The Wild Wild West

The news came down last week that Mississippi State was going to be popped with NCAA probation.

Not that anyone should be surprised… and I don't mean that specifically towards State. An SEC West school cheating is like a coed drinking too much on Saturdays in the fall – it happens every year.

The SEC West is out of control; everyone knows it, but no one will say it out loud. Take a look at the major infraction cases and penalties handed out over the last ten years in the SEC West. Every school in the division has been on probation except Auburn and Ole Miss (for the purposes of this exercise we will leave out Texas A&M).

I repeat: Every school in the SEC West has been on probation in the last ten years except Auburn and Ole Miss.

That's Cam Newton's Auburn and Ole Miss – the program whose head coach tweeted: "If you have facts about a violation, send it to If not, please do not slander these young men or insult their family"

Rule #1 in the SEC – don't ever give out the compliance department's e-mail address.

The funny thing is that if half of what I hear is true about recruiting in the West – brand new iPods thrown into garbage bags and left by the dumpster in plain sight of prospects visiting; institutions paying those who transport prospects hundreds of dollars to get players back and forth on non-official visits; $100 handshakes; free cleats, shirts and other gear; duffle bags of cash; cars; straight up paying players – then the NCAA compliance department would have a field day in the central time zone.

Which sounds really nice, but the problem is that there are no real consequences for cheating in college football – at least the benefits vastly outweigh the penalties.

In many ways, Mississippi State's current situation is no different than the pattern found to be the case in other SEC West programs (or any program) during a run up to probation. State had a football renaissance while the Bulldogs were recruiting Will Redmond. The program went from losing to winning and found its way into college football's rankings at the end of the season for the first time in a long time.

All the while at least one player, Redmond, was being given a great deal on a car, cash and told that if he didn't visit Georgia he would be given $6,000.

That's just what could be proven.

So much slips through the recruiting cracks that it must be impossible for a hard-working compliance officer to catch everything. Think about the compliance offices in the SEC that are not as, let's say, "eager" to oversee their multi-million dollar coaching staffs.

This is a major problem in the SEC – particularly in the SEC West. Things are so out of control in the recruiting game. This is a time in the SEC no one will soon forget – not just because of the unprecedented success of the league on the field, but of the unprecedented success in cheating, too.

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