Jim Tressel resigned as the football coach of Ohio State last month after failing to disclose knowledge of improprieties by his players.
John Cooper is much closer to the more recent NCAA case that has netted a high-profile coach.
But he can easily make a connection with the previous one that went down near his old hometown as well.
The former Ohio State football coach and Powell native is obviously more versed in the issues that led to the resignation of Jim Tressel earlier this week thanks to the Coach Emeritus office Cooper occupies for the Buckeyes. But given both his professional background and continued fondness for East Tennessee, Cooper had no problem identifying the common thread for the two major programs as they deal with NCAA troubles - and how it could have been avoided.
"The message is loud and clear, and that's what the NCAA is for," Cooper said Friday by phone. "It caught up with Bruce Pearl, it caught up with Coach Tressel - you can't mislead them.
"You've got to tell the truth."
Whether it was considered outright lying, a deceptive cover-up or something else entirely, both Pearl and Tressel ultimately paid with their jobs as the NCAA was digging into their programs.
Pearl lost his after a lengthy investigation into UT basketball led to his firing in March, with his false testimony about a photograph depicting a rules violation at a barbecue among the most widely publicized aspects of the case.
After 10 years of dominating the Big Ten, posting a winning percentage of .828 and winning a national championship, Tressel just resigned from his job after details emerged about him failing to disclose knowledge of players trading memorabilia for tattoos months before the 2010 season - violations that would have made them ineligible for at least part of the campaign.
While the two cases are far from carbon copies of each other, Cooper suggested both could have kept their jobs by following the same blueprint while also bristling at the notion that a cheating pandemic has overtaken collegiate sports.
"What disturbs me is that there's a lot of people out there who think it's no big deal and it's going on all over," Cooper said. "I don't believe that. I might be in the minority, but I don't believe there's a lot of widespread cheating going on in college athletics. ... I feel very strongly that you can run a clean program. I was a head coach for 24 years, and one thing I am very proud of is the NCAA wasn't on my campus. I'm not telling you we never did anything illegal, but knowingly we did not do anything illegal.
"There's pressure on you to win when you're coaching at schools like I did. But I was fortunate at Tulsa, Arizona State and certainly here at Ohio State, I think you can say the same thing about Tennessee, you are going to have good players. You don't have to bend the rules. I'm not saying these guys did. I'm not telling you they did or didn't, that's not up to me to decide, but I am saying you don't have to. You're going to have better players than most teams you're playing."
That was definitely true for Tressel, who claimed one national crown and was in the mix for several others during his run with the Buckeyes. Pearl might not have built a program as nationally recognized as Ohio State football, but he did rebuild the Vols from almost nothing into an annual threat in the SEC and took them within a few seconds of a trip to the Final Four in 2010.
And while the levels of success might not be exact parallels, Pearl and Tressel share more than a few characteristics as they head into an uncertain future in the coaching ranks.
"It disappoints you to see coaches like Bruce Pearl and like Jim Tressel lose their jobs when they're great coaches with a great record and they're great people," Cooper said. "Gosh, it would take me a week to tell you all the great things Jim Tressel has done for the people up here in Columbus, and I'm sure Coach Pearl was the same way - all the things he does for charity, different golf outings and speaking engagements and fundraising and on and on and on.
"The players absolutely loved (Tressel). The mistake he made was not going down to the compliance people, saying, 'Hey, we've got a problem. Let's do this and this and this.' He didn't do that, and it cost him his job."