It is Ground Zero in Tusks-Are-Loosa, State of Ali-Bammer, home to the formerly proud now neutered University of Ali-Bammer. The Men in Blue Suits from the National Communists Against Athletes have just leveled the football program with a several megaton thermonuclear device called probation.
Ali-Bammer loses 21 scholarships over a three year period, can't go to a bowl game for two years, and has been hit with a FIVE YEAR probation.
Ali-Bammer President Andrew Sorenson has expressed his disappointment in the NCAA and plans an appeal, but judging the history of appeals against the NCAA, you can figure this is more for show, for the benefit of outraged Bammer fans who will call for secession from the NCAA.
I'm reminded of Animal House when Bluto, after giving his "When the Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor" speech, ran out of the room and no one followed.
Bammer will appeal. Fans will call for secession. The appeal will be denied. No one will follow.
When I first read the NCAA report, my initial thought was that Bammer got off lightly. My logic? My Old Kentucky Home lost 19 ships just one day earlier for Hal Mumme's Original Amateur Hour, which could be subtitled The Excellent Adventures of Hal and Claude (Basset). Bammer loses 21 for violations far more severe.
Losing only two more scholarships, I thought, was a small victory for the Bammers, but now that I have read the report, digested the full penalty, and also done the math, it is my contention that Tusks-Are-Loosa is Nagasaki.
Here are the numbers:
1. 2002 RECRUITING: Bammer can sign 17 players maximum. The Bammers had a full 85 on ship at the end of the 2001 season, lost 17 seniors to graduation and one to early entry in the NFL draft. That means there are now 67 players on scholarship. The NCAA says that during the probation period, Bammer can have no more than 80 on scholarship. So, if Bammer signs a full 17, FIVE current sailors lose their ship.
2. 2003 RECRUITING: At the end of the 2001 season, Bammer had 27 JUNIORS on scholarship. They will be seniors in 2002. Do the math: Subtract 27 from 80 and you get 53. The Bammers can sign 18 in 2003 which means they'll have 71 sailors. They can't award NINE ships to walk-ons etc. to bring those numbers back to 80 ships, so Bammer will be playing the 2003 season with only 71 able bodies, a full FOURTEEN under the limit of 85 for non-probationary teams, and NINE fewer than what the NCAA will allow the Bammers.
3. 2004 RECRUITING: After the 2001 season, Bammer had 20 sophomores sailing on ships. These will be seniors in the 2004 football season. Again do the math: 71 minus 20 is 51, and the Bammers can only sign 19, bringing the total to 70, a full FIFTEEN under the NCAA limits of 85 for the good guys, TEN less than the NCAA will allow for the probationed Bammers.
4. NO BOWL GAMES FOR TWO YEARS: This is a number that I expected, and it's what the Bammers got. With the sanctions for scholarships however, and the subsequent numbers, this year's trip to Scenic Shreveport for The Bowl Game Formerly Known as the Weedwacker will seem like a holiday in Paris as it's unlikely the Bammers will see anything better than that in 2004, next time they are eligible for a bowl. If the Bammers get a bowl in 2004, it's likely to be in Kabul or Jalalabad.
5. FIVE YEARS PROBATION: This is the number that sticks out the most and carries the most weight. Beginning effectively today, the Bammers have a five year probation, which means any violation in ANY SPORT results in REPEAT OFFENDER penalties. In other words, the Death Penalty which the NCAA committee considered and "ultimately declined to impose" would almost be a certainty for even a minute infraction of the rules for football, and a consideration for any other sport in violation of the rules. In other words, Bammer's entire athletic program must be on PERFECT behavior. Remember, when on probation, ALL violations are MAJOR and again, any infraction, no matter how minute, means penalties as a REPEAT offender. But the five years here, is actually MORE than five years, for under NCAA bylaws, there is a five year window AFTER the probation goes off that means that any infraction in ANY sport is major during that period, too, although repeat offender status is not granted after the probationary period ends.
6. LONG RANGE EFFECTS: The NCAA noted in its report that "Coaches from five institutions confirmed the solicitation by the high school coach ." Of those five schools, it has been reported by reliable sources that only two, Arkansas and Memphis, reported to the NCAA that Lang had solicited money in exchange for a scholarship signing by Big Al. The three schools that DID NOT report? Michigan State, Mississippi State and GEORGIA. Expect some fallout there from both the NCAA and in the cases of Georgia and Mississippi State, from the SEC.
7. FURTHER PROBLEMS: Lang goes on trial in Memphis. Bammer booster Logan Young, now banned from any association with Ali-Bammer, will take the witness stand. It is also expected that longtime Dollywood favorite Roy Adams, will also take the stand. The testimony of Lang and others, not to mention the testimony of Young and Adams, has a lot of tight sphincters in SEC country, for there will be further revelations of the dirty work done in the Memphis area by Bammer coaches during the regime of Mike Dumbose and particularly his henchman, Ronnie Cottrell. This testimony will be in Federal Court and under oath with the potential for jail time for perjury. The NCAA has reserved the right to use anything said in these proceedings against Ali-Bammer for FUTURE penalties. Fans from Mississippi State, the Poodle Palace and The School That Crest Forgot: The Smokey Mountain School for the Dentally Impaired figure to be on edge as some newspaper and radio sources in Memphis say there will be some serious bombshells dropped against those programs on the witness stand.
8. FINAL ANALYSIS: I felt that the Bammers would get three years probation, two years with no bowls and a reduction of more than 23 ships. While the ship reduction is less than expected, the bowl sanctions are what I had said all along, and the five years is the biggest hit of all. Figure it will take Ali-Bammer until 2007 or 2008 to be competitive enough to challenge for the SEC West title again. Any season that is 5-6 or 6-5 at this time should result in whatever coach is at Ali-Bammer receiving SEC Coach of the Year honors.
9. ONE FINAL THOUGHT: Figure Ali-Bammer Coach Dennis Franchionne will need patches on the knees of his suit pants in the upcoming year. It is a proven fact that Fran literally begged for the Kansas job, then called in every marker owed him since fourth grade to try to get the Notre Dame job. With sanctions so heavy, figure he will most certainly be bailing soon, begging for any head coaching job at a school that isn't on probation.
For the moment at least, this is the story I came here with and I'm sticking with it. As always, I reserve the right to be partially incorrect, totally wrong or obnoxiously right.
That Defender of Truth, Justice and The American Way