Nothing is worse for a college football program than finding out the NCAA Infractions Committee wants to throw a little party on your campus. The next worst thing is losing your key players to academic ineligibility or some other bone-headed behavior. Here’s a collection of the top 8 scandalous issues that jolted the college football world during the 2011 off-season:

  1. Miami’s program got sucker punched by former Hurricane groupie-turned-convict Nevin Shapiro with a host of allegations that players and coaches accepted thousands of gifts from him over the past decade. Unlike the NCAA’s investigation in the Reggie Bush/USC case, most of Shapiro’s squeal is backed up by hard evidence. News sources are reporting that eight Miami players (including QB Jacory Harris and All-ACC LB Sean Spence) have been ruled ineligible for receiving improper benefits. When all is said and done, Miami could be hit by the stiffest penalties the NCAA has administered since the death sentence was applied to SMU back in 1987. You have to feel for new head coach Al Golden, who was not informed of the NCAA’s investigation when he was hired back in January.

    Oregon head coach Chip Kelly

  2. Oregon is under intense NCAA investigation for paying Will Lyles – a one-man recruiting (read: middleman) service known as Complete Scouting Services –  $25,000 for recruit information (read: access and influence with recruits). Two of the most prized recruits that Lyles influenced, Texas high school running backs LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk, signed with Oregon. (Seastrunk has recently been granted an unconditional release from the program and is now on the Baylor roster). When asked for proof of what the Ducks paid more than four times the going rate in recruit info, they produced outdated profiles of 140 recruits from 2009. The smoking gun is Lyles’ admission that his recruiting information was a sham and that Oregon was paying for his influence with the recruits they wanted to sign. Don’t expect Chip Kelly to survive this one after the smoke has cleared. 

  3. Ohio State can thank Shapiro and Lyles for knocking their investigation down a couple notches in relative importanceIn reality, the charges against the Buckeyes are a far cry from what the NCAA will find when they run the Miami and Oregon stains through the wash. At least they better hope so. Six players, including Terrelle Pryor, who recently signed with the Oakland Raiders after the NFL’s supplemental draft, received impermissible benefits (for trading their bowl game and other team memorabilia for tattoos). It remains to be seen how the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions will rule on the Buckeye program after Ohio State offered to serve two years probation and vacate all of their 2010 wins. The killer violation was unethical conduct by Jim Tressel for attempting to cover up the player infractions, and it cost him his job. That’s what hurts the university more than anything – at least in the short term.
  4. Boise State was investigated for providing inappropriate benefits to recruits in football and other sports and placed its athletic program on a voluntary three-year probation. The NCAA has yet to rule if other penalties will be imposed. This led to the recent termination of A.D. Gene Bleymaier, the man behind the wacko 1986 marketing

    Boise State head coach Chris Peterson

    idea to install the unsightly “smurf blue“ “turf in BSU’s football stadium. But what really galls Bronco fans is the revelation that the university agreed to prohibit the football team from wearing their traditional all-blue uniforms for all home conference games in order to join the Mountain West Conference.

     

  5. Auburn is still under the NCAA investigation regarding Cam Newton that commenced last fall.  According to Danny Sheridan of USA Today, investigators think they have located a “bag man” who acted as a third party to funnel up to $200,000 to Cecil Newton and his church in return for Cam suiting up as a Tiger. Now, the interesting twist is that it appears Auburn didn’t have any idea money was changing hands because the payment was layered from the financier through an alleged third party. The hurdle the NCAA faces is getting anyone to talk. Both Cecil and Cam have refused to talk with NCAA investigators.
  6. North Carolina was a legitimate ACC title contender last year when North Carolina self-reported widespread academic fraud involving several key starters. A wave of suspensions gutted the Tar Heel depth chart and the result was a lackluster 7-5 regular season finish. Earlier this year, a second wave of allegations rocked the program; this time it was about players receiving free jewelry and free trips to Miami.  The dust has yet to settle with an ongoing NCAA probe, but highly touted head coach Butch Davis has already been canned.
  7. LSU … As if Les Miles’ didn’t have enough to worry about while trying to prep his team for its September 3rd showdown vs. Oregon’s turbo-charged Quack Attack, arrest warrants were issued for starting QB Jordan Jefferson and linebacker Josh Johns after they participated in a barroom brawl last week. Witnesses claim Jefferson kicked one of the victims in the face. With search warrant in hand, Baton Rouge police confiscated 49 pairs of athletic shoes from Jefferson’s apartment, as well as taking a DNA sample from the QB’s mouth. Jefferson and Johns were both suspended by Miles, pending the results of the felony investigation.
  8. Oregon. Again? Yep. Starting quarterback Darron Thomas claims he was asleep in a car driven by teammate Cliff Harris earlier this summer when Harris was pulled over by law enforcement for driving 118 mph on Interstate 5 near Albany, Oregon on June 12. Hold on, there’s more to this story scandal. It turns out Harris was driving on a suspended license and the vehicle he was driving was a rental car provided by a school employee. On top of that, the arresting officer claimed he smelled marijuana in the car, but Thomas denies he was smoking anything. Right. Last year, Thomas was in the car driven by Jeremiah Masoli when the former Duck QB was pulled over for a traffic violation and marijuana was found in his car. But wait – there’s more! Thomas was also a passenger in a vehicle driven by linebacker Eddie Pleasant in 2008 when Pleasant crashed while street racing in Springfield, Oregon.