by | CBS Sports

Friday Follies: Alabama best be wary of friendly boosters

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College football's long, hot summer of discontent got a little longer and a little hotter this week. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to close the book on July and get to August and training camps because we're starting to run out of head coaches. On that happy note we welcome the return of the Friday Follies:

1. Alabama had better be right on T-Town Menswear: Remember when I told you that the world changed after Ohio State's "Tat Five" played in the Sugar Bowl? That reality is hitting home at Alabama.

Not that long ago, if a school determined that one of its boosters was getting a little too chummy with a football player, the athletic director would call the booster and tell him to knock it off. And if a nosy reporter got wind of the situation and asked about it, the AD would simply say "We handled it." End of story.

Alabama says no rules were broken in Tom Albetar's clothing store but will keep its distance anyway.  
Alabama says no rules were broken in Tom Albetar's clothing store but will keep its distance anyway.    
Not anymore. SEC commissioner Mike Slive said last week that college athletics "had lost the benefit of the doubt." Here is another example: Alabama officials say they have checked into the relationship of past and present players to the owner of T-Town Menswear in Tuscaloosa. The school's investigators have determined no NCAA violations have occurred, even though there are pictures in cyberspace of several Alabama players in the store posing with the owner, Tom Albetar. Signed jerseys and helmets are also in the store. Even though the school claims no rules were broken, it still disassociated itself from Albetar.

Obviously, if players got free clothes or discounted clothes, that would be a violation. There is no proof that such a thing happened. There is no fire.

But there is smoke. A website run by attorney Clay Travis (outkickthecoverage.com) has obtained photos of former player Julio Jones (who had been pictured in the store) wearing 16 -- that's right, 16 -- different suits to Alabama football games (some sharp stuff, I might add). Again, there is currently no proof that a violation has occurred.

The point: In a college football culture that has featured one scandal after another, the digging will continue and opponents are more than willing to help. Technology makes it hard to close the book on one of these cases. That's why Alabama must be right.

2. North Carolina will not hire a big name as its next coach: As soon as Butch Davis was fired Wednesday as North Carolina's football coach, the speculation began on his replacement. A couple of old reliable candidates, Mike Leach and Jon Gruden, were mentioned.

But those fans who think North Carolina will turn around after this experience and hire a big-name, big-money coach simply don't understand what's going on in Chapel Hill. Even though the school is trying to raise money to pay for $70 million in improvements to Kenan Stadium, the powers that be can't afford to go down the same path it took with Davis. The next coach will have to have a proven track record when it comes to academic and NCAA rules compliance. It is more likely that he will be from Harvard than from a BCS power.

3. I just love it when coaches talk smack: Coaches who don't break the rules are getting tired of being asked about those who do. And the growing financial gap between the top and the bottom of the FBS is starting put some people on edge.

BYU's Bronco Mendenhall was the first to throw down to our Brett McMurphy. Mendenhall attributed many of college football's current problems to the big-salaried coaches, especially those in the SEC: "It takes the amateur out of sport when somebody is making [$5] million to coach, doesn't it?" I must have missed the story where Bronco turned down his pay raise.

Wisconsin's Brett Bielema at Big Ten media days: "When you consciously break an NCAA rule, to me the only way to deter that is to get rid of people." Gee, I can't imagine who he's talking about there.

Idaho and Boise State didn't like each other as members of the WAC. The feelings have not grown any warmer since Boise departed for a better financial deal in the Mountain West.

Idaho's Rob Akey at WAC media days: "Boise State has gone off to the SEC, right? Isn't that we're they're going? That's where they picture themselves."

And it's still July.

4. Watch those tweets, Tajh. You could be next: When South Carolina quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus was arrested for public urination this week, Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd simply couldn't help himself. Rather than let his state rival self-destruct, Boyd tweeted, "Like coach, Like QB. Shaking my head." The reference, of course, was to current South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia, who has had numerous issues, some alcohol-related.

A little advice to Tajh, the redshirt sophomore from Hampton, Va.: Young man, you need to worry more about learning to run a brand new offense than tweeting about your opponent. You have to go to Williams-Brice Stadium on Nov. 26. You'll have your hands full there, so it might be best to start resting your thumbs now.

A couple of words on Mangus: Good guy, good coach. Made Garcia a better player. Yes, he screwed up. When you demand that your players behave, you have the right to expect the same from your coaches. I got that. But he wasn't in a vehicle. He didn't endanger anybody. Garcia has gotten five chances. Mangus certainly deserves a second.

5. Who will be the first athlete to be declared ineligible by "The Cam Newton Rule?" Now this one is going to drive a bunch of fans crazy, but here goes: The NCAA's Division I Amateurism Cabinet is proposing to expand the definition of an agent to include a parent or family member or any third party who tries to market a prospective player to a college for profit.

This became necessary when the NCAA did not have a specific rule to deal with Cecil Newton, who had discussions with former Mississippi State player Kenny Rogers about getting paid for the services of his son, Cam. Cam Newton did not go to Mississippi State. He went to Auburn. And there was no proof that Cecil Newton ever received money for anyone. And there was no proof that Cecil Newton ever had the same conversation with anybody from Auburn.

The people who were screaming at me last year said it was illogical that Cecil Newton could have that kind of conversation with Kenny Rogers and not have it with people from other schools. But the NCAA rules are like tax law: If you don't have a specific rule to cover the circumstance, you have to close the loophole. But you can't do it retroactively. So Cameron Newton played and Auburn won the national championship.

The new rule, which could be put into effect as early as next January, closes a loophole. If any third party tries to market a player to a school for profit, that player could be declared ineligible.

The message: If you're a college coach, only deal with parents or high school coaches. No "advisers."

If you're a parent, don't listen to someone who wants to "advise" your son. The NCAA has third party recruiters in the cross hairs. Will the NCAA catch them all? Not a chance. But if this rule passes, some kid, somewhere, is going to lose his eligibility because an "uncle" or an "adviser" was shopping him around. Stay tuned.

The Tony Barnhart Show resumes 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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