Fair or not, Tennessee Football provided the ultimate finesse move. Programs, no matter how big, have been in trouble for cheating for 50 years, and almost all the major ones have been hit with probation or bowl bans. UT is one of the few that has never gotten a bowling alley.
Well, a newly ratified NCAA constitution means they probably never will. The new constitution changed the language to focus on punishing those responsible for rule violations rather than programs. It’s a way to make sure programs aren’t being tried again for violations that haven’t been committed by anyone else with that program.
Many programs have earned this consideration in the past. Tennessee Football may be one of the first to receive it in the future after never hitting a bowling ban in the past. Remember, the Vols are still not coming to terms with last year’s Jeremy Pruitt scandal.
In November, the UT’s own investigation into Pruitt’s alleged cheating ended without a self-imposed post-season ban. However, the NCAA can always retroactively come down and hand one to them, even though Pruitt, athletic director Phillip Fulmer, and nearly every player seemingly implicated in the scandal are all gone.
If that had happened to the Vols, they wouldn’t have been the first program to suffer that fate. Heck, one of Johnny Majors’ SEC Championships, in 1990, was standard, as it was only because the Florida Gators, in their first year under Steve Spurrier, were on probation for an offense involving none of the players or coaches on that team.
Aside from what happened there, we know about the scandal of Fulmer, Logan Young, Albert Means, and the Alabama Crimson Tide in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Bama fans to this day are fully convinced that Fulmer are went out of his way to hand them in to erase his own tracks.
Then there had been all the NCAA violations committed in one year under Lane Kiffn, and the Vols just managed to avoid a bowl ban. Again and again they played with fire, but this way they were never burned. Pruitt was almost the first to do that with Tennessee football.
Instead, the UT might be in good shape in the future. Unless someone who has received illegitimate benefits from Pruitt is still playing the Vols, there is no way to justify giving the Vols a bowling ban with this new constitution. So they seem to be clear.
This is just another step forward for Josh Heupel and Tennessee Football as they enter 2022 with a lot of hope and promise. Beyond Pruitt and what happened last year was a big deal during the season. Now they are almost certain that they will pass it permanently.