It's called keeping your eye on the ball.
That's the takeaway from reading the latest filing by Todd McNair's attorneys in the former USC assistant coach's lawsuit against the NCAA that's now in its fifth year.
And just in case you've lost track, the NCAA is still attempting to get McNair's suit dismissed for reasons we can only describe as: "We've got no case and have no shot if this ever goes to trial so we'll keep throwing these 'Hail Mary's' and hoping one hits" strategy of delay, deny and dissemble.
As you read the 64-page brief, you won't be able to forget the essence of what happened here -- to Todd and by extension, because the NCAA needed to take down a sacrificial lamb, to USC.
Not a lawyer here, but great job by the McNair attorneys not to get sidetracked into responding to whatever it was the NCAA was trying to do and staying on point: The NCAA lied, and knew it was lying.
The NCAA broke most of its own rules in doing whatever it had to do to tie Todd McNair to knowledge of a two-minute phone call that it got wrong as far as who made it or what year it was made. But trust us, the NCAA said, we know what was in it. And what was in it was bad enough to destroy an innocent man's career.
Because taking USC down was so important that a trio of rogue NCAA'ers -- non-voting, non-participating, non-truth-telling and non-rules-observing Committee of Infractions hangers-on -- went above and beyond the rules and made him collateral damage.
What the NCAA never figured on was that this day would come. That somehow they wouldn't be able to bluff and stall their way through and spend the kinds of money -- more than $6 million last year alone -- on legal fees to get away with it.
If you want to review the entire ugly mess, at least the 256 pages of documents, deposition and emails McNair's attorneys came up with from their limited discovery to prevent the NCAA from getting the lawsuit thrown out, you can see those here. This appendix was filed after the NCAA said it didn't want anyone to see all this material in the appeal on the grounds that it was icky or embarrassing or something.
Then McNair's attorneys take a shot at the NCAA by pointing out that after the NCAA filed its appeal without including the full record of material that LA Superior Court Judge Frederick Shaller considered in ruling that McNair had a good chance of prevailing on the defamation claim, it would do so for them. And so it does here.
So that when you read that the judge found there was "hatred" and "malice" for McNair expressed by a trio of NCAA participants in rendering a verdict on both USC and McNair, you can see it and feel it here. Definitely worth a read.
But rather than making the case for McNair that his lawyers do so well, we'll just suggest that you sit back, click the links and enjoy -- as mad as it's going to make you to think that people like this were in a position to deprive a man of his profession and an athletic program of its good name and at least 30 young men of a chance to pursue their dream at USC.
It's ugly -- and important. Many of you know the story and how the plotline has gotten us to this point. But sometimes it's good to revisit what happened here.
The NCAA will get its final shot to answer this filing by McNair and then a date will be set for a hearing by the Court of Appeals as the case moves on to the next step in this long process.
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