by | CBSSports.com

ADs, consider this a warning: NCAA isn't playing nice anymore

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In his 2000 book, Malcolm Gladwell defines The Tipping Point as "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point."

In short, it is the moment where a series of events converge to change some aspect of life as we have always known it.

We have reached such a moment in college football.

Do you doubt it? Well, let's just look the past few weeks:

 Ohio State, once the proudest of the proud, threw itself on the mercy of the NCAA by vacating all 12 of its wins from the 2010 season. The school also threw former coach Jim Tressel under the bus for forever and ever, Amen. The school actually revealed that in 2005-06 Tressel was told he needed to do a better job of self-reporting minor violations in a timely manner. Apparently Ohio State hopes this will HELP its case when the school goes in front of the committee on infractions on Aug. 12. It was nothing less than a sheer act of desperation.

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 Thanks to a good piece of reporting by Pete Thamel of the New York Times, we learned of an NCAA-related episode that took place during the SEC spring meetings back in May. In a room full of head football and basketball coaches, Gene Chizik of Auburn wanted some answers from Jule Roe Lach, the NCAA's vice president of enforcement. Chizik wanted to know why the NCAA had not announced that its investigation into Auburn's recruitment of former quarterback Cam Newton was over. Chizik pressed Lach for some kind of closure.

Lach finally responded: "You'll know when we're finished. And we're not finished." Oops.

 An NCAA investigation that began when two Georgia Tech players accepted gifts of clothing (worth about $300) from someone allegedly connected to an agent ended with the Yellow Jackets being stripped of their 2009 ACC championship and paying a $100,000 fine. As violations go, this is the legal equivalent of jaywalking, if you handle it right.

But Georgia Tech didn't handle it right. In the final report the NCAA used words like "failed to cooperate" and "impeded the investigation." A fan base that has always taken pride in doing things the right way was profoundly embarrassed.

And we didn't even mention Oregon and the $25,000 it paid Willie Lyles for "recruiting information."

So how are these cases connected? It's very simple, my friends. They are part of the New World Order of the NCAA. That new order is this:

The gloves, brothers and sisters, have come off. The NCAA is beefing up the enforcement staff and, after getting beat up for a couple of years, those enforcement people are going to quit playing defense and go on offense.

Why?

The NCAA got embarrassed by the Southern California case because the violations were so blatant.

They got hammered for their ruling in the Cam Newton case but basically had no choice because of a loophole in the rules. That loophole will be closed but, despite the lack of evidence, there will always be those who are convinced Auburn got away with something.

OSU has ceded the Sugar Bowl win aided by Dan Herron, one of five Buckeyes suspended before the game but allowed to play. (Getty Images)  
OSU has ceded the Sugar Bowl win aided by Dan Herron, one of five Buckeyes suspended before the game but allowed to play. (Getty Images)  
The NCAA made the colossally bad decision to allow Ohio State's "Tat Five" to play in the Sugar Bowl. Ohio State has now vacated the win and the coach of the team has been shoved out the door. History will record that this decision was the true tipping point, when everything changed.

Of course, in any new world order there must be new rules of the road. As a public service, here are those new rules if you're an athletic director at a major university:

1. If the NCAA says you have a problem, you have a problem. Immediately declare the athlete in question ineligible and hire the best lawyers who have experience with NCAA compliance cases. Give that person absolute authority to find out what happened. When it comes to NCAA compliance cases, you are guilty until proven innocent. Sorry. That's the rule.

2. Search for the biggest, brightest and toughest legal mind you can find and make that person your NCAA compliance director. The compliance director has one job and that's to protect the institution (and the athletic director). If that person is doing his/her job correctly, they will be the most disliked person in the department (next to you, of course).

3. Meet with your coaches once a week and always end the meeting with these two statements:

"If you have a problem with the compliance director you come to me. If you do not cooperate with the compliance director you are done. If you try to intimidate the compliance director you're done. I don't care how much money you make or how many games you've won. The president of this university has my back on this.

"If you get even a whiff that a rule has been broken, walk down the hall to the compliance director and dump it in their lap. If you cover anything up, you're done."

4. Once a week bring all of the football players into a big room and tell them the following: "Yes, the rules are stupid and the system is not fair. I got that. But until the rules are changed you have an important decision to make. You can't take free stuff or swap something we gave you for stuff. If you take stuff and somebody finds out -- and somebody will find out -- you will miss games and be profoundly embarrassed. If you take stuff and lie about it then you're done.

"It's your choice. If you want to keep playing in front of 100,000 fans and getting the kind of coaching that can only help your draft stock, then don't get that free tattoo. But if you love that free tattoo more than life itself, we wish you the best as you finish your career before 632 fans at East Montana State Teachers College.

5. Finally, every athletic director should take a page from Arizona's Greg Byrne. Byrne sent out an email to alumni with his phone number, email and the phone number of his compliance director. He asked that if alumni found that Arizona athletes were getting extra benefits, pick up the phone and call. I would simply add one thing: Tell those same alumni that if one athlete loses eligibility for one game because of something stupid the alumnus did, season-ticket privileges will be revoked and they will be publicly humiliated.

Like it or not, those are the new rules.

The Tony Barnhart Show will resume on Aug. 30 on The CBS Sports Network.


Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.
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