As Will and Caban both noted in FanShots last night, Yahoo! Sports is reporting that former Tennessee assistant coach Willie Mack Garza wired $1,500 to Will Lyles back in July, 2009 to pay for plane tickets so Lache Seastrunk and his mother could take an unofficial visit to Tennessee.
My reaction when I first heard about this last night? What else do you want us to do?
I must confess that a lot of that negative attitude is borne out of a great deal of fatigue with the whole story. Some of it was a result of misreading the timeline, thinking that the NCAA learned this a year ago and already had the information when it closed its investigation of Tennessee a month ago. But even that initial misreading of the article was a result of Just. Being. Over. It. Or wanting it to be over. Funny how those two feelings tend to co-exist.
We Vol fans have dealt with the program being under an NCAA cloud over and over and over (and over) again for the past several years. Lane Kiffin and the Chimera are gone. Bruce Pearl and his staff are gone. Todd Raleigh is gone. Mike Hamilton is gone. The place has been ravaged. Napalmed. Reduced to ashes. Uncovering new evidence of something everyone seemed to have suspected anyway doesn't change the fact that that bath water has been thrown out, babies and all. We're starting over. What more can we do for you?
An NCAA investigation isn't a criminal prosecution, so, as far as I'm aware anyway, there's technically no double jeopardy issue that would preclude the NCAA from re-opening the investigation in light of new evidence. But what good would it accomplish?
Didn't the NCAA essentially conclude, in part anyway, that Tennessee was in the clear for the actions of its former employees operating outside the scope of their employment (I doubt "violating the NCAA rulebook" is in the job description) because all of those wrongdoing employees were no longer employees? Didn't they pretty much conclude that the better philosophy is to have coaches' wrongs follow coaches? Heck, Garza not only is no longer employed by Tennessee, he's no longer employed by Kiffin at USC. So assuming that the NCAA learned of the airfare payment after it closed the investigation, should it necessarily change the previous analysis? Are there degrees of "failure to monitor," or is a failure is a failure is a failure? And who's failure is it? Lane Kiffin's? He's gone. Mike Hamilton's? He's gone, too. Mine? Not in my job description.
So to me, all Yahoo!'s done is uncover a new detail about an old issue that's already been put to bed. The program employed some folks who did some things wrong. It punished itself for the negligent hiring and negligent supervision, wrongs that are distinct from the actual violations committed by the employees. All of those people are gone, including those who violated the rules and those who negligently supervised them. We can't fire someone who's already left, and we can't re-fire someone who's already been fired. We've done all we can.
So can we talk about Buffalo now?