Miami finds its scapegoat as players blame Hurtt and Pannunzio

The University of Miami’s strategy regarding its NCAA case is clear—blame a coach or two. The plan seems to be modeled on the University of Tennessee’s recent victory in its NCAA case. The Miami Herald provides the details, and it does not look good for Alabama’s director of football operations Joe Pannunzio. The Miami Herald also mentions former Miami assistant coach Clint Hurtt, but Alabama fans are most interested in Pannunzio. The column was generating some buzz on Twitter this morning thanks to a tweet from Stewart Mandel.

According to the Barry Jackson column, “How did my son even meet this creep? He would never have met Shapiro without Pannunzio,” said the father of a current Miami football player, who requested anonymity because the NCAA has asked the players not to reveal what they said. “To have one of the coaches deliver him up to this guy, it’s incredible.”

And Jackson explains where Miami is going with all this. He reported, “UM hopes the NCAA punishes the coaches (Hurtt is now at Louisville, Pannunzio at Alabama) more than it penalizes UM. The NCAA took that approach this summer by ruling that former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl cannot recruit for three years, making it essentially impossible for him to get another college coaching job during that time. Meanwhile, the NCAA allowed the Tennessee basketball program to impose its own sanctions, which weren’t especially punitive…”

And there you have the new NCAA defense strategy model. Blame the coach. Blame the player. Blame the booster. Let the school skate.

In this case, the strategy will damage Pannunzio further. How long will Alabama allow him to stay? It already looked bad for Pannunzio. Now that we know Miami’s strategy is to blame him, it will make him look worse.

Such a model makes a mockery out of the compliance process—something already held in light regard since Auburn and Cam Newton. Without the threat of real penalties on the school, there will be little deterrent to this type of behavior.

Coaches should pay for violations, but we cannot forget the school.

It is clear, Miami will do all it can to place all its blame on its scapegoat. Will it work? If it does, the NCAA will have an even more serious compliance problem on its hands. The Tennessee decision was one of the most troubling ever as the school allowed interns to travel to a high school football game for recruiting purposes–a trip paid for by an assistant coach–and the NCAA found that to be a secondary violation.

What will the NCAA do to Miami? Everyone is watching.