The Tennessee football program got a good report from the NCAA. But the Vols didn't get it soon enough.
They didn't even have time to celebrate. Safety Janzen Jackson got in the way.
Never mind that the program will incur no further sanctions from the NCAA. It just had to dismiss its most talented player from the team.
Neither news is shocking.
The NCAA violations occurred on the watch of former coach Lane Kiffin, who beat the NCAA posse out of Knoxville for what he mistook as a safe haven in Southern California. You can decide for yourself whether you think USC's harsh NCAA sentence was a coincidence or related, in part, to its hiring a man with NCAA baggage as its head football coach.
Jackson's case will spark no debate. He was a big hitter on the field and a big pain off it for a program that might be better off without him.
UT coaches saw him as a formidable last line of defense because of his vast range and intimidating hits. They will miss that. They won't miss the uncertainty that seemingly accompanied his every move.
He has a drug problem, according to multiple News Sentinel sources.
And his problem became UT's problem.
In a best-case scenario, Jackson would have stayed clean, performed at an All-SEC level and advanced to the NFL after this, his junior season. But this might be the next-best scenario for UT.
Better to lose Jackson now than the week before the Florida game or the first weekend of October, after which the Vols likely will face four top-25 opponents in succession without an open date.
After Jackson missed the spring semester to deal with "personal issues," UT coach Derek Dooley said he made personnel decisions in the secondary with the idea Jackson wouldn't be back. You can now file that under "good planning."
The secondary might be UT's deepest position. Second-team All-SEC safety Prentiss Waggner is a big reason for that. He can play cornerback, safety or nickel back and seems perfectly content at any spot.
Brent Brewer's development will ease Waggner's transition. The former professional baseball player makes a lasting impression on almost everyone he tackles, and Waggner provides ball-hawking skills. They should complement one another.
Jackson's loss will register in the bigger picture, though. It's another reminder of what a disaster Kiffin's first recruiting class was.
Bryce Brown was ranked as the No. 1 running back in that class.
David Oku was the No. 1 all-purpose back.
Jackson was the No. 2 cornerback.
Darren Myles was the No. 5 safety.
ardson was the No. 6 wide receiver.
Jerod Askew was the No. 6 inside linebacker.
All signed with UT. All are gone.
And not one of them made it to the first game of what would have been their third season. In fact, Jackson is the only one ever to start a game at UT.
He started 22 games and made second-team All-SEC. But you never knew if his next start would be overshadowed by his next incident.
Now, when the next incident occurs — and you know it will — it won't affect UT's depth chart.