Over the last decade, I think it’s safe to say that NCAA rules enforcement has been gutted. Several things have led to this, especially:
- Money – there’s lots of it at stake in college football; and
- Schools lawyering up and forcing the NCAA to back down.
We have little brother to thank, in large part, for the last one.
During his recent swing through ESPN, Nick Saban was asked about cheating in college football and he had some interesting things to say.
First, he made some general comments on cheating in general:
“But I don’t see players getting bought. I don’t see players getting extra benefits any place,” Saban said. “I think recruiting is so transparent now, I think most people are scared to death that they would get caught publicly — not by the NCAA, not by the conference office.
“But even if you have illegal contact with a player, he tweets that you talked to him. So that’s a violation. I mean, it’s so transparent, you almost have to do things correctly because I don’t think anybody needs to catch you. I think the public would catch you.”
I get where Saban is coming from here. No one goes on an ESPN media tour and announces that schools are cheating. (Well, um, I guess unless you are Bret Beilema.) But at the same time, there are, obviously schools that cheat and cheat big time. I can think of two right off the top of my head and they live in the SEC West.
He’s also very right. Social media is so pervasive nowadays that the possibility of getting caught publicly is much greater than actually getting caught by the NCAA nazis.
He also had the opportunity to address some comments made by the Big 12 commissioner related to cheating:
Saban threw in one more comment about the Bowlsby’s comments on First Take.
“You’re always looking for a reason and one of the easiest excuses is to say the other guy did something illegal, aight?”
Ouch, that stings. Except for a Sugar Bowl win last season, the Big 12 hasn’t won much in a while. And until they do, comments like this will only look like sour grapes.