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Friday, September 24, 2010
Honestly, phone calls? Again?

By Eamonn Brennan

Perhaps the Chattanooga men's basketball program read everyone discussing Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl last week. Perhaps they heard all the crowing about how no one cares about extra phone calls, that the NCAA rule governing them is dumb, and that getting caught for breaking the dumb rule isn't nearly as big a deal as lying about it, but really, who gets caught for too many phone calls anyway? And why?

The Chattanooga Mocs. That's who. And as for why? That answer, as with all impermissible call violations, is unknowable. So let's not even try.
The NCAA cited Chattanooga with major violations Thursday in its athletics program for failing to monitor phone calls and text messages by coaches to recruits. [...]

Chattanooga will be publicly reprimanded and censured and placed on probation starting Thursday until Sept. 22, 2012, for 137 impermissible texts and 74 phone calls made to 12 recruits or their families mostly in football and basketball, but also women's basketball and men's tennis.

It's only a public reprimand and some probation time -- along with Chattanooga's own self-imposed penalties -- so it's not like the Mocs got the death sentence here. Nor do they need to be chastised further. That said ...

Guys, come on! These are phone calls. If you're going to get your basketball program put on probation, if you really want to commit a major violation, at least do something fun. Embezzle some money and use it on a team trip to Fiji. Have your star player sell his uniform to an agent. Re-enact any of the more entertaining scenes from "Blue Chips." Text messages? Phone calls? The form of recruiting almost everyone agrees is ineffective, overused, and less a coaching tool than a confidence crutch inspired by self-obsessed fear? Ugh.

Anyway, the lesson: Just because a rule is dumb doesn't mean you don't have to follow it. I think Henry David Thoreau wrote that. (Or, you know, the exact opposite.) Either way, don't be a hero. Just hang up the phone.