These are strange times to be a Syracuse Orange fan.
On one hand, we should be reveling in the 30-1 regular season, one seed in the Big East Tournament and certain one seed in the NCAA Tournament where we'll have our best chance to return to the Final Four since, well, the last time we went.
On the other hand, the Bernie Fine Scandal and all its fallout has hung like a black cloud over the proceedings. And the reveal of new drug-related violations against the program have only reignited that old, familiar feeling that something terrible is going to happen.
At the moment, all we can really do is learn what we can of this latest round of miserable news and hope sunnier skies are ahead.
We broke down the specifics yesterday but today has been all about the reaction.
One of the big questions I had yesterday was where this was all coming from. Who were the sources and why did they choose late December to come forward with this? Turns out it was the most likely answer. It came out of a broader investigation into Syracuse due to the Bernie Fine scandal.
"This really stretches back to when assistant coach Bernie Fine was fired by the Syracuse basketball program, faced some charges and was ultimately dismissed from the Syracuse basketball program. I think, Pat Forde and myself, began to sort of dig into, essentially the culture of Syracuse, really anything and everything that encompasses Syracuse basketball.
Whether or not that rules out your particular conspiracy theory depends on your conspiracy theory, I suppose.
It's funny that Pat Forde is one of the writers breaking this story because normally today would be the day that Forde writes his scathing screed against Boeheim and Syracuse. That's what he usually does, picks low-hanging fruit and shouts as loud as he can as the moral police protecting us from ourselves. Instead, he's left Dana O'Neill, the overbearing mother to his stern father, to do it alone.
We can argue whether a college kid being busted for use of a recreational substance is silly in this day and age, but it is the policy.
It's written down, in black and white, clear cut and easily interpreted. One would expect it to be enforced, no?
As for the "everyone is doing it," let’s go back to kindergarten and remind everyone that doesn’t make it right. (And at the risk of being a middle-aged prude, even recreational is still illegal).
Deadspin went in a little bit of a different direction. They think this "breaking news" is really just a lame result of a lame investigation of a sports reporting arm with nothing better to do (in so many words).
Monday's Yahoo story is an idiot backwoods cousin to the SI report. To repeat: Over an 11-year period, a handful of players may or may not have taken recreational drugs in violation of a drug policy Syracuse wasn't even required by the NCAA to have. That's it. That's your three-month investigation. Like so many big Yahoo reports, the story is obsessed with the misdemeanor violation of picayune rules to the point that it adopts the fussy morality of the rulemakers. A rule is a rule is a rule, the story says. I'm telling you, no one covers the rules quite like the Yahoo college-sports crew. Those guys watch over the rules the way a Zales rent-a-cop watches over the brooch aisle, and never once do they stop to wonder if any of the rules being violated make any sense in the first place.
I'm starting to feel bad for Dick Weiss. He already wrote that staid piece earlier this week about how Syracuse would be hated by other Big East schools at the BET. Now he's just regurgitating details from the Yahoo! report and making obvious conclusions based on it. I now fear this is what he always does.
Ten years is a long time for an institutional coverup to go on and the athletic director and coach are ultimately responsible for everything under their watch. But all too often coaches care only about winning and ADs and presidents are nothing more than fund-raisers who realize the success of their football or men’s basektball team is the best way to insure development dollars.
Alex Groberman over at Opposing Views ultimately doesn't see much coming out of this.
Whatever winds up happening in the future, the fact that this situation isn’t going to be an anchor around any one or number of current players means that they can carry on the way they have all year long. If the stuff in this report is proven to be true, it’ll be moreso an indictment on the institution than any of the players involved. The purported cover-up by Syracuse is what’s damaging here, not 10ish youngsters testing positive for a banned substance over an 11-year span.
And considering the purported cover-up had been self-reported either "years" or "months" ago, depending on who you ask, that makes it far less of a cover-up than the report would have you believe.
Finally, two more notes about Pat Forde.
1. If you're a Syracuse fan thinking Forde is on this because he's a Kentucky guy...stooooooooooop. Remember when we made fun of Kentucky fans for doing the same thing a few weeks ago?
2. I've gotten some well-reasoned emails from a few folks that explain, with the help of recent articles, that Forde isn't a Syracuse-hater or Boeheim-hater and is just doing his job. To that I say...fair enough. I think the odds are in Forde's favor that he was indeed just doing his job when this report came up, like Robinson said.
My issue sill stands though...I don't like that he spends most of his time giving opinion and then turns around and reports on those he's giving opinion about. I think there's a very fine line here and it makes it easy for people to tie his opinions together with his reporting.
Take Skip Bayless (please?). Not that Bayless is a journalist by any stretch of the imagination, but imagine if tomorrow he announced he's working on a month-long investigation into Brady Quinn. Wouldn't you immediately say to yourself, "Wait a minute, I watch that guy slobber all over Tim Tebow all day and NOW he's gonna report on the guy who just bad-mouthed Tim Tebow???"
Obviously, this isn't the same thing. Forde doesn't go around badmouthing Boeheim every chance he gets. It's really only that one article. But that one article is enough to cast doubt on credibility at first glance. That's all I'm saying.