And, after much anticipation and even more unfounded speculation, the NCAA auto de fe is finally upon us. The grand inquisitors of the Infractions Committee have reached their decision on the fate of the University of Alabama for the so-called Textbook Scandal. The punishment of the heretics in the name of the faith will become known later today at that most holy rite known as "the press conference."
By this point you should know the drill. UA scholarship athletes were using their sweet deal at the bookstore to obtain discounts for friends. Five football players were suspended for four games but, allegedly, as many as 200 athletes from a smorgasbord of sports were involved. The rumor du jour calls for a slew of vacated wins but no loss of scholarships (will no one think of Shula's quest to catch Paterno!?!).
We here at RBR couldn’t be happier. Think of all this as the great gallstone of off-season tomfoolery and as painful as it may be we’ll be so much happier once it’s gone. About all we can do is sit back, get comfortable and enjoy the wafting odor of burning tires and schadenfreude for the next six hours or so.
Now lets see what folks are saying, shall we?
Like most of us, Wolfe Reports just wants the damn thing done with:
This will certainly cast a pall over an otherwise excellent offseason, in which Bama has been picked by a number of experts to represent the SEC West in Atlanta again, and a Top 10 preseason favorite. But, fuck it. We’ve been through this before with coaches who fouled up and didn’t exert proper control over their players, so let’s go.
Over at DBH Dance Party the wait is killing him softly with it's song:
I've had the same stomach-in-knots feeling people usually get when they're approaching a big test: sure, I want to get it over with so we can all move on; part of me also wishes it was 2 weeks away so I could keep putting it off.
Third Saturday in Blogtober weighs in with a delightful observation about the university's track record with transparency. And then refuse to let the looming announcement harsh their mellow; "No schollie loses, no post-season ban, no worries, man."
Of course, on the other end of the spectrum is Eight in the Box who is "sick and tired of being sick and tired of the excuses," but already asking if we should be considering an appeal of the ruling. Capstone Report is reminding folks not to overlook the hidden villain to the drama - the athletic department bureaucracy. The Birmingham News' Ray Melick asks both questions and, through a fury of rhetorical questions, lays the responsibility at the feet of Robert Witt.
Still, the most important thing from here on out, says Bama Sports Report, is staying clean.
What must happen now is simple - Alabama must avoid NCAA violations for the next five years. Period... make no mistake about it… if Bama ends up in fromt of the NCAA again in the next five years because of a football violation, the NCAA will likely come down hard.
Keep checking in. We'll be updating this list as the day goes on...
9:14 am: The good Doctor weighs in.
Next to either of those scandals [Oklahoma and FSU's], Alabama's textbook scam -- in which the offending players reportedly paid back the money the school lost through their book-lending plan -- is a misdemeanor, and one the Tide self-reported at that. The stern wrist-slapping here seems to be more of the three-strikes-you're-out variety than a response to the latest offense.
10:44 am: Joe Cribbs Car Wash (and Sen. Blutarsky) makes a very good point:
The real developments here are that Mike Slive's dream of a probation-less SEC is dead again--way to ruin it for everyone, guys--and that a second set of sanctions, with 'Bama hypothetically a repeat repeat violator, could see the NCAA bring their Serious Hammer out of the closet.
11:47 am: Rocky Top Talk finds a rather biased headline for a story on today's proceedings.
12:26 pm: The wailing and gnashing of teeth begins. Deadspin, Saurian Sagacity, Fanhouse and FanIQ all offer laments how this is just a "slap on the wrist" for a renegade program sullying the game with it's uncouth antics.