Someone got caught.
I know, I know, it's not what you want to hear. After all, you spent the better part of a lifetime clawing your way up the ladder of football coaching, rung after agonizing rung, making sacrifices and compromises every step of the way to reach the top. You did things that you didn't think you would ever do in the name of success, but eventually, you made it. You slogged your way through a swamp of corruption, favors, and entitlement and your just reward was to be the head coach of an FBS football team.
And not just any FBS football team. A team people have actually heard of! You have fans that still wear sweatshirts celebrating the Midsized Southern City/Generic Automotive Service Bowl that your school won 25 years ago! Old guys lie about being at that famous game your team played in way back in the day! You know, the one that you won (or possibly lost under controversial circumstances)? Babies poop in diapers emblazoned with the logo of your chief rival! Man, do we hate those guys!
But it's over. Somewhere along the line, someone screwed up, and now the worst kind of pencil necked geek, those scum-sucking, brown-nosing, tattletales known better as NCAA Compliance Officers have showed up to your front door. You know your ride at the top is over, but you may be asking yourself, "What do I do now? How can I save face and dignity and still remain a viable candidate for future jobs?!? MY CHILDREN NEED WINE, JOHNNY!"
Woah! It's gonna be okay, Generic FBS Head Football Coach. Just settle down, take a deep breath, and after you've followed my patented five step program you will be well on your way to your new life as either a slightly more nervous FBS head football coach, ESPN tv personality, Directional University safeties coach, or persistent Twitter meme.
STEP ONE: Don't Commit Violations In The First Place
Hahaha of course I am just kidding. Corruption and violations are everywhere, and you can't escape it. By the time you have read this, you've likely committed dozens of secondary violations in recruiting alone, and possibly some major violations as well!
As you well know, it is unbelievably easy for someone in your program to commit an NCAA violation, and given that any one of the 120ish players under your auspices can help screw you over at any time, coupled with the enormous amounts of money involved with college sports in general means that your job was always pretty much a ticking time bomb from day one. The real purpose of this guide is to help you defuse that time bomb, at least until they build a version without any green wires to cut.
Step Two: Plausible Deniability
The biggest mistake Jim Tressel made (aside from violating Step One), was to create a paper trail of the unbelievably dumb stuff that he did. Hello Fired City!
Instead, what you need to do is to run your program like a finely tuned mafia operation. "Happy accidents," like the supposedly spontaneous appearance of two celebrities, should never be tied back to you in any way, shape, or form. Use code names, secret meeting places, or plain just delete everything in your inbox with the heading of POTENTIAL VIOLATIONS. Just do anything you can to confuse the issue of who ordered what violation and when.
Remember, the NCAA is a facile organization with no subpoena power, and it's your job to confound them every step of the way as they try and expose your rampant rule breaking. Don't make their job any easier.
STEP Three: Find A Scapegoat
"I'm shocked that Surprised Looking Assistant Coach would decide to bring Reality Television Actress to a team event and providing players with free shoes. I, of course, had no knowledge of this, nor did anyone else, but of course I will take full responsibility by firing Surprised Looking Assistant Coach."
It's a time tested approach that works, people. During the past few years, Butch Davis, head coach of UNC, watched as his team committed academic fraud, let agents have run of the house, and generally just took a giant leak over the NCAA rulebook. So: find a scapegoat. UNC assistant coach John Blake seemed to be at the center of many of these allegations, so his head is next on the chopping block.
Because NCAA has been unclear about how much a head coach is culpable for assistant coaches committing violations, it allows Butch Davis to make statements like:
"I feel terrible that these allegations occurred under my watch... The responsibility for correcting any problems that put us in this position is mine, and I take that responsibility very seriously. ... I will continue to focus on improving every aspect of our football program."
Perfectly done! Continue collecting that seven-figure paycheck and call it a day (or at least until the Board of Trustees gets tired of you).
Step Four: Obfuscate, Obfuscate, Obfuscate
One of the worst things you can ever do is to be upfront with what you did when confronted with evidence. Stammered denials, folksy charm, or self righteous anger are all powerful weapons in your arsenal against those who might try and uncover what you or others did (the weaselly jerks).
If, God forbid, you are forced to have a press conference, try not to completely screw it up.
Oh brother! If you've ignored steps one through three, don't have a press conference and invite questions from the media. Their job is to ask questions. Your job, as I hope I've made clear, is to avoid answering them at all costs. If you get to the point where you have to personally explain all the rule-breaking you've done, you've already lost.
Step Five: Run Like Hell
John Calipari has basically made a living of coaching basketball while racking up multiple serious NCAA violations, and when found out at one school, turning tail and running to the next. His is a perfect strategy of sustained success; by completely disregarding any sense of loyalty or integrity, Calipari has been able to maintain a facade of competence for years among the general public, a perception that has allowed to him obtain several high profile jobs in a row.
Oh, but you say you have higher aspirations? Professional aspirations, maybe? Well then just follow the example of Pete Carroll! When it became apparent that no amount of lies to the NCAA would suffice, he successfully parlayed his college football resume into an NFL coaching job, keeping him free and clear of any penalties suffered by USC, and allowing him to make incredibly noble and self-aware statements such as:
"It's unfortunate that kids, years and years after, are punished for what the NCAA is dealing with from years and years before. That's the most unfortunate thing ... kids that were in junior high at the time, or in grade school, are paying the price for it."
And of course, Pete's right. It is unfortunate. For the players uninvolved in any wrongdoing, for the fans, for the coaches left behind. It is very unfortunate.
But not for you, FBS Head Football Coach. As long as you followed these steps, you'll be fine, and won't be viewed upon as some coaching leper like that horrible Jim Tressel. And really, that's all that matters.