Mailbag: NCAA, South Bend rain, Spurrier 

September, 10, 2010

Welcome to the Friday mailbag. There were a bunch of good questions this week. As always, you can hit me up on Twitter if you have a good topic to discuss.

From @Nashville_MMA: Do you think the NCAA is getting a little ridiculous with all the investigations? Excessive suspensions?
I think the NCAA's instincts are correct. The NCAA is being proactive and trying to send a message to coaches, administrators, players and boosters that if you break the rules, you will get caught. Or at least, you may find yourself in a big mess. I do think that's progress because for as much lip service as people paid to doing the right things, lots of shady stuff has been going on for years. And just because it's always been that way doesn't mean the NCAA should just being throwing up its hands.

This is a significant development because there definitely has been an attitude where people think, 'Everybody else is doing this and getting over. I won't get caught.'

Sensitivity has been heightened by two key investigations from the past year: the hefty penalties on Oklahoma State star Dez Bryant for lying to NCAA investigators and the sanctions to USC for not promoting, as the NCAA put it, an atmosphere of compliance. They put everyone on notice.

The biggest downside is that the NCAA doesn't seem to have enough staffing to pursue everything that it's trying to get a handle on, so you get these delayed, slow-moving investigations -- but remember, the NCAA doesn't have subpoena power.

This is a very interesting time in college sports. The NCAA often has taken its cues from investigative stories from the media (as it did with the Yahoo work on the USC scandal). However, in many areas, investigative reports and enterprise writers/reporters have been depleted around the country by staffing issues and financial problems that have hit the mainstream media. The type of sports coverage also has changed quite a bit in the past decade. Teams now control more of the access in getting out their coverage. They don't "need" the newspapers as much as they once did. But with all of that, you also have more accessibility to the players and people involved through technology, which means there's more potential pitfalls for the colleges to cope with. The Marvin Austin and A.J. Green stories grew out of social networking situations.

I'm curious to see how things develop.