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N&O Wars Episode V: DeCock Strikes Back

Alternate 80s movie reference title: Don't mess with DeCock, young man - you'll get DeHorns. (I've got a million of 'em!)

Caution: what is about to be shared comes from message board innuendo, with all appropriate warnings and disclaimers:

I'm sure Luke DeCock's inflammatory column from Wednesday has caused consternation both among those blindly supporting Butch Davis 'til the heavens fall as well as from those with a more level-headed view simply because of the manner in which he impugned all 14 players associated with the football unpleasantness. THF shared with me a thread from the Inside Carolina message boards in which one of the posters allegedly e-mailed DeCock and received the following reply (again, disclaimer that this came from a message board and cannot be independently verified):

It really isn't about each individual incident taken individually. It's about the big picture, and that isn't pretty.

The number of NCAA violations and other suspensions at UNC exceeds any in recorded NCAA history. That demands action by everyone involved, including the chancellor and board of trustees, who have been completely outrage-free so far. (emphasis mine)

In the end, a coach who makes CEO money (and demands CEO power) has to bear the same responsibility as a CEO. Butch Davis has not run a clean program.

You'd think at UNC, of all places, people would be more angry about that.

Look, DeCock is a columnist and can provide his opinion if he wants. And quite frankly, there are many outside and inside the UNC family who share DeCock's point of view, or something thereabouts. Plenty of people think Butch Davis has sullied Carolina's reputation (see Chansky, Art) and should have been fired months ago, while others wait for all the facts to come in before forming final answers. And as was pointed out earlier, it is really about taking each individual incident individually, because there truly are degrees of ugly in this whole fiasco, and to deny this exists is again, intellectually lazy.

No, my problem is when you start playing loose with the facts to support your view of the situation. Does DeCock really believe "the number of NCAA violations and other suspensions at UNC exceeds any in recorded history"? If so, then he needs to read some more history. The number of violations and suspensions at UNC isn't even the largest single number in college football in the 2000s. In fact, it's not even the largest in the ACC in the last five years, or even the largest at a Triangle institution, for that matter.

And this brings us back to why you must take each individual incident individually, Luke. Of the 14 players who missed time this season, both Shaun Draughn and Da'Norris Searcy were never formally implicated in any wrongdoing and were apparently held out as a precaution. So that leaves 12 players, and only six of those were actually suspended by the NCAA (although Marvin Austin certainly would have been if UNC did not dismiss him from the team).

Just for comparison's sake, in 2000, the NCAA suspended 26 players from the University of Wisconsin football team for receiving improper benefits. Eleven of those players were suspended for three games for receiving benefits over $500, and the NCAA allowed Wisconsin to stagger the suspensions because the number was so large.  Last time I checked, 26 player suspensions from one team was more than 12, or even 14 from the 2010 Heels.

Within the ACC, the Florida State academic scandal in 2006-2007 touched 61 athletes in 10 sports. The Seminoles football team held out 30 players for the Music City Bowl alone. Again, by my math, 12 is still fewer than 61, or 30, for that matter. And while the actual enumeration of NCAA violations remains to be revealed, it's hard to imagine topping the 650 individual ticket infractions (and uncountable shoe-selling violations) at NC State in the Jim Valvano era.

In no way should this be interpreted as the "everyone does it" defense. It simply confirms the point that if DeCock really did claim that the number of suspensions and violations is the largest in NCAA history, then he is horribly misinformed. DeCock uses the blanket statement of the guilt of 14 players and the hyperbolic statement of the biggest violation ever in the NCAA to drive his larger point, which is the seeming lack of outrage and subsequent action by UNC officials. Apparently outrage as defined by DeCock (as well as message board monkeys and ABCers) is the immediate dismissal of Butch Davis and the reclassification of UNC football to Division II.

I read a message board post somewhere that said this kind of rhetoric by DeCock is exactly what our lupine brethren complained about with their treatment by the N&O two decades ago. I suppose the difference is that most UNC fans will shrug off DeCock as a columnist trying to keep the pot stirred and sell papers and drive web traffic, and not as requiring his or his newspaper's approval to validate their own self-worth.