Posted: 1:58 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013
By Hank Rippetoe
I have been an unabashed Alabama football fan ever since Paul "Bear" Bryant "went home to mama." That is, unless the Tide was playing Kentucky. I also think Nick Saban has built the best staff in the country. Alabama football and Kentucky basketball can be compared, and you can compare the fan bases at both schools. Another comparison can be made between the two football programs: NCAA probations.
As of December 2012, both schools have been placed on NCAA probation three times. Alabama football was put on probation in 1995 and 1996, 2002 through 2006, and 2009 through 2011. Kentucky football has also been placed on NCAA probation three times. Kentucky football was put on probation in 1964, 1976 through 1978, and 2002 through 2004. You can see what the penalties were here.
It appears that Alabama may be in deep do-do again. Back in September, Yahoo Sports alleged that five SEC players had accepted illegal benefits. Those players listed included D.J. Fluker (Alabama), Tyler Bray and Maurice Couch (Tennessee), and Fletcher Cox and Chad Bumphis (Mississippi State). You can read the Yahoo story here.
Mississippi State was already placed on probation in June for recruiting violations before the Yahoo story broke. The question, then for Mississippi State, is will they be punished again and what about Tennessee? As for Alabama, will they get special treatment that Penn St., Miami and a host of others didn't get?
The reason I ask is because it turns out that Mark Emmert was Chancellor at LSU and hired Nick Saban as the LSU head coach. Apparently, there is great manly affection between the two.
"Chancellor Emmert is absolutely the best boss I've ever had," Saban said at LSU in 2004. "He's the most significant reason I was interested in the job. Never once has he disappointed me." - USA Today.
In an October 9th USA Today article, which you can read here, there is another friendly connection between Emmert and Alabama within the NCAA enforcement staff. Derrick Crawford, a director of enforcement for the NCAA, is an Alabama graduate.
"If an enforcement staff member or leadership, Committee on Infractions member or even the association president has any connection with a member school under investigation, that person is immediately recused from the case and has absolutely no role with either investigating or deciding penalties for that infractions case," NCAA spokeswoman Emily Potter told USA TODAY Sports in a statement.
You can read the entire article and make your own judgment about foxes in the henhouse. There are numerous articles about linked to the story that are worth reading, but many here and elsewhere have accused Emmert of a selective enforcement style, and there is some evidence to support that accusation. For instance, many Kentucky fans felt that, as former president of the University of Washington during Enes Kanter's recruitment, Emmert interfered in Kanter's eligibility battle at Kentucky after Kanter spurned UW and ensured Kanter was found to be ineligible. You can also read about Emmert's career here and learn that when LSU, under his watch, was involved in an academic scandal during Nick Saban's tenure at LSU.
Mark Emmert doesn't have much in the way of a clear record of integrity. I think his career smacks of cronyism. What do you think?