John Adams: Off-the-field adjustments now crucial

John Adams

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 It has been replaced by "cover-up."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The school paid recruiting-service entrepreneur Willie Lyles $25,000 for outdated recruiting information after Texas star running back Lache Seastrunk decided he wanted to become a Duck.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.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns

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Comments » 39

thevoice writes:

For once, Adams said nothing negative about UT. I'm disappointed, John. You're slipping.

BubbaJ writes:

Note: See NASCAR!

Futurecoach16 writes:

in response to thevoice:

For once, Adams said nothing negative about UT. I'm disappointed, John. You're slipping.

Why? Because you have nothing to whine and cry about?

vut56#231073 writes:

I agree with NavalOrange that not all major programs knowingly cheat. The fact that a few get caught does not indict all. A problem, among many, is NCAA's myriad of complicated rules (hint: as in federal government) and inconsistent inforcement that makes lily white difficult to maintain. Mr. Adams, then, paints everybody with the same smear brush, while giving us all the old news that has been better reported through every media outlet....often more objectivly, than does the KNS. Old news with a non original nor completly accurate twist. C-

dvhill100 writes:

Good article. We are in the information age where everything is immediately available. The other side is loyalty is no longer a value taught or honored. These people take and tell without any hesitation at all. Bottom line, coaches beware. You are now betting not just your immediate job, but your career.

Huttdawg100 writes:

Honestly, I don't feel sorry for Oregon fans. The duck fans were all over our message boards talking a lot of trash during the week of the Oregon game last year. Well, Quack Quack...

LSU needs to make sure Willy doesn't bring them down too. Sports by Brooks reported that the Mad Hatter has said some contradictory things of late regarding his relationship with Lyles.

http://www.sportsbybrooks.com/oregon-...

I wonder if MikeTheTiger is nervous. I think he should be.

DannyVol writes:

I know it's a slow sports time and the jist of the article always applies, but its timeliness is like three weeks late.

VolzsFan writes:

For once in history, Adams hit the nail on the head. Not only do all major programs push the gray area, they all cheat knowingly. In the profession they all know it and generally turn the other way....usually. Usually about 15 kids on any team are paid kids. Those not in or never in the game do not know, understand or in some cases even believe that. That is why they are fans and say so many stupid things.

utvols420 writes:

Do you think that is why dooley is having a hard time pulling in 5 star recruits? Because he isn't cheating? Obviously I do.

dwa7#337691 writes:

early predict:

UT 41
Montana Grizzle Bears 16

AtLannaVol writes:

Good stuff Mr Adams and I've been a fan of yours for some time. Don't know what's up with the haters that usually go off on you on this site.

Regarding the current climate of gray area cheating and getting caught, I say thank God (and Mr Adams) that we got our man of unwaivering character in Coach Dooley.

Go Vols

JudgeandJury writes:

in response to thevoice:

For once, Adams said nothing negative about UT. I'm disappointed, John. You're slipping.

Waaaaahh.....UT athletic department is the laughing stock of the SEC. Isn't it great to a Vol. What will Big Jim do?

tovolny writes:

I did not read this John Adams item, and I did not not read any of the posts. I feel good, and I am very proud of myself.

LaneBrains writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We would agree you completely! The
NCAA is focused on the big programs that really have great resources to keep everyone in line that the small programs really don't get the same supervision. It is the NCAA 's weird way of trying to level the playing field. USC, Tenn, Ohio state, And now poor chip Kelly and the Ducks are all part of the NCAA 's focus. You can only imagine what is going on at Cal, Vandy, illinois, Boston U, central Fla., And the others.

Still we succeed!

CLK, Monte and Ed

arkyvol writes:

"Around here, we call that "stupid."

my compliments, john.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Honestly, I don't feel sorry for Oregon fans. The duck fans were all over our message boards talking a lot of trash during the week of the Oregon game last year. Well, Quack Quack...

LSU needs to make sure Willy doesn't bring them down too. Sports by Brooks reported that the Mad Hatter has said some contradictory things of late regarding his relationship with Lyles.

http://www.sportsbybrooks.com/oregon-...

I wonder if MikeTheTiger is nervous. I think he should be.

Les said something contradictory? Amazing.

murrayvol writes:

in response to tovolny:

I did not read this John Adams item, and I did not not read any of the posts. I feel good, and I am very proud of myself.

Too bad. You missed a great article.

murrayvol writes:

The SEC is the football equivalent of a war zone. There will be explosions both large and small.

John nailed it on one point. May God have mercy on those who think they can cover it up.

AHOUSE writes:

You can also take most of John's comments and apply them to him and sports writers.

agentorange writes:

in response to vut56#231073:

I agree with NavalOrange that not all major programs knowingly cheat. The fact that a few get caught does not indict all. A problem, among many, is NCAA's myriad of complicated rules (hint: as in federal government) and inconsistent inforcement that makes lily white difficult to maintain. Mr. Adams, then, paints everybody with the same smear brush, while giving us all the old news that has been better reported through every media outlet....often more objectivly, than does the KNS. Old news with a non original nor completly accurate twist. C-

they all cheat. grow up.

hueypilot writes:

I think that in the communities where athletes come from disadvantaged situations, there is a realization that says you can get "resources" if you are an in-demand prospect. Just like in those communities, there is a street price for food stamps (street value= $0.50 of face value)and weed, there is also an understanding that there monetary value for a prospect. In a community like this where it is a known fact that you can get favors thrown your way for getting a blue chipper, or influencing a blue-chipper then there will be a value and where there is a value, market forces will operate. Additionally, in that community if "everybody is doing it" then there is no compelling moral imperative to dissuade it, so it goes on and those crafty enough to pay and not get caught will prevail.
How do these kids who come from disadvantaged situations suddenly get all the goodies of their culture, tats? I phones? cars? We all know it is going on and as long as our team is winning and not getting caught, we turn a blind eye.

I think the violations, the cheating the payoffs are rampant and the NCAA doesn't have anywhere near enough investigators to uncover the half of it. They only are looking at the success stories (Oregon, Auburn, Ohio State, Connecticut for this year) or the idiot offenders (uh Tennessee for one) that fall in their laps.

What to do about it? Who the heck knows.

dvol writes:

in response to vut56#231073:

I agree with NavalOrange that not all major programs knowingly cheat. The fact that a few get caught does not indict all. A problem, among many, is NCAA's myriad of complicated rules (hint: as in federal government) and inconsistent inforcement that makes lily white difficult to maintain. Mr. Adams, then, paints everybody with the same smear brush, while giving us all the old news that has been better reported through every media outlet....often more objectivly, than does the KNS. Old news with a non original nor completly accurate twist. C-

We all now know that our beloved Vols were cheating under Kiffin. Having said that I now believe that we are a clean program. If we are cheating now for the talent we now have it is time to give up the Sport of football!!

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

There's a moral to this story. Somewhere. Fuzzy. But undoubtedly earnest and oh so profound.

Maverickman writes:

The FIRST adjustment need to be FIRE Dooley.My reasons. 1st Lack of game management LSU,UNC BOTH A HIS FEET.2. Recruiting, Tennessee can not win in the SEC with LA Tech players.3. Tennessee canNOT wait two more years to make a move, If we do Football could be DEAD for 6 more years.4. EMPTY SEATS.Lack of intrest in Tennessee football lack of MONEY. 5. ASK CHUCK SMITH about Dooleys ethics, Bad Hire of a smooth talking southern white man. He did not play with Jordan but he coached under Sabin SAME STORY LINE..... WAKE UP SHEEP TENNESSEE FOOTBALL NEEDS YOU TO MAKE SOME NOISE..

Maverickman writes:

in response to utvols420:

Do you think that is why dooley is having a hard time pulling in 5 star recruits? Because he isn't cheating? Obviously I do.

Dooley thinks he is lil Sabin. He knows more than ANYONE ELSE, Only he can say who can play. He is recruiting LA TECH PLAYERS. THIS IS TENNESSEE we dont have to take 3 stars and take a chance they can play. WE TAKE 5 STARS, then take a chance on 4 stars and feel up classes with Dooleys players

kletusfleabiscuit writes:

in response to Maverickman:

Dooley thinks he is lil Sabin. He knows more than ANYONE ELSE, Only he can say who can play. He is recruiting LA TECH PLAYERS. THIS IS TENNESSEE we dont have to take 3 stars and take a chance they can play. WE TAKE 5 STARS, then take a chance on 4 stars and feel up classes with Dooleys players

Coach Dooley is his own man. And a fine man in that respect. What he is doing (VFL)is significant in not only how he coaches these young men, but also significant for UT. He is coaching these young men to not only be fine football players - but also the virtues of team play, charity, education - and all that comes with being a Volunteer. Coach Dooley is a breath of fresh air in college athletics. Disregard him if you must, but he and the team are out to prove a lot of people wrong. Coach Fulmer was a good/great coach, but at times just didn't seem to be as committed. Coach Dooley is a good coach, and with time, will prove all the naysayers wrong. Just ask the "REAL" Witch Doctor,,his bones prove it. (Sorry WD,,didn't mean to steal your thunder).

Maverickman writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

We are losing players to VANDY... Put that in your fact book sheep...

Maverickman writes:

in response to kletusfleabiscuit:

Coach Dooley is his own man. And a fine man in that respect. What he is doing (VFL)is significant in not only how he coaches these young men, but also significant for UT. He is coaching these young men to not only be fine football players - but also the virtues of team play, charity, education - and all that comes with being a Volunteer. Coach Dooley is a breath of fresh air in college athletics. Disregard him if you must, but he and the team are out to prove a lot of people wrong. Coach Fulmer was a good/great coach, but at times just didn't seem to be as committed. Coach Dooley is a good coach, and with time, will prove all the naysayers wrong. Just ask the "REAL" Witch Doctor,,his bones prove it. (Sorry WD,,didn't mean to steal your thunder).

Buzz Dooley coached with Nick Satin..Thats about NO THAT IS ALL he has done.He's prudy and talks real good. LIKE BUZZZZ He has a southern accent,and a funny come back now and then. He's a charmer .. NOT A BETTER THAN AVERAGE FOOTBALL COACH. Which is what Tennessee will be AVERAGE with Average Tallent and average seasons

Maverickman writes:

in response to Maverickman:

We are losing players to VANDY... Put that in your fact book sheep...

Rivals 11 4's 13 3's and a 2... ummmmmm NO 5'S I stand on my statement TENNESSEE Builds a class on 5 stars, then four's and if we have any scolerships left we add 3 stars.. 2 stars WALK ON.. Well not Buzz Dooleys teams

Maverickman writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

navalorange really should check his facts before checking my facts RIVALS....

Maverickman writes:

in response to kletusfleabiscuit:

Coach Dooley is his own man. And a fine man in that respect. What he is doing (VFL)is significant in not only how he coaches these young men, but also significant for UT. He is coaching these young men to not only be fine football players - but also the virtues of team play, charity, education - and all that comes with being a Volunteer. Coach Dooley is a breath of fresh air in college athletics. Disregard him if you must, but he and the team are out to prove a lot of people wrong. Coach Fulmer was a good/great coach, but at times just didn't seem to be as committed. Coach Dooley is a good coach, and with time, will prove all the naysayers wrong. Just ask the "REAL" Witch Doctor,,his bones prove it. (Sorry WD,,didn't mean to steal your thunder).

Im no witch doctor Im a realist. VFL is great ask Chuck Smith about the program. But also ask Chuck about how Dooley waited till after his recruits were signed before he fired him.As for charity we gave LSU and UNC a game last year thats good enough. Coach Fulmer put a National Championship in the case, thats fairly commited id say. And i will bet ya he knew at the end of the UNC game. That was a 15yrd pen. that would have put UNC OUT OF FIELD GOAL RANGE..Buzz Dooley didnt

Maverickman writes:

in response to Vols7Twins:

Good read on Dooley

http://www.clevelandbanner.com/view/f...

Sorry man Smoke screen and diversions. Its like politics You control the issues you control the people. SPIN SPIN SPIN, Tell them how HONEST Good OL southern Dooley is.He talks like them they will buy it. But I ask them, the blueblood VOLsheep, That want you to come to games and spend money, but dont want you to have any voice,They the vol surbs will but the story, But will they buy the shirt, the hat the tickets, I THINK NOT..

trollhunter writes:

in response to Maverickman:

The FIRST adjustment need to be FIRE Dooley.My reasons. 1st Lack of game management LSU,UNC BOTH A HIS FEET.2. Recruiting, Tennessee can not win in the SEC with LA Tech players.3. Tennessee canNOT wait two more years to make a move, If we do Football could be DEAD for 6 more years.4. EMPTY SEATS.Lack of intrest in Tennessee football lack of MONEY. 5. ASK CHUCK SMITH about Dooleys ethics, Bad Hire of a smooth talking southern white man. He did not play with Jordan but he coached under Sabin SAME STORY LINE..... WAKE UP SHEEP TENNESSEE FOOTBALL NEEDS YOU TO MAKE SOME NOISE..

Here's one adjustment you can do: GET THE F OUT!!!

VolNExile writes:

in response to Maverickman:

The FIRST adjustment need to be FIRE Dooley.My reasons. 1st Lack of game management LSU,UNC BOTH A HIS FEET.2. Recruiting, Tennessee can not win in the SEC with LA Tech players.3. Tennessee canNOT wait two more years to make a move, If we do Football could be DEAD for 6 more years.4. EMPTY SEATS.Lack of intrest in Tennessee football lack of MONEY. 5. ASK CHUCK SMITH about Dooleys ethics, Bad Hire of a smooth talking southern white man. He did not play with Jordan but he coached under Sabin SAME STORY LINE..... WAKE UP SHEEP TENNESSEE FOOTBALL NEEDS YOU TO MAKE SOME NOISE..

(plus all your other incomprehensible posts on this thread)

Ummm, what?

voloffaith writes:

Maverickman is no friend of the bluebird of happiness. Did your rival #s differ because they don't reflect on jucos or early entries(Jan Enrollees)? Just asking the resident authority(apparently) to clarify for us as the 'sky is falling.'

BTW your post is OFF TOPIC since article pertains to "off the field adjustments."

voloffaith writes:

in response to Maverickman:

Rivals 11 4's 13 3's and a 2... ummmmmm NO 5'S I stand on my statement TENNESSEE Builds a class on 5 stars, then four's and if we have any scolerships left we add 3 stars.. 2 stars WALK ON.. Well not Buzz Dooleys teams

Besides being off topic this is a major laugher when ewe reply to yourself. All your posts were off topic except your initial one and ones where you responded to others. So of all 2000 posts(give or take a few) were mostly personal ramblings off topic.

GP8886 writes:

Only Auburn knows how to get away with a
cover-up!

murrayvol writes:

in response to GP8886:

Only Auburn knows how to get away with a
cover-up!

It's a long way from over on the plains.

They got some splainin' to do.....but so does the NCAA.

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