One of the things we have tried to do at THF during the course of the current unpleasantness surrounding the football program is to examine all sides and all possibilities as nuggets of information have dropped. With that in mind, consider the following:
Just suppose everything that has happened is exactly what the people involved have said it is and most of this is simply a series of unfortunate and ill-timed events. As a result, the sum of all the issues is larger than its individual parts. For example, let's take a look at what has transpired so far:
- Deaunta Williams took a trip in which he paid for his travel but not his lodging because he stayed at someone's house. There was no agent involvement whatsoever, but still he was suspended for four games. The NCAA comes off looking petty and draconian, but there is no evidence of real wrongdoing in this instance.
- Kendric Burney did take three trips and had contact with an ALC, and yet he was only found to have received less than $1500 in improper benefits. Given that two of trips were cross-country and based on his father's statements to the media, Burney himself had to be responsible for paying for most of those expenses. The NCAA dings Burney six games but for improper benefits, not agent or ALC contact.
- Da'Norris Searcy and Shaun Draughn were held out of three games and one game, respectively, but have never been formally accused of any impropriety.
So, in essence, you can take these four players out of the equation because their transgressions appear to be minor, incidental, or nonexistent. So where does that leave the other nine players?
The scuttlebutt about Marvin Austin, Greg Little, Michael McAdoo, and Robert Quinn is that their issues are agent-related. In particular, Austin, Little, and McAdoo seem to be tied to one issue and Quinn to another. Charles Brown has been said to have been in the same boat as Kendric Burney as it relates to Chris Hawkins.
On the other side are the "withheld" players, Ryan Houston, Linwan Euwell, Brian Gupton, and Jonathan Smith. This is assumed to be academic and this might therefore be the group that faces Honor Court issues.
Just suppose it could therefore be surmised that, at the end of the day, we are back to the original two prongs: agents and academics. If Marvin Austin is the main issue in agents and Little and McAdoo are collateral damage tied to Austin, and the tutor issue is confined to just that one tutor and a number, seemingly less than five, of football players (holding Burney/Brown/Williams/Quinn as outliers), then does this really paint the picture of a program run amok? Or is it just a collision of events at the same place and the same time?
Which leads us to the John Blake/Gary Wichard financial revelations from Yahoo. Just suppose these things are exactly what John Blake's lawyers say they are - gifts to a friend who was down on his luck. People have rightfully questioned how a guy making $240K a year could be down on his luck, but who knows what issues Blake is dealing with - tax issues, alimony, child support - all those things can take a toll on even someone who make that kind of money.
Yahoo says they have sources who confirm six wire transfers were made in the last three years; Blake's people deny that. Both say Blake had a Pro-Tect credit card, but Blake's people said that it had expired. Somebody has to be telling the truth - which one is it?
Baddour says they knew of financial dealings between Blake and Wichard as early as August 31 but that it did not rise to the level of a violation in their eyes. Just suppose they got that information from Blake's people, the same ones denying it to the media. UNC has no subpoena power, nor does the NCAA, so don't they have to take Blake's word for it? (BTW, where did Yahoo get its information? Unless Blake voluntarily turned over bank records to NCAA/UNC, the only way they would be out there is under subpoena, which means there is a leak in the NC Secretary of State's office)
Yahoo has also conveniently not released the amounts of the wire transfers from Wichard to Blake even though they did release the amount of his bank loan. Just suppose those transfers were for $500 each. Would that change how you view the story? It seems like $500 was not a lot of money to be a runner, especially for a guy making $240K a year.
For his part, Marvin Austin, through his attorney, says Blake never tried to steer him toward Wichard or any agent. Given that Austin was friends with Wichard client Kentwan Balmer, and that Blake has only had two players in the past five years sign with Wichard, and that of the big-time seniors that came back, none of them except Austin has been linked to Wichard, a case can be made that these transactions were what it was said they were. Again, for all the drama caused by the Yahoo article, just as with the first one, there is the appearance of impropriety but nothing concrete.
Also, as it relates to Butch Davis and his knowledge of these events, an argument can be made that how he was supposed not only to know who was in John Blake's cell phone's fave five, but also to help him balance his checkbook? On the other hand, as THF smartly pointed out, you can only go to the "I didn't know about that" well but so many times. Then again, the NCAA said Saint Jimmy Valvano didn't know about the hundreds of ticket and shoe violations, either.
So just suppose the NCAA says Davis knew nothing about either Blake, the tutor issues, or the agent issues. Does he remain as football coach? Will Baddour survive as AD?
Keep in mind that while I do think there is a certain degree of truth to this mess being a series of unfortunate events, I don't buy a lot of the "it's possible that..." argument. I think institutionally UNC is guilty of a lot of naivete and glacial reaction to fast-moving issues, but I don't believe there are large-scale systemic issues. Of course the issue is not what I believe, but what the NCAA believes. Given that agents are the NCAA's white whale and they have Blake and Wichard on the hook, I can't imagine them not slamming the door if only to show everyone else what they will do. But it is fun to play the "just suppose" game, I guess.