Senior College Football Columnist

Mailbag: About the UNC academic scandal and the NCAA

Here is this week's mailbag. As always, send me your questions via Twitter to @BFeldmanCBS:

From @Wildcat_Andi: How is this possible?! Absurd. MT @BFeldmanCBS: NCAA concludes no violations broken in UNC's academic scandal.. Huh?

You know how it's possible? Because the NCAA MAKES IT UP AS IT GOES ALONG. The NCAA finds pretty much whatever it wants to find … or not find.

It should be pointed out this statement came from UNC, not the NCAA. Curious if the school putting this out there, and creating a big dust-up online, will force the NCAA to re-focus on things before putting out its own statement of its "findings." Doubtful though.

I realize it is a maddening system of justice. I know many coaches who privately talk about wishing their schools would just bolt from the NCAA, and I'm sure fans would want it leave it behind as well. Oh, and for more on the sticky subplots of the UNC academic scandal, read this piece by Dr. David Ridpath, who has become an expert on NCAA, um, issues.

Here's the school's statement on the NCAA's role in review of the “academic issues.” Here's the rest of the country's statement on it.

"There is simply no justification for this," Ridpath said Friday morning after hearing about the story. "The fraud was to benefit athletic eligibility. After Penn State, the NCAA looks as inept as ever. Very disappointing—there were “other students” at Marshall. Another joke to a governing body that cannot seem to get out of its own way."

From @AdamDuvall: What did last night tell you about South Carolina?

Marcus Lattimore, coming off a major knee injury in the middle of last season, is back. He shed about 10 pounds and looked pretty sharp. We also saw more evidence of QB Connor Shaw's grit, as well as his wheels while he battled through a banged-up shoulder. No question, South Carolina struggled and had its' hands full with Vandy, but it was an SEC road win and, as long as you don't stub your toe, you have to be relieved if you're Steve Spurrier. We also were reminded that Jadeveon Clowney, Devin Taylor and Kelcy Quarles are going to be a big headache for a lot of opponents this fall.

The bad news: the Gamecock O-line looked very shaky. That doesn't bode well with much more ferocious defenses than Vandy on the South Carolina schedule. They have a month before beginning a rough three-week stretch that starts with Georgia and then goes with road trips to LSU and UF.

The passing game wasn't sharp either. They completed seven passes all night and none went for longer than 20 yards. Obviously, Shaw's injury doesn't help that cause. I've wondered about the Gamecocks passing attack when it comes to whether this team is truly a legit threat to win the SEC. Do they have a guy capable of being a difference-maker outside like Alshon Jeffrey? We'll see.

From @FormerlyAGuest: Having watched BYU and Utah last night, who would you favor two weeks from now when they meet?

I was on the radio in Salt Lake City the other night for about a half-hour and explained why I thought Utah might have two Top 25 teams this fall. Both are physical and have a lot of talent on D. As I said the other day, I believe that BYU is a double-digit win team this season, and if they can get through a stretch of at Utah and at Boise State in a few weeks, they're going to flash on the national radar.

As for Utah, they've been my sleeper in the Pac-12. I'm leaning to the Utes in this match-up at this point. I feel like they have an even better D-line than BYU and the bigger difference-maker on offense in RB John White, one of the most underrated players in the country. Plus, the home team has won four of the past five games in this series.

From @IrishLoyalSon: How is Kiffin cutting scholarship from a kid for felon just out of jail (literally) not getting any pub?

It has gotten some publicity, but things unfolded right on the eve of the start of the season. Had this happened a few weeks earlier, it probably would've gotten bigger headlines.

It certainly was an interesting move by Lane Kiffin, who obviously is coping with the NCAA's imposed 75-man scholarship limit. Once it became known that Penn State standout Silas Redd was joining the USC program, there was a lot of speculation about how Kiffin would fit all of these guys in. Many of these kinds of details on internal housekeeping usually don't end up in the public spotlight with college football programs.

The focus ended up on a couple of walk-ons who had been put on scholarship as well as whether one incoming recruit, WR Darreus Rogers, would qualify. Meantime, most people forgot about LB Simione Vehikite, who was recently released from jail after being ordered in May to serve a year following a 2011 car accident. (The redshirt junior pleaded no contest to leaving the scene of a car accident and driving above the legal blood-alcohol content and was ordered to, among other things, pay restitution to the victim in the accident.)

Kiffin explained that Vehikite fulfilled all his obligations, both set by the university and by the courts, to return to the program as stipulated months earlier. (The player actually took part in the school's graduation in May, according to Pedro Moura.)

Kiffin said he was honoring what he had told Vehikite earlier. Of course, it looks dubious since, walk-on Will Andrew, has not gotten his scholarship renewed, looking like the school rewarded the guy who embarrassed the program and not the guy who didn't. Kiffin, though, had said that no promises were ever made to Andrew or other walk-ons, that their scholarships were only for one year.

"They're never granted longer (than a year)," Kiffin told reporters this week. "He was fortunate to have one for a year."

If it were another coach presiding over this situation, it probably wouldn't get much attention, but it's Lane Kiffin and he used up his benefit of the doubt while he was still in Knoxville. But the reality is, if Vehikite, who should help add depth to a position that, along with the D-line, could use a boost, helps USC even a little bit this fall, Kiffin and Andrew and the rest of the team will be better for it. And, as the coach said, he never promised Andrew anything.

From @zlpaschal: ND scored 56ly on Navy with Tommy Turnover at the helm. You think the score 32 this year with more talented Golson? ND 38, Navy 7

I don't. Part of that is all of the new guys who will be in key roles offensively, especially in such unusual surroundings. Plus, the windy conditions won't help the ND passing game. I still expect the Irish to win handily, but not looking for them to light the scoreboard up.

BTW, shameless self-promotion alert: Get up way early Saturday morning to watch our two-hour pre-game show on CBS Sports Network before the Navy-Notre Dame game at 7 a.m. ET.

 
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