Iâ€™m often amused by commentaries that wander along the path of facts, speculation, assumptions, and theories with the goal of reaching an ultimate conclusion. All too often, they get lost somewhere along the way and end up in Oz rather than at a logical conclusion. Caulton Tudor attempted this journey but got lost today as seen in Silence isnâ€™t golden for UNCâ€™s problems. In fact, he doesnâ€™t even get through the first sentence without losing his grip on reality:
Regardless of how the NCAA investigation into North Carolina’s football program plays out, the school already has taken an image hit, partially because of its unwillingness to publicly address the situation.
UNC is taking a hit to their image and pride simply because the NCAA launched an investigation into an area that was (evidently) being completed ignored by the school. However, to claim that the negative publicity associated with an investigation would extend into the future even if no sanctions were imposed is absurd. While Duke and State fans would never forget (and claim all sorts of underhanded dealings), the rest of the country would quickly forget and move on to the next scandal or contrived news story. Even NCAA sanctions would likely affect UNCâ€™s image for only a short period of time.
Sanctions against Kentucky basketball and Alabama football show that even serious NCAA violations do not necessarily translate into long-term repercussions. It would be interesting to compare and contrast the violations, school responses, and penalties between Kentucky basketball, Alabama football, and the Valvano scandal. I will have to leave that piece to someone else because Iâ€™m sure that my blood pressure couldnâ€™t take the internal stress that such an analysis would produce.
A little bit further down, Caulton runs off the road again:
This public retreat gives the appearance of stonewalling – a course that only intensifies public anxiety and suspicion. It also makes the school look scared to many and guilty to at least some.
This begs the question, stonewalling who; the NCAA or the media? At present, there is no reason to think that UNC and its representatives are being anything but open with the NCAA. â€œHonestâ€ may be a different issue, but there is no evidence to suggest that UNC is stonewalling the NCAA.
So is Tudor really complaining that UNC is stonewalling the media? If so, then he really should explain how talking to the media could possibly help UNC. Personally, I see no reason that anyone from UNC should be talking publically before the NCAA concludes its investigation and releases its findings.
After the findings are released, the chancellor and AD will stand up, say the right sorts of things, fire coaches (if necessary) and then move on with life. The only thing that will come out of talking to the media today is that it will give people something to write and talk aboutâ€¦which is probably the extent of Tudorâ€™s concerns. In fact, I would argue that the media having something new to write or talk about every day would actually HARM UNCâ€™s image more than it could possibly help it.
Shortly after this previous paragraph, Tudor lands in Oz:
Blake, who has been linked to sports agent Gary Wichard, is a public employee with an annual salary of almost a quarter of a million dollars, plus perks.
While it’s well documented that big-time college football coaches of all ranks and regard are hideously overpaid, the kind of money Blake is making as an assistant should come with a stipulation to be open and honest when the reputation of an entire university is at stake.
Davis and Baddour, in fact, should demand as much from Blake.
Oh come on. Is anyone really that naÃ¯ve? Butch Davis and John Blake only care about themselves. Anyone that thinks any differently isnâ€™t living in the real world and hasnâ€™t bothered to check on the history of those two. If anyone is fired because of this investigation, it will be because of what has already happened, not because of anything that is said now.
Thereâ€™s an old clichÃ©â€¦when you hit rock bottom, stop digging. But Tudor evidently doesnâ€™t believe in this philosophy:
Carolina, by now, either knows for sure what has or hasn’t happened, or it has a very good idea.
To assume otherwise is to assume that Baddour, Davis and other school officials – Thorp and school lawyers – haven’t sat down with Blake and gotten to the bottom of the situation. That meeting has taken place, whether anyone in authority says so or not.
â€¦At best, the school is pursing a very odd strategy. It’s almost as though everyone is hoping that if they keep quiet, the problem will just go away.
Outside of science fiction stories, hive minds, brain dumps, and mind melds donâ€™t exist. So how, what, where is the â€œCarolinaâ€ that is supposed to have worked the whole story out by now? In the real world, people know what they did, know what they saw, and know what other people have told them. Baddour/Thorp didnâ€™t do anything or see anything. So if you were in their shoes, how much faith would you put into what Austin, Blake, Davis, et al tell you?
My own opinion is that at this point Thorp and Baddour have no clue what the real truth is. Thorp was smart enough to recognize that and installed the gag order as soon as the black helicopters from the NCAA landed. It seems obvious to me that the Thorp/Baddour donâ€™t want to say anything that might eventually turn out to be wrong. From where I sit, that is the smart move.
No one is stupid enough to think that not talking about it will make the problem go away. Is Tudor stupid enough to think that talking will make the problem go away?
Side Note: Years ago I was told by a UNC alum living in the Triangle that Dave Glenn was looking forward with great anticipation to the NCAA black helicopters landing at the Murphy Center and hauling Amato away. I find it quite humorous that they have now landed amongst the pine trees in Chapel Hill and Glenn never did find his fire in West Raleigh.
There is a time to use the media to help form public opinionâ€¦.like during the aftermath of the Chris Paul low blow. However, not every battle is fought before the court of public opinion. The NCAA investigators are not likely to be swayed by fancy words or sobbing confessions. Whatever happens will be a result of the facts that they are able to assemble and the severity of whatever violations are uncovered.
Even if everyone at UNC were pure as the driven snow, very few people outside of Chapel Hill would believe it regardless of who talked to the media or what was said. In the more likely scenario where someone, or more likely several someones, have stepped over the line, talking to the media wonâ€™t change that fact and wonâ€™t affect the sanctions that will be handed out by the NCAA.
Thorp/Baddour are left with several unappealing options:
- Talk to the media and open themselves up to an unending string of questions.
- Talk to the media and risk being forced to eat your words (ie Fowlerâ€¦ESPNâ€¦Amato).
- Wait until the NCAA has finished their investigation and then respond with as much dignity as you can muster.
(I think that we can safely assume that the response from the now-fired USC AD will not be repeated.)
There may be a time and place to ridicule Thorp and Baddour for some of the decisions that they have made. But regardless of how the NCAA investigation turns out, refusing to talk to the media wonâ€™t be one of them.