Football has long been regarded as a game of adjustments.
Some take minutes. Others take years. And the quickness with which they are made determines games and championships.
A defensive coach might figure out a subtle change in an opponent's blocking scheme between downs. Another coach might draw up a revolutionary offense between seasons.
But the biggest adjustment now required in the college game no longer has anything to do with offense and defense. It has everything to do with cheating.
To cheat or not to cheat: That's not the question. The question is what you do when you are caught, or at least so close to being caught that you can't turn around without bumping into an NCAA investigator or a compliance officer.
Offensive and defensive schemes have come and gone. Coaching salaries have escalated from thousands to millions of dollars a year. The game has evolved from its humble amateurish beginning into a multi-million-dollar-a-year business.
But one thing hasn't changed. Most coaches get away with what they can. Call it what you will: operating in a gray area, pushing the envelope, or managing a slush fund that could support a middle-class neighborhood.
Breaking rules isn't the crucial issue here. What comes next is. It applies to the game's most hardened outlaws and those who can't make it through a month without the NCAA-violation equivalent of a parking ticket.
"Lack of institutional control" is no longer the scariest phrase in college sports. It has been replaced by "cover-up." The coaches who don't understand the significance of that should start auditioning for color-analyst jobs.
Look what happened to Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. He didn't have to give up his job because of what rules he broke. He lost his job because of what he tried to cover up.
UT basketball coach Bruce Pearl suffered the same fate when he lied about a secondary violation. He might as well have dropped off a cash-filled briefcase at a recruit's doorstep.
It's too early to say where the investigation into Oregon and football coach Chip Kelly will lead. My best guess on the final destination is Big Trouble.
The school paid recruiting-service entrepreneur Willie Lyles $25,000 for outdated recruiting information after Texas star running back Lache Seastrunk decided he wanted to become a Duck. Did I mention that Seastrunk and Lyles are big buddies?
When Oregonian sports columnist John Canzano asked Kelly about Lyles in March, the coach said he didn't know a Willie Lyles. Later, after it became apparent he did, Kelly told Canzano: "Around here, we call him, 'Will.' "
Around here, we call that "stupid."
Kelly obviously hasn't adjusted to the more oppressive climate. Playing name games is playing with NCAA fire. Sirens go off in Indianapolis with just the whiff of a cover-up.
Memo to Kelly: Nick Fairley isn't the worst thing that could happen to your offense.
Kelly isn't the only coach who might struggle with the adjustment. Coaches are accustomed to being in control as well as extending their control.
In 1994, when Nebraska was at the top of its game, coach Tom Osborne and an assistant locked away a gun that one of their players allegedly had used in the commission of a felony. Ah, for the good old days when "laying down the law" meant more than disciplining your team, and you didn't have to worry about an NCAA violation being photographed on the cell phone of some nosy passerby.
This is the Information Age, not the Cover Up Information Age. Even the most devious coach must feel overwhelmed. There's Facebook, Twitter, and an ever-growing populace that can't resist using social media, even to its own detriment.
If you believe the NCAA can prove you committed a violation, you should get on the next plane to Indianapolis. Then, drop to your knees and confess to violations you even thought about committing.
And if the word "cover-up" so much as pops into your head, punch yourself in the face. Hard.
Just think of it as another coaching adjustment.