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Nationwide Should Fire That Greatest Spokesperson Guy And Hire John Blake

Seriously, since John Blake is so fond of talking to people and dispensing advice then strap a phone to his hip and let him sell insurance.

Now, we all remember in early September, the N&O released John Blake's phone records after receiving them via a public records request. At the time they merely highlighted the calls made to agent Gary Wichard. With the revelation that Blake was also talking to Alabama's Marcell Dareus, someone over on McDowell St decided it would be a great idea look at even more phone records to see who else Blake has been talking to which leads to this:

Phone records released Tuesday show that former UNC North Carolina associate head football coach John Blake last year placed calls to agent Gary Wichard’s cell phone at times within minutes of calls to the family of prized 2010 draft prospect Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska.

On Monday, University of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini told the Omaha World-Herald that he recalled there being concerns over possible contact between John Blake and Suh during Suh’s time as a student-athlete at Nebraska.

The phone records, obtained through an open records request, don’t show the content of the phone calls. Blake has denied through lawyers that he steered any player to Wichard or other agents as investigators continue to probe Blake’s ties to agents while he coached the Tar Heels.

Suh, who was the second selection in this year’s NFL draft after being named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, said Tuesday in an interview that Blake is a good friend and didn’t push an agent on him.

Suh said he didn’t have any contact with Wichard in the agent process, and Wichard was not one of the final three agents he considered.

“In no instance, did he try to push an agent on me of any kind,” Suh said.

Suh signed with Eugene Parker and Roosevelt Barnes of Maximum Sports Management on Jan. 27. The Detroit Lions made him the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft on April 22.

The News & Observer and the Charlotte Observer obtained the records for Blake’s cell phone and desk phone related to six numbers associated with Suh and his family. Previously, the newspapers obtained records of Blake’s calls with Wichard.

The records cover Blake’s cell phone from Oct. 31, 2009 to June 22, 2010 and his desk phone from May 11, 2009 to Aug. 30, 2010.

They show a total of 19 communications between Blake and Suh or his family members. The records do not distinguish between phone calls and text messages.

I won't tell you what UNC's response was to this newest revelation because making you guess is so much more fun.(Hint: Three words, first one is "We" and the third is "know.")

The reason this is important lies in the eternal question as to whether John Blake has been a runner for Gary Wichard. We have money being given to Blake by Wichard, which may all turn out to be non-violations or has now taken the form off of gifts to a few players.   Now we have not one but two phone calls to players on other teams with conversations that may have pertained to agents. In this case, Blake calls Ndamukong Suh and in the same general time frame he also talks to Wichard. Suh says Blake did not attempt to push him toward one agent or another. Suh's family echos that statement. The presence of the phone calls in close proximity does raise the proverbial red flag given Blake along with Alabama Marcell Dareus saying Blake suggested Wichard to him.

On the other hand, if Blake is a runner, boy does he suck at his job. Somewhere the really good runners are sitting around contemplating whether they will sue the NCAA for slander should the ruling body declare Blake to be a runner. According to Suh, Blake never lobbied for Wichard and Wichard never made Suh's top three. Only one player in four years from UNC ended up with Wichard. Marvin Austin may have been the second but we will never know. If results are used as evidence of wrong doing, then I am not sure there is enough to convict here.

Ultimately the NCAA is going to consider all these points and many others that may never see the light of day. The problem for UNC in all of this lies with Chris Hawkins or rather his designation as an agent-like creature. I have yet to see why Hawkins is considered an ALC by the NCAA or evidence of behavior which led to that designation. It is quite possible the same will be true if the NCAA decides to declare Blake a runner. There are financial transactions. There are calls between Blake and Wichard. Now you have calls from Blake to players at other schools with one of those individuals saying Blake suggested Wichard. What this all means is the NCAA is not going to care the various explanations for the money, phone calls and Blake's general relationship with Wichard. That is a lot of different items to deal with at the same time which is why simple explanations or calling it a coincidence it difficult.

Blake could very well be dirty and the NCAA may be completely right in whatever they do to him. There are also enough explanations for some of his behavior not to mention phones calls and financial transactions alone do not constitute violations. Since there are enough shades of gray in effect here, the NCAA may well decide to on their own intepretation of these events including substituting what they think Blake's intent was in receiving money or making phone calls. If that turns out to be the case, I am not seeing a clear path out of trouble for UNC in general once you factor in the other issues.

As always, wait and see.