Because SMU’s athletic program received the death penalty – no matter how long ago it was – the public scrutiny is probably a little more intense with success. SMU made the jump to the Big East before it broke up, pulled in coaching legend Larry Brown, who has a chance to out-duel Kentucky for the top point guard in the land Saturday, and then had a wide receiver show up at a Lil’ Wayne concert backstage.
The college basketball world will wait for the Saturday night announcement by Emmanuel Mudiay, who all assumed would be the latest field general of NBA-bound players putting in a year or two at Kentucky. However, on Monday, he tweeted, “Sometimes u just have to shock the world!”
Kentucky looks absolutely unbeatable in the upcoming season, but they were surprised last year when they lost Shabazz Muhammad, and it might be nice for the rest of the basketball world if John Calipari occasionally loses a recruit he really wants. Mudiay is ranked No. 3 in the current Rivals list, and his list has included Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State and SMU.
While SMU was just 15-17 last year in Brown’s first year, the guy is a legend, and any player knows his chances to make it at the next level improve while playing for Brown, so it could be quite a catch.
Everyone is hyper sensitive since Johnny Manziel flashed around bills last year and then faced accounts of selling autographs, and certainly a player seeming to get a big perk like a backstage pass should often cause concern.
However, if the request could easily have been, “Hey, Deion Sanders son is here,” it’s likely that the answer would have been yes whether or not anyone even knew he played for SMU.
In addition, it was SMU that investigated and reported the event. It is absolutely essential today that schools initiation and report investigations of any incidents, and SMU’s proactive action in this case is a good sign that the school is building a powerful athletic program the right way this time.