Daily Cavalcade - Florida State & The NCAA
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden
Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden
Posted Mar 9, 2009

Why should the NCAA be involved in the academic and cheating scandal at Florida State? What possible good does it do to force a school to vacate wins? Pete Fiutak gives his thoughts on the situation in a Daily Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Fiu's Daily Cavalcade of Whimsy

Florida State's Vacated Wins ... March 9

a.k.a. Frank Costanza's Festivus Airing of the Grievances ... or the obvious attempt to keep readers coming to the site on a regular basis during the off-season.
By Pete Fiutak   
What's your beef? ... Fire off your thoughts  

Past Whimsies:  
- Stories from the Combine
- 10 Tidbits From Recruiting Season
- Making peace with recruiting
- The NFL announcers
- The Mark Sanchez situation
- The NFL Playoffs vs. The BCS
- Why Florida really is No. 1
- The Jagodzinski situation
- Auburn's big coaching moves
- 10 Reasons Why Fla Will Win
10 Reasons Why OU Will Win
- The Andre Smith suspension
- NFL Mock Draft (top 10 picks)
- Holiday Wish List For All 119 Teams

- Chizik, Gill, & the Race Card
- Why Paterno isn't too old

Past Whimsies

- 2008 Season
2008 Preseason Cavalcade
- 2007 Season
2006 Season

"Listen, everybody. Let's see "As" across the board. I'll tell you what ... a ten percent bonus for every grade over "B." And an A+ gets you a free trip to Hawaii... off-season." ... I'll ask the politically incorrect question: why does the NCAA get to have any say in the matter when it comes to academic cheating and what happens on the field?

The NCAA, who took time out from its daily treasure bath, was forced to pretend like it cared about rules and regulations after Florida State reported a major cheating and academic scandal that swept across several sports in 2006 and 2007. The football program figures to be the most prominently hit with Bobby Bowden likely to lose wins off his all-time victory total.

It's all silly.

UCLA doesn't get handed the 2006 Emerald Bowl now, and the 2007 Maryland team doesn't suddenly get credited with a winning season. Florida State's wins with players who cheated in the classroom happened, and they should still count on Bowden's record (while the wins over Millington Naval Air Station, the University of Mexico, and Gordon JC shouldn't, but that's a fight for another day). The results don't just magically change because the NCAA says so.

Vacating wins doesn't do anything but create a false sense of justice. By applying this "punishment," the NCAA doesn't actually hurt the offending school, even though it seems like it's a big deal, therefore making sure the big-name ACC program doesn't really suffer. (Keep this concept in mind over the next several years. After signing on for $500 million for the BCS, ESPN might have a huge problem if the NCAA ever drops the hammer on a superpower ... but don't hold your breath. Doesn't it seem just a tad odd that no one appears to be doing anything wrong out there while other controversies are getting swept under the rug?)

The Florida State football team might be penalized a total of six scholarships over the next three years ... oooooh, crippling. FSU will be on "probation" until 2013. Well, gee, what's the point of even keeping the program? None of these minor slaps on the wrist make the headlines like the concept of vacating wins does.

It shouldn't be the NCAA's business to dole out punishments for academic issues. If Florida State wants to be seen as a credible and reputable academic institution, then the university powers-that-be should be able to handle a cheating issue internally. And that's exactly what happened with several Seminoles being suspended at the end of 2007 and early in 2008. But for the vice chair of the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Dennis Thomas, to claim that FSU's wins with offending players should be automatically vacated doesn't make any practical sense.

If you're Florida State and the NCAA is threatening to take your wins, when you did all you were supposed to do to handle the problem like a major university, you simply tell them no and to go get you a soda. 

The NCAA should be trying to deal with the steroid and human growth hormone issue that's being shockingly ignored. The NCAA should be far more proactive than reactive in finding and punishing infractions as they're happening. The NCAA should do more to put restrictions on the recruiting process (especially for basketball), do more to address the gross inequity and hypocrisy of big-time college athletics when it comes to the players' inability to make a buck, do more to make sure that athletes can be student athletes (like eliminating weeknight games ... oh yeah, the TV contracts), and do more to root out the schools that have academic issues and aren't handling them in a proper manner.

Florida State, by the NCAA's admission, has done everything above board and has bent over backwards to make sure this current situation is rectified. For the NCAA to then get all heavy and push further with the punishments will only mean that schools might think twice the next time they want to report an infraction they feel could be handled best from the inside. Just ask Oklahoma what good it does to report your program's mistakes after the rigmarole it had to go through with the Rhett Bomar/J.D. Quinn no-show job issue a few years ago. This isn't a positive since some schools that aren't as big or as powerful as FSU or OU won't be quite as forthcoming to potentially mess with the cash cow.

In the end, the NCAA will likely pull back the vacated win concept in this case for FSU, even if it takes a year or so, and nothing will really come of all the kicking and screaming. Academic cheating is, of course, something that has to be dealt with severely and harshly ... by the schools.