A tale of two NCAA Violations.

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Both the Michigan and the USC football programs have been sited by the NCAA and are under investigation. However, that is where the similarity stops.


The second most impressive fact about the Michigan football program is that it has the most wins in NCAA history. The most impressive fact is that the Michigan program has never before been sited for a violation. This time they were investigated for having practices during and before the regular season that exceeded the permitted length.

Coach Rich Rodriguez was ratted out by a couple of his former players. They didn’t like the practices but more than that they didn’t like the system that Rodriguez bought from West Virginia. The biggest problem for the program is not the NCAA but the fact that the Michigan faithful don’t like Rodriguez or his system much either.

Rodriguez changed the system from the Big 10 traditional run first and pocket passing to the unique quarterback-centric run and shoot style. That has cost him top recruits by the former staff including now Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett who will compete for the top QB in the 2011 NFL Draft. Michigan fans that had seen their team lose year after year to “that team down south” (Ohio State) were thrilled when Mallett signed to play for the Blue. The fans demanded that Coach Carr be fired after the Blue lost to Appalachian State 34-32 on Sept. 1 2007. Those same fans were furious when Mallett left and sat out in 2008 to be able to play for another BCS school. He knew he would never shine in the Rodriguez scheme.

Rodriguez didn’t have a Michigan pedigree never having coached or played for the team. Strike 1.

No change in the basic system in football has an immediate improvement in the bottom line–the win and loss record. In his first 2 seasons, Rodriguez was 8-16. That was strike 2.

And now despite the insignificant nature of the NCAA violation, it may well become the 3rd and final strike. As trivial as this violation is, it might be the excuse to fire Rodriguez.


In total contrast to Michigan, USC is the champion of the R E A L L Y B I G NCAA violation. If you need any evidence about how serious the list of infractions at USC are, just consider that Coach Pete Carroll beat feet out of town. He left a 4M salary despite 2 national championships, a 34 game winning streak, 3 Heisman Trophy winners, 6 BcS bowl wins, 33 straight weeks as #1 in the AP, and a total record of 97-19. USC hired Tennessee HC Lane Kiffin who was a walking talking violation himself.

USC has now had 6 “substantial” violations since 1953 when the NCAA began tracking school’s records. That also makes them #1 but this list is not so prestigious.

The “latest” problem, if you can call something that started in 2006 recent, is the parents of Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush getting the rent of a house and other gifts totally a reported 280K. A federal investigation of extortion claims by Bush against a “want to be” sports agent resulted in the discovery tapes of conversations about the payments and gifts. There are also allegations that 2009 star RB Joe McKnight received illegal payments and gifts. The NCAA has yet to decide the guilt or penalty if any for the case.

The violation bug must be contagious because the basketball team caught it. Prize recruit O.J. Mayo was in trouble more than he was not. The NCAA investigated a claim by Yahoo Sports that Mayo received money and gifts in the amount of 200K from a sports agent. USC notified the NCAA that it was imposing sanctions on itself and nothing else resulted.

What were the sanctions? The loss of 1 scholarship for 2 years, the vacating of the wins in 2007-08 (when Mayo played) and a reduction in recruiting days and number of coaches that can recruit for 2 seasons. That is a very light penalty.

There is no question that the violations of USC far outstrip the single violation of Michigan. In addition USC has had a history of academic issues, money to recruits and other problems including arrests of players. And yet the NCAA seems to give USC a pass for their problems and I can not explain why.

When in doubt, follow the money. The problem with the NCAA is they are too interested in money and not interested enough in the welfare of their players and basic fairness of the game.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NCAA,NCAA Football,USC,Bush,Mayo,Michigan,Rodriguez,Mallett,Carr,violations,McKnight,Yahoo Sports,NCAA Investigations

Which red flags in a player's background are the worst?

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G J.D. Quinn and QB Rhett Bomar were dismissed from the Oklahoma football team in August of 2006 for violation of NCAA rules by accepting money for a job they were not required to perform. OT Alex Boone (Ohio State) was arrested for drunk driving and resisting arrest earlier this spring. Both situations raise red flags on the pro prospects but they are clearly different in severity. More important, they predict a different future in terms of potential problems during the player’s career.

Quinn and Bomar transferred to other schools. Bomar starred at Sam Houston State and Quinn started for Montana State. There is very little chance that either will have any problems in future. Their violation of NCAA rules was an error in judgment but does not apply to their future lives as NFL players.

Boone on the other hand violated the law by reportedly driving drunk then compounded the problem by resisting arrest. This is the kind of absence of judgment that may well occur again. In the past, a majority of players that have had problems involving law enforcement prior to the draft have had similar problems after becoming a pro.

In addition, the Boone example of bad decision making occurred in 2009 while the Oklahoma issue happened in 06. Boone should have been on best behavior prior to the draft. Instead, he chose to drink then drive. When confronted by police, he again reportedly chose to do the wrong thing by resisting arrest. Boone was undrafted but signed with the 49ers.

I am not saying that violating NCAA rules is a good thing. It is not. Both Quinn, who signed with the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent and Bomar suffered by falling in the draft from where they would have been taken without the red flag. According to several reports, some teams would have considered taking Quinn in the 3rd or 4th round had it not been for the red flag. Bomar had first round talent but was taken in the 5th round by the Giants in part because of the flag on his resume. Both were hurt by the violation. However, NFL teams should take the type of indiscretion into account when they evaluate players with problems in their background.

The NFL is stressing the necessity of teams to clean their rosters of troubled players. For the first time, the NFL has fined teams with players that have legal, drug or league rule violations. There have been threats of other actions like reductions in draft choices for teams that repeatedly have players with such problems.

The NFL and all other sports leagues must police their players. Baseball is experiencing almost daily admissions of steroid use by its most visible players. Teams and leagues must clean up the problems. But like players, all red flags are not equal in predicting future problems. Some problems don’t reoccur while others are deeply embedded in the player’s personalities. Now, all the NFL teams must figure out is which problems fall on which side of that line.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL Draft,violations,ncaa,college football,Ohio State,Oklahoma,Giants,Dolphins,49ers,red flag,Bomar,Quinn,Boone

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