Much has been made about the wounded nature of the NCAA, but sportswriter Gregg Doyel believes that the struggles of college sports’ governing body will prevent it from going after its most powerful member: the University of Alabama.
Since Nick Saban took over and turned the floundering Alabama football program into a powerhouse, allegations of cheating and improprieties have surrounded it. Most of it comes across as simple rumors or vague allegations from jealous fans of rival schools. Even more specific allegations have failed to land with the program and can be seen as sensationalism.
Some believe Alabama is completely innocent (or at least as innocent as an institution can be in this day and age), while the more cynical believe that Mark Emmert has shielded Saban, the man he hired at LSU, from any sort of investigation or discipline.
However, recent issues with the program have moved beyond real or fictional recruiting violations, but a seemingly serious issue of money floating around the program. Doyel has a different take on how the NCAA will handle the situation.
Regarding the recent payment of a coach to safety “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix, as well as other infractions, including agent contact with players like DJ Fluker and Marcell Dareus, Doyel writes, “A few years ago we’d be throwing around phrases like ‘lack ofinstitutional control’ and wondering how many scholarships the NCAAwould take from Alabama and how many years it might keep Alabama out ofthe postseason. But now isn’t then.”
He goes on to articulate that the weakness of the NCAA is the reason punishment may be unlikely.
“The NCAA is a weakened animal, cowering in the corner out ofself-preservation,” Doyel continued. “Last month the NCAA backed slightly off its PennState sanctions, an unprecedented and symbolically significant move. TheNCAA still hasn’t ruled on Miami, paralyzed by its own taintedinvestigation.”
That supposed weakness has moved the NCAA’s concerns from beyond public relations and onto survival. As Doyel puts it, “the NCAA is terrified that the biggest football schools will break away partially or even completely.”
Agree or not, Doyel’s point sheds light on the distinct possibility that certain football programs have perhaps grown more powerful than even the NCAA. It remains to be seen what the NCAA will ultimately do, whether anything can slow down Alabama’s march to historical levels of dominance, or if all of this will have lead to more rumors about Nick Saban’s possible dance with Texas this offseason.