This North Carolina thing is starting to resemble a bad relationship. You know, when you get those subtle hints your significant other has been stepping out on you?
John Blake is the lipstick on the collar, the strange phone calls at midnight or, to go totally Evansian, the red panties in the BMW. Evidence that something isn't quite right.
Actually, it's way beyond subtlety at North Carolina. When Blake, Carolina's associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, resigned Sunday night it was another sign of how bad things are -- and going to get.
You might have heard that Carolina is having a bit of an NCAA problem regarding agents lately, among other things. The NCAA has spent the past few months investigating whether Tar Heel players received improper benefits from agents. Blake reportedly has a relationship with long-time agent Gary Wichard. Blake's lawyer denied that there is a "pipeline" from the coach to Wichard.
Carolina disassociating itself with Blake is actually the next step toward mitigating the NCAA penalties that are sure to come. It's what USC recently did with Reggie Bush, only a little late -- six years after the former tailback started competing while ineligible.
Carolina, though, is being proactive. Actually, it is doing a heck of a job. It had no choice but to hold those 13 players out of the LSU game. You can sense genuine remorse in their reaction and a willingness to get things right. The message coming out of Chapel Hill: North Carolina has been shamed.
Blake's departure is the latest sign of that shame. As a head coach at Oklahoma (12-22 in three seasons), he was a heck of a defensive line coach. That's what Blake did well. That and recruiting. Blake was a fixer. Bill Callahan hired him at Nebraska. In 2005, the Huskers had Tom Lemming's No. 1 recruiting class. It seems that's what Blake was hired to do at North Carolina -- recruit quickly and effectively. It showed with Tar Heels sporting some of the best defensive talent in the country.
Some thought he recruited too well. But that's not what this is about at Carolina, at least not right now. It centers around the agent issue and perhaps some academic fraud.
The problem is, this case is just beginning. If Blake is first, you have to wonder at some point is Butch Davis' job is eventually going to be at risk.