Alabama Football: ‘If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying’

(Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages)
(Photo by Todd Bennett/GettyImages) /

We are not talking about Alabama Football and we’re not talking about every other program. But, a recent story about tampering in college football, written by ESPN’s Alex Scarbrough, indicates poaching players is suddenly rampant.

Players have been poached by teams for years. The current explosion was triggered by the new, NCAA rule on one-time, immediate transfers. The “if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying” quote was in Scarbrough’s story and was attributed to SMU Head Coach, Sonny Dykes. Dykes may or may not be endorsing cheating, but regardless his blunt honesty is welcome.

Well before the NCAA change allowing immediate transfers, Nick Saban warned other coaches about the downsides of college football free agency. The Saban perspective gained only a small chorus of support. One description of what has followed is college football is now described as “the wild, wild West.”

Alabama Football Head Coach, Nick Saban argued for a counter-measure

A 2017 suggestion from Saban was a “rule of civility” for college football coaches as a guard against tampering.

"They have rules for that in the NFL. I think we should have rules for that in college football."

Some Alabama Football fans think back to the Maurice Smith transfer from the Crimson Tide to Georgia after the 2015 season. Was Kirby Smart guilty of tampering? Maybe he was just “trying” to build his Georgia program.

Enforcement ineptness by the NCAA foments cheating. Missouri’s Eli Drinkwitz posed an important (and damning) question.

"What kind of ferociousness is behind the enforcement if you have people on tape admitting to violations and they’re still actively coaching?"

Drinkwitz was talking about the most blatant cheater in college sports, Will Wade. The LSU basketball coach has shredded the illusion of ethics in the pursuit of players. Sonny Dykes explained the reality for coaches who embrace tampering and any degree of cheating.

"You want people in our sport to be ethical enough where they don’t fall prey to that, but … you got to win and you got a high-pressure job and you have all these things and then all of a sudden, you look up and you go, ‘Oh, they didn’t punish anybody, and they’re not going to punish me. So why not?"

The world of college football is rapidly changing. In some ways, it is becoming a high-profile, minor league to the NFL. Though for most Power Five schools, there is nothing minor about the dollars generated.

Waiting on the NCAA to enforce rules not working. dark. Next

Where will it lead? Coaches will adapt. Hopefully part of adapting will include holding each other more accountable.