I don't even know where to begin with this. Suffice to say, I have been sufficiently entertained today thanks to a new Pete Carroll story.
The Seattle Seahawks coach was down at USC for his induction into the university's Athletics Hall of Fame, and he had an opportunity to comment on some matters of cheating. His responses when coupled together crack me up. He was asked about Deflategate and the heavy punishment the NFL imposed on the New England Patriots. Carroll said he supported the league's decision, and added this:
"Nobody wants to play this game thinking that somebody has some kind of advantage, players and fans alike, and so they did the right thing in following up on it," Carroll said.
Given his team's loss to the Patriots, I am not surprised Carroll would say something in support of the NFL. I think if the 49ers had been in a similar position and lost to the Patriots, 49ers fans would have something to say about it. And you know Jim Harbaugh would have gotten a crack in.
However, Carroll also made sure to once again criticize the NCAA for their handling of the Reggie Bush investigation.
"It breaks my heart that is what happened to the university and for the kids playing here and for the fans that follow it, because it wasn't dealt with properly and it wasn't done rightly," Carroll said.
USC running backs coach Todd McNair is suing the NCAA for defamation, and that resulted in the release of 500 pages of documents. The documents show the NCAA doing what it often does and going beyond normal protocol, further embarrassing themselves.
I think plenty of people will agree that the NCAA is a fairly poorly run organization that has its share of shady moments. On the other hand, I don't know how many would agree, but I generally operate under the impression that most major programs are breaking the rules when it comes to improper benefits. And I don't mean minor infractions that result in a talking-to. I generally operate under the assumption that money or other significant benefits (jobs, homes, etc) are changing hands on a fairly regular basis. Maybe I should not be so skeptical, but that's just how I see it.
Last decade, USC was punished for a variety of violations regarding improper benefits. Running back Reggie Bush was found to have violated his amateur status by accepting gifts from agents. The NCAA found McNair lied about his knowledge of some of the gifts. They stripped Bush of his Heisman Trophy, and USC of their NCAA title.
The punishments all came after Pete Carroll had departed for the NFL. It is certainly possible Carroll knew nothing about what was going on. Of course, he also could have just buried his head in the sand and let individuals further down the totem pole handle the dirty work. I imagine that is frequently how this kind of thing happens. If you want to see some more specifics, check out SB Nation's long-form article titled, "Meet The Bag Man - How to buy college football players in the words of a man who delivers the money".
College sports is certainly not the only industry where the people at the top are able to keep themselves clean from controversy. There are always people further down that can handle it and potentially take the fall. And of course, this is not to absolve the NCAA of anything. It is a shady organization that at times seems to pick and choose who they will punish. Former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian made a great joke about it many years back, "The NCAA is so mad at Kentucky it will probably slap another two years probation on Cleveland State."
There really are no innocent parties in any of this, which I see as partially a result of the NCAA's poor treatment of "student-athletes". At the same time, when I hear Pete Carroll talk about this stuff, it amuses me. Unless a smoking gun appears, we'll never know with certainty what he did or did not know at USC. But we can make plenty of assumptions in the meantime.