It's become apparent over the past 14 hours or so that Yahoo's takedown of the Miami football and basketball programs is going to end up being the biggest major college sports scandal since SMU football got the death penalty in 1987.
People are already talking about the 'Canes getting the same treatment as SMU, but I seriously doubt it's going to be that severe. The death penalty absolutely decimated Mustang football, and now that the NCAA knows exactly what the implications of the punishment are, I think it would have to discover a program training terrorists or something of the like to dish it out again.
That being said, Miami is about to get leveled. The U is the absolute perfect program for the NCAA to use as a pinata for the rest of the country to see. Miami is a high-profile program that has tasted the most extreme degree of success, but it's also located in a major city where pro sports are king, its fan base is far from the most loyal in college sports, and its tradition doesn't date back to the early part of the 20th century like a Michigan or a Notre Dame.
Let's put it like this: We'll all be using the iPhone 43 before Miami is competing for national titles again (Except me, I'll be using the Pink Razr 43).
Of course we're all too vainglorious to go any further without discussing how all of this affects Louisville, which, sadly, it does.
In addition to its main piece on the scandal, Yahoo has sub-stories on each of the individuals involved. The main person of interest for Cardinal fans is Clint Hurtt, and you can read the allegations against him right here.
A quick look:
--Nevin Shapiro - the former Miami booster who is the main source for this scandal - told federal agents in taped interviews that on two occasions he paid for Hurtt to bring large groups of Hurricanes football recruits to dinner at Miami Beach restaurant Café Grazie.
--Shapiro claims to have provided Hurtt an interest-free loan of $5,000 – one $2,500 cash payment and one $2,500 check. Shapiro said during his interviews with federal agents that Hurtt did repay the loans. However, Shapiro said he knew it was an NCAA violation to provide interest-free loans to coaches.
--On a Friday night in 2008, Shapiro said Hurtt arranged to bring three Miami recruits – Andre Debose, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Dyron Dye – to Shapiro’s $6 million Miami Beach mansion for the purposes of the booster recruiting the players.
--Hurtt acted as a liaison between Shapiro and Miami recruits on one other occasion, bringing the players to Shapiro's mansion and then taking them to a dinner paid for by the booster.
--The following check (signed by Hurtt) obtained by Yahoo would seem to corroborate Shapiro's story about the $2,500 interest-free loan.
--Yahoo also obtained phone records which show that Hurtt was in contact with Shapiro while working as a Louisville assistant. The pair texted often right up until the time Shapiro was jailed. Hurtt’s last cell phone communication with Shapiro appears to be Feb. 13, 2010.
Yeah...not good. So what now?
Even if it can be proved with absolute certainty that Hurtt has done nothing wrong since leaving Miami, at the very least the reputation of Louisville football is going to take a hit. Whether that's fair or not can be debated, but acting like people won't be talking about this would be incredibly naive. Hurtt is indisputably connected - in whatever fashion - to a man at the center of one of the biggest sports scandals in some time, and in his first year at Louisville he helped bring in a top 25 recruiting class and was named Recruiter of the Year by ESPN. It's safe to say that folks are going to take notice of that.
There's already been some significant debate over what Hurtt's future with the program should be, but ultimately the only person whose opinion matters is Charlie Strong. I think he's proven himself enough over the past two years for all of us to have faith in his judgment. As of this second, U of L's only response to the report has been: "We are not going to respond to any alleged accusations." My guess is that's a statement that will suffice so long as it remains clear that Cardinal football is in no danger of facing any penalty.
But Hurtt isn't the only connection to Louisville presented in the report.
--Though there are no allegations made against him, Cardinal quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is named as being in Shapiro's suite at Dolphin's Stadium along with current Central Florida QB Jeffrey Godfrey, who is accused of accepting improper benefits from Shapiro.
--Not exactly a shocker that one of the former players named by Shapiro is oft-troubled former (sort of) U of L linebacker Willie Williams.
In Shapiro's words:
"Willie Williams came to my house a number of times with Bryan Pata. There were a few incidents where I gave him a couple hundred bucks here and there. He was always with us in a club scene and drinking at my table. He did continuously ask me for money. I cut it out after a while."
--Shapiro alleges that Devin Hester received $2,000 total in "bounties" for two return touchdowns (including one called back by a penalty) in Miami's 41-38 win over the Cards in 2004. Antrel Rolle also got $500 for the game-sealing interception. This one just kind of hurts.
--And then finally, there are the damning allegations against former Miami basketball coach Frank Haith. Remember that Haith is good friends with former U of L assistant Tim Fuller, and that friendship is what led Fuller to bolt for Mizzou when Haith landed the head coaching job there earlier this year.
If you'll excuse me I'm going to go take a second morning shower.