wrist -- which, Paramore's outrage aside, is exactly what Florida State got for one of the most egregious cases of "widespread academic fraud" in the last 15 years; Alabama's case remains pending, but the university consistently responded to many, many allegations of wrongdoing in the nineties with internal investigations and self-reported violations, often with self-imposed sanctions in the (mostly unsuccessful) hope of ward off a harsher flogging from above.
Where Paramore and his fellow Trojan-hating crusaders miss the mark is in the idea that the NCAA is "omnipotent," when quite clearly the opposite is the case: It's not that they don't care about the epic allegations against Reggie Bush at USC, it's that they completely lack the ability to do anything about it. As an investigator, the NCAA is toothless: It has no subpoena power; it can't force anyone to talk. So Bush took cash and prizes from a wannabe agent, did he? He has no idea what you're talking about. USC doesn't know anything about it. Sorry. That one accuser? He got paid. That other accuser, the ex-con who agreed to give a deposition last year? Yeah, he, uh, changed his mind about that. Sorry. Bush skates because he didn't surround himself with no snitches.
It's not a double standard; it's a lack of resources and/or will, and subsequently of authority. If you're going to criticize the NCAA for anything, it has to be for its total failure to nail anybody for anything that's not largely spoon-fed directly from schools in exchange for leniency. But you can't say they don't care.