Blog Entry

Georgia Tech's Johnson blasts NCAA decision

Posted on: July 19, 2011 5:21 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 5:49 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson has long had a reputation for saying exactly what's on his mind--no more, no less.

And the reason he has that reputation is interviews like the one published today by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in which Johnson flat-out unloads on the NCAA decision to vacate the Yellow Jackets' 2009 ACC championship. A few choice comments:
“The NCAA can’t take away the memories or what happened on the field. Let’s say somebody took something illegal. I’m still not convinced that happened, but let’s say it did. Well, you’re punishing 115 guys who didn’t do anything but work their butt off" ...

"If we were trying to cover the thing up, we would’ve just said that [athletic director] Dan [Radakovich] never told me anything. Their perception of what happened and my perception of what happened wasn’t close.”

Johnson’s perception: “That they came in here and talked to seven or eight kids and they didn’t find what they were looking for.

“I’ve been in this business a long time. You see all the things that are going on in college sports today, and you get slammed for this? I mean, come on now ...

“If you went out and you did something to gain a competitive advantage, if  you knew you cheated or you paid somebody, it might be easier to swallow,” Johnson said. “But when you don’t feel like you’ve done anything wrong, it’s tough to take.”

We don't blame Johnson at all for being upset. Having the ACC title stripped -- the AJC reports the championship trophy has been moved to a closet -- and four years' worth of probation hanging over the program is a tough blow for a coach who by the NCAA's own admission did nothing wrong.

But if there's anything the NCAA has been consistent about in handing down its recent rulings, it's that (say it with me) the cover-up is worse than the crime. Tech officials prepping athletes Demaryius Thomas and Morgan Burnett for interviews with NCAA investigators after being specifically told not to isn't the worst offense in the world, but there's not much question it does fall underneath the "cover-up" umbrella.

And as for "competitive advantage," Tech was cautioned that star receiver Thomas had "eligiblity questions" and played him against Clemson in the ACC title game anyway. No, it's not "paying somebody" (to use Johnson's term), but if using a player you know could be ineligible -- and was later proven to be -- isn't a "competitive advantage," then what is?

So we sympathize with Johnson's plight, and appreciate his candor. But we can't quite bring ourselves to agree with him that the NCAA overstepped its bounds, either.


Since: Sep 18, 2006
Posted on: July 22, 2011 2:50 am

Georgia Tech's Johnson blasts NCAA decision

When is someone going to investigate the NCAA?
They want you to focus on this school & focus on that school.
Look at what this school did... you can't do that, that's against the rules.
Doesn't anyone want to know what the NCAA is up to? They sure want everyone to stay focused on the athletes & coaches. Someone should take a look at the ones pointing instead of what their pointing at.
The worst part is when kids are being punished for so called infractions that happened while they were in high school.
As far as college football goes I think it would be great if all of the players decided to boycott the Bowl Games next year.
No one plays a down in any Bowl Game. I don't think corporate America would like that too much tho. They make millions off of the athletes & that would be a huge financial hit if the free labor decided not to play in a game that could get stripped from them in a couple of years anyway...

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Since: Sep 24, 2008
Posted on: July 21, 2011 9:55 pm

Georgia Tech's Johnson blasts NCAA decision

Georgia Tech got the shaft. This is just bogus. The NCAA is just setting up college football teams to have no stability. All you need is a bitter enemy of a rival to make accusations, and you either get penalties or a long investigations that drags your name through the mud.

Since: May 15, 2007
Posted on: July 21, 2011 9:02 pm

Georgia Tech's Johnson blasts NCAA decision

Yet Ohio State will get away with a slap on the wrist! The NCAA wont punish its Cash Cow!!


 If that is how you feel go make the NCAA some more money, but hio State already gave back their share of the Big en Title from last year and a bowl win that the NCAA themselves said those five guys could play in. With the way this is going tOSU looks like thy might get hammered petty good.   

Since: Nov 18, 2008
Posted on: July 21, 2011 2:17 pm

Georgia Tech's Johnson blasts NCAA decision

I wanted to add one final comment. GA Tech was punished NOT because D. Thomas violated any NCAA rules, because he was NEVER found to have violated any by the NCAA investigator, but because, in part, GA Tech allowed the player to participate in a game, or games after he "suggested" GA Tech hold him out pending the conclusion of the investigation. Now this belies the question; if the "investigator" wanted GA Tech to suspend the player pending his findings (which I remind everyone exonerated the player), and the actual main infraction against GA Tech is his claim that Paul Johnson and the player were notified in advance of the impending investigation, how in the heck did he expect Paul Johnson know to hold out the player pending his investigation unless someone told him to do so? I would also suggest that if you're a Head Football Coach and you AD comes to you and tells you that one of your players needs to be held out of several games, he won't be so stupid as to wonder why, but may still ask for some specific details. I would also suggest that the player would probably figure something was up when he was told he had to sit out a few games. I souls also suspect he would ask a few questions as to what and why this was happening. My point is that the investigator wanted it both ways - GA Tech's Administration wasn't supposed to inform the Head Coach of the investigation, but they also wanted the player held out of the game. The AA isn't the Head Coach so he can't suspend a player without telling him he won't be able to play, and the player will expect to be playing until he's told otherwise. Being given a major infraction for communication for doing exactly what their own investigator ordered (talking to the Head Coach and player about his requested suspension)? Does this make any sense?

Since: Oct 5, 2006
Posted on: July 20, 2011 9:41 pm

Georgia Tech's Johnson blasts NCAA decision

it is long over due to get rid of the NCAA.  They stole college sports from the universities, f them.  Say no to the NCAA

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: July 20, 2011 9:25 pm

Georgia Tech's Johnson blasts NCAA decision

There's no need to try to explain this crap.  The NCAA has no set standards that it follows.  The judgments handed out are based on emotions, there based on likes and dislikes, not facts.

Since: Nov 18, 2008
Posted on: July 20, 2011 6:15 pm

Georgia Tech's Johnson blasts NCAA decision

When this whole matter unfolded itself, and then the facts were explained, it was clear that it was unconscionable for an organization of the NCAA's "stature" to allow such an unbalanced decision to be announced based on the facts. It was illogical, and frankly speaking, with the current state of the economy, a total waste of taxpayer's and University's assets to involve such a to-do over less than $350.00 worth of meaningless merchandise that was returned immediately once it was discovered it "might" it be slightly tainted (which it was cleared). Heck, this trivial amount is less than the value of gift bags given out by the Bowls to the players...logically speaking, why would they want to get such rubbish just before a Bowl game if they thought it would jeopardize that? It doesn't make logical sense.

Now to the investigation itself. Let me start my comments by saying that our Country was founded on the premise that you are innocent until proven guilty. The current format of the NCAA has flipped that ideal and is attempting to punish a handful of potentially innocent student athletes, at the detriment to the rest of the innocent team. My question to you becomes this; when the NCAA investigator told GA Tech they had gotten a "tip" that there "may" have been a problem with a couple of players and that he was looking into it, and during the course of his "investigation," he "suggested" that GA Tech suspend the players pending his determination of his finding, what would have happened had:

- GA Tech did as he asked...

- the team then lost their following games after the suspensions (i.e. the ACC Championship)?

- it was then determined that the players were innocent of the charges (as was determined in his findings)?

There's no way to un-ring a bell. The team of players who worked all season to put themselves into the position to play for that Championship would be denied it for no reason. Would THAT be fair? Like I said, what the NCAA has done is going under the premise that players are guilty until proven innocent, and the way the NCAA is conducting their business is patently unfair to 99% of players who do absolutely nothing wrong.

Now my second "issue" is that the NCAA investigator (a University of North Carolina appointee - ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????) really came down hard against GA Tech because he said they didn't "cooperate" with the investigation (because GA Tech's Athletic Director, Dan Radakovich, supposedly told GA Tech's Head Football Coach, Paul Johnson, about the investigation, and insinuated they somehow "impeded" the investigation and "coached" the players about what to say), not because of the impropriety of the accused players.

First of all, I would suggest that if the NCAA notifies GA Tech that it is beginning an investigation against its football program, it would be prudent to immediately begin one on its own as the clock starts ticking once your report/decision is made. The school only has a short window of opportunity in which to respond to NCAA findings, and it wouldn't make logical sense to wait until the NCAA announces their findings until the member institution begins its own investigation. The only way GA Tech can conduct an investigation is to speak to its Head Football Coach and any players supposedly involved in the matter. NOT giving GA Tech the chance to do so is ridiculous.

However, I'll take this one step further. Let's say for the sake of argument that GA Tech agreed NOT to immediately start their own investigation. Had that been the case, then there would still be the issue of scheduling the interviews between the NCAA investigator and the players and GA Tech Coaches; they can't just show up on campus and magically have the Coaches and players meander into the room. The NCAA can't expect Coaches to drop everything they're doing and come to a meeting unprepared. If they need to pull up calendars from recruiting trips or meetings or any other items of importance that are applicable to the NCAA investigation, it's prudent that the Coach be prepared and have any documents, etc. to expedite the process. Individuals have to be cleared to meet with players before they are allowed to see them because they may have class, tutoring, weight training, or some other mandatory obligation. The schedules of these kids are carefully managed by the Athletic Association so you can imagine what would happen if a player was told he had to miss some mandatory meeting/class, etc. for some mystery. Don't you think they would become "concerned"?

As "guardians" of the players while they are at the Universities, Coaches and Athletic Directors are charged with acting in their best interest while they are away from home; many for the first time. When these players are pulled into these "meetings" with the NCAA investigators, is it unreasonable for someone to tell them what to expect so they won't be nervous, and to tell them to tell the truth? I think not. Is this "coaching" players as to what to say during the interview? Of course not. By the way, I wouldn't expect the NCAA to send idiots as investigators; I'm sure they'd do more checking than a couple of interviews with players to verify what really happened during their "investigation". I would hope that they would easily be able to ferret out nerves and truthfulness of players once they've gotten more than one source of information.

In my humble opinion, I believe that the NCAA not only has an obligation to its member Institutions, but all of the players involved as well. I also think that's it's time for the NCAA to re-evaluate its policy to err on the side of harming teams first. I realize part of their fear is that if you don't suspend players before a game, they may leave after the season is over. However, if they leave after the season, isn't it true that they've then been suspended anyway after-the-fact, unless they were scheduled to graduate? I know this isn't a perfect system, but the question remains; why punish 99% of honest players for the potential of 1% of dishonest ones. There has to be a better way.

I would conclude by getting back to one of my early points and that is the financial aspect of these investigations - shouldn't there be some sort of a cost benefit to this kind of extravaganza, especially with the economic burden already being placed on the kids attending the Universities and the public supporting them? Seriously, don't you think in the case of GA tech, this was just a bit extreme, especially compared to recent penalties sanctioned? The really sad part of this is that if GA Tech decides to appeal the finding, then both the University and the NCAA will end up spending tens of thousands of additional dollars and man hours working on this incredulous case that never should have been brought up in the first place.

Since: May 27, 2007
Posted on: July 20, 2011 5:39 pm

Georgia Tech's Johnson blasts NCAA decision

I was shaken by the force of the penalties on Georgia Tech for $312 worth of merchandise given to a player from his cousin's roommate. Here are some points:

The NCAA warned Tech that Thomas "may be" ineligible. Huh? I can hear the conversation, "So does that mean he can play or not?" "We're not saying he can't play -- we're just saying that he may be ineligible." "So we'll ask him if he's guilty." "Now hold it now. You cannot tell him we're investigating him." Tech asks him anyway, he explains the situation, and they feel that he didn't do anything wrong -- and they played him. Good for them.

From what I understood, that is why Tech is being charged with a cover up in this case. I'm proud Tech did not cut him from the team in this situation, and if we have to lose the ACC trophy, so be it.  I can understand where the NCAA holds head coaches and AD's making a million a year accountable, but holding a young man accountable for this is just craziness.  I also think I agree with another commentor: If a player is legally given something, he should be able to do whatever he wants with it -- including selling it. Toward the end of the semester, all students are selling things to make ends meet.  Why should football players be held accountable any more than any other scholarship player?

I hate Univ of Georgia, but they lost a kid for a few games for selling a jersey he got in a bowl game. It's just stupid to think that a college student with no money will not sell anything of value for some "walking around" money. If they didn't want him to have a jersey, don't give him one. If they want to sell their family tickets instead of giving them to their family, let them. (I could see a ban on scalping them just because this might be illegal anyway.)

But to penalize everyone on a team for the minor misconduct of a few players is just crazy to me. To not expect a head coach to care about his players -- and to just throw them under a bus because the NCAA tells them to do so -- is just not right.  If you go on any campus of any major football program, you can see the star football players have so much that they shouldn't be able to afford. To make examples of about 10 a year out of a 1000 who have to be doing something wrong to be driving cars they cannot afford just seems that the NCAA is only enforcing enough to make themselves seem relavent.

That said, I think the NCAA needs to work harder on the academic side of things. Why not make Junior College a more attractive alternative to borderline students by giving them 4 years of eligibility at college in addition to the 2 years in Junior College? (It's only 1 more than a redshirt.) I've never really seen the NCAA do anything to really help besides requiring students to pass courses. So the star football player doesn't have the academic background? I wonder what will happen?

Since: Mar 20, 2007
Posted on: July 20, 2011 3:49 pm

Georgia Tech's Johnson blasts NCAA decision

It sounds like Johnson should be mad at his athletic department rather than the NCAA.  The program cheated whether he personally did or not.  Prepping players for interviews after being specifically told not to is begging for punishment.

Since: Jul 19, 2011
Posted on: July 20, 2011 1:53 pm

Georgia Tech's Johnson blasts NCAA decision like LSU got a slap on the wrist....

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