Former Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer was once fined by the SEC commissioner for failing to attend SEC football media days. Florida coach Urban Meyer was fined last year for critical comments of conference officials.
The SEC's 2009 spring meetings provided another opportunity for conference commissioner Mike Slive to exert his authority in the league's best interest. He made it clear to the football coaches he wouldn't tolerate their being critical of other coaches or schools.
Much of the commissioner's wrath was directed at former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin, who considered ridiculing the competition to be an integral part of his job. But all the coaches got Slive's message.
More than a year later, Slive should have sent another message - this time, to Oxford, Miss., where Ole Miss football coach Houston Nutt and his administration embarrassed themselves and the conference in their successful, shameful pursuit of former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli.
Slive didn't need to call a news conference or issue a statement. He should have called Ole Miss chancellor Dr. Daniel Jones and said: "Let it go."
Think of it this way: What reflects worse on college football's most high-profile conference - Meyer criticizing the officials or the Rebels' frantic search for a graduate-level curriculum to accommodate a three-star offender who will be eligible this fall.
The counterpoint to Masoli's criminal activity is popular reading these days. There's an extensive account on SI.com, which focuses on the extenuating circumstances surrounding each of Masoli's three incidents. That's right - not one, or two, but three.
He spent three months in a juvenile facility for his role in a robbery five years ago. He pleaded guilty this March to burglarizing an Oregon frat house. He was cited two months ago for driving with marijuana in his car.
The last two incidents resulted in Masoli being kicked off the Oregon team, which was expected to contend for a national championship. Ole Miss wouldn't win a championship this season with a young Archie Manning at quarterback. It's picked sixth in the West.
Suppose Masoli boosts it all the way to fifth. Is that worth the damage it will do to the program's image?
The SEC's image has already taken enough hits this summer. Half-a-dozen UT players were involved in a barroom brawl that put an off-duty policeman in the hospital. Several of the conference's best players are being investigated by the NCAA in an agent-related probe.
Ole Miss isn't in the same league with UT or Georgia when it comes to off-the-field incidents. But Nutt recruits as though he's trying to catch up.
Last year, Ole Miss signed defensive back Jamar Hornsby, who was dismissed from Florida after he was charged with fraudulent use of a credit card (he made 70 charges on the credit card of a student who was killed in a motorcycle accident).
Hornsby didn't make it through one spring at Ole Miss. He was kicked off the team after being charged with felony assault and petty larceny.
Given the appropriate forum, Hornsby surely could point to "extenuating circumstances" and "getting involved with the wrong crowd" as explanations for why he made a couple of "bad decisions." Maybe he needed his own website to set the record straight.
Masoli has one. It's professionally done and includes a picture of him hugging his grandmother. The website also has a section on "media mistakes" in which Masoli cites published errors, followed by the "truth." That's ironic considering Masoli initially lied to his coach about the incident this March.
In a recent update on the website, Masoli thanked Nutt and the Ole Miss administration for their kindness and understanding during his weekend campus visit.
Kindness? Understanding? How about acknowledging their desperation while you're at it?
Ole Miss lost quarterback Jevan Snead, who strangely decided he was ready to turn pro after his junior season. Then, second-string quarterback Raymond Cotton elected to transfer last week. That left Nutt with two quarterbacks, starter Nathan Stanley and junior college transfer Randall Mackey. Obviously, the coach needed help.
And the SEC commissioner should have provided it.
John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.