[UPDATE 08/31/2010, 10:55AM: Thanks to Clarksa for the following visual.]
We’ve heard a lot in the past few days about Carolina’s agent-gate, their excuses, and their hintings at a loss of institutional control. At this juncture, I think it’s great for State fans to relish in the circling-of-the-drain that the Tar Heels are experiencing. At first, things almost seemed too good to be true, and many still believe they are, but things quickly went from bad, to worse, to “Dr. Strangelove”. Without looking at how things progressed, its easy to overlook exactly how damning things are in Chapel Hill:
February to April - Several blogs/forums notice that Marvin Austin’s twitter references some perks he’s experiencing as a part of his “super-stardom”. Media and the Carolina fanbase dismisses the claims. Also note that during this time period, the NCAA actually began their quiet investigation of the UNC program before the July campus visits.
July 12 - Quan Sturdivant gets busted for pot. While not directly associated with the NCAA investigations, it does add to a pretty picture.
July 15 - ESPN nationally breaks a story that the NCAA is investigating Carolina. Media and Carolina fanbase assume this is a bad apple in their holy program. [UPDATE 08/31/2010: Inside Carolina actually "broke" the story, but the significance of ESPN reporting the investigation, and any subequent details broken by IC, is that it puts ESPN's reputation and national stage behind the allegations.]
July 17 - Charlotte Observer reports Greg Little a part of the NCAA investigation. Media and Carolina fanbase now have to admit maybe it’s a “few bad apples” rather then just one person doing wrong. Still, not too much panic from the baby-blue faithful.
July 26 - Robert Quinn, Carolina DE, suggests that UNC investigation is a good thing since it shows Carolina is in the same league as Florida and Southern Cal. I won’t even dignify this one with a smart-*** response.
July 29 - News and Observer publishes an article on the impressive rankings of Sturdivant and Austin. Apparently the media was praying that if everyone remembered how “beloved and respected” the Carolina players were, everyone would excuse their violations. A lack of other news and findings from the NCAA starts cooling the atmosphere a little.
August 4 - StateFanNation sees results for an effort to expose a Carolina fan on the investigative committee to the media. WRAL took notice on this day and reports were that Marcus Wilson would not be working on the NCAA investigation. This was a big win for those who felt Carolina might find a way out of these allegations.
August 9 - Assistant Coach John Blake is tied to the investigation which establishes a connection between allegations against Carolina players and coaches. The media keeps spinning, but this is damning for those hoping that there were “just a few bad apples” in their program. The rumors of “lack of institutional control” start swirling. (This was confirmed by Davis and Baddour on an August 12 presser.)
August 26 - CBS Sports reports that the NCAA investigation has widened to include a “self-reported violation” where Butch Davis’ former family nanny was hired to tutor several Carolina football players, which resulted in the players receiving completed assignments for their classes. All that’s missing from this story is a tutoring session’s ’happy ending’ and Butch Davis running after his players with a 5-iron.
This has been one wild ride and I get the feeling it isn’t over yet. The excuses have transformed from there only being ‘one bad apple’ to there being ‘several bad apples’ to there being ’several bad apples being encouraged by the coaching staff’ to there being ‘several bad apples, encouraged by the coaching staff, and being allowed to blow off academics to play ball’ (or take trips to Miami, or whatever they do when they aren’t at practice). Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that those “few bad apples” went from 1 person to 6-12?