6/12 Roundtable - Should Bama Vacate Wins?
Alabama WR Julio Jones
Alabama WR Julio Jones
Posted Jun 12, 2009

Do you agree with the idea of vacating wins as a punishment, like Florida State and now Alabama has to do? It's the Friday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

June 12

Should Alabama Vacate Wins From 2005-2007?

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Past Roundtables
June 11 Should college football players be paid?
June 10 Is the recruiting hype too much?
June 9 If you were starting an NFL team ...
June 8 Where would you take over as head coach?
June 5 Who does the least with the most?
June 4 Who does the most with the least?
June 3 The star players of September
June 2 The star teams of September
June 1 The coach you'd want for one game
May 28 Should the Big Ten expand, and if so, then what team should be added?
May 27 Should the Pac 10 expand? If so, then what two teams should be added?
May 26 Chizik, Kiffin or Mullen?
May 25 Heisman race sleepers 
May 22 2009's most interesting teams

May 21 Is Tebow the best QB ever?
May 20 When should preseason polls come out?
May 19 Does 2008 Utah have a beef?
May 18 No BCS, No Weis?

Pete Fiutak, CFN

Yes, I'm part of the problem. You can check me out at and find out future roundtable topics and other random musings.

Q: Do you agree with the idea of vacating wins as a punishment, like Florida State and now Alabama has to do?

Of course not, and I already touched on this yesterday (Vacate This ... Alabama's NCAA Punishment).

My three main problems are that 1) Alabama had already handled the situation and already called itself out for the infractions and punished the players, 2)  it's not really a punishment that's going to do anything going forward, and 3) the violations have nothing whatsoever to do with the outcome of those 21 games that have to be vacated.

You can't unring the bell. The games were won, people showed up, paid their money for the tickets, the bands played, there was tailgating, the games were on television, and they were covered by all the media outlets. They happened, Alabama won, and that can't be changed just because a bunch of silly bureaucrats say so.

Now, if it was discovered that Alabama's O line was juiced up on steroids (I'm not suggesting it was) and therefore had an unfair competitive advantage, then I'd buy the idea of taking away wins. I'm fine with the concept if someone was convicted of point-shaving, spying New England Patriots style, or if something else happened that ended up leading to Alabama's wins by ill-gotten means.

I'm not for vacating wins if there was a violation of NCAA rules or if something happened academically. Cheating in the classroom isn't a football problem; it's a university problem. A strange textbook issue that had nothing to do with those 21 wins shouldn't be seen as a reason for the record books to be changed.

The biggest problem in all of this is the utter spinelessness of the NCAA's punishment. If everyone wants to follow the rules, as naive and ridiculous as they are, then Alabama should be punished with the loss of scholarships, TV time, and bowl eligibility. I'm not saying that should happen, I have no problem with the infractions that are even more bizarre than they first appeared on the surface (considering the players involved made less than the bowl swag they get is worth, which is all fine and dandy with the NCAA), but if you're going to punish, then punish.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: Do you agree with the idea of vacating wins as a punishment, like Florida State and now Alabama has to do?

I sure do.

I’m guessing I’m in the minority here, but I remain a hard-liner when it comes to rules in all walks of society. If you or your players break them, stop your whining, and take your punishment. If that means vacating wins when ineligible student-athletes were played or improper benefits were received, then so be it. Oh, I can hear the cacophony of tired, overused dissent now. “It’s not like they killed anyone” or “Everyone’s bending the rules”. Both might be true, but neither justifies the wrong behavior.

Intercollegiate athletics are not perfect. Never will be. However, one of the beauties of amateur sports is that it strives for a higher ground, something beyond just championships and profits. When that gets sullied, it’s incumbent upon the NCAA to pull out the hammer in order to create a deterrent in the future. Slaps on the wrist don’t work. Vacating wins gets people’s attention. How often has SMU run afoul since suffering the Death Penalty?

To all the folks doing their kumbayas for Florida State and Alabama, I say rules still matter, whether or not you agree with them. Florida State used ineligible players. Alabama athletes received improper benefits. Where’s the grey area? Grow up, take your medicine, and next time, be a little more diligent with the oversight of your athletes

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: Do you agree with the idea of vacating wins as a punishment, like Florida State and now Alabama has to do?

I’ve always found this punishment to be hollow. Perhaps it’s applicable, and perhaps the situation involving Florida State and Bobby Bowden will sting other would-be wrongdoers into a state of meek compliance. Any alteration of the official historical record might make fans and boosters think, “Whoa! I don’t want to have any more wins vacated from my school’s overall total.”

Why, then, does it seem that such hopes seem ridiculously naive and detached from reality? In basketball—every bit the shadowy scene that football is, if not more so—John Calipari is making a habit out of getting to Final Fours that wind up being vacated (or come close to that point). USC’s football program clearly benefited from shady dealings (whether or not Pete Carroll knew about them), and now USC hoops is swimming in darkness. Oh, and how about your 2009 Final Four-bound Connecticut Huskies men’s basketball team? In football or basketball, the cauldron of big-ticket Division I collegiate athletics has spiraled mightily out of control, with the NCAA hopelessly behind the curve despite a massive infusion of sensible leadership under current director Myles Brand. If the NCAA really wanted to punish member institutions for violations, it would: A) Make it harder for that program to accumulate dishonest wins in the future, and B) levy a fine that would go to some noble and securely non-corruptible cause within the realm of education and/or the community in which the offending university is based.

Understand this about the seamy underside of college athletics: Recruiting big-league ballplayers for King Football and Bedrock Basketball involves—at least in part—the seduction of young black men who think they can be part of that ever-so-small minority of professional athletes. The business of fielding a winning college football or basketball team—one that will reach a BCS bowl or a Final Four—demands an ability to make a hard sell to a player and his family about the prospect of using his collegiate years as a gateway toward a lucrative pro career. Calipari needed the services of Worldwide Wes to work the gray areas of the recruiting biz and make the slumbering program dominant again. How many other operatives run wild in the murky realms of big-time college sports? It’s more than a few, and the NCAA lacks the enforcement capabilities to crack down on these cases (which is partly due to the NCAA’s needless over-accumulation of regulations; that’s another story for another day, but it’s part of the bigger discussion that needs to emerge when NCAA rules are scrutinized).

Everything can’t be said on this many-tentacled issue; the bottom line is that any penalty for any violation (in any realm of endeavor, not just college sports) ought to achieve a worthwhile objective, and not merely represent a feel-good (or, for the offending institution, “feel-bad”) emotional band-aid.

Jon Miller, Publisher,

Do you agree with the idea of vacating wins as a punishment, like Florida State and now Alabama has to do?

Unless a school has to vacate a National Championship, I really don't see how vacating past wins is any sort of punishment for a college football program.  Either you think the rules they broke are serious enough to penalize them now, or it's pure B.S.  Does Alabama have to return any of the bowl revenues they earned during the seasons where they made it to the post season, allegedly between the 2005 and 2007 seasons?  That would include one Independence Bowl, where they probably lost money to begin with and a Cotton Bowl, which had to be a profitable venture.

Do they have to return any of the TV money they received from the SEC during those years where these infractions took place?  Not likely.  So it's either a big deal, or it's not a big deal.  Do I think it's a good idea to have the book sale that their student athletes are alleged to have had?  No.  Do I think it's worth vacating wins for something like that?  No, because if that's the only penalty, that they have to break out the white out for next year's media guide, a) no one really cares and b) no one is going to remember

Hunter Ansley, Publisher,

Q: Do you agree with the idea of vacating wins as a punishment, like Florida State and now Alabama has to do?

A: I think this punishment is ridiculous.  Not in a severity sense, but the actual punishment is ludicrous.

This “stripping a team of wins” business has always seemed like an idiotic punishment.  It reminds me of those courtroom situations you always see on TV where the judge tells the jury to disregard something. 

You know like “Ok jurors, you will disregard that.  I know that the accused just dropped a ski mask, rope, grappling hooks, and the stolen diamond out of his duffle bag, but I’m ordering you to pretend it didn’t happen because the prosecution messed up.”  No one on that jury has the ability to forget what happened.  They don’t keep those mind erasers from Men In Black in the courtroom.

So how does telling a team that you’re taking away past wins do anything to them?  Are the new coaches and administrators going to learn anything because of past mistakes made by other people?  The answer here is that if you want to punish someone, then you punish them going forward.  You don’t erase wins.  You can’t take away the fact that those teams were victorious in those games.  You just can’t undo the past.  Hasn’t anyone in the NCAA ever seen Back to the Future?





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