I think we have probably reached DEFCON 1 status in Columbia. Per the Associated Press:
South Carolina has been notified by the NCAA that the Gamecocks football program is being investigated.
Athletic department spokesman Steve Fink said Thursday the school has received an official letter of inquiry from the NCAA.
Read a copy of the actual LOI by clicking here (warning: PDF).
If I've learned one thing in all of my years following college football it is this: when the NCAA sends you a letter of inquiry, it is officially time to flip out. Oh sure, nothing may come of it -- remember, it's a letter of inquiry, not a list of specific allegations, much less an actual ruling on rules violations -- but they haven't made a big-time college football program to yet that doesn't have some skeletons in the closet, and there is absolutely nothing good whatsoever about having the NCAA snooping around your campus, pouring over any documentation they can dig up, and interviewing anyone and everyone of interest. At the very least nothing comes of it and you probably get the living hell scared out of you. And that's the best-case scenario.
Two possible impacts out of this story could very well be beneficial to Alabama in the coming weeks and months. One, this is an outside distraction that South Carolina will have to deal with, and that will help when we make the trek to Columbia in a few weeks. Perhaps more important long-term, however, is in the recruitment of Mr. Everything defensive end / Jack linebacker Jadeveon Clowney. Many consider him the #1 overall player in the country, and he has long since had Alabama and South Carolina as his leaders above and beyond all others. An LOI showing up in Columbia certainly does not do anything to harm our chances with signing him, and if anything if this proves to be serious that could play a major role in driving him to Tuscaloosa.