First, happy St. Patrick’s Day! If there are any typos, it’s not because The Machine’s been drinking since noon. Second, happy March Madness! Still studying your bracket to find your upset special (you better pick at least two 12/5 upsets). While you’re focusing on the teams that are in the tourney, our Tuesday Teabag focuses on one that’s not.
By now you’re well aware of the sanctions the NCAA imposed on Syracuse athletics. It’s surprising/sad that the football team was involved too. FYI, if you’re going to cheat, you better at least be good. And no, winning the Pinstripe Bowl does not count.
Anyway, just recently the NCAA laid the hammer on the Orange. Jim Boeheim was suspended for 9 games next season (pretty sure he wish that would’ve started sooner so he didn’t have to witness the beatdown against NC State), took away 12 scholarships, and vacated 108 wins, going back to 2004. Shit, even Otto got banned from the mascot game. Boom. Just like that, Boeheim drops from the 2nd winningest Division I Men’s Basketball Coach to the 6th (and Bobby Knight beats him again, this time without Keith Smart).
Boeheim’s no stranger to The Machine. Last year, we gave him a Teabag when his temper tantrum cost SU the game against Duke. This time, his actions (or non-actions) have cost him even more. Suspension, an unprecedented amount of wins vacated, and loss of scholarships affecting kids who weren’t even at the school. Sounds pretty harsh, right? Well, The Machine says bullshit. Syracuse fans should be lucky the NCAA allowed them to keep its 2003 National Title.
Sorry, but we’re not buying your lame excuses. When your best defense is “everyone else is doing it” you’re shit out of luck. That didn’t work when your parents busted you for smoking, that didn’t work with your high school girlfriend, and it sure as hell doesn’t work here. [cue Mom or prude high school girlfriend voice]: “I don’t care if everyone does it, that doesn’t mean it’s right.” Now shudder that those two voices are similar.
Look, if you told me that 95% of Division I schools violate the rules, I’d say you’re missing a few. There’s a reason why no current coaches are slamming Boeheim…because they know if the light’s shined on their school they’re screwed. But that doesn’t mean there are no consequences for getting caught. In all facets of life where competition is a driving force, people are going to bend break the rules to gain a competitive edge. Am I right, New England Patriots?
An equally dumb argument is that Boeheim didn’t know what was going on. Are you kidding me? Does Boeheim look like the kind of guy that has a loose, laissez faire approach to life? Sorry, not buying it. Coaches, by nature, are control freaks. College coaches even more so, as they’re trying to mold teenagers into professional student athletes. These guys know every detail of these kids’ lives before they arrive on campus. They send scouts out all over the country to watch high school games, and spend countless hours recruiting players and convincing their families they should play at their school. You think that switch turns off once they get to college?
Perhaps the dumbest argument is the one put forth by Dick Vitale. Dickie V gave an impassioned ridiculous defense of Boeheim, saying he was guilty of one thing: trust. Yeah, Boeheim unknowingly hired a bunch of evil doers. [cue Dickie V voice:] Come on! Are you serious?
You have the Director of Basketball Operations (and others) accessing player’s email accounts, pretending to be the players and corresponding directly with professors and turning in assignments on behalf of players. Then you have Fab Melo. You know, your star player who can barely speak English. Don’t you think Boeheim ever thought, “gee, I wonder if Fab’s inability to speak English is hampering his academic success.” You need to read this Deadspin article to truly appreciate the clusterfuck that went on with Fab.
There’s no way he doesn’t know something’s up. Giving him the biggest benefit of the doubt, Boeheim is at best willfully ignorant. But again, that’s no excuse. You’re the head coach. The buck stops with you. Plausible deniability is no defense.
Also, did anyone else find it a little disingenuous that Syracuse issued its self-imposed ban on postseason play during a year when their team sucked? They didn’t need any ban on postseason play this year because they were never getting into the NCAA tourney. Can you be more transparent and self-serving? Syracuse waited for the most opportune time to self-impose its penalty, so it would do the least amount of damage. And, for the most part, it worked.
Were the penalties a little harsh? Maybe, but guess what? They should be. It’s called deterrence, and sending a message. Taking away wins from coaches, tarnishing their legacy, hits them right where they feel it most, their ego. And you need to have penalties that extend into the future (e.g. loss of scholarships). The penalties must be severe enough so that’s it’s not worth the risk of cheating. Even then, teams will still do it. But if all teams were faced with are backward looking fines and penalties, that’s not enough. And that’s why The Machine thinks maybe the penalties for Syracuse weren’t so bad after all.
The only things affecting next year are Boeheim missing the first 9 fluff games of the season (pretty sure the Cuse can handle Colgate without Jim at the helm) and the loss of scholarships. [Edit: the suspension is for the first 9 conference games, so Jim will be on the bench against the Raiders]. That stings, for sure, but the 12 scholarship losses are phased out over 4 years. It’s certainly not the “death penalty” that Syracuse fans are now calling on other schools to receive. Importantly, SU is not banned from next year’s postseason, which is key. Syracuse has one of the best recruiting classes in the country next year, so keeping their postseason eligibility was an absolute must in order to avoid any defections.
And that’s why no one should cry foul about the NCAA sanctions. Be thankful they stopped where they did. Did they take away too many games from Boeheim? Probably. But that won’t matter when SU’s in the Final Four next year.
Enjoy your teabag.