ACC Commissioner John Swofford told me a couple weeks ago that he'd never try to predict what the NCAA will do when it comes to punishing its member schools for coloring outside the lines. My question was related to UNC's ongoing sparring with the college sports overlords in Indy, but I was reminded of his comments today when Louisville's punishment was revealed. It is, by any measure, a serious slug to the Cardinals gut. Probation? Sure. Scholarship reductions? No problem. Show cause for McGee? Of Course. Even Rick Pitino's 5 game ACC suspension seems pedestrian relative to the fact that he's somehow stayed employed given all his sordid scandals. Pulling their 2013 National Championship banner is a monster step, though.
As a fan, I'd be torn on this. Card fans already got to enjoy the title run. The NCAA can't take away those delirious nights of excitement and celebration years later. They happened. The game was won by their team. The fact that that title is being yanked because of an in-house recruiting sex scandal though is undeniably ugly. A stain on the school, the program, Pitino and all those involved. A good chunk of people outside Louisville won't remember the scintillating play of Peyton Siva and Russ Smith. They'll only laugh at the knowledge that it all went away in the most sleazy way possible. And that's just non-Kentucky fans. Inside Bluegrass state lines - this one will be comic material for decades, heck, forever.
That brings us inevitably to UNC. Sure the details are vastly different and UNC has chosen to put up its dukes vs the NCAA rather than fall to its knees begging for mercy. HOWEVAH - this ruling indicates a certain resolve by the NCAA to send a message to those schools they feel have brought shame to college sports. Are they determined to make UNC pay the way they did Louisville? I don't need to tell you which banners at Carolina could potentially be under scrutiny. The NCAA has decided Louisville's have got to go. Depending on how they view UNC, the same could be true. That would be a neutron bomb in Chapel Hill. It's unimaginable really, but I don't think we can completely rule it out. UNC's argument against the NCAA is whipsmart, but ultimately, it's not up to them.