Just because the University of Louisville deserves the NCAA's "Death Penalty" doesn't mean it'll get it. In fact, it probably won't.
Louisville was allegedly involved in a giant money-laundering scheme, busted by the feds and it sounds as though they're not alone. Four assistant college basketball coaches from other universities have been indicted. And just today, Nike's elite grassroots basketball division was served with a subpoena by the feds, similar to the one that was slapped on adidas earlier this week.
All of it is exposing the sleazy underbelly of college basketball at some of its big-time institutions.
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is finished. He'll fight to save his name, what's left of it, and may some day coach again, just not at any Division I school that values its reputation.
You get one free pass with the "I didn't know anything about it" excuse. Pitino used that last year when a glorified madam accused his program of using her services through a U of L assistant coach.
Sorry, that works only once, and it was hard to believe him then.
Coaches, at all levels, are notorious control freaks. They want to know everything and anything that goes on with their program and their players.
It's understandable. You're dealing with the under-21 crowd and the temptations for celebrity athletes of that age are boundless. If Pitino didn't know about the madam or this latest piece of sleaze, he should have been fired.
If he put himself in a "plausible denial" position, where assistants are told "do what you have to just don't tell me about it," he should be fired. If he knew what was going on, he should be fired. He has been. He'll sue, money will probably be exchanged in some sort of settlement, and that'll be it.
In the meantime, the University of Louisville will suffer no major consequences. Why? Do the same drill the feds did this week: Follow the money.
The U of L belongs to the most prestigious basketball conference in the history of the game.
Sorry Big Ten. You play a good brand of basketball, but you're not the Atlantic Coach Conference, with pedigree teams the likes of Duke and North Carolina.
Sorry SEC, you've got Kentucky, but you don't have the annual depth of talented teams like the ACC.
ESPN, and others, pay major money for the rights to televise ACC games. Louisville is one of the premier programs in its conference. It has national titles, big-time basketball alums and it plays its home games in a palace.
Ever been to the Yum Center? All due respect to what the refurbished Fifth Third Arena may eventually look like, UC and its fans will still live in "house envy."
I'm sure there'll be a few Clemson versus Pitt games that will be compelling. Georgia Tech versus Boston College? Maybe.
But the marquee teams are few in this country, even in a great conference like the ACC. The networks want to televise Louisville games because Louisville is good, regardless of how they get their players.
Good teams draw big audiences. A big audience brings big advertisers who want big sales for the products they advertise.
Follow the money.
As a wise man once said: "The answer to all of the questions you have in life, is money."
By the way, have we heard an NCAA ruling on the North Carolina basketball academic scandal yet? Of course not. That's been ongoing for more than three years. What's happened in the interim? Right, North Carolina has been on TV and playing for conference and national titles.
But the University of Louisville is in deeper and hotter water than that.
Five schools, including the University of Kentucky basketball teams in the 1950s, have had programs that have been hit with the NCAA's so called "Death Penalty."
After getting caught paying some of its players, Southern Methodist's football program was shut down for a year and the school decided that, rather than play all of its games on the road the following year (as mandated by the NCAA for reinstatement). it would not play, by its choice, a second year.
The results were devastating. SMU had one winning season for the next 20 years.
The "Death Penalty" is officially called the NCAA's "repeat violator" rule. It's fairly simple. If a school commits a second major violation within five years of being placed on probation, in the same sport or another sport, then that school can lose the sport involved in the second violation for up to two seasons.
At Louisville, they aren't worrying about the "another sport" part of the rule. And given the dollars involved with television rights, they shouldn't be worrying about not being allowed to play basketball this season or next. Is it right? Is it wrong? No, it's money.
Now, some random thoughts on this random Thursday...
Thanks to ESPN, I'm burned out on the "kneel or no kneel" deal. I need a break. It's incessant and I feel like you're tuning out, regardless of which side you're on. Not dealing with it here...
The Bengals are 0-3 for a lot of reasons. One of which is their offensive line can't block all that well and the other is that their defense doesn't take the ball away enough.
William Jackson III's pick six Sunday aside, the Bengals haven't recovered an opponent's fumble so far this season. They had three, all of last year.
Putting your offense in a short-field situation, through turnovers, it the best thing a defense can do.
The same things that killed the Bengals in 2016 are killing them so far this season. By the way, the Bengals record since that "playoff meltdown" against the Steelers in January, 2016? 6-12-1...
But what the Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson did with his first-ever NFL paycheck is one of the greatest things I've heard of in sports...
There are a lot of intriguing matchups this week in the NFL, but two of them stand out. One of them is whether or not the Chiefs can remain unbeaten. They're at home, Monday night, against the Redskins.
The other is a late game Sunday, conjuring up memories of the late '60s: Raiders against the Broncos.
I'll take the Chiefs and Broncos...
Dwayne Wade signed with the Cavs? One-year deal? Lebron could be gone after this season? Hmmmm...
If you're a Reds fan and you're not feeling all that good yet about the direction of your team, here's some hope. Here's some more: Castillo, Mahle, Romano and Bailey. And we don't even have to get into the "usual suspects" they roll out every spring...
Fifty-nine years ago today, this song went to No. 1 in the USA and had a nine-week run at the top of the charts. It is, and remains, one of the most iconic songs in the history of recorded music.
The song was credited to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, but it was written, in its entirety, by McCartney.
It's a song about Lennon's son, Julian, who was going through a tough time, as his parents were getting a divorce. There is a line in this song, "the movement you need is on your shoulder" that McCartney wrote as a "place holder."
Songwriters do that sometimes when they can't come up with a lyric they think will fit. McCartney told Lennon, while he played it for the first time, that he was going to change the lyric once he came up with a better line.
Lennon told him not to change it, that it was just fine. And so it remained. It was a No. 1 hit, not just in the USA but in 11 other countries.