When it comes to ‘cheating’ is anybody clean?

As we begin to wind down the “talking season,” the subject of cheating in college football has jumped into the news cycle.

CBSSports.com did a survey of 26 coaches and asked how many schools they thought were cheating. It was anonymous, but they said 80 percent of the SEC was doing it. Nobody named names.

That works out to 11 of the 14 SEC schools are allegedly knowingly cheating, according to an anonymous survey.

The problem with the survey (other than being anonymous) is asking coaches. No, seriously, they are the LAST people you ask that question to.

Doing a radio show one time with Jackie Sherrill, I made the off-hand remark that, “all football coaches lie … when do they learn that?”

“That’s the main thing they learn being a graduate assistant,” was Jackie’s quick reply.

The bottom line to the whole cheating thing is every single school in the world of college football does it in one form or another.

And not a single coach knows any of the details. If they do, then they should be fired for stupidity.

All of that pretty much ended just a few years after SMU was handed the death penalty in 1986. Coaches realized they couldn’t be directly involved.

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The people doing it has to be small, they have to be close-mouthed and they have to be very, very smart. Some groups have people doing it who have never been to the school they are helping and most in the group don’t know how it happens.

They just know it costs money. And they know the coach better win games because there is no amount of money to get a five-star recruit to go to a doormat school, no matter how much money is involved.

There are schools that get players nobody believes they can get, but the coaches aren’t handing anybody money or even discussing terms. There hasn’t been a single NCAA charge of a coach directly telling a recruit, “You come play for me and we’ll give you this much money.”

Not one charge.

According to former coaches, the blue-blood programs don’t pay to get players. Recruits are made aware, though, they will be well taken care of if they choose that school.

The head coach seldom even has a clue who’s doing it and how much or what is involved. I don’t care how many say they want to know everything that’s going on.

I can tell you with 100 percent certainty even Nick Saban doesn’t know everything that’s going on with his players.

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The NCAA has created an impossible situation for them to monitor. Without any legal power whatsoever, the standard practice of dealing with them is to say absolutely nothing.

Or lie. There’s nothing they can do about it.

And, with the Nevin Shapiro legal case with Miami’s mess a few years ago, now the NCAA has to have solid evidence of wrongdoing.

For example, Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss said on national television the night of the 2016 NFL Draft he got money from coaches. That was only a lead for the NCAA and not proof of anything.

All Ole Miss had to do was produce records it fell within the guidelines of what a school can legally give a player to help with whatever expenses are allowed within the rules. How hard do you think that is to comply with?

The thing is, none of this is new.

It’s been going on since Notre Dame had money routed to players through the Catholic church as far back as 1919. It still goes on and if you don’t believe it’s happening at your favorite school then you are, well, living in a dream world.

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Now if you’re school isn’t winning, then blame the evaluation process.

“It doesn’t matter if you pay players that aren’t any good,” said one former coach.

Let’s face it, most of you reading this have likely committed an NCAA recruiting violation yourself if you’re a Razorback fan.

Don’t believe it?

Have you ever just casually mentioned to a good high school player he should be a Razorback? Or sent a message via social media to that player encouraging him to go to Fayetteville?

If you did that and have ever bought a ticket to a game or a piece of legally-licensed merchandise, you have committed an NCAA violation. You could be banned from attending games and the player declared ineligible.

Considering nobody has ever been charged or even cited for a violation that minor should tell you how ridiculous the NCAA rules are.

There is — and likely always will be — cheating in the world of big time college athletics under the current rules. Not a single school in the SEC is completely clean.

Blame the egg heads and lawyers. They are the ones making the rules.

Which is actually a bigger crime than anything a school has ever done.