Protip to avoid getting in trouble for breaking the rules: don't break the rules. Since that's stupid, a better protip might be: don't get caught breaking the rules. And an addendum to that second protip is that if you're not good enough to avoid getting caught breaking the rules, maybe you should stick with the first one.
Joker Phillips, Florida's wide receivers coach, was caught on camera having a nice tasty dinner with a potential recruit. I'll break down the whys and wherefores in a second (and DJ already ably summarized the situation over in the Buckshots), but here's a quick little summary of what we know so far from our good friends over at Yahoo! Sports, who have never once done anything to make Ohio State fans dislike or distrust them ever:
Former University of Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips resigned this week after the NCAA received a photo of the coach sitting in a restaurant with a high school recruit during a mandated dead period in recruiting, multiple sources told Yahoo Sports.
Three sources told Yahoo Sports the photo was turned over to the NCAA by an individual with ties to the Miami Hurricanes athletics program.
Okay, so... not great. The dead period is called the dead period for a reason, and that reason is spelled out pretty dang well by the NCAA. "Bump into" a kid, wish them well, blow them kisses, send a flirty text, skywriting, carrier pigeon, whatever, the point is that any contact whatsoever is a recruiting violation and bad news for a program in the eyes of the NCAA.
The delicious irony of this is of course that Joker was turned in by someone involved with the Hurricanes, probably writing a furious missive to the NCAA in between arranging shipments of powdered rhino horn to members of the Miami football team.
It's interesting to me because it further proves that whatever dumbass snitches get stitches culture that supposedly exists between college sports programs is pretty much a myth. Miami isn't even in the same conference as Florida, but if there's even the mildest chance that their paths might intersect while recruiting a player, then you can bet that every overzealous booster is praying day and night for this kind of manna from heaven to fall in their lap.
Just imagine the childlike glee that that Miami affiliated person of some sort (a booster, probably, most likely yeah okay it was a booster I mean come on) must have felt while fumbling with his ancient Motorola in the back of a Red Robin, finally managing a grainy photo of sloppily eating a burger with a bored high school kid. The thrill of a lifetime.
BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE.
Phillips abruptly stepped down from his position on Wednesday – despite reportedly working at Florida’s football camp that same morning.
And that is exactly how fast the screw can turn on a dude. Not that Joker shouldn't have been fired, he absolutely should've been, but the idea is that Joker probably did this every week. Hell, Muschamp might've even expected it as part of his job, especially since Phillips was considered a top level recruiter.
But it's also an NCAA violation. Granted, it's a violation that pretty much every major football program (including Ohio State) will violate on a fairly regular basis, but it's still a sign of the times that a guy can be fully invested in a football program at noon, and then by 6 they're cleaning out their desk. Recruiting's crazy.
This, however, might be my favorite part:
Ironically, Phillips took the position at Florida after the Gators' previous wide receivers coach, Aubrey Hill, resigned his position for "personal reasons" in the wake of Yahoo Sports reports detailing his illicit contact with recruits while he was at the University of Miami. The NCAA determined Hill had committed violations with recruits and then subsequently provided false information to investigators, and penalized him with a two-year show-cause finding.
It never ends!
The path to the creation of a successful football program is paved with the corpses of position coaches who took the fall for a program. I hope no one demonizes Joker Phillips beyond his simple breaking of the rules, because really, the dude wasn't doing anything beyond the scope of what's more or less expected of someone in his position anyway.
The real trick for some of these programs is that they have juuuuuust enough plausible deniability to avoid major sanctions and look contrite before the NCAA, but not clamp down so hard that they actually have to stop doing what they've been doing.
I realize that none of this is news to a lot of you. Teams break the rules, the NCAA gets mad, programs act surprised, and this funny ol' world keeps on spinning. It's nothing particularly new, but what might be new is the idea of the NCAA as a cudgel brandished by other teams, and not by the organization itself. Maybe teams are beginning to realize that yes, while the NCAA is a schizophrenic and incoherent organization, if you can direct their rage filled eye toward your rival (either on the field or in recruiting), they can still be a useful tool.
It's a completely cynical way to look at collegiate sports' governing body, but hell, maybe that's where we're at with the NCAA now. Now, if only we could trace back to where Joker Phillips learned his dark technique. Perhaps some Sith mentor, hellbent on spitting on rules and decency at every turn. Some awful, twisted human being, who