Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, there was a college-football team that was pristine.
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Players graduated. Big games were won.
Nobody broke the law, or the rules, or even curfew.
It was BS.
The end. Move along. Nothing to see here.
The fairy tale of TCU as one of the cleanest programs in big-time college football got an alternate ending this week. Now it looks like TCU is dirty just like everybody else — not filthy, not caked in muck, just not as squeaky clean as previously advertised.
We were sold the clean BS by Sports Illustrated in an article a year ago about teams like Pitt and Boise State, with criminals and thugs, and how TCU had none — a concept Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson happily bought into and sold to recruits, by the way.
And we were alerted to the fallacy by the Fort Worth Police Department, who — on Wednesday morning — arrested 15 bright young Horned Frog students on charges of drug possession with intent to distribute.
Included in this were four football players.
Included in them was star linebacker Tanner Brock.
This was not a drug cartel, by any stretch. As my former Fort Worth Star-Telegram colleague Bud Kennedy noted, this was not the Zetas. This was more like the Beta Zeta Pis, a bunch of entitled college kids doing, well, what entitled college kids are wont to do.
Really stupid bleep.
I kid you not. One of the girls arrested was living in a swanky house on campus with a Lexus SUV. This was not some college kid trying to pay bills. This was a kid who, seemingly, did not think the rules applied to her and obviously missed the "Just Say No" day at school.
Slight tangent: Does it seem like drugs are a bigger player? Lots of my college friends did weed, yet I did not know anybody who dealt, or bought hydrocodone, or self medicated beyond being over-served on quarter pitcher nights at Fieldhouse. There probably is a larger societal point here, but it will get lost in TCU …drugs … football.
We love a college-athletics scandal, and we love to assign blame, when the truth is there is no such thing as a clean college football program.
No, really, they all get dropped in the grease. Everybody gets dirty.
Please laugh at TCU’s misfortune. Please tell me about how your school does things the right way. Please complain that your school does not belong with The Ohio State, or The U, or TCU, or any of the other schools busted for varying levels of rules violations lately.
Let me first suggest a wise piece of counsel from a favorite SID friend of mine who is now at a very, very big school. If you do not want folks to go digging, do not give them reason to pick up a shovel.
In other words, shut up, and be glad the NCAA has not found your dirt yet.
The only guy I feel bad for in this whole scenario is Patterson. I have known Patterson for almost all of my sports-writing career. He was the defensive coordinator when I covered TCU as a lowly beat writer almost straight out of college. We kind of grew up together. And what I know for sure about him is that he is a control freak and that he has zero tolerance for screw-ups.
There is no way he condoned what went on, no way he knew and turned the other way, no way he considered covering it up. He is not a cover-it-up guy. My guess is he had no idea anybody was selling or that any of his players were using until a recruit told him he was not signing with the Frogs because of rampant drug use.
He could not conceive it. He ordered drug tests anyway.
And whether there "would be about 60 people being screwed," like the arrest affidavit alleged Brock told an undercover cop when asked about the test, or whether only five failed, which was the story being leaked out of TCU on Thursday, much credit has to be given to Patterson and TCU for following the first rule of crisis management.
They did not cover it up. They did not lie.
The subsequent lies are always worse, as former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and Bill Clinton and just about all of us who have told a lie can tell you. Lies have a way of compounding.
If Patterson made any mistake, it was going along when SI and whoever else painted his Frogs as saintly. If this season has taught us anything, it should be that there are no saints in college football. There are no perfect teams. There are no fairy tales.
There is no such thing as clean. Some schools just do a better job of tidying up their filth better than others.