There's a way to get done what Donnie Tyndall -- or somebody connected to the Southern Miss program he ran from April 2012 to April 2014 -- allegedly got done.
It's in violation of NCAA rules, certainly.
But it's smart and difficult for the NCAA to catch.
Need to handle expenses for a player before you can put him on scholarship?
Here's how you do it: You instruct the player to get an apartment near campus, enroll in classes and max-out on student loans. Tell him to get as much student-loan money as he can. Buy a nice TV. Hook an Xbox One up to it. Live life. Enjoy. And don't worry about a thing because those student loans will be "handled" down the road, one way or another.
Five years later, a booster will pay the balance off.
Maybe wait 10, just to play it safe.
"That's absolutely the way you'd do it," one coach told me Thursday. But, I'm told, that's not the way Tyndall -- or somebody connected to the Southern Miss program he ran from April 2012 to April 2014 -- allegedly did it, point being the first-year Tennessee coach now has some kind of mess on his hands.
"This was way sloppier than that," a source told CBSSports.com.
The NCAA, you probably know by now, is investigating Southern Miss for possible violations under Tyndall, multiple sources told CBSSports.com on Thursday. USM officials subsequently confirmed the news, which was initially detailed by Bleacher Report, and sources told CBSSports.com the investigation is focusing on, among other things, how tuition and other expenses were paid for some players who signed with the Golden Eagles but were not yet eligible for scholarships when they enrolled in classes.
There is no timetable for a notice of allegations.
Perhaps one will never arrive.
But sources told CBSSports.com the allegations are serious, and that Tyndall will have a hard time avoiding fault, and I sure wouldn't want to be UT AD Dave Hart right now?
What do you do if you're him?
You took a job at a school that once fired Bruce Pearl in the middle of an NCAA investigation, then hired a coach with past NCAA issues who is now facing more NCAA issues. And though UT officials released a statement Thursday claiming Tyndall went through an "extensive vetting process," the truth is that he was hired within hours of first being contacted by Tennessee last April. Louisiana Tech's Michael White turned the job down on a Monday afternoon, UT officials quickly called Tyndall, they met at a neutral location, and he was offered the job less than two hours later that same night.
That's the way it went down, sources told CBSSports.com.
Granted, that doesn't mean UT officials didn't vet Tyndall well in advance.
Maybe they did.
But this was a fast-wedding, undeniably.
And now Tennessee, on some level, is probably regretting it.
This story is barely a few hours old, and the Vols have already lost their best recruit. He's a top-60 prospect from the Class of 2015 named Chris Clarke. The 6-foot-5 guard decommitted from Tennessee in the wake of the news and committed to Virginia Tech, and it's naive to suggest those two things aren't at least loosely connected.
Bottom line, this has already cost Tyndall and Tennessee something.
How much else it might cost remains to be seen.