The NCAA sent Oklahoma football a message Wednesday. Pay attention. It's really that simple. Mind the store. Keep your eye on the ballplayers. Practice prevention instead of trying to clean up a mess.
The NCAA infractions committee billed the Sooners with a "failure to monitor,” which is more embarrassing than anything else, and while OU says it will appeal such a charge, it doesn't have a case. That's exactly what OU football did. Failed to monitor its players by sending them to work for Big Red Sports and Imports, where general manager Brad McRae obviously was on a variety of shady sides. That's why OU faces today match their crimson shirts. This is a program that worked mightily to wipe out the outlaw image of the past, and the NCAA's announcement — on the second-slowest sports day of the year, behind only Christmas Eve — meant there again were the Sooners, on the ESPN crawl all day long, guilty of what the NCAA termed "major” violations. The effects of the NCAA's ruling are mostly intangible. Damaged reputation. Recruiting murmurs. The loss of two scholarships for the 2008 and 2009 seasons could sting; the Sooners will sign fewer players, and you never know who might have been snagged with that last offer or two. Mark Clayton in 2000 is a prime example of a borderline recruit; turns out he could play a little. The probation extension through 2010 is little factor unless OU finds itself in NCAA custody again, and if OU runs afoul of the NCAA again anytime soon, there's only one thing to say. TIMBER! One reason the NCAA committee was so displeased with this Sooner case was because it saw many of the same crimson faces the previous spring, in the Kelvin Sampson telephone caper. The infractions committee has a lot of county courthouse judge in it. "Don't let me see you here again.” The kooky penalty is the decree that OU's 2005 victories no longer exist, that the Sooners suddenly are 0-4. That's one appeal the Sooners could win.
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