Terrelle Pryor's five-game suspension, a condition of his eligibility for the NFL Supplemental Draft, has been a hot-button issue, with many wondering what kind of precedent it will set and whether this signals the beginning of an era in which the league enforces NCAA punishments in an effort to prevent players from fleeing to the professional ranks.
As you can imagine, college coaches seem to be in favor of Pryor's suspension, opining that it gives their own punishments a bit of weight and may help prevent future violations. Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer is among those showing support for Pryor's suspension and calling for the league to move forward with similar punishments, including handing down discipline to coaches.
When discussing Terrelle Pryor's suspension, which was upheld by the NFL and will be transferred to the first five games of the 2011 season, Beamer had the following to say.
"I appreciate the NFL working with the colleges to … [take] the general statement, if you’ve done something wrong in college, you can’t take the next step and just walk away from it. I think the NFL’s sending a message and hopefully it will hold up in court and we can have consistency throughout."
Shouldn’t they do the same thing to coaches then, like Pete Carroll?:
"I agree totally. I don’t think you can just be somewhere and something happened and you can just walk away from it and take the next step."
Pete Carroll may not have been the best example to use here. As Joey Kaufman notes, Carroll was never named in the NCAA report, making Beamer's point a moot one in some ways -- if, indeed, he was speaking about Carroll and not in more general terms.
A more apt comparison in this situation would probably Reggie Bush, not Pete Carroll. Unlike Pryor, Bush has faced no discipline, yet he did escape escape to the professional ranks, leaving a pile of rubble at USC in his wake.
It's the NFL's sudden, and selective, enforcement of punishments handed down by the NCAA that's confusing. Why now? Why is Pryor the example the NFL chose to make? Why, in the same supplemental draft Pryor was ruled eligible, did Michael McAdoo escape any kind of punishment, despite being ruled ineligible by the NCAA after allegations of academic misconduct and improper benefits?
The NFL is walking a slippery slope. And while those in the NCAA ranks would probably love to see more weight behind punishments, it sure feels like the NFL is walking a tightrope going forward.
While I'm sure Pete Carroll will continue to be the poster boy for coaches who should receive some kind of punishment in the NFL, it's simply not the case. Yes, he walked away from USC before the whole empire crumbled, but in order to be disciplined, there has to be something more than conjecture connecting him to the violations.
And even still, that ignores the enforcement of punishments handed down for things that are against the rules in the NCAA, but not in the NFL. It's a dangerous precedent, and one that could lead to further complications in the future, should the NFL continue operate as a de facto disciplinary arm of the NCAA.