While enduring the obnoxious acronym chants of SEC faithful, one need not look any further than recruiting rankings to see why these imbeciles so arrogantly believe in their conference’s superiority. After all, how could you possibly not expect to win the national championship every year with your best teams somehow locking in the highest rated players on the high school recruit draft board every single year? In recent years, no conference has swept up more 4 and 5 star high school football prospects than the SEC. In fact, no other conference has even come close. Even perennial college football dumps like Tennessee and Vanderbilt are out-recruiting traditional national powerhouses like Notre Dame and Oklahoma. It seems too trivial to even comprehend. Even the most novice sports fan would have to suspect that something smells rotten in the state of Denmark. Supposedly the big selling point for these kids is that they only want to play in the best conference in the land. A claim that in 2013 alone proved to be overblown if not debunked entirely. But there are markers pointing to another far less transparent reason why recruits may be choosing to play in the SEC: the notion that perhaps these recruits are receiving cash and gifts in exchange for their commitments, and are being better taken care of and protected in SEC programs than they would be anywhere else in the nation. Conjecture? Perhaps. But if we view the remarkably cozy relationship that the NCAA has apparently developed with the SEC in recent years, the likelihood that SEC programs could be getting away with one of the most egregious player purchasing scandals in history, while the NCAA intentionally keeps it’s back turned, becomes all too real to ignore.
To understand the depth of the present day collusion in this NCAA-SEC relationship, you need to look back into the past before Mike Silve took over the SEC. In those years, the NCAA infractions process involved SEC members more frequently than institutions in any other conference, as reported in the “SEC Report of the Task Force on Compliance and Enforcement.” (http://www.secdigitalnetwork.com/Portals/3/SEC%20Website/compliance/compliance_task_force_report.pdf) Per that report, it is noted that the primary goal was to have no SEC teams on NCAA probation within 5 years. It would appear that perhaps this task force did a good job. But a closer look reveals something else. SEC team infractions still reportedly occur on a regular basis. The only thing that is different is the NCAA is either not paying attention or not caring. A couple cases in point just from the past year:
• Johnny Manziel (TAMU) fresh off his 2012 Heisman victory is alleged to be selling off autographs, a violation of NCAA rules. The NCAA claims to not have evidence (despite the fact that testimony and photos are circulating the internet), but they suspend him for ONE HALF of a fluff game against Rice anyway. The first question is, why suspend him AT ALL if there is no evidence? Unless of course, the NCAA needs to quiet the throng of angered fans who have watched the NCAA pillage all non-SEC teams for every errant allegation the past 5 years. Why the lack of a REAL investigation and such a quick, light slap on the wrist?(http://www.forbes.com/sites/aliciajessop/2013/08/31/a-different-take-on-johnny-manziels-half-game-suspension/) There are only two possible answers. Either the NCAA needs to protect their OWN financial investment in the Heisman winner. Or the NCAA needs to protect the SEC’s image of superiority, which would be deeply damaged if one of their best SEC West contenders is suddenly relegated to mediocrity. You be the judge.
• Five SEC football players reportedly received impermissible benefits (gifts, cash), including players on the Alabama national championship teams.(http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/9663355/dj-fluker-five-sec-players-received-extra-benefits-college-according-report) This story broke in September 2013. Mysteriously it has disappeared from the radar since. Alabama officials claimed their compliance department was handing it. Funny, but when the story broke about Miami players receiving impermissible benefits, we don’t remember watching the NCAA sit by silently while Miami officials “handled” it. Just the contrary… NCAA investigators were rather aggressively chasing the story and tampering with witnesses, so much so that they blew the case. Nothing like this story by Alabama, which has seemingly been swept under the rug and ignored by the media since September, with nary a mention of an NCAA investigation.
• An assistant coach at Alabama was put on leave in 2013 for giving a loan to a Crimson Tide football player.(http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2013/10/08/alabama-illegal-benefits-case-spotlights-ncaa-mark-emmert-nick-saban-friendship/2948023/) Once again, silence from the NCAA. No investigation. No comment. No nothing.
It should be little surprise to anyone why the NCAA is so chummy with the SEC, especially Alabama. The roots go deep. They date back to when the current NCAA President, Mark Emmert, was SEC Chancellor and began work on the aforementioned SEC Task Force on Compliance back in October of 2002. Coincidentally, Emmert was also at LSU in those early years, and was the guy who hired Nick Saban as his football coach. It was at this point that a lifelong friendship between Emmert and Saban began. And now, during the SEC’s unprecedented rise to what Feinbaum and other homers treat as destined invincibility, Mark Emmert has reigned as President of the NCAA. How convenient for Saban and Alabama! As a USAToday article from last year pointed out, the perception of bias in the NCAA dealings with SEC teams, particularly Alabama, only grows “when justice seems to be handled differently for different schools.”(http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaaf/2013/10/08/alabama-illegal-benefits-case-spotlights-ncaa-mark-emmert-nick-saban-friendship/2948023/) The fox is guarding the hen house, and it’s happening at the expense of every other team not in the SEC.
The Emmert-Saban connection is not the only way the SEC has avoided the hammer in recent years. Recent patterns of NCAA Enforcement Director employment indicate the possibility that the SEC as a whole is promising jobs to Enforcement Directors in return for failure to investigate or prosecute allegations of recruiting violations or dissemination of illegal benefits to players. Following the Auburn Tigers’ most recent national championship, NCAA Director of Enforcement Dave Didion left his post for a position as Auburn’s Compliance Director. The move came at an interesting time, as NCAA Compliance was under heavy scrutiny and three members of its enforcement staff had just been fired, seemingly for incompetence.(http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaaf-dr-saturday/ncaa-director-enforcement-leaves-job-auburn-162336883–ncaaf.html) It only took one year after that for NCAA Director of Enforcement Rachel Newman Baker to resign her post to take a job as Kentucky’s Compliance Director. It begs the question, how long will current NCAA Enforcement Chief Jon Duncan remain in his post before jumping into an SEC job? I get the idea that Alabama may be hiring soon.
Most excuse-making SEC fans will tell you the reason for fewer NCAA investigations and punishments in recent years are due to current SEC Commissioner Mike Silve, who is reported to be cleaning up the SEC image by improving NCAA compliance. However, what actually appears to be the case is rather a stronger influence on the NCAA to keep SEC teams off their radar, and to be as soft as possible on infractions that the media gets their hands on. This seems like a plausible scenario, given the rapid exodus of Enforcement Directors in the last two years from the NCAA to the SEC. Sure, there is no conflict of interest there… right?
I guess we are all just supposed to ignore the obvious and presume that the SEC has cleaned up its act, and their athletes are simply better people than the athletes everywhere else, and neither they nor their NCAA colluding coaches would do any wrong. Let’s forget entirely that the SEC leads the free world in sports athlete arrests and citations through 2014 alone.(http://rosterwatch.com/sec-leads-free-world-in-arrests-and-citations-through-2014) Let’s all just live in harmony and chant S-E-C together until our voices grow hoarse. No criminal activity or collusion going on in THIS conference! Nothing to see HERE… right?