June 11, 2009
This meant nothing.
The Brittney Spears reference. The shower of bourbon, sadness and plastic from the Bama student section. The most exciting end to a UGA game since Michael Johnson might as well never happened. Even if we didn't field a team that steamy night in Tuscaloosa, your final score would still have been Georgia 1, Bama 0 in the Bama record books.
That's the retroactive truth after today's report on the Alabama textbook scandal was handed down by the NCAA. The report has been simmering in Indianapolis for months it seems. The scandal focuses on the seemingly rare violation of NCAA textbook distribution policy (evidently there is such a thing). Seems you have to check out and pay for books at the same time and UA's bookstore had some flawed internal controls for books paid for by the athletic department. I can't imagine a more boring college athletics scandal, especially one committed by a school who once gave lots of cold, hard, easily understandable cash to a prospective player. The biggest offender in this scandal got less than four grand in impermissible benefits.
It's a snoozer, but this is still a program with a rich tradition of NCAA trouble. These transactions happened while Bama was already on NCAA probation from it's 2002 NCAA case. So one would expect some harsh treatment for a repeat offender already on probation, right? Uh, no.
Bama gets to vacate up to 21 wins during 2005 through 2007, add a couple more years of probation on top of their existing probation, and pay a fine. The Horror! Here's what to take away from this: probation means nothing. If you can effectively pay your players in kind during a probation period and get a stern "Don't do it Again," what's the point of probation? After all, vacating wins means absolutely nothing in the collective minds of college football fans. A forty thousand dollar fine to a program that pays their head coach $4 million per is a joke. Probation evidently means you might get more probation if you mess up while on it.
In the age of Kiffin, Big Cat weekend and Bama's perpetual probation, do NCAA rules mean anything? After all, a broken rule must have consequences to be a rule.