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Tuesday, August 30


ATL Roundtable: Is cheating worth the risk?

Today's topic: Would you risk the penalties that come if you're caught cheating to have the chance to win a national title?

Travis Richmond
I have a friend who heard from reputable sources that Nick Saban was dirty at LSU, and that he left before the NCAA came down on the program. The same thing just happened at South Carolina, where Lou Holtz quit before they got on probation. Now other coaches are cleaning up their mess. If what I heard about LSU is true, it means both Saban and Hotlz were willing to cheat to win. One succeeded, one did not.

If you knew there was a 50/50 chance of success, would you want your school (in this case, UT), to do “whatever it takes” to try to win it all? By 50/50, there’s a 50% chance you win a national championship within four years, but there is also a 50% chance you will be busted and put on probation, win or lose.

If you ask me, I say go for it. National championships are forever, and if you get busted people will forget. The UT baseball team was put on probation three or four years ago, but no one cares because they won a pair of national championships and went to Omaha four times. If we’re cheating, we certainly have something to show for it.

If we want to win, we have to do what everyone else is doing. Probation is reserved for really, really egregious offenses. I mean, did Colorado even get put on probation? I honestly cannot remember, and I don’t think we’d do anything that bad, with rape and all.

Forget the high road. Let’s make some money for the school, expand DKR to 100,000, and get Mack Brown on the cover of Sports Illustrated with Vince Young. It would be a sight to see. We deserve it. We’re long-suffering fans. We’re almost Charlie Brown, really. Every year we actually think we’re going to beat OU, and then Bob Stoops pulls the football.

Well this year, I want to kick that bastard’s ass. And if I have to risk a coin flip for probation, I say go for it. I’m sure LSU fans agree. Think about the lifelong memories some LSU fans had from watching the Tigers win the national championship in the Sugar Bowl, an hour from campus! I didn’t go to the Rose Bowl last year, but if the Horns go this year I’ll be there, and I cannot even put a price on how great it would be to see Texas beat USC in their home stadium, to deny the three-peat and be labeled as best college team ever, while giving us out first football championship in nearly 40 years.

It would be perfect and worth the risk.

Peter Bean
Um, no. Hell no. I’ve heard a lot of ideas over the years from you, Travis—most of them good. But this ranks as the worst. I can be a hyper-critical fan and I’m pretty tough on the Texas coaches, but one thing I absolutely love about Mack Brown and the Texas program is how clean, honest, and dignified he and the program are.

Honestly, the only thing that saves me from total humiliation regarding our five straight losses to Oklahoma is the fact that their players can barely read and are destined for jail if they don’t make it in the NFL. I absolutely love that Mack Brown fields a nationally elite program with reputable young men with good character, makes every effort to graduate as many of his players as he can, and has a very low tolerance for players with shady character. That he develops young men with good character while also developing a nationally competitive football team is perhaps Mack Brown’s greatest achievement, and a great source of pride for me personally and the university as a whole.

I’m as big a sports junkie as you’ll ever meet. I cried in 2002 when my Giants lost in seven games in the World Series. I worship Barry Bonds, the greatest hitter any of us have ever seen. And it pains me constantly as my hero gets trashed by fans and the media because of his questionable dealings with steroids. You think that people don’t care about cheating? Ask Rafael Palmeiro if he thinks the juice was worth it.

They say that flags fly forever. But even for us die-hards, some things have to be more important. Cheating is not the answer.

Andrew Wiggins
I couldn’t agree more with Bean, or disagree more with Travis. The cost of cheating is just too high. At the risk of sounding like a bumper sticker, We’re Texas. We are not Colorado with rape scandals. We are not Ohio State with players who get paychecks and cars. We are not Baylor basketball or SMU football or any of the other countless programs who got caught for not playing by the rules.

Bean is right. We are a football team and a university that holds itself to a higher standard. There is nothing wrong with good character and there is absolutely nothing wrong with good character combined with solid athletics. I will say it again—Mack Brown may not be the best tactical football coach in the nation, but he does things the right way. I have no doubts about his integrity or character. I have no doubts that Moms all across this country believe him when he promises to take care of their sons. He is fallible for other reasons, but certainly not for his character. And I believe completely that there is probably not one player or coach with the football team would answer yes to this question. Some would think about it, but none would go for it.

Not to get too philosophical, but this is a very slippery slope. If we cheat this much, maybe just a little, maybe a check here or a car there, how can we be assured that other universities haven’t gone a step further? How could we call them cheaters if they get caught? How could we feel superior if we were to win a national championship? Did other teams cheat as much as we did? Did they cheat less? Was the season fair? Why should there be any rules at all, at that point?

Cheating allows for too many questions with no justifiable answers. Cheating forces you to beg for respect. Winning the right way commands respect and produces actual admiration. We do deserve success and national championships for no other reason than we are doing it the right way.

Come on. Just about every major program cheats. Not every program gets caught. And no one cares.

I'm an LSU fan, and yes, watching the Tigers crunch OU in the Sugar Bowl was my most favorite sports moment of all-time. A little slap on the wrist of possible violations won't make any LSU fan feel less about that season.

As an SEC fan, I've seen tons of cheaters/getting caught. Alabama is one of the worst and they hardly get mentioned anymore.

And don't think every UT football player is a Rhodes scholar, or clean as a whistle. Think Ced Benson knocking down doors and grabbing TVs, or players beating up girlfriends. Think about how smooth the athletic department is at covering up all the behind the scenes junk and candy coat the program. It's like that everywhere.
It’s not true that no one cares. Some people don’t care, but many do. Do you know my opinion of the SEC? I think it’s full of a bunch of cruddy universities with sleazy football programs. I thought a lot more of USC’s championship than LSU’s. Why? Because I think LSU is one of those sleazy, do-anything-to-win programs and I think USC is a well-respected university with a program that isn’t cheating in LSU sized portions. Do I think every athlete at UT is a great guy you’d want living next door? Of course not—there are plenty of bums, and plenty of idiots that will never get a degree. But at least we try. At least the standard matters at Texas. At least we haven’t just gone the way of the SEC and thrown values out with the rest. I give Mack Brown a hell of a lot more credit for what he does trying to do things the right way than I’ll ever give Nick Saban for sleazing his way to a title. As an aside, he’ll fit right in in the city of Miami, where shady sleazeballs are ubiquitous.

Do I want a national championship? Absolutely. But when I’m bragging about it to the world, I don’t want somebody to be able to say, “Yeah, but you guys were dirty.” It matters. They say that your reputation is all you got. Very true words, if you ask me.
OK ... so some schools are better at being very diplomatic when they cheat. Some coaches are very good at looking you dead in the eye with that good ole boy look while he's actually dirty dealing like any other coach.

And if Texas won a National Championship and have some dirty laundry, trust me, fans will forget about it. Heck, if I were Texas, I'd be pleased with just a Conference title. Haven't seen one of those in a decade.

And you can't place thuggery, sleazy label on just the SEC. Think Oklahoma, Colorado, Lawrence Phillips, err, Nebraska, Missouri, Texas A&M.

It spreads itself around. Was Saban the dirtiest player in the game? Perhaps. I say most likely. Do LSU fans care? Umm, no. And neither would Texas fans if they won it all.

All I'm saying is that some athletic departments do great jobs of PRing their programs and covering up so the public never knows. Just because a team doesn't win conference and their coach puts on a dog and pony show doesn't necesarily equate to a "clean and honest program."
I need to say a couple of things. One, as an alumni and fan of Colorado I do care about what is said about my program. The first thing that went through my head is that Colorado is not as bad as some other programs, but the truth is that I cant defend them and even if we had won a national championship, I would still be upset at what was happening there. I have been saying for years that Boulder is a very safe place for men, but I feel safer with my sister walking though NY than Boulder at night because of the rape problem there, and that culture extended to the football them.
Second as a fan of the Longhorns since birth, I feel very proud that our program has standards and will not stoop to what other programs do. Cheating is unacceptable and will taint the University in the worst place, the fan's harts. I know that is cheesy, but I really feel that way.
Travis, what exactly do you want Texas to do? Go out and recruit thugs (Miami circa 1991) and juco kids (OU circa 2001) that we pay to play football for UT and not attend classes?

Why exactly would we need to do that? We're able to recruit top notch players year after year.

I can understand why Kansas would need to do that or like Kansas St did ten years ago. We don't have to. We're Texas, bitches.

I also agree that cheating happens everywhere. That's like saying "everyone breaks the law." But theres a difference between my version of breaking the law (speeding) and Tim McVeigh's breaking the law.

The difference is what happens when the head coach finds out about it. In Augie's case, we fired the assistant coach. And it didnt fucking matter because we won the National Championship this year, sans cheating. In Saban, Holtz, Tressel, and Neuheisel's case, they jumped ship before their wrongs caught up with them. Eventually, you'll step in your own doo doo, so it's best not to poop in the first place.

Catch my drift?
I heard a nasty story this weekend that there was an incident on the senior floor of the athletic dorm that possibly involved a handful of football players and a female student that was sexually assaulted in one of the dorm rooms. This came from an internal source that said they monitor the hallways / corridors by camera and that this girl was grabbed in the hallway and taken into the room. Anyone heard any leaks about this?
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